Southwest Airlines strands thousands • Kwame says debt paid • Video catches man forcing woman into van

It's already one of the busiest travel periods of the year, a winter storm has already wreaked havoc on some of that transportation, and now one airline company has canceled hundreds of flights. 

The nightmare scenario spawning from Christmas 2022 and worsened by Southwest Airlines which is the cause of 87% of all US flight cancelations on Tuesday even earned a statement from the Transportation secretary. 

"Southwest passengers have experienced unacceptable disruptions and customer service conditions. I have made clear to their executives that our department will hold Southwest accountable for making things right with their customers and employees," Sec. Pete Buttigieg wrote on Twitter. 

Things haven't gotten much better Wednesday. The flight tracking software FlightAware says there are still more than 10,000 disrupted or canceled flights Wednesday. Southwest makes up about 65% of those delays.

The company has attributed its issues to the problems that arrived last week in the form of bad weather and busy travel. But it also said staffing shortages had worsened the problem.

"No pilots," said one family, who learned the next available flight won't be leaving Detroit Metro Airport until Friday. 

"Staffing. We were told staffing issues - they don't have enough crew," said the woman next to him. 

"I just want to get there tomorrow. So I can go skiing and all that," said one child, sounding rather patient considering the circumstances. 

According to CNN, Southwest Airline's chief operating officer said outdated software has also created problems for the company. It led to staffing trying to manually schedule flights - which quickly became muddied by bad weather and large crowds. 

Other airlines are reporting issues with flights in single-digit, Buttigieg told CNN Tuesday. "For Southwest right now, we appear to be north of 70%. So their system really has completely melted down and I've made clear that our department will be holding them accountable for their responsibilities to customers both to get them through this situation and to make sure that this can't happen again."

Video shows man forcing woman into van in Detroit alley

A camera caught a man slamming a woman into a van and throwing her in the vehicle in a Detroit alley on Christmas. Around 5:30 p.m., the van pulled up in the alley near Gratiot and 8 Mile. The man jumped out and began attacking the woman as she pleaded for him to stop.

"When I seen it on Instagram and I looked, and I’m like, OK, she’s taken against her will, and it was pretty scary because I'm out and I got five kids and being out, yeah shook," said Jessica Barnett, who saw the video as it made its rounds on social media. "To see that and know that I’m in this area day in and day out, yeah I just hope the police get him."

The video has people shaken up. "Very, very scary, very violent for women, children being out at the bus line or whatever, and it’s cold," said one person who saw the video. Detroit police sources said the assault is under investigation and authorities are working to make sure the woman is OK.

FOX contacted Lakeside Budget Storage, the company name seen on the van. They would only say they are working with Detroit police on the investigation. 


Video shows man slamming woman into van, forcing her inside vehicle in Detroit alley

Detroit police are investigating after surveillance video showed a man slamming a woman against a van and forcing her into the vehicle in an alley on Christmas.

Kwame Kilpatrick seeks end of supervised release, claims debt is paid

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is asking a judge to end his supervised release, while claiming that the more than $1.5 million debt he owes has been satisfied. 

Kilpatrick was granted clemency by former President Donald Trump in 2021 after he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for corruption. He was ordered to three years of supervised release and must still pay restitution for taking kickbacks while mayor.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Kilpatrick also claimed that the restitution he owes was paid through liquidated and seized liquid assets from co-defendant Bobby Ferguson.

Reasons cited in the motion about why he should be released from supervision include that he attended programs while in prison, he has no recent criminal activity, he has taken up a role in his church, and there is no evidence he is a risk to the public, to name a few. The motion also noted that Kilpatrick is a father to a new son, and he may struggle to provide for his family if the motion is not granted.


Kwame Kilpatrick wants end to supervised release, claims $1.5 million in restitution was paid

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is asking a judge to end his supervised release, while also claiming that the more than $1.5 million debt he owes has been satisfied.

Whitmer backs electric vehicle fee to fund road repairs

Michigan's governor says she's considering a plan that makes owners of electric vehicles pay a fee to help fund road repairs in the state. Those who drive EVs may pay a higher registration fee, but they don't spend anything on gas.

A sales tax on purchases of gas helps fund road building in Michigan. But since electric vehicle owners don't need gas, they don't pay the tax. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she supports a new user fee based on the number of miles driven - called a VMT - to fund road building.

However, she's still studying the plan. "I'm not going to endorse something that I haven't had the opportunity to study and work with the legislature to see if we can get it over the finish line," she said. "I think it is important for us to have a sustainable revenue source because our roads and bridges have been underfunded for decades."

Some argue the fee will be another deterrent in the push to get more electric vehicle adoption.

Missing doctor found dead in pond at his Michigan home

The body of a Jackson doctor who disappeared last week was found in a pond on his property Tuesday. Dr. Bolek Payan was last seen leaving Henry Ford Jackson Hospital on Thursday. His vehicle had been found at his Leoni Township home.

Police said they were able to access Payan's password-protected security cameras and saw him leaving his home on foot Thursday. After K-9s, drones, and foot searches were unsuccessful, holes were cut in the ice of a pond on the property around 12:30 p.m. Monday. Divers recovered Payan's body Tuesday.

According to police, Payan was probably dead before he was reported missing due to the weather and the fact that he was in the water. 

The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office will be conducting an autopsy and toxicology testing.

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Daily Forecast

Temperatures are starting to warm up slightly. We'll land in the mid-30s Wednesday as conditions continue to ease up on what was a brutal stretch of winter weather over Christmas. We'll see the trend continue through the week. 

What else we're watching

  1. Wednesday will be the second of two sentences scheduled for men convicted of plotting to kidnap the Michigan governor. Barry Croft Jr., considered the architect of the conspiracy, is facing life in prison
  2. Gov. Whitmer has appointed Sandy Pierce to the Michigan State University Board of Trustees. The banking executive is succeeding Pat O'Keefe, who resigned from the position in November. 
  3. The 50th annual statewide fine art competition at the Anton Art Center is set to kick off later in January. It was originally founded in 1969.
  4. Meet the Miltons, who just welcomed a newborn to the family. Together, all three members share the same Christmas Eve birthday
  5. Families are dealing with another apartment complex problem after pipes busted at the Mildred Smith Apartments in Detroit.  

Supreme Court to keep Title 42 in place indefinitely

The Supreme Court is keeping pandemic-era limits on asylum in place for now, dashing hopes of migrants who have been fleeing violence and inequality in Latin America and elsewhere to reach the United States.

Tuesday's ruling preserves a major Trump-era policy that was scheduled to expire under a judge's order on Dec. 21. The case will be argued in February and a stay imposed last week by Chief Justice John Roberts will remain in place until the justices make a decision.

The limits, often known as Title 42 in reference to a 1944 public health law, were put in place under then-President Donald Trump at the beginning of the pandemic, but unwinding it has taken a torturous route through the courts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted to end the policy in April 2022, but a federal judge in Louisiana sided with 19 Republican-led states in May to order it kept in place. Another federal judge in Washington said in November that Title 42 must end, sending the dispute to the Supreme Court. Officials have expelled asylum-seekers inside the United States 2.5 million times on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.