Five stories that have North Texas talking: the suspicious death of a girl about to turn 3, the Southwest Airlines jet that landed at the wrong airport in Missouri, the political debate raging around a pregnant Haltom City woman who's on life support and more.
A 2-year-old girl’s suspicious death Sunday is being investigated as a homicide. Grace Ford was found unconscious Thursday afternoon at a Plano apartment, and was transported to Children’s Medical Center. She was declared dead Sunday, just days before turning 3. Plano police aren’t releasing many details. But a website set up to raise money for the girl’s medical expenses and funeral says duct tape was placed on her face, cutting off oxygen. Child Protective Services is investigating. A spokeswoman told The Dallas Morning News that the agency investigates any time a child dies from abuse or neglect, but declined to release details. (Update, Jan. 23: The Dallas County Medical Examiner's office determined that Grace was suffocated, WFAA-TV reports. No arrests have been made, but police say there's no risk to the public.)
- Why did a Southwest jet land at the wrong airport? That question still hasn't been answered, but the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the mistake. Dallas-based Southwest said it has placed the two pilots involved on paid leave. Both have more than 10 years of experience. Flight 4013 from Chicago Midway was to land at the Branson Airport, but instead landed about 7 miles north at Taney County Airport, which has a much shorter runway. Southwest brought another plane to Branson for passengers who were continuing to Dallas Love Field. Scott Schieffer, a Dallas attorney who was on the flight, told the Associated Press that the pilot on touchdown “applied the brake very hard and very forcibly. I thought ‘Well, this is a very short runway, and this must be how he has to land.’” [USA Today]
- Statewide political debate focuses on the pregnant Haltom City woman on life support. The Texas Tribune reports: “A pregnant North Texas woman being kept on life support against her family's wishes is stirring political debate in a state immersed in competitive primary races, and fresh off a legislative session in which lawmakers had tense debates over when life begins and how it can end.” Marlise Munoz collapsed in November and has been at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Family members say they've been told she’s brain-dead, and they want her taken off life support. But the hospital says she isn’t dead. A doctor told the family she couldn’t be taken off life support since the state doesn’t allow doctors to cut off life support to pregnant patients. The Tribune reported that Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate for governor, declined to give his opinion on the case, saying it wouldn’t be “appropriate to interfere with a comment.” His potential opponent for governor this fall, Fort Worth Democrat Wendy Davis, calls the case "an incredibly tragic situation and an intensely private matter for the family." She said it’s a private decision that should be weighed by the pregnant woman’s family, in consultation with her doctors. Among the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, incumbent David Dewhurst has been the only one to weigh in on the case, saying that one life has already been lost and it "would be tragic to lose another,” the Tribune reports. "We recognize the tragic and painful situation the family faces," Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said in an email. ‘We must also remember a young life is at stake here and that state laws protecting that life must be followed.’"
- The Dallas Architecture Forum kicks off its first panel discussion for 2014 tonight. An informal reception starts at 6:15 p.m. and the panel starts at 6:30 p.m. The free event is at the Dallas Center for Architecture, 1909 Woodall Rogers Freeway, Suite 100. Architect Joe McCall will moderate, and the panel includes architect Michael Malone. The topic: “The Art of Communication … Architectually Speaking.” “This will be a look at the technology and effectiveness of the many mediums – spoken, written and visual – through which messages are sent and received.”
- Some of the best theater is happening way off Broadway – in Dallas, in fact. Time magazine came up with a list of the 10 best plays and musicals happening in 2014. It listed Fortress of Solitude, an upcoming musical at the Dallas Theater Center that opens March 7. Here’s how Time describes it: “Jonathan Lethem’s acclaimed 2003 novel, about two friends, one white and one black, growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, may not seem the most obvious subject for a musical, but some formidable theater creators are giving it a try, including busy director Daniel Aukin (Bad Jews,The Winslow Boy) and composer Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). It’s a collaboration with New York’s Public Theater, which plans to mount the show next season.”