breaking news


Excessive speed blamed for Thunderbird crash in Dayton

Published: Friday, November 03, 2017 @ 11:25 AM

Excessive speed blamed for Thunderbird crash in Dayton

Excessive air speed coupled with landing too far down a wet runway caused a Thunderbird F-16 fighter jet to leave the airstrip and flip over at Dayton International Airport on the day before the Vectren Dayton Air Show last June, an Air Force accident investigation concluded.

The mishap injured team narrator and F-16 pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves, who was hospitalized for leg injuries, and destroyed the $29.2 million fighter jet on June 23, according to the Air Force. A second crewman who was a backseat passenger in the F-16D jet was uninjured, the Air Force said.

RELATED: Who were the two Thunderbirds in Dayton mishap?

An accident investigation board also concluded that rain on a canopy windscreen contributed to the accident, along with not following proper braking procedures during the landing, the report said.

Approach and landing speed, how far down a runway an aircraft lands, and the condition of the airstrip can be key factors in a mishap, said Michael L. Barr, a former Air Force fighter pilot and a University of Southern California aviation safety expert. Barr has conducted past accident board investigations for the Air Force.

Fighter pilots “are trained to land in any kind of weather,” he said. “If you’re flying a fighter, then you’re qualified to land.”

Still, mishaps involving aerial precision jet teams like the Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels are not common, he said.

“They’re very few and far between considering how many flights they fly each year,” he said. “They are really safety conscious.”

‘You make a little bit of a judgment’

The Air Force Thunderbirds, which fly six jets in precision formation flying, scrubbed appearances at the Vectren Dayton Air Show after the incident, and had canceled a team practice the day of the accident because of weather conditions, the report said.

During the F-16 jet’s final approach on June 23, the Dayton air traffic control tower advised the pilot of “wind shear and extreme precipitation over the field,” the report noted.

RELATED: Thunderbird pilot told of ‘extreme precipitation, wind shear’ before crash

Still, investigators concluded the single F-16 jet on the first of what was planned to be three crew familiarization flights that day could have landed within the conditions, the report said.

The Thunderbird jet landed nearly 4,800 feet down the 10,900-foot-long runway, and was traveling above recommended speeds given the wet conditions, the report said.

“They tell you on a wet runway to try to land firm and try to land as close as you can to the end of the runway to have enough distance” to stop, said Richard Lohnes, a former F-16 pilot and prior commander of the 178th Fighter Wing at Springfield Air National Guard Base. “It was sure not the perfect situation to land the F-16, but that’s quite a bit of runway.

“In that situation, you make a little bit of a judgment one way or the other and it can make a big difference in the outcome,” Lohnes said.

RELATED: Former F-16 pilot says wind probably a factor in flip over

‘Significant’ injuries

Once the plane left the runway and rolled into a muddy, grassy area, the landing gear collapsed and the jet flipped, trapping both the pilot and passenger for more than an hour. Rescuers used a circular saw to cut through the broken canopy and hydraulic spreaders to free the trapped crew.

Dayton International Airport and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base rescue crews were cautious handling the damaged jet, working carefully to avoid triggering the ejection seats, said Gil Turner, airport deputy director.

“That was a huge challenge with the aircraft being upside down and understanding the hazards of a military jet,” he said Friday.

The front ejection seat had become dislodged from the jet and added to the difficulty of extracting the pilot, the report said.

Gonsalves has returned to the team as narrator, but has not been medically cleared to fly, Maj. Malinda Singleton, an Air Combat Command spokeswoman, said Friday.

The extent of the pilot’s injuries have not been disclosed, but the report described them as “significant.”

Gonsalves had nearly 1,700 hours flying time, most in the A-10 Thunderbolt II, with nearly 150 hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon at the time of the accident, the report said.

The investigation did not find mechanical failure as a cause in the accident and the jet had passed recent inspections, the board report said.

RELATED: Thunderbirds cancel Dayton Air Show appearances

The Thunderbirds’ cancellation, along with heavy rains, led to a drop in attendance at this year’s air show, said Terry Grevious, executive director.

Still, the show managed a small profit, he said.

The Thunderbirds cancellation was the second consecutive year a military jet flight team scrubbed performances in Dayton. The Blue Angels canceled a 2016 appearance at the Dayton Air Show and several other locales in the aftermath of a pilot’s fatal crash during a practice demonstration flight in Tennessee.

The Blue Angels are scheduled to return to the Dayton Air Show next June.

Dayton reaches $1.5M settlement over nuisance odors

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 2:48 PM

Dayton reaches $1.5M settlement over nuisance odors

The city of Dayton has agreed to accept a nearly $1.5 million settlement with an agricultural and industrial company over discharge issues that led to sewer blockages and foul odors.

Cargill’s corn milling plant in Dayton produces about 3 million to 4 million gallons of waste every day that is fed into the city’s sanitary sewer system, city officials said.

The city took enforcement action against the company because its discharge was causing blockages in the sanitary sewer as well as an unpleasant smell, said John Musto, Dayton’s chief trial counsel.

The blockage issues have been resolved, officials said, and the city and Cargill will work together to try to reduce smelly hydrogen sulfide levels in the waste water system associated with the company’s discharge.

“The settlement also provides a framework for the parties to work together to identify a cost-effective method for preventing odors in the city sewer serving the corn mill,” said Kelly Sheehan, spokeswoman for Cargill.

MORE: Dayton faces long-term budget issues, despite income tax hike

Since 2014, the city of Dayton issued Cargill a series of notices of violation and administrative orders for not following regulations related to pretreatment of wastewater discharge, officials said.

The company, which has a plant at 3201 Needmore Road, appealed about 41 of the notices.

But the city and Cargill have reached a settlement in which the city agrees to rescind the notices of violation and the company will drop its pending appeals.

Cargill was required to pay penalties to the city to appeal the notices, which were held until the appeals were decided, Sheehan said.

MORE: Why the NACCP wants Dayton voters to decide on traffic cameras

Under the settlement, the city will keep that money to help pay for odor control trials and sewer cleaning, Sheehan said.

“Cargill’s wet corn mill in Dayton, Ohio, takes great pride in operating in compliance with all environmental laws and Cargill’s own strict environmental standards,” she said.

Cargill also agreed to stop using lime in the pretreatment process last year, and there have been no blockages in the system since that time, said Musto.

Cargill and the city expect to discuss setting parameters on the company’s wastewater discharge to reduce sulfates in the system, which causes hydrogen sulfide, leading to stinky odors, Musto said.

The city wanted a resolution that addresses toxic odors in the wastewater system but that is also cost-effective for Cargill, who is an important employer and community partner, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

“This takes care of issues from the past,” she said.

Suspect in Pennsylvania police officer's shooting death in custody; mother also arrested

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 5:46 AM
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 7:49 AM

Rahmael Sal Holt
New Kensington police
Rahmael Sal Holt(New Kensington police)

Rahmael Sal Holt, the suspect in the shooting death of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Officer Brian Shaw, is in custody after a days-long manhunt.

>> Watch the news report here

Police had been searching for Holt since Friday night’s shooting. He was arrested Monday morning at a home on Ladora Way in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood after law enforcement agencies received a tip that he was there.

In addition to Holt, eight other people were arrested – including his mother.

>> Visit WPXI.com for complete coverage

Shaw, 25, was killed after he pulled over a Jeep on Friday in a traffic stop on Leishman Avenue. According to court documents, the Jeep never stopped and Holt, who allegedly killed Shaw, fled and Shaw pursued him on foot. 

>> Suspect named in Pennsylvania police officer's shooting death

Tavon Harper, who police say was driving the Jeep, took off, police said. Holt then fired multiple shots, killing Shaw, according to court documents.

Shaw was transported to Allegheny Valley Hospital, where he later died. 

>> Read more trending news 

WPXI confirmed with multiple sources that Shaw was ambushed that night and at least one of the bullets went through a soft spot in his body armor.

Trenton youth on bicycle struck by car

Published: Saturday, November 18, 2017 @ 6:31 PM

Trenton police are investigating after a youth on a bicycle was struck by a car early Saturday evening.

A police dispatcher said the accident happened about 5:45 p.m. at East State Street and Sal Boulevard.

MORE: Weather watches, advisories in effect

The dispatcher said the youth was taken to an area hospital but that no further information was available.

Jail captain charged with assault for pepper-spraying inmate

Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 @ 6:22 PM

Brookville woman pepper sprayed in seven-point harness at Montgomery County Jail

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office captain whose pepper-spraying of a restrained inmate — and disappearance of records of the incident — spurred a federal probe and civil lawsuit pleaded not guilty today to a misdemeanor assault charge.

Capt. Judith Sealey was charged in Dayton Municipal Court on Nov. 8 for pepper spraying Amber Swink while Swink was strapped into a restraint chair in the county jail in November 2015.

“We entered a not guilty plea on her behalf,” said her attorney, Anthony VanNoy. “I believe it’s the wrong charge. I believe they should not have charged her criminally.”

“I recognize what the video depicts, but it doesn’t tell the entire story of what went on.”

After Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced in May that a grand jury found there was insufficient evidence to bring felony assault charges, the case was referred to Dayton city prosecutors to consider misdemeanor charges.

RELATED: Dayton asks Cincinnati to review jail pepper spray case

Dayton Chief Prosecutor Stephanie Cook handed the decision on whether to press charges to Cincinnati city prosecutors. Dayton officials said they wanted to avoid any appearance of conflict because Cook sits on a jail advisory committee created in response to lawsuits from Swink and others.

SPECIAL REPORT: Justice in the Jailhouse — Lawsuits, accusations plague county jails in the region

Swink settled her lawsuit against Montgomery County in August, with the county paying $375,000.

Federal agents have not announced any findings in the case, which includes concerns over how and why video and other records of Sealey pepper-spraying Swink disappeared from county records and only surfaced through Swink’s lawsuit.

RELATED: Missing paperwork raises questions about pepper spray probe

This news outlet reached out to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer for comment. This story will be updated if comment is received.