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FAA, Spirit Airlines ‘quickly became aware’ of Centerville pilot’s death

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 11:37 AM
Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 1:54 PM

Their deaths could be drug related.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Spirit Airlines “quickly became aware” of pilot Brian Halye’s likely drug overdose death, a spokeswoman for the federal agency said Monday.

Spirit Airlines also released new information to the Dayton Daily News and NewsCenter 7 about how it drug tests pilots, though the company has not said if it is internally investigating Halye’s death.

MORE: Funeral services set for centerville pilot, wife suspected of drug overdose

Halye, 36, of Centerville, and wife Courtney Halye, 34, were found dead Thursday by their four children. Their deaths appear to be drug-related, according to Montgomery County Coroner’s Office Director Ken Betz.

Investigators have not given any indication the Spirit Airlines pilot used drugs before the incident that led to his death. Halye’s last flight for the company before his death was March 10, a Spirit Airlines spokesman said.

MORE: Centerville wife found dead with pilot ‘hooked on drugs’ for years

Airline explains drug tests

The Dayton Daily News last week asked Spirit Airlines to provide more information about Halye’s employment, including the last route he flew and scheduled flights, the dates and results of any drug screens during and before his employment, and whether the carrier was aware of Halye’s apparent drug use.

The company initially declined to respond, though the Dayton Daily News continued to ask for comment over the weekend. On Monday, Spirit Airlines provided the newspaper with additional details about the airline’s drug policy, but the company did not say if it is internally investigating the matter, or the last time Halye was tested.

“Spirit Airlines is required by federal regulations to operate with the highest degree of safety,” said Spirit Airlines spokesman Paul Berry in an emailed statement.

MORE: Overdoses likely cause of death of Centerville couple

U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration “regulations require that the airline conduct various drug and alcohol tests on all safety-sensitive employees including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and dispatchers,” Berry said.

“These tests include, but are not limited to, pre-employment, random and reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing. Spirit Airlines is fully compliant with these DOT and FAA regulations,” Berry said.

“In addition, Spirit Airlines has implemented and maintains a number of programs, in cooperation with its pilot union, that exceed any federal mandates, designed to detect, report and assist employees with potential life challenges,” he said.

“In the event that someone in a safety sensitive position tests positive, they would be immediately removed from their position,” Berry said.

FAA database had ‘discrepancy’

The FAA and Spirit Airlines stay in “constant contact,” an FAA spokeswoman said, noting both organizations “quickly became aware” of the pilot’s death.

On Monday, the FAA confirmed the agency’s public database of pilots was updated to reflect the most up-to-date medical information about Halye, following the newspaper’s discovery of a discrepancy in agency records.

Last week, the federal agency’s database of pilots suggested Halye’s last medical certification was issued in September 2011, though the spokeswoman said Halye’s medical certification was up-to-date.

MORE: Spirit Airlines pilot’s suspected overdose draws national attention

The discrepancy was due to a duplication of files in the agency’s master database when Halye elected not to use his Social Security number when filing his certification, something that “happens occasionally,” according to FAA Spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory.

“The elimination of the Social Security number means the airman was assigned a random number, and ended up with two files in the master database,” Cory said. “They were merged in the master file, which enabled me to answer the question about whether he had an active medical so quickly on Thursday.”

The updated database lists Halye’s last medical certification as September 2016. While a urine sample is taken during the tests, the sample is tested for diseases but not drug use.

MORE: What is fentanyl and how does it kill?

Power restored to thousands, hundreds remain without following severe storms

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 6:45 AM

DP&L/Provided
DP&L/Provided

UPDATE @ 8:27 a.m.

Power has been restored to all but 5 homes in Preble County while over 700 remain without electricity in Montgomery County, according to a DP&L outage map. 

A series of strong storms that moved through the West Alexandria area in Preble County are responsible for the outages, according to DP&L Director of Operations Kevin Hall.

Downed trees and wind damage have caused similar outages in Miami, Greene and Clark Counties. 

“We have crews continuing to clean up from storms since yesterday,” Hall said. “We’ve been in storms operation mode attempting to restore power.”

Ohio Edison reports 751 homes are without power in Clark County as a result of storm damage.

Hall did not advise when crews would have all power restored.

A downed tree can be seen in the 2900 block of Brewster Court in Springfield Saturday morning. (Angie Hess/Contributed)

UPDATE @ 7:24 a.m.

Another 120 homes in Clark County are without power, according to an Ohio Edison outage map. 

Downed tree limbs and wind damage have been reported in Springfield near Providence Road. 

Additional power outages have been reported in Montgomery County with DP&L reporting 561 outages. 

1,600 homes remain in the dark in Preble County. 

We are working to learn what power crews are doing to restore service following Saturday morning's severe weather.

A mangled shed can be seen in the front yard of this Springfield home near Providence Road. (Robert Yontz/Contributed)

INITIAL REPORT

Nearly 1,600 Preble County homes are without power following severe weather Saturday morning, according to a DP&L outage map. 

A DP&L representative could not be reached for comment, but multiple downed trees have been reported in the county. 

Another 570 outages are reported in Clark County, according to Ohio Edison. 

141 DP&L customers living in Montgomery County are without power, while another 208 are without in Miami County. 

RELATED: Stormy start to weekend 

We are continuing to monitor power outages and damage reports as severe weather makes its way through the Miami Valley Saturday morning.

Prince George marks his fourth birthday with official photo

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 6:45 AM

Prince George  smiles for his fourth birthday pictures.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince George smiles for his fourth birthday pictures.(Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Prince George celebrates his fourth birthday on Saturday, and the royal family released photographs of the beaming child, the Independent reported.

>> Read more trending news

The son of Prince William and his wife Kate is third in line to the British throne.

In a statement, Kensington Palace said that "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to share a new official portrait of Prince George to mark His Royal Highness's fourth birthday tomorrow.

"The Duke and Duchess are very pleased to share this lovely picture as they celebrate Prince George's fourth birthday, and would like to thank everyone for all of the kind messages they have received."

Over 500 cars checked, no arrests made during OVI checkpoint in Sidney

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 6:25 AM

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

No arrests were made during a Friday night OVI checkpoint in Sidney, according to the Piqua post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

506 cars were stopped and checked during the 3 hour checkpoint on Wapakoneta Avenue near Pinehurst Street. 

Sidney officers assisted troopers with the traffic stops and arrested a person with an active warrant during saturation patrols. 

“At the end of the evening, our ultimate goal is just to educate motorists to do the right thing and make other arrangements if they are going to consume alcohol”, Lieutenant Joseph Gebhart said. 

“There is no place for impaired driving on our roadways and the public supports the efforts of these men and women out here tonight making their community safer."

Republican tax reform plan may be limited by GOP budget

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 6:17 AM

Republican plans for tax reform could be less sweeping than originally envisioned by the White House and GOP leaders in Congress, as a provision in a House GOP budget blueprint would require any tax bill to be ‘budget neutral,’ which would force lawmakers to offset any tax cuts with revenue increases that could be difficult in some cases to gain approval.

Deep in the fine print of the budget resolution for next year, the Republican plan allows for a tax reform bill under budget reconciliation, “if such measure would not increase the deficit for the total of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.”

In other words, you can’t just cut taxes – which technically deprive the federal treasury of revenue, and therefore increase the budget deficit – you have to find revenue to pay for those tax cuts.

And Republicans on the House Budget Committee were actively trumpeting that message.

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan was touting tax reform during a trip to a New Balance factory in Massachusetts.

“First and foremost, we’re going to cut your taxes,” the Speaker said.

But when a tax plan is deficit neutral – a cut for one person means that revenue must be found somewhere else to offset that reduction – in other words, some other tax increase, mainly one would assume by taking away deductions in the tax code.

And many veterans of Capitol Hill say that’s not going to be easy.

“I spent much of 2011-16 negotiating tax reform proposals in the Senate,” said Brian Reidl, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who used to work for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

“Revenue-neutral tax reform will make health care look easy,” Riedl said in a post on Twitter.

Key Republicans have made clear that they want to put together a proposal that dramatically simplifies the current tax system.

“So 96% of the people can do their tax return on a single postcard size,” said House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black (R-TN).

To do that, you would lower tax rates, and then most likely eliminate or reduce tax deductions – and that’s where things get tricky.

Do you get rid of the deduction for mortgage insurance? Lots of people talk about that, but it always goes nowhere.

What about the deduction for state and local taxes? That has bipartisan opposition in and around big cities on the East Coast.

The tax break on employer provided health care benefits? That went nowhere fast in the negotiations over the GOP bill to overhaul the Obama health law.

End or restrict the business interest deduction? Hard to imagine.

Deficit neutral tax reform – it sounds wonky. But it’s a pretty important development that may rein in the scope of a GOP tax plan.