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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.

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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.

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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.

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Newest Butler County roundabout opens Friday

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 11:22 AM


            A crew from Barrett Paving installs concrete culvert sections on Yankee Road just south of the new roundabout at Princeton Road in Liberty Twp. The roundabout should be finished next week, and Yankee road will open some time later after the culvert project is complete. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
A crew from Barrett Paving installs concrete culvert sections on Yankee Road just south of the new roundabout at Princeton Road in Liberty Twp. The roundabout should be finished next week, and Yankee road will open some time later after the culvert project is complete. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Traffic relief is just around the corner with the new Yankee and Princeton roads roundabout set to open to the driving public Friday evening.

The roundabout will be open after rush hour Friday, barring any unforeseen mishaps, according to Butler County Deputy Engineer Dale Schwieterman.

CLOSER LOOK: Are roundabouts really safer?

Road crews are laying down a coating of asphalt and doing temporary stripping today and tomorrow.

The installation of a bridge went faster than expected Wednesday, officials said.

Originally construction was expected to continue into October, but County Engineer Greg Wilkens said contractors and his department understood the disruption the project has caused.

“We understand the pressure is building and we really need that open,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve gotten a lot of complaints, but we know that is a major arterial in the area and it surely has disrupted traffic by its closure.”

2 men, Middletown revitalizing deserted baseball field

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

Smith park field will have infield turf

There are five piles of dirt higher than a pitcher’s mound, weeds taller than your knees, and the Pepsi scoreboard in centerfield is nearly covered by overgrown trees.

The abandoned baseball field is a too common sight across our country, where America’s pastime has been pushed aside by soccer fields, video games and social media.

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But thanks to the efforts of two men, the financial support of the City of Middletown, and generous contributions from the business community, Middletown is taking a Babe Ruth swing toward revitalizing its once proud baseball history.

There was a time, not long ago, when Smith Park, the city’s largest park, was the home to numerous baseball diamonds, and Rathman Ballfield No. 8 — the one that sat in the southeast corner — was the showcase because of its towering lights.

Playing under the Rathman lights was a special time for youth baseball players.

MORE: Middletown welcomes home World Series hero

The Smith Park baseball fields, all except Rathman because that land was donated to the city, eventually were bulldozed and replaced by well manicured soccer fields as far as the eye can see.

Now because of the leadership of Chris Urso, a Middletown school board member, and the donated talents of Walter Dappert, a brick mason, Rathman Ballfield may return to its former glory. And they’re hoping that once Rathman is renovated, it will serve as an example that will spur other community members to board the baseball bandwagon.

“Crossing my fingers and hoping,” Urso said.

When completed, Rathman Ballfield will have two brick and block dugouts with storage facilities, a decorated brick wall behind home plate, turf that will reduce the possibility of rainouts, large netting that will protect fans from foul balls, and a homerun fence.

MORE: 5 Middletown athletes everyone should know

It will be Middletown’s version of Camden Yards in Baltimore: A new field built to look vintage.

Urso, whose 11-year-old son plays baseball, said his father, Joe Urso, built a field and baseball program at Monroe High School. Urso hopes to “live off his model.”

The City of Middletown donated $25,000 to the project, money that was “stretched pretty thin,” he said. Most of that money was spent purchasing the chain linked fence from Simpson Fence. The bricks were donated from Division 4 Inc. in Cincinnati, the infield dirt came from the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund, and the sand and gravel from Watson’s. Urso hopes to purchase used infield turf for $5,000 and spend another $3,000 to $4,000 having it shipped.

MORE:Fairfield skateboarder helps children see their potential

He said the nearby restrooms and concession stand can be used and the trees beyond the home run fence provide the perfect backdrop.

When the project is completed, Urso said it will “lend itself to a really good experience.”

He said Middletown High School’s baseball team, which competes in the baseball rich Greater Miami Conference, must improve its facilities and feeder program. He mentioned Hamilton, Mason, Lakota East and Lakota West as examples of schools that produce “a steady stream” of baseball players.

“We have talent here,” said Urso, mentioning Middletown product and Chicago Cub Kyle Schwarber as an example.

MORE: Love of Badin baseball passed from mother to daughter

While Urso has been selling the project to the business community, Dappert, 70, of Middletown, has been laying the foundation one brick at a time. He can’t count the number of hours he has donated. Nor does he worry about working for free.

“I’m doing it because I care,” Dappert said. “I’ve been blessed.”

Urso called Dappert a skilled mason with “a generous heart” and said the ballfield will be “a legacy piece for him.”

Dappert hopes his 12-year-old grandson, and future generations of young players, enjoy Rathman Ballfield.

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You like talking to people like Dappert. He doesn’t mind saying what he thinks. He believes the City of Middletown, because of budget cuts, has reduced the number of activities for young people. That may be one reason for the increase in youth crime, he said.

“Nobody has ever made an effort to bring anything back,” he said. “I’m actually doing it for my kids. I’m talking about kids of the city. I love kids.”

He paused, looked out at the project, then added: “There are a lot of people who say they do, but when you ask them if they want to come out here, nobody wants to help.”

The conversation was over.

There were weeds to knock down, dirt to move.

They won’t come unless it’s built.

Facebook follow me hoax making rounds again

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 11:16 AM

File photo
Carl Court/Getty Images
File photo(Carl Court/Getty Images)

Another day, another Facebook Hoax.

This time you may have seen people warning you on your Facebook feed that there’s a secret list of people following your posts. They’re supposedly not your friends, but complete strangers.

The posts then direct you to search “Following Me” in your Facebook account and there will be a list of names you won’t recognize, The Times Union reported.

>> Read more trending news

The problem is, it is all a hoax that your Facebook friends are unknowingly perpetuating.

This isn’t the first time a following hoax took root on social media. Snopes investigated a similar claim in January that people from “Facebook security” were paid to watch people on the platform.

Both are untrue, according to Snopes.

So how can you find out how who really is following you?

According to Facebook’s Help Center, you go to the right corner and select settings, then click public posts, then select friends or public next to who can follow me.

Captain: Oklahoma City man killed by police was deaf

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 10:32 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 11:57 AM

Deaf Man Fatally Shot By Oklahoma City Officers, Criminal Investigation Underway

Oklahoma City police officers who opened fire on a man in front of his home as he approached them holding a metal pipe didn't hear witnesses yelling that he was deaf, a department official said Wednesday.

Magdiel Sanchez, 35, wasn't obeying the officers' commands before one shot him with a gun and the other with a Taser on Tuesday night, police Capt. Bo Mathews said at a news conference. He said witnesses were yelling "he can't hear you" before the officers fired, but they didn't hear them.

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"In those situations, very volatile situations, you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision, or you can really lock in to just the person that has the weapon that'd be the threat against you," Mathews said. "I don't know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point."

Sanchez, who had no apparent criminal history, died at the scene. The officer who fired the gun, Sgt. Chris Barnes, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Deaf man fatally shot in Oklahoma

Mathews said the officers were investigating a reported hit-and-run at around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. He said a witness told Lt. Matthew Lindsey the address where the vehicle responsible for the hit-and-run had gone, and that Sanchez was on the porch when Lindsey arrived.

He said Sanchez was holding a metal pipe that was approximately 2 feet (0.6 meters) long and that had a leather loop on one end for wrapping around one's wrist. Lindsey called for backup and Barnes arrived, at which point Sanchez left the porch and began to approach the officers, Mathews said.

Witnesses could hear the officers giving Sanchez commands, but the officers didn't hear the witnesses yelling that Sanchez couldn't hear them, Mathews said. When he was about 15 feet (4.5 meters) away from the officers, they opened fire — Lindsey with his Taser and Barnes with his gun, apparently simultaneously, Mathews said.

He said he didn't know how many shots were fired, but that it was more than one.

When asked why Barnes used a gun instead of a Taser, Mathews said he didn't know. He said it's possible Barnes wasn't equipped with a Taser. Neither officer had a body camera.

Sanchez's father, who was driving the hit-and-run vehicle, confirmed after the shooting that his son was deaf, Mathews said. He said Sanchez wasn't in the vehicle when his father struck something and drove off. It wasn't a person that he struck

Oklahoma Association of Deaf responds to shooting

A man who saw Okl.ahoma City police officers open fire on Sanchez says his neighbor was developmentally disabled and didn't speak in addition to being deaf.

Neighbor Julio Rayos told The Oklahoman on Wednesday that Sanchez communicated mainly through hand movements.

"He don't speak, he don't hear, mainly it is hand movements. That's how he communicates," Rayos told the newspaper. "I believe he was frustrated trying to tell them what was going on."

Mathews said the city has officers who are trained in the use of sign language, but he didn't know if Lindsey and Barnes are among them.

Jolie Guebara, who lives two houses from the shooting scene, told The Associated Press that she heard five or six gunshots before she looked outside and saw the police.

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"He always had a stick that he would walk around with, because there's a lot of stray dogs," Guebara said.

Guebara said Sanchez, whose name she didn't know, wrote notes to communicate with her and her husband when he would occasionally stop and visit if they were outside.

Police initially said Sanchez was carrying a stick, but Mathews described it Wednesday as a metal pipe.

Sanchez's death is the latest in a string of controversial killings by Oklahoma police in recent years. In 2015, a white Tulsa County reserve deputy fatally shot an unarmed black man who was on the ground being subdued. He said he meant to shoot the suspect with a stun gun but mistakenly used his firearm instead. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

In May, a white former Tulsa police officer, Betty Shelby, was acquitted in the 2016 killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man who had his hands up when she fired. Much like in the Sanchez killing, another officer almost simultaneously fired a Taser at Crutcher when Shelby fired her gun. Unlike Sanchez's killing, both Tulsa killings were captured on video.

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