3 men charged in Middletown arson will face grand jury

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 7:22 PM

three suspects in a Middletown arson fire on Woodside Boulevard appeared in court.

A Butler County grand jury will now consider the cases of three men facing multiple charges in connection with a fire that destroyed a garage and damaged three houses on Woodside Boulevard.

Trevor Skief, 19, and Wesley Hudgel, 19, both of Woodside Boulevard, are charged with three counts of aggravated arson, one count of arson, one count of disruption of public services, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of intimidation. James Thompson, 19, also of Woodside Boulevard, is charged with three counts of arson, arson and disrupting public services.

MORE: Children removed from home as part of fire investigation

The men shot a flare gun into the window of the garage in the 1203 block of Woodside Boulevard on July 5, according to a police report. 

During Monday’s preliminary hearing in Middletown Municipal Court, Police Detective Steve Winters testified there had been an ongoing dispute in the neighborhood involving racial slurs directed at Jacqueline Moore, the owner of the residence where the garage was destroyed.

“There was an ongoing situation in the neighborhood with people picking on her,” Winters said.

A previous case is pending against Hudgel for allegedly breaking into Moore’s house and stealing a vehicle title and air conditioning unit, according to Winters.

MORE: Bond set for 2 people charge in Middletown arson 

Hudgel was interviewing for a job at a Franklin business on July 5 when Skief and Thompson stole three flare guns from a nearby Walmart, Winters said.

“We pulled the tape from the store,” Winters said.

He said the video was also posted on a neighbor’s Facebook page, but has since been taken down.

The detective said the three men planned for the flare to be shot through a window of Moore’s house, “but Thompson refused to fire into the house.”

Hudgel, who was driving the van, then backed up, and Thompson fired the flare into the garage, Winters said.

MORE: Several people taken into custody after Middletown fire

Visiting Judge Hal Suderman found sufficient evidence to bind the case over to a grand jury for consideration.

Moore and her family attended the hearing and said afterward that the violence has to stop.

She said some of those involved have harassed her for about a month.

Moore has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years.

She added adults in the area had their children make racial slurs against her and her friends.

“Little bitty kids, probably don’t even know their ABC’s …. I just want it to stop. This is crazy. It needs to be stopped.”

3 due in court, accused of committing series of Huber Heights burglaries

Published: Thursday, July 27, 2017 @ 8:57 PM

Nathan Bush III  (left), Duane Childress Jr. (upper right), and Devin Jackson (lower right). (Courtesy/Huber Heights Police Division)
Nathan Bush III (left), Duane Childress Jr. (upper right), and Devin Jackson (lower right). (Courtesy/Huber Heights Police Division)

Three men suspected in a series of burglaries in Huber Heights are scheduled to be in court Friday on charges that include weapons possession and receiving stolen property.

Nathan Bush III, 21; Duane Childress Jr., 22; and Devin Jackson, also 22, were arrested by Huber Heights police Tuesday. 

SEE: More crime, law headlines

All three are in the Montgomery County Jail on the following charges: 

  • Bush III: Felony weapons possession ($200,000 bail), felony theft ($25,000 bail), complicity to commit burglary. 
  • Childress Jr.: Felony burglary ($50,000 bail), misdemeanor receiving stolen property. 
  • Jackson: Felony weapons possession ($100,000 bail), four counts receiving stolen property ($25,000 bail). 
  • Added charges of receiving stolen property have been approved for Bush and Jackson, regarding other criminal activity in Huber Heights, police officials said in a statement published to Facebook on Thursday evening. 

Police division officials, in the same statement, said police are reviewing evidence involving other active cases that may involve the three men. 

If you have information you feel would help the investigation, you are asked to contact the police division investigative section, 937-233-1565.

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Ohio State Fair tragedy: Ride passed inspection hours before fatal accident

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 7:48 PM
Updated: Thursday, July 27, 2017 @ 7:57 PM

Enhanced Video: Ohio State Fair ride malfunction

A Dutch manufacturer has ordered ride operators worldwide to cease operations of the type of amusement park ride that killed a man and injured seven other people Wednesday at the Ohio State Fair.

“In the accident a passenger-carrying gondola detached from the supporting sweep arm” of the Fire Ball, according to Albert Kroon, product manager for KMG International of The Netherlands. As is broke apart in mid-air, the gondola and riders were flung to the ground.

  • 1 killed, 7 hurt when riders are thrown from The Fire Ball
  • Ohio State Fair gates reopened at 9 a.m. Thursday
  • Gov. John Kasich orders all rides shut down until they are inspected again
  • Kasich said inspection records for all fair rides will be made available
  • Ohio State Fair the day after ride accident

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>>Read the safety inspection report on the Fireball ride

James Brown interviews eyewitness to Ohio State Fair accident

Operators of the ride, as well as one called Move-it, “are instructed to cease operation of the ride until further notice” as the company investigates the accident, Kroon said in a news release.

The ride operator, Amusements of America, issued a statement Thursday through a public relations firm, saying the ride was inspected by the company staff as well as “independent inspectors” prior to the fair opening.

“Our family owned company is committed to working with state and local experts in trying to determine the cause of this tragic incident,” according to the news release. “We are keeping those impacted by this tragic situation in our prayers and fully cooperating with those investigating this accident.”

Wednesday was the opening day of the fair.

A full investigation of the ride and accident is ongoing, said Col. Paul Pride, Ohio Highway Patrol superintendent.

Pride said people on the ride and on the ground were injured in the incident. He gave no timetable for how long the patrol’s investigation would take.

All of the state fair’s rides will remain shut down until all have been re-inspected and deemed safe. The midway is closed off and inaccessible to the public.

A state trooper is among those who witnessed the accident and Pride said investigators are seeking other witnesses, including those on the ride, who have not already talked to investigators.

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>>James Brown interviews eyewitness of tragedy

>>Footage of Fire Ball ride operating properly (from the past)

>>Aerial scenes show aftermath of fatal malfunction

>>6 other serious events at fairs in Ohio

Witnesses are asked to call a hotline at (614) 799-6633.

Investigators also are seeking any video clips people have of the ride and have asked YouTube to remove a video showing the incident and bodies being flung from the ride.

“Its kind of disturbing to watch that knowing what the outcome is,” Pride said.

The Fire Ball, also marketed as the Afterburner, features a long swinging pendulum arm. At the end of the arm, suspended from spokes, are six gondolas, which seat a total of 24 people. The arm swings up with a maximum height of 65 feet, while the gondolas revolve at 15 revolutions per minute, according to the manufacturer’s website.

The ride is constructed on two semi-trailers and takes three people to assemble. Assembly time is three to four hours, according to the manufacturer.

Inspections done the day of accident

The ride was built in 1998, according to the Associated Press. It passed a standard Ohio Department of Agriculture inspection earlier in the day Wednesday and also passed the company’s daily inspection before the accident.

Inspectors review a long list of items, including location and installation, along with structural issues such as pins, retainers, hydraulics and signs of wear. They also inspect the “tub and vehicle,” meaning the place where the riders are held in place, looking at restraints, latches, wheels and the overall condition.

Electrical inspections include the ride transformer, insulation on wires and cables, switches and controls and ensuring there is no stray voltage.

In October, the ride received a visual weld inspection of structural components and an ultrasonic examination of gondola pins by an engineering company, Soil Consultants, Inc. of Charleston, S.C. No defects were found in either inspection, according to the report.

 

Ohio law mandates both of those inspections.

Larry Zavodney, senior professor of mechanical engineering at Cedarville University, said inspectors “look for evidence of deformation of metal, or cracks. You look for something that has either stretched, or bent or deformed or you look for cracks,” Zavodney said.

The ultrasonic tests are done to find cracks that cannot be seen because those often are what causes a part to fail.

“My hunch is that that is what happened, that some microcracks developed that were not visible and the cracks grew and at excessive load conditions, which is what this ride would produce, it led to a part failing,” said Zavodney. “When one part fails it’s a cascade and another part will fail and another part will fail and finally something comes apart.”

Passers by look at the fire ball ride as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers stand guard at the Ohio State Fair Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. The fair opened Thursday but its amusement rides remained closed one day after Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed and seven other people were injured when the thrill ride broke apart and flung people into the air.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Records provided by the state of Ohio included copies of maintenance and operations certifications for two people to operate or attend the Fire Ball ride. Duwan Dowdy, the ride attendant, signed his training certification Wednesday. Luis Benitez, the ride operator, certified his training on June 22.

Dowdy, 21, lives in Columbus, according to a background check and Franklin County Board of Elections records.

It is unclear if either of the men were on shift at the time of the incident.

The records show the ride was previously operated at New Jersey’s State Fair Meadowlands from June 22 to July 9.

In 2014 South Carolina inspectors inspected a Fire Ball ride with the identical serial number of the one in Columbus. The ride received an unsatisfactory mark for “electrical equipment, wiring, fusing, wiring systems and lighting attachments. The issue was corrected and passed upon re-inspection.

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Footage from Ohio State Fair accident

Victim just enlisted in Marines

Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, was thrown from the ride and died at the scene, and his girlfriend Keziah Lewis, 19, of Columbus, was injured.

The Columbus Dispatch interviewed her mother, Clarissa Williams, who said Jarrell had just enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Asked if she was angry at the fair or amusement ride company, Williams told the Dispatch, “I just feel something went terribly wrong, something was overlooked that they should have secured more.”

Three of the injured were taken to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, and two were released by Thursday morning. One, Jennifer Lambert, 18, of Columbus, remains there in critical condition, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, Ohio, recently enlisted in the Marine Corps was killed and seven others were injured, five critically, when a ride malfunctioned on the opening day of the 2017 Ohio State Fair in Columbus.(United States Marine Corps Recruiting South Columbus)

A condition was unavailable on a 14-year-old boy whose parents did not release his name.

Of the three injured people at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, two patients remain in critical condition, and another remains in serious condition after multiple surgeries. The families of those three released a statement thanking the community for an outpouring of concern.

“We appreciate all of your prayers, and we are keeping those who were injured and died in our prayers as well,” they said. “As we focus our attention on the long healing process, we are asking media and the community to respect our privacy during this very difficult time.”

Aerial scenes above accident at Ohio State Fair

Governor Kasich visits fairgrounds

At the fairgrounds Thursday morning, Ohio Gov. John Kasich faced one of the biggest mobs of reporters in his six years as governor. Standing on a makeshift platform near the main gate, Kasich said the Ohio Highway Patrol has his full and total confidence as it conducts the investigation. He promised to stay out of the investigation and said there will be complete transparency.

“We can’t speculate on what we’ll find. What we do know is there will be lessons learned in one way or another that can then be passed on to many of the amusement parks and fairs all across America,” Kasich said.

Passers by look at the fire ball ride as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers stand guard at the Ohio State Fair Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. The fair opened Thursday but its amusement rides remained closed one day after Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed and seven other people were injured when the thrill ride broke apart and flung people into the air.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

He added: “This will not define the Ohio State Fair. The Ohio State Fair will carry on.”

Kasich said he has reached out to the victims’ families and he hopes to meet with them.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels said ride safety is a top priority and inspections are taken seriously, but rides are mechanical equipment that can fail from time to time. His department is in charge of the inspections.

Kasich said despite best efforts to keep rides safe, there are no guarantees in life. He said he thinks about those people thrown from the ride and those hit by debris.

“That’s a nightmare. It’s a terrible situation but all we can do is what is humanly possible to make sure that we provide the safety and the inspections,” Kasich said.

The ride at the fair malfunctioned.

RELATED: After tragedies, rides inspected for safety at area fairs

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1 of 2 dogs rescued in Vandalia house fire taken to vet, second runs off

Published: Thursday, July 27, 2017 @ 5:44 PM
Updated: Thursday, July 27, 2017 @ 7:09 PM

House fire in Vandalia

UPDATE @ 6:55 p.m.: One of two dogs found in the rubble of a Vandalia home damaged by smoke and fire has been taken to an animal hospital and the other ran off as soon as firefighters brought it outside, Fire Chief Chad Follick said. 

The dog that ran off will be fine, the chief said. 

SEE: Trending news headlines

No humans were injured in the house fire on Long Street, the cause of which is under investigation. 

Flames heavily damaged the first floor of the home and there is lots of smoke damage, Follick said, but it's too soon to estimate the dollar loss to the contents and structure.

A fire investigator has been called to the address. 

The house is not habitable, he said.

UPDATE @ 5:50 p.m.:  Firefighters searching a Vandalia home damaged by fire and smoke have found two dogs alive in the rubble. 

The extent of their injuries is not known.

SEE: More local news headlines

INITIAL REPORT

Crews are on the scene of a house fire on Long Street in Vandalia. 

Firefighters reported seeing a lot of smoke coming from the house as they arrived just before 5:30 p.m. 

We have a crew on scene.

We will update this developing report.

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Police raid Piqua home, find evidence of drugs and make an arrest

Published: Thursday, July 27, 2017 @ 7:41 PM

Xavier Roberts (Courtesy/Miami County Jail)
Xavier Roberts (Courtesy/Miami County Jail)

A 24-year-old remains in jail on drug charges following the execution of a search warrant at a home Thursday morning by the Piqua/Sidney Tactical Response Team.

SEE: More crime, law headlines

Xavier Roberts was taken into custody from the address in the 500 block of Orr Street after evidence was obtained in a drug trafficking case, according to a statement issued by the Piqua Police Department. 

Roberts is being detained in the Miami County Jail on felony charges of drug trafficking (cocaine and marijuana) and drug possession (cocaine).

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