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Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 6:30 PM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 6:30 PM
SAVANNAH, Ga. — A railroad owner must pay $3.9 million to the family of a movie worker killed on a Georgia railroad trestle in 2014, a jury decided Monday in civil verdict that found the company shared in the blame for the deadly freight train collision even though the film crew was trespassing.
The parents of Sarah Jones sued CSX Transportation in Chatham County State Court, saying the railroad shared blame for their daughter's death. The 27-year-old camera assistant died in the crash Feb. 20, 2014, during the first day of shooting "Midnight Rider," an ill-fated movie about Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band.
"This trial disclosed a number of exceptionally poor judgments and ignored opportunities by CSX Transportation to prevent this tragedy," Jones' parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones of Columbia, South Carolina, said in a written statement.
CSX plans to appeal the jury's decision, said Rob Doolittle, a spokesman for the Jacksonville, Florida-based company.
"CSX is deeply sympathetic to the terrible loss suffered by the family of Ms. Sarah Jones, but respectfully disagrees with the conclusions reached by the jury today," Doolittle said.
The film's director, Randall Miller, served a year in jail after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing charges. Jones' parents said CSX also failed to take precautions that could have averted the crash on a trestle spanning the Altamaha River near Jesup in southeast Georgia.
Jones' family had also sued Miller, his fellow production managers and several other defendants. All of them except for CSX settled or otherwise resolved their cases out of court. The jury Monday found $11.2 million to be the total value of Jones' life as well as her pain and suffering. Jurors decided CSX — the only defendant on trial — bore 35 percent of the responsibility for Jones' death, making the railroad's share $3.9 million.
The jury in Savannah heard testimony during the civil trial that two CSX trains rolled through while the movie crew stood on both sides of the tracks within an hour before the crash, but the operators of those trains never called dispatchers to alert them. Jurors also were shown a CSX policy that train operators are expected to immediately report trespassers on its tracks and rights of way.
Jeffrey Harris, the Jones family's attorney, also noted that the train's brakes weren't applied until after the locomotive struck a hospital bed the filmmakers had placed across the tracks. Actor William Hurt, hired to play Allman, had been lying in the bed before the train came upon the crew at 53 mph (85 kph). Hurt escaped unharmed.
Six crew members were injured by flying shrapnel from the bed. Jones was run over.
Hurt appeared in Savannah and sat outside the courtroom during the trial's first day last week. But the actor was never called to testify in the case.
CSX attorneys blamed the crash entirely on the filmmakers. CSX officials had twice sent production managers emails denying them permission to shoot on the bridge. Three of Jones' co-workers testified that production managers never told the rest of the crew members, who went onto the railroad trestle unaware they were trespassing.
CSX lawyers argued that evidence of failures to follow company policies doesn't prove the railroad was negligent. They said the engineer in the crash didn't brake sooner because he was afraid the train would derail and possibly dump its payload of shipping containers onto people who were huddled on the bridge's narrow walkway beside the tracks.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:06 PM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Fred Lamar’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air sat in a garage, just as he left it, for 30 years.
Until about a year ago, when his grandson, Cameron Dedman, started restoring the iconic Motor City machine.
On Saturday, Lamar, 81, nearly passed out when the car was revealed to him.
“I have been doing a full frame off restoration of this car a big surprise for my grandpa,” Dedman wrote in a post with the photos of the restored Bel Air. “He’s my best friend and truly deserves it.”
Lamar has owned the vehicle since the 1950s. The pair plan to take it to car shows this spring and summer, according to WHAS.
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 10:18 PM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A firefighter was driving home from work when he saw a dog in the middle of the road. While many drivers honked their horns and continued past the dog, the firefighter, Justin Luttrell, stopped.
“She was freezing, shaking and terrified -- it was written all over her face with her tail tucked between her legs,” Lutrell said in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Before I left work I checked the weather. It was -1 with wind chill. I pulled over to try and pick her up.”
Lutrell said the dog was nearly hit by cars. He used cooked chicken and lunch meat to get her close and he finally caught up to the dog a fourth of a mile down the road.
“She had icicles hanging off of her with multiple sores on her body and looked anorexic,” Lutrell said in the post. “Not knowing if she’d bite me or if she had rabies, etc., I picked her up and put her in the back seat of my truck.”
Lutrell said he drove to an Animal Emergency Center in Memphis, where he was told the dog was heartworm negative, didn’t appear spayed and did not have a microchip.
Lutrell made the public post in hopes of getting the dog adopted.
“She is extremely sweet and will be needing a home,” he wrote. “Please share this to find this sweetheart a good loving home and keep her off the streets.”
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 11:49 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:52 AM
— Some Wells Fargo customers found their bank accounts drained to zero Wednesday when some sort of glitch caused their online bill payments to be processed twice.
Numerous customers -- so many that Wells Fargo’s customer service phone lines were jammed Wednesday night -- were discovering that recent payments they had made using the bank’s online Bill Pay system had been deducted twice from their checking accounts.
In some cases, that sent customers’ balances to zero -- or below zero -- and triggered the possibility of overdraft protection fees. Some customers received email notices telling them that they now had no money in their checking accounts.
Customers who waited out the hour-plus wait to reach a customer service representative Wednesday night were being told that their accounts would be fixed overnight. By Thursday morning, some customers did report seeing their accounts restored to normal.
“We are aware of the online Bill Pay situation which was caused by an internal processing error,” Wells Fargo communications manager Hilary O’Byrne said in a statement late Wednesday. “We are currently working to correct it, and there is no action required for impacted customers at this time. Any fees or charges that may have been incurred as a result of this error will be taken care of. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
O’Byrne declined to say how many customers were affected or to describe how the double charges occurred.
In the meantime, customers took to social media to share their shock and frustration over not being able to access the money that should have been in their checking accounts.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 7:30 AM
— The U.S. Navy has announced that five officers, including two commanders, will face negligent homicide charges connected to separate incidents involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain that cost 17 sailors their lives.
A Navy spokesman, Capt. Greg Hicks, said the charges, which also include dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, will be presented to what the military calls an Article 32 hearing to determine whether the accused are taken to trial in a court-martial.
The disciplinary actions were decided by Adm. Frank Caldwell and are the latest in a series of moves the Navy has made in the aftermath of the deadly collisions, which investigators concluded were avoidable. It fired several top leaders, including the commander of the 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, and several other senior commanders in the Pacific.
The Navy said it is filing at least three charges against four officers of the Fitzgerald, including the commanding officer, who was Cmdr. Bryce Benson at the time. Benson suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Yokosuka, Japan. A Navy investigation found that Benson left the ship’s bridge before the collision. Also facing charges are two lieutenants and one lieutenant junior grade, whose names were not disclosed. The Navy said all four face criminal charges, including negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship.
Fewer officers from the McCain are being charged. The Navy said the ship’s commander at the time, Cmdr. Alfredo J. Sanchez, is being charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. A chief petty officer, whose name was not disclosed, faces a charge of dereliction of duty.
In a statement, Hicks said the announcement of charges Tuesday is “not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.”
In June, the 7th Fleet notified families of the seven sailors who drowned after a 29,060-ton container ship called the ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald.
The Navy identified the deceased then as Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, Calif.; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.
"We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates ... as details emerge, we can all be proud of the...Posted by The Virginian-Pilot on Monday, June 19, 2017
Divers found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the USS Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision.
Two months later, the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided, killing 10 U.S. sailors.
The remains of all 10 USS John McCain Sailors have been recovered. May they all rest in peace. Salute x 10 to our fallen heroes. pic.twitter.com/uIvlmBNA7l— Ava- I love my USA! (@WEdwarda) August 28, 2017
The deceased in that incident: Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, Amazonia, Mo.; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, El Paso; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Gaithersburg, Md.; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Manchester, Md.; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Suffield, Conn.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Killeen, Tex.; Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Decatur, Ill.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Cherry Hill, N.J.
The Navy dismissed three-star commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin in August after “los[ing] confidence in his ability to command.”