NTSB: Enforcement of ag transport safety laws ineffective

Published: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 @ 4:10 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 @ 4:07 PM

Three fatal crashes involving vehicles transporting migrant farmworkers have revealed the government is ineffective in enforcing agricultural transportation safety laws, federal investigators said Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued findings and recommendations after a probe into a 2016 crash near St. Marks, Florida, that left four dead, and dozens more injured after a bus carrying migrant workers ran a stop sign and was struck by a tractor-trailer.

The 56-year-old driver of the farmworkers' bus was likely suffering from sleep deprivation, the board found. It added the driver missed signs at an intersection where roadwork was being carried out that an "alert and attentive" driver would have recognized.

The owner of the bus, Billy R. Evans Harvesting, Inc., also failed to properly oversee its drivers and vehicle safety, the NTSB's report said. The company has since been ordered to cease all operations following the crash, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The board also looked into two other crashes: a 2015 accident outside Little Rock, Arkansas, that killed six migrant workers and another accident that killed six in Virginia.

The NTSB found that drowsy driving was a factor in all three crashes.

An Associated Press review found more than a dozen similar crashes that left at least 38 dead and nearly 200 injured just since January 2015, a tally that included these three accidents. But no one knows for sure how many there are; no agency keeps track of casualties nationally.

The NTSB also found that, despite the existence of federal and state safety rules meant to protect them, farmworkers are still transported in unsafe buses and vans.

"Motor carriers and farm labor contractors often transport workers in unsafe vehicles and without properly qualified and rested drivers," the NTSB report states. "Federal and state agencies have been ineffective in deterring unsafe operations."

The NTSB specifically highlighted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Labor, the agencies charged with enforcing the regulations.

Duane DeBruyne, an FMCSA spokesman, said in an email that the "NTSB is a vital partner in transportation safety and we will thoroughly review the findings of their investigation." The Department of Labor did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The NTSB found that both agencies failed to adequately oversee Billy R. Evans Harvesting prior to the Florida crash, likely due to being understaffed and not having sufficiently trained investigators.

Among its recommendations, the board said the two agencies need to work out a system to share safety data with each other, and to develop new data-driven approaches for targeting the enforcement of existing safety rules given their staffing issues.

Florida woman, 81, smashes car into McDonald's: 'Glass flew everywhere'

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 1:54 AM

The remnants of a car that smashed into a McDonald’s just west of Boynton. (Photo by Alexandra Seltzer / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The remnants of a car that smashed into a McDonald’s just west of Boynton. (Photo by Alexandra Seltzer / The Palm Beach Post)(Palm Beach Post Staff Writer)

An 81-year-old woman suffered minor injuries after she lost control of her Toyota Solara and backed into the glass windows of a McDonald’s west of Boynton Beach, Florida, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

The woman will be charged with careless driving, PBSO spokesperson Teri Barbera said Monday.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: PHOTOS: A history of cars crashing into things in South Florida

The crash happened around 3:30 p.m. at Military Trail and Boynton Beach Boulevard when the woman backed up and inadvertently drove through the window.

“Glass flew everywhere,” said a witness, who said she was drinking a soda inside when the car plowed through the window.

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The witness, who asked not to be identified, said the glass cut her fingers. She said the driver then drove forward and hit her parked Volkswagen. The driver continued about 150 feet and hit a tree next to a canal, Barbera said.

A McDonald’s representative declined to comment. The store and drive-through remain open.

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12-year-old charged as adult in armed carjacking at Walmart

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 11:11 PM

12-year-old Shaquille Dixon, far right, is caught on surveillance video with two other suspects carjacking a woman at gunpoint.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office
12-year-old Shaquille Dixon, far right, is caught on surveillance video with two other suspects carjacking a woman at gunpoint.(Broward County Sheriff’s Office)

A 12-year-old boy in Lauderdale Lakes has been charged as an adult in a carjacking last week, Broward County Sheriff deputies said Monday. 

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According to the sheriff’s office, Shaquille Dixon is one of three juveniles who carjacked an elderly woman at gunpoint on Jan. 15 in a Walmart parking lot. 

Surveillance video from the store on North State Road 7 shows Dixon and two other suspects following the woman into the store. When she is done shopping the woman is seen walking to her car, with the suspects close behind. 

Once the woman got to her car, two of the suspects walked up behind her and the other suspect walked around to the front of the car, pointed a gun and demanded the car keys. The woman complied and the suspects fled with the car so quickly, they almost hit the victim. 

Deputies took Dixon into custody on Jan. 19 and he’s facing felony carjacking charges. 

Here’s what the children in the California torture house did to cope with the abuse

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 9:16 PM

David and Louise Turpin in a court appearance in Riverside County, Calif. The Turpins are facing life behind bars for a series of charges, including torture.
Associated Press
David and Louise Turpin in a court appearance in Riverside County, Calif. The Turpins are facing life behind bars for a series of charges, including torture.(Associated Press)

Authorities are releasing more information about the California “torture house” where over a dozen children were kept in subhuman conditions by their parents, including that the victims kept journals.

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Though the children in the home, ages 2 to 29, were only allowed to bathe twice a year and eat once a day, they were allowed to write all the time. Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said at a press conference on the case that the children kept hundreds of journals and that he believes they will be “very significant” in the upcoming court case, the Desert Sun reported. Hestrin added that he thinks the journals will provide “strong evidence of what occurred in that home.”

>> Related: Couple behind California torture house just appeared in court — here’s what they had to say

Researchers are also interested in the journals as they detail the first-hand accounts of horrific abuse. One academic told the Desert Sun “There is a good chance that being able to write may have kept them sane. In an interesting way, this may have helped them come to terms with the bizarre world they lived in.” He even compared them to the journals kept by Anne Frank.

The journals could prove valuable for prosecutors as they might provide damning evidence that could be used to cross-examine the parents, David and Louise Turpin. The Turpins are facing life behind bars for a series of charges, including torture.

The journals have not been made public, and law enforcement officials are currently in the process of reviewing them.

>> Related: Giant burning spider spreads flames in apartment, after torched by tenants

The conditions in the home were unimaginable. The children were reportedly beaten and chained to furniture. Neighbors recalled seeing them marching during the night, and they were almost never allowed outside. They were finally liberated when one girl escaped and managed to find a police officer. She was 17 years old, but her growth was so stunted that police allegedly estimated her to be closer to 10 years old when they first saw her.

Woman who killed two children in murder-suicide had no history of ‘mental problems’

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 9:56 PM

Al and Patricia Treadway talk with a North Carolina reporter about the murder-suicide of their daughter and two grandchildren earlier this month. Police say Christina Treadway killed the children before jumping off a bridge to her death.
WSOC TV
Al and Patricia Treadway talk with a North Carolina reporter about the murder-suicide of their daughter and two grandchildren earlier this month. Police say Christina Treadway killed the children before jumping off a bridge to her death.(WSOC TV)

Dozens of people gathered Sunday night in northwest Charlotte to remember three lives lost.

Mourners lit candles and prayed for Isaiah and Iliyah Miller, as well as their mother, Christina Treadway, near their home on Sebastiani Drive.

Police said Treadway killed her two children before killing herself along Interstate 485 earlier this month.

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In a new and emotional interview with Treadway's parents, Al and Patricia Treadway said were still in disbelief over their daughter and two grandchildren’s deaths.

Christina Treadway, 34, killed her two children before jumping off a bridge on Interstate 485, police said.

Christina Treadway with her two children, 7-year-old Isaiah, left, and 3-year-old Iliyah.(Instagram)

“She was just a lovely person. She was loved by so many people,” Patricia Treadway said. “She’s never had a mental problem. We never had a problem with Christina in any shape or form with mental or depression or anything to do with depression at all."

The Treadways told Eyewitness News that their daughter left the family a suicide note on Facebook with instructions to delete the note after reading what she had to say.

“She said she was sorry and to pretend to just forgive her and pretend she was 3,000 miles away happy," Al Treadway said. "Part of the message that she left for us said she couldn't leave her children without a mother and no one else would ever raise her kids. No one.”

Investigators are trying to figure out what led to the deaths of Treadway and her two children, 7-year-old Isaiah and 3-year-old Iliyah.

“Iliyah had a lot of what Tina had. She was a primper. She wanted to wear makeup. She’d say, 'Mommy do my makeup' so Christina would do her makeup for her and then they'd snap pictures and things. Isaiah, he was all boy. He was a prankster,” Patricia Treadway said.

>> Related: Charlotte neighborhood left shaken by deaths of 7- and 3-year-old kids

The Treadways said that their daughter was a singer and aspiring entrepreneur who wanted to start her own business to teach women about makeup and beauty and to encourage them to look and feel confident for job interviews.

Their daughter also had a YouTube channel where she displayed her talents and often featured her children singing.

"When she walked into a room, she lit it up just like her children," her mother said. “Their whole life was so much ahead of them, much like Christina.”

"We are devastated. My whole family is devastated and the question right now in everybody's mind is, ‘Why?" her father said.

The family said days before the death of their daughter and grandchildren, Christina made plans with her parents to move back to California.

“The plans were already made. We didn’t buy the tickets because we hadn’t heard from her,” her mother said. “If she was hurting that bad, I wish she would have called me that day to let me know.”

As investigators work to find out key details leading up to their daughter’s death, the Treadways are willing to wait as long as it takes to get those answers.

“I would rather them investigate, and investigate, and investigate and find out exactly what happened, no matter what the result. Rather than just say, ‘Oh, she just snapped and jumped off a bridge.'"

Neighbors have set up a small memorial in front of Christina Treadway’s home. The family is planning a service for Treadway and her children in California in the coming weeks.