WSU grad, Centerville football coach killed in crash

Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 5:21 AM
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 @ 10:43 AM


            WSU grad, Centerville football coach killed in crash

An assistant coach for the Centerville Elks High School football team was killed in a crash on Interstate 70 that closed a portion of the highway for more than three hours Sunday morning.

Francois Hagenimana, 24, an alumnus of Centerville High School and a resident of Kettering, was driving west in the eastbound lanes on I-70 in a Toyota Scion when his vehicle collided head-on with a Honda Accord driven by Jason Fricke, 28, of Westerville around 3:09 a.m., according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene. Neither driver had passengers.

"At this point in time the investigation does look like we did have somebody that was going the wrong way," said Lt. Matthew Cleaveland of the state patrol.

Several 911 calls were received before the crash from drivers reporting a wrong-way driver on the interstate, Cleaveland said.

It was unknown at press time whether alcohol or speed were factors in the crash.

Hagenimana was in his first year as an assistant coach with the Elks and had recently enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He wanted to become a Navy SEAL.

Hagenimana attended Ashland University, where he played corner and safety. He graduated in 2012.

Fricke is a 2010 engineering graduate of Wright State University. He was on I-70 returning to Westerville after visiting friends in the Dayton area, his friends told News Center 7.

Friends also said Fricke was a great friend and "was the kind of guy that would give the last dollar in his pocket and the shirt off his back just so he could bring happiness to someone else."

The speed limit on the stretch of I-70 was increased to 70 miles per hour in July. The change has not resulted in an influx in crashes along the interstate, but the State Highway Patrol will review a long-term study of crashes over time as the speed limits continue to change across the state, Cleaveland sad.

Under a new law, going into effect today, any roads designated as rural divided highways will now have a speed limit of 60 mph while rural expressways without traffic signals will have a speed limit of 65 mph. Rural freeways across the state will move to a speed limit of 70 mph.

"You can only imagine both vehicles going around the speed limit of 70 mph and when you get a head-on crash with those kind of speeds it's usually pretty bad," Cleaveland said.

After the initial impact, each vehicle veered right, sending one car into the wire barricade and the second into a grassy embankment. Both vehicles were heavily damaged in the wreck.

Valerie Carson, of the Cleveland area, was returning home from Kansas City, where her family had attended a funeral over the weekend. She was devastated to see the destruction.

"It just hurt me so bad, because I could only imagine that that person was either going home or maybe leaving home and may have said goodbye to a family member," Carson said. "Who knows that when you say goodbye, it could be the last time you say goodbye."

Carson, along with dozens of other drivers, sat in their vehicles on the highway while officials cleaned up the crash.

The Ohio Department of Transportation was summoned to the scene to place lighted arrow boards directing drivers off east I-70 at the U.S. 40 exit.

The highway was reopened to drivers just before 7 a.m.



Truck loses top beneath 'Graffiti Bridge'

Published: Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 10:52 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 10:52 PM


            Truck loses top beneath 'Graffiti Bridge'

A box truck lost its top driving beneath a bridge -- and an artist’s video camera caught the accident as it happened.

Artist Roger Fine was working on a “Happy Holiday” mural at the Graffiti Bridge, a former train trestle turned artistic landmark, when a rental truck careened down the street and lost its top on the low-clearance overpass.

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The video was seen live a few weeks ago by followers of The Graffiti Bridge Facebook page but a clip of the impact was posted Friday.

A “Here’s Your Sign” T-Shirt, emblazoned with the image of a 10-foot, 8-inch yellow clearance sign, is for sale through the landmark’s website.

“We all know the inspiration behind this shirt, and well... It happened again,” the description reads. “It seems another truck driver ignored the signs and wanted to test the strength of his truck, and #TheGraffitiBridge won again.”

Truck drivers who hit the bridge can get a shirt for free. And while the bridge has been hit numerous times, no one has yet to take them up on the offer.

Police: Elderly woman hears grandson stab her daughter to death

Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


            Police: Elderly woman hears grandson stab her daughter to death

An elderly Texas woman listened helplessly over the phone Friday night as her grandson stabbed her daughter to death, police said.

Dedré Jefferson and her mother, Ella Jefferson, were worried about Blake Jefferson, a 22-year-old student at Texas Southern University, according to police. ABC 13 in Houston reported that Blake had begun having “spiritual visions” and, on a recent Sunday, ran into a local church and interrupted services to tell the congregation about those visions.

Dedré Jefferson, a former longtime teacher who last year was elected to the Alief ISD’s board of trustees, had made an appointment for her son to talk to someone about his mental health on Friday, a family friend told the news station.

That appointment came too late.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Ella Jefferson, 73, got a phone call around 2 a.m. Friday from her 48-year-old daughter, who told her that Blake Jefferson was acting strange. She said she thought her son had taken some pills.

Ella Jefferson told her daughter to run away and find help.

“I can’t. He’s stabbing me,” Dedré Jefferson told her mother just before the phone went dead, the Chronicle reported.

Ella Jefferson called police and drove to the townhouse that her daughter and grandson shared. She also called the family’s minister, Gregg Patrick, who met her in front of the home.

“She was screaming, ‘I think he killed my daughter,’” Patrick told the newspaper.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they and Ella Jefferson found Dedré Jefferson’s body in the garage of the home. She had been stabbed multiple times.

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Blake Jefferson was arrested for murder a short time later in a neighboring townhouse after breaking into the unit and hiding in a closet, the Chronicle said.

Family and friends are left trying to figure out why the young man, who had no criminal record, attacked his mother.

“At this point, we have no idea what the argument was, or if there was even an argument,” Harris County sheriff’s Sgt. Ben Beall told the Chronicle.

KHOU reported that Blake Jefferson sobbed loudly Monday morning during a brief court appearance in his case. He is being held without bond in the Harris County jail.

A candlelight vigil was held Monday night to remember Dedré Jefferson, who Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers described as a “proud Alief ISD graduate, former employee and current board member.”

School board members also released a statement in which they said they are “devastated by the tragic loss” of their friend and colleague.

“You will not find a bigger advocate for public education than Dedré Jefferson,” the statement read. “She made a lasting impression on everyone she met in the community. Her impact will be felt for a very long time in Alief. She will be missed by many.”

Jefferson’s funeral is set for Thursday. 

New restaurants, retail shops coming to Oxford

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

New restaurants and retail shops are coming to a development on the former Walmart site in Oxford.

Bishop Square — a 50,000-square-foot mixed use development at 419 Locust Street that currently includes 272 units of student housing — is adding Marco’s Pizza, Tim Hortons, a Sprint retail store and a bank.

“The final stage is important because we’ll be building the outlots that sit along Locust, which will serve as the front door to the whole project,” said Josh Rothstein, of Blue Ash-based OnSite Retail Group, which is handling marketing and leasing for the project. “The retailers and restaurants are excited to open their locations here because being across from Kroger, TJ Maxx and Dollar Tree provides tremendous exposure, great visibility and easy access to the shoppers already passing through this part of town.

“It’s also easily in walking distance to not only the concentration of Miami’s campus, but also the off-campus housing population,” Rothstein said.

Two other storefronts on the site are being are in the process of being leased, he said.

Existing Bishop Square tenants include Oxford Lane Library, Mercy Health - Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Great Clips and Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge. A second-floor above some of those tenants includes office space.

Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director, said the community is excited to see the Bishop Square project moving into its final phases.

“In 2005, when Walmart moved away from this site, the abandoned building that was left behind was a large eyesore for the Tollgate Business District, as well as for the whole community,” Kyger said. “Developer Robert Fiorita is to be commended in providing such a good-looking redevelopment project.

“The addition of these merchants will provide the citizens of Oxford additional shopping options. I expect each of these new businesses to be very successful in this new development.”

Marco’s Pizza has 700 stores in 35 states, doubling in size over the last five years and on track to 1,000 stores by the end of 2017, according to the company. Area locations include Middletown, Monroe, Hamilton and Liberty Twp. in Butler County.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 locations in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Area locations include Monroe, Springboro and Maineville in Warren County.

Mother, 25, sent to prison in infant’s death

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 5:11 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 7:06 PM

A 25-year-old mother convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering in the 2009 death of her 6-month-old son was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison.

Amber Gipson was convicted on Sept. 4 on single counts of each crime, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Her son was found dead July 29, 2009, in a laundry basket beside a bed in which she was sleeping, according to police. Toxicology tests found cocaine in the blood streams of Gipson, who was 23 at the time, and the baby.

The county coroner ruled the cause of death as positional asphyxia.

“This mother utterly failed to protect her child from harm,” Heck said. “Parents have a responsibility to care for their children and cannot do that when they are high on cocaine, as this mother was.”

According to court records, Gipson has a long arrest record, including for prostitution-related offenses. In 2005, she served six months for grand theft auto. In 2006, she served six months for drug trafficking in crack cocaine.