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Couple gets $2 million cellphone bill from Verizon

Published: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 @ 6:31 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 @ 6:31 PM

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Imagine going to check the statement for a phone bill and seeing a balance of $2 million.

That’s what happened to one Oregon couple that had a phone plan with Verizon Wireless for just one month.

“It’s been very stressful to say the least,” Ken Slusher told KUTV.

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Slusher and his girlfriend opened an account with Verizon late last year and cancelled the account shortly after when they started noticing serious discrepancies on their bills.

According to KUTV, Slusher said their first bill was $698, $578 more than it should have been. The next bill stated a balance of only $9.

“The number of errors [was] astounding to me,” he said.

By January, Slusher and his girlfriend had their account with the cellular company cancelled and had also returned both phones they had purchased with the business.

Even still, soon collection agencies starting calling the two demanding thousands of dollars. Slusher and his girlfriend say they’ve gone back and forth with customer service representatives, who agree the charges are a mistake. And yet, there’s been no resolution.

When Slusher checked his Verizon account on Monday, he found out about the now $2,156,593.64 balance.

On Tuesday, Slusher and his girlfriend wired a down payment on a new house for them and their children. They are scheduled to close on the house early next week but might not be able to. Slusher’s mortgage company won’t sign off on a loan.

“If I don’t get this straightened out in the next 24 hours, I can almost guarantee I’ll lose this house,” he said.  

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Solutions from local opioid forums presented to state leaders

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

Each naloxone kit distributed by Project DAWN includes a nasal spray device with two doses of 2 mg each of the overdose-reversing drug. Wider distribution of naloxone is one of the proposed solutions presented to state officials Monday at a meeting with media representatives from the organization Your Voice Ohio. KATIE WEDELL/STAFF
Katie Wedell
Each naloxone kit distributed by Project DAWN includes a nasal spray device with two doses of 2 mg each of the overdose-reversing drug. Wider distribution of naloxone is one of the proposed solutions presented to state officials Monday at a meeting with media representatives from the organization Your Voice Ohio. KATIE WEDELL/STAFF(Katie Wedell)

Proposed solutions to Ohio’s addiction crisis that grew out of a collaboration between journalists and local communities will be presented to Gov. John Kasich’s office.

Through a series of community forums, including five in southwest Ohio in February, journalists with Your Voice Ohio heard from an estimated 500 individuals who have been touched in some way by the opioid crisis. Each person had the opportunity to suggest changes they’d like to see locally and statewide to address the opioid epidemic that has killed more than 10,000 Ohioans in the past three years.

A summary of the ideas generated during those sessions was shared Monday with state leaders representing many agencies that have direct impact on pieces of the opioid crisis — including the directors of the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, representatives from the state medical and pharmacy boards and the Deputy Director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team.

“Our collective responsibility is to talk about what can we do to help address some of the issues that you bring forth,” said Tracy Plouck, director of OMHAS. Her organization works directly with the governor’s action team and will develop action steps based on the information gathered by Your Voice Ohio, Plouck said.

RELATED: Local residents weigh in on drug crisis

Doug Oplinger, director of Your Voice Ohio, said those living through the crisis should be involved in finding solutions. “In every community we visited there was a feeling of desperation among those struggling with recovery, and in their families a feeling of guilt or helplessness,” Oplinger said. “People were saying they’re falling through the cracks.”

One of the biggest revelations from the community forums and passed on to state leaders was the uneven availability of various solutions from county to county and even city to city.

While there is evidence that efforts like drug courts, needle exchanges, rapid response teams, comprehensive drug education in schools and coordination between jails and treatment providers have worked to improve outcomes for those with substance abuse disorders, those solutions are embraced only sporadically.

“(We) saw differences in death rates between two similar counties where one had medically assisted treatment through drug court and the other did not,” Oplinger said. “We detected tension in some communities.”

In some counties there has been an understanding of addiction as a disease, while in others, addicts are still seen as and treated as criminals, Oplinger said.

RELATED: Drug crisis in Ohio: What solutions are making a difference?

“The culture is not just local,” said Gary Mohr, the state’s corrections director. He noted numerous measures that have been suggested to keep drug addicts out of prisons and get them into treatment instead, each of which has been met with resistance from prosecutors, judges, and county commissions.

Mohr highlighted Senate Bill 66, which would allow judges more discretion in sealing drug records and diverting people to treatment.

Recovering from opioid addiction: ‘I had to get help or I was going to die’

Responding to a lack of participation in the community forums by medical professionals, State Medical Board President Robert Giacalone said that was a “shame” and that the board is actively working to educate doctors about their role preventing addiction.

“Quite honestly I’m blown away by some of the information you have,” he said of the Your Voice Ohio report.

Other leaders at the meeting recognized that there is a disconnect between what the state is doing to attack the drug epidemic and the public’s perception of what’s being done — reflected in many of the responses from the forums in which people said the government and media don’t care about them.

HOW TO GET HELP: An opioid addiction resource guide

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director at OMHAS, called stigma the most destructive force in this crisis, resulting in treatment services that are available but aren’t getting tapped.

“There are a few things in (The Your Voice Ohio presentation) that really impacted me, and I think impacted a lot of us,” he said.

Your Voice Ohio is a collaboration of news organizations around the state, including the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and the (Butler County) Journal-News. The group’s purpose is to bring the collective power of the organizations to foster positive change in the state.

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DDN reporter recognized for military coverage by national association

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:19 AM


            Dayton Daily News Reporter Barrie Barber
Dayton Daily News Reporter Barrie Barber

Dayton Daily News reporter Barrie Barber was named an award winner for his military coverage by the Military Reporters & Editors Association.

Barber’s reporting in 2017 on the Air Force’s growing pilot shortage crisis and its efforts to combat cyber attacks was recognized by the association, an organization for U.S. media professionals specializing in national security.

The winners of this year’s competition will be formally recognized at MRE’s annual conference, scheduled for Oct. 26 at the Navy League of the United States headquarters in Arlington, Va.

The judges of the MRE competition were faculty members at the Medill School of Journalism of Northwestern University and Howard University.

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Toronto van attack: 9 dead, injuries reported

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:21 PM

Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a crowd  of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in the intersection in Toronto and struck the pedestrians and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)
Aaron Vincent Elkaim/AP
Emergency services close Yonge Street in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk crashing into a crowd of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in the intersection in Toronto and struck the pedestrians and fled the scene before it was found and the driver was taken into custody, Canadian police said. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP)(Aaron Vincent Elkaim/AP)

A van apparently jumped onto a sidewalk Monday at a busy intersection in Toronto and struck down pedestrians before the vehicle was found and the driver taken into custody, Canadian police said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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HURRICANE HARVEY: Bait shop owner’s insurance payout thwarted by a typo

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 9:49 AM

Mary Ann Heiman purchased windstorm insurance for her property along the causeway between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, believing her business was covered when Hurricane Harvey destroyed the property. However, later, when she placed a claim with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), she was denied citing an inverted address number. Heiman stands on the concrete platform where the business once stood, on Thursday April 20, 2018, in Port Aransas, TX.
AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Mary Ann Heiman purchased windstorm insurance for her property along the causeway between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas, believing her business was covered when Hurricane Harvey destroyed the property. However, later, when she placed a claim with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), she was denied citing an inverted address number. Heiman stands on the concrete platform where the business once stood, on Thursday April 20, 2018, in Port Aransas, TX.(AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Mary Ann Heiman opened her bait shop on the the causeway that crosses Redfish Bay to Port Aransas in 2011. From the outside, 1950 Hwy 361 was nothing fancy.

“The building was just an old metal building that had sat here since the 1980s,” she said. “It was basically held together with nails and glue and love and duct tape.” The real value of Offshore Adventures was the equipment inside, the tanks and freezers Heiman needed to hold the crabs, shrimp, mud minnows and mullet that anglers bought in their pursuit of the Texas coast’s rich lode of redfish, trout and drum.

A resident of the area on and off since her 1950s childhood there, Heiman knew the wild weather that occasionally swept in from the Gulf and the havoc it could leave behind. Last July she purchased a policy from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to cover $60,000-worth of business personal property inside 1590 Hwy. 361 from high wind damage. It cost $679.

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Heiman’s timing couldn’t have been better. Hurricane Harvey barreled into Port Aransas a month later, on the evening of August 25, packing 130 mph winds and driving rain.

When Heiman was allowed back into the area a few days later, her bait shop had disappeared, the splintered debris of her livelihood hurled inland by the Category 4 winds. A group of wooden pylons roughly representing the outline of the shop poked out of the sand like a mouthful of broken teeth.

PHOTOS: Port Aransas recovery, seven months later

It was only after the adjuster for the windstorm insurance association went out to the site and agreed the record winds had destroyed her bait shop that it was discovered Heiman’s insurance agent had accidentally transposed two of the numbers in Offshore Adventures’ street address. In letters and phone calls, he asked TWIA to correct the typo so Heiman could collect her due and rebuild the business.

The association refused. Heiman’s policy for 1590 Hwy 361 did not cover 1950 Hwy 361, representatives explained. Her claim for the money she needed to restart her bait shop was stamped “denied.”

For more on Heiman’s dilemma, and how the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has served consumers since Hurricane Harvey, visit MyStatesman.com

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