Spirit Airlines pilot’s suspected overdose draws national attention

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 5:08 PM

Their deaths could be drug related.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the medical certifications of the deceased Spirit Airlines pilot from Centerville who died of a likely drug overdose were up-to-date but have not said why the agency’s publicly-available database used by crash investigators suggests he was unable to fly any aircraft in the United States.

The four children of Brian Halye, a pilot, and Courtney Halye found the couple dead in the bedroom of their Centerville home Thursday in Montgomery County Coroner’s Office Director Ken Betz called a “probable accidental drug overdose.”

FIRST REPORT: Overdoses likely cause of death of Centerville couple

NEW DETAILS: Centerville pilot used drugs for 2-3 years before OD death, report says

Betz said examinations on the couple have been completed, but a final determination on the cause and manner will take six weeks until toxicology reports are completed. Since Jan. 1, Montgomery County has had 155 accidental drug overdoses, Betz said.

The case attracted national media attention Friday.

Officer John Davis, Centerville Police spokesman, said, “I think maybe just where it occurred, and what occurred, has drawn some attention to that. I know that the speculation as to Mr. Halye’s employment has also drawn attention to it. That’s not the focus of our investigation at this time.”

Investigators have not given any indication the Spirit Airlines pilot used drugs prior to his death. Brian Halye’s last flight for the company before his death was March 10, a Spirit Airlines spokesman said.

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Questions remain about why a federal database did not show up-to-date information on Brian Halye.

Aviation safety expert Shawn Pruchnicki of Ohio State University told the Dayton Daily News the database is one of the tools used by the National Transportation Safety Board during investigations of air disasters.

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The FAA told the Dayton Daily News on Thursday that Brian Halye had a valid first-class medical certificate allowing him to fly. But the agency could not definitively answer why the public database of airmen indicated the certificate expired more than four years ago.

The Dayton Daily News has filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request for Brian Halye’s medical certificates.

Pilots must hold valid medical certificates in order to fly. The Airline Transport Pilot certificate, which he held, requires a first-class medical certificate, which must be updated every 12 months for a pilot under the age of 40. Brian Halye was 36.

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The FAA database lists Brian Halye’s medical certificate date as September, 2011, more than five years ago. No class of pilot is allowed to go that long without a medical exam. Asked Thursday to double check, Cory said Brian Halye’s certificate was up-to-date, with it due to expire this fall.

“I’m not sure why the online database does not have that information,” Cory said in an email to the Dayton Daily News on Thursday. “The system could be in the process of update.”

The database is updated each federal working day at midnight, according to the FAA’s website.

Cory said she asked another FAA employee on Thursday to check Brian Halye’s medical certification. The employee, a medical doctor, Cory said, “went into the airman’s file and looked it up.”

“The online database is one of many that we have,” she said Friday. “It is a very basic listing of name and certificate. It is separate from an in-depth medical file. It is not the only database we have.”

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Pruchnicki, a lecturer at OSU’s Center for Aviation Studies and a pharmacist, said he’s never had a problem seeing his medical certifications in the airmen database.

“I’ve always been able to pull up my own medicals to see,” said Pruchnicki, a former Comair pilot, after hearing about the FAA’s response to the newspaper. 

The newspaper has asked Spirit Airlines if it is conducting an internal investigation into Brian Halye’s death. The airline did not respond at time of publication.

Martin Rottler, also an OSU lecturer, said he did not expect “anything nefarious” was going on with the FAA’s records.

“They have several hundred pilot records that are in there,” Rottler said. “The carriers and the FAA have better records and far greater records than what you’ll find on the FAA database.”

Brian Halye had two children from a previous marriage, as did Courtney Halye. Her former husband, Jacob Castor, died in August 2007 from an accidental drug overdose, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Two of the children attend Centerville schools. The other two attend Spring Valley Academy.

Spring Valley released a statement Friday that read in part: ” … we are doing all we can to provide all appropriate support for them and all their classmates who are affected by this heartbreaking loss. As a Christian community we take comfort in the promise of ultimate healing, restoration, and resurrection but at the moment we are deeply grieving with our students and their families.”

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Prison for driver who killed motorcycle rider

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 4:35 PM

Fatal crash on Ohio 4 in Riverside

A driver speeding at more than 100 mph, slammed the back of a motorcycle, and killed a Dayton woman riding on the back. 

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David Olsen, 25, of Bloomington, Illinois, was sentenced to eight years in prison in the death of Alysha Lewis, 30, of Dayton. Olsen was sentenced after withdrawing his not guilty plea April 12 and pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault and improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle.

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Prosecutors said Olsen was driving intoxicated at speeds over 100 mph when he hit the motorcycle on Harshman Road in Riverside in October 2017. Officers also found a loaded gun in Olsen’s car. 

“A completely innocent victim tragically lost her life because this defendant was driving impaired and in excess of 10 mph. This serves as another example of why persons should not drink and drive,” said Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck.

Tune in to WHIO-TV at 5:30 p.m. for more details on today’s sentencing.

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Piqua man strangled with garrote in Warren County prison

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 1:19 PM

A 40-year-old man serving an 18-month sentence for domestic violence in Miami County was apparently strangled to death in his cell at Lebanon Correctional Institution on Monday, according to authorities.

A garrote, a tool used to kill someone by strangulation, was found around the neck of a Miami County inmate on Monday at Lebanon Correctional Institution, according to the initial investigative report.

Kevin Nill, 40, of Piqua, was less than a month from the end of an 18-month sentence for domestic violence in Miami County when he was pronounced dead at 9:43 a.m. Monday at the Atrium Medical Center, according to investigators and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction records.

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“The victim inmate was found unresponsive in his cell with a garrotte around his neck at Lebanon Correctional Institution. The victim inmate was transported to Atrium Medical Center where he was later pronounced deceased,” Trooper Laura Harvey said in a report obtained today by this newspaper.

Doyle Burke, chief investigator for the Warren County Coroner’s Office, said Wednesday an autopsy and other evidence determined Nill was strangled to death in his cell at Lebanon Correctional Institution on Monday, according to authorities.

The incident at the prison on Ohio 63, west of Lebanon, Harvey’s report said, lists the offense as murder, although no charges have been filed.

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Nill was to be released on May 24, according to on-line Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction records.

He was not hanging when he was found and injuries were consistent with strangulation, which was determined to be the cause of death, Burke said.

According to prison and court records, Judge Jeannine Pratt sentenced Nill to 18 months in prison on April 20, 2017. With credit for time served, he was scheduled for release on May 24.

On April 7, 2017, a motion for a competency evaluation was withdrawn and Nill pleaded guilty to attempted domestic violence.

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The sentencing was delayed so that a pre-sentence investigation could be completed, according to on-line Miami County records.

The case stemmed from an assault on a relative, according to police reports. Pratt’s sentence followed a recommendation shared by the prosecutor and Nill’s lawyer, according to court records.

His prior record in Miami County Common Pleas Court listed a series of cases dating back to 1996 and including escape, receiving stolen property, felonious assault, kidnapping, violation of a protective order, domestic violence and attempted violence, including 2009 and 2015 cases in both of which he was sentenced to 11 months in prison.

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Harvey declined to comment on the case, while the investigation continued.

Prison officials confirmed the fatality and investigation, but provided no other information.

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Juvenile suspects in cruiser ramming have previous felony charges

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 11:18 AM

Cruiser ramming: Prior attempted stop on vehicle

The two juveniles among four identified suspects in the Monday ramming of a police cruiser have previous felony cases.

The 16- and 15-year-olds are among four suspected of using a stolen car to hit a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office cruiser on Monday at a Valero gas station at Siebenthaler Avenue and Philadelphia Drive in Harrison Twp.

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Juvenile court records obtained by this news organization indicate the 16-year-old’s first serious offense was stealing a golf cart from Madden Golf Course in May 2017.

In the months after that, however, the 16-year-old from Dayton was twice charged with receiving stolen property (both vehicles), breaking and entering and possession of heroin as well as some misdemeanors and violations of electronic home monitoring.

No family members were in court for the 16-year-old on Tuesday, when Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi told him, “Your record is only 13 pages long. Congratulations.”

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The 15-year-old’s felony record cases stretch back to July 2016 — when he was 14 — and include breaking and entering and attempted receiving stolen property as well as misdemeanor obstructing official business. The boy, who had family members in court on Tuesday, already is in treatment court.

Capizzi told them additional charges are likely, especially if investigators determine that one of them was driving a stolen Toyota Corolla involved in the latest incident.

According to the sheriff’s office, as deputies approached the stolen Corolla that was parked in the lot of the Valero, the driver noticed the deputies, got back in the vehicle and sped off, striking the patrol vehicle.

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Capizzi entered denials on the teens’ behalf and announced their appointed defense attorneys.

The judge said, “This was a very serious case. It’s not just stealing a car. … Someone stole a car, tried to escape, drove in to a police cruiser to escape and then hit a bunch of other cars. You know that’s going to mean a lot more charges against somebody,” Capizzi said. “I don’t know who the driver was.”

The boys’ next hearing is scheduled for May 3. Both remain in custody. Adults arrested in the case include Sha’King Jones, 19, and Nikeas Jones, 20. Both remain in the Montgomery County Jail.

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Driver indicted in death of local teen girl

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2018 @ 4:43 PM

The force of the crash that killed 14-year-old Chelsea Bowman in October 2016 was so powerful, it split the car she was riding in, in half, and threw her from the car.

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Eighteen months after the deadly head-on crash, the driver of the Dodge Neon Bowman was riding in, 21-year-old Merle Jay Lunsford II of Dayton, was indicted for vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana and OVI.

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Prosecutors said the teen was ejected from a rear seat of the car when Lunsford crossed the center line on Frederick Pike and hit an oncoming car.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Merle Jay Lunsford II.

Tune in to WHIO-TV at 5:30 p.m. for additional details in today’s indictment.

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