Inside Ohio Task Force One

Published: Thursday, May 04, 2017 @ 5:32 PM

Newscenter 7's Gabrielle Enright traveled to Lumberton NC with OTF1 who are rescuing residents trapped by flood waters.

When disaster strikes, an urban search and rescue team based in Greene County is often sent to help. Ohio Task Force One was deployed during 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and most recently, Hurricane Matthew. 

"Nothing but water. Nothing but water, " said Betty Pegues of Lumberton, North Carolina. "Scared at first but thanks be to God, we got out." 

Betty Pegues was one of the many people caught in the flood of water from Hurricane Matthew. Last fall, while embedded with the team, we watched as they helped flood victims in Lumberton. 

PHOTOS: Ohio Task Force One helps in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy

Doug Cope, a retired Xenia Fire Captain, still volunteers in Xenia Township. Now he is also serving as a task force leader of the 80-person urban search and rescue team made up of professionals from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. Last fall, WHIO-TV photographer Chuck Hamlin and I were embedded with the team as they helped hurricane victims in Lumberton, North Carolina. 

"We've got all boats assigned and they're all on a mission," said Cope. "They're in dire straights and we're trying to do everything we can to help them." 

Ohio Task Force One(Staff)

With water rising, Ohio Task Force One used boats to rescue people who were stranded. 

"It was slow at first in the back by the river, but then all of a sudden it just hit and when it hit, it hit hard," said Tyrone Miller, a resident of Lumberton.

Sometimes those being rescued, are not people at all. 

"We've got to do something or the cows are going to die," said Susie Burney, of Fayetteville, North Carolina. 

Members of the task force also rescued cattle trapped when a farm pond flooded. They travel in a convoy of more than a dozen vehicles and often sleep in trucks or tents. FEMA decides the mission.

RELATED: Ohio Task Force One called to help area hit by tornadoes

"We're waiting for our next assignment, whether that be another search operation tomorrow or demobilization home, " said Cope.

When the team isn't saving lives, its members are training. Many are doctors, paramedics and firefighters. 

"I'm always ready to go. It's my passion, " Cope said. 

For the task force leader and the others, this is not just a job. It is a calling. 

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Sheriff: 5 in custody after cruiser rammed in Harrison Twp.

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 12:04 PM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:03 PM

Police activity Philadelphia

UPDATE @ 4:04 p.m.:

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said five people are in custody after a sheriff’s deputy’s cruiser was rammed in the parking lot of the Valero gas station.

UPDATE @ 3 p.m.: 

A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Cruiser was rammed by a stolen car in the parking lot of a Valero gas station in Harrison Twp. Monday, according to deputies. 

Deputies approached the stolen vehicle that was parked in the lot of the Valero gas station at 2800 Philadelphia Drive, according to a media release from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. 

“As deputies approached the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle noticed the deputies, re-entered (the) vehicle and fled the area. In fleeing the area, the driver of the vehicle struck a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle,” deputies said the in the release. 

There were no injuries initially reported, according to emergency scanner traffic. 

Our crew on the scene observed two people detained at the scene and placed in the back of cruisers. 

No other details were provided by investigators. 


An officer’s cruiser was reportedly struck by a vehicle on Philadelphia Drive this afternoon, according to initial reports.

The incident was reported around noon.

We’re working to learn more.

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Special Forces veteran’s missing dog found safe after crash

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 4:05 PM

            A service dog belonging to a Special Forces Veteran that has been missing since Friday has been found and returned safely to his owner.
A service dog belonging to a Special Forces Veteran that has been missing since Friday has been found and returned safely to his owner.(Contributed)

A service dog missing for more than two days after he ran off when the vehicle his owner was driving became involved in a crash in Kettering has been found and reunited with his owner.

Officials say Zeus, a German short-hair Pointer — two years old, weighing about 60 pounds — and his owner, a Special Forces veteran, were involved in a two-vehicle crash that ended with their vehicle into a pole at the intersection of East Dorothy Lane and Shroyer Road on Friday.

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Zeus ran from the crash that occurred just after 11 a.m. on Friday and had not been found until Monday morning, when an Oakwood family saw the dog and was able to make sure he was returned safely to his owner.

Oakwood police were able to transport Zeus to the veteran’s home. The veteran’s name had not been released.

Social media had become flooded with posts and tweets regarding Zeus, as local residents offered to volunteer their time to search for the missing dog.

FIRST REPORT: Veteran’s service dog missing after running off in Kettering crash

Dispatchers with Oakwood and Kettering noted a substantial number of calls had been placed by concerned citizens looking to help locate the dog and also expressing concern for the military veteran.

Zeus’ owner reportedly suffered a broken jaw as a result of the crash and reportedly was not willing to seek medical treatment until his dog was found, community members said.

Signs about Zeus being missing, as well as articles of clothing, were placed all around the Oakwood, Far Hills, and Oak Knoll areas where he was last seen.

Pet FBI Ohio, an organization founded in 1998, that gathers and publishes information about lost and found pets across the state, had more than 100 posts about Zeus from the time he was missing until the moment he was returned home.

“Hey Friends great news! Dad and Zeus are headed to the vet to have him checked out!,” the organization posted on its Facebook page.

Officials have not released an update on the owner’s condition or if he is willing to seek medical treatment now that Zeus has been found.

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Champaign Co. standoff suspect convicted of rape in Kentucky

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 11:33 AM


The man arrested after allegedly assaulting a deputy, which led to a standoff on East Dallas Road Sunday, has a prior conviction for child rape in Kentucky, according to records.

Christopher Blanton, 37, was arrested in the 100 block of East Dallas on suspicion of felonious assault and was transported to the Tri-County Jail.

RELATED: Deputy injured, suspect in custody after 2-hour standoff in Champaign Co.

Blanton must register for the rest of his life in the Kentucky for his previous child rape conviction, however state records show he has been non-compliant. 

Officials were called to a residence in the 100 block of East Dallas Road for a complaint around 6 p.m. 

According to court documents, Blanton hid under a camper near the rear of a property and took off running into another camper in the area.  Deputies were able to initially capture Blanton.

A struggle with one of the deputies occurred after they captured Blanton and were searching him, records showed. A deputy was hit in the forehead with handcuffs, causing injury, officials said.

>> Two dogs die in ‘total loss’ barn fire in Clark County

Blanton was able to escape and ran inside a house on East Dallas Road with handcuffs on, barricading himself, the court documents showed. While running to the residence, deputies unsuccessfully deployed a Taser twice, court documents read.

Police were in a standoff outside the house for over two hours, using a bullhorn urging to get Blanton to come outside. He eventually was brought out of the residence in handcuffs.

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School bus, two other vehicles crash, injuries reported 

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:36 PM

Photo Courtesy: Cincinnati PD @cincypd
Photo Courtesy: Cincinnati PD @cincypd

CINCINNATI --WCPO-  A school bus and two other vehicles collided on Winton Road near a school Monday afternoon.

Lt. Steve Saunders, Cincinnati Police Department spokesman, said there were injuries. 

The crash happened at about 2:30 p.m. near Dutch Colony Drive, not far from Cincinnati Public Schools' Jacobs Center.

Police were letting parents walk down to the bus to retrieve their children.

Winton is closed between Dutch Colony and North Bend Road.

We will continue to update you with the latest details from the scene.

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