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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.

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Convicted Warren County child rapist gets 15 years to life in prison

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 9:04 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 9:57 PM

Warren County child rape mug
Warren County child rape mug

David Randall King, 58, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years in a child rape case where he was the caretaker. 

King, of Pleasant Plain, in the Warren County village of Harlan Twp., was convicted by a county jury in March on two counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition. Both are felonies. 

County Prosecutor David Fornshell, in a prepared statement released Tuesday afternoon, said that from January 2014 to October 2015, King sexually assaulted a (then) 5- to 6-year-old girl he was a caretaker of at the time. 

After the assaults, he discouraged the child from telling anyone and told her she "wasn't brave enough to tell anyone." 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Woman arrested for child endangerment

Fornshell said the crimes came to light in May 2016 when the child told her foster parents about the assaults. They, in turn, reported the crimes to Warren County Children Services. 

"We often hear the word 'courage' overused when describing everyday actions. In this case, a nine year-old girl sat in a courtroom in front of a judge, 12 jurors, the attorneys, and everyone else in that audience, with her rapist looking right at her, and described in exact detail what he did to her,” Fornshell said in the statement.

“THAT is courage," he said.

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Troy man pleads not guilty to assaulting two corrections officers

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 6:05 PM

Marion Cotterman
Miami County Jail
Marion Cotterman(Miami County Jail)

TROY - A Troy man pleaded not guilty Tuesday, April 24, to two felony counts of assault of a corrections officer.

Marion Cotterman, 45, is accused of causing or attempting to cause physical harm to two officers in the Miami County Jail in Troy on March 14. 

TRENDING: A year later, no charges in Dayton dog mauling death

The pleas were heard by Common Pleas Judge Jeannine Pratt, who set bail at $5,000 cash or surety.

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Dayton woman arrested for child endangering after kids escape house for fourth time

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 4:51 PM

A woman was arrested Monday after two of her children, ages 3 and 5, were found at the door of a Family Video store on Wayne Avenue, according to Dayton police.

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The children were in their pajamas and had left their house unsupervised to buy candy at the video store. According to a Dayton Police report this is the fourth time the children have escaped their home and shown up at the video rental store. 

The children were sent to stay with a family friend when their mother was taken into custody. 

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Semi-trucks line interstate to help stop man from jumping off overpass

Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 1:05 PM

Semi-Trucks Help Stop Man From Jumping Off Overpass

More than a dozen tractor-trailers formed a line under an overpass on Interstate 696 in Detroit early Tuesday to help stop a man who was contemplating jumping from the overpass, according to multiple reports.

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Authorities were called to I-696 near the Coolidge exit just before 1 a.m., WJBK reported. Negotiators worked for several hours to convince the man not to jump as authorities directed several tractor-trailers to park under the overpass, according to the news station.

Michigan State Police shared an image of 13 tractor-trailers that were lined up side-by-side on the interstate, in case the man jumped.

“This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public,” police said Tuesday on Twitter. “But also in that photo is a man struggling with the decision to take his own life.”

The unidentified man came down from the edge of the overpass through the combined efforts of police and the truck drivers, The Detroit Free-Press reported.

“Please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255,” state police wrote on Twitter. “You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911. There are so many people that can help you make the choice to get help and live! It is our hope to never see another photo like this again.”

Huntington Woods police took the man to Beaumont Hospital for an evaluation, WJBK reported.

Officials reopened I-696 to traffic around 4 a.m.

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