2 killed in head-on crash near Pittsburgh

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WHITE OAK, Pa. (AP) – Authorities in western Pennsylvania say a head-on crash killed a man and woman near Pittsburgh.

Police in White Oak say a sedan heading for McKeesport crossed the center line and collided with another sedan heading toward North Versailles (Vehr-SAYLES’) Township shortly before 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said 32-year-old Michael Bakosh of Baldwin and 45-year-old Carrie Thomas of McKeesport were pronounced dead shortly afterward in the emergency room of UPMC McKeesport.

Chief Lou Bender told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the roadways were wet, but investigators don’t believe weather was a factor in the crash. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Driver charged over CTE crash which killed 4 people

A motorist was on Friday charged in court over an accident on the Central Expressway (CTE) last year which killed four people. Toh Cheng Yang was charged with dangerous driving and driving under the influence of drugs.


Toh Cheng Yang (R) was charged with dangerous driving and driving under the influence of drugs, after a crash on CTE last year killed four people. (Photo: Xabryna Kek)

SINGAPORE: The driver involved in an accident along the Central Expressway (CTE) last August that left four people dead was charged in court on Friday.

35-year-old Toh Cheng Yang faces one charge of dangerous driving resulting in death, and one count of driving under the influence of drugs.

In the early morning accident on 9 August last year, Singaporean Amron Ayoub, his Korean girlfriend Jamie Song, her parents and brother were travelling in a car when it broke down along CTE, towards Seletar Expressway, before the Yio Chu Kang exit.

The five of them got out of the vehicle and stood behind their car.

Toh allegedly drove his car into their stationary vehicle and caused their deaths.

Song, then aged 24, and her parents died on the spot, while her younger brother was unhurt.

Amron, then aged 23, was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital but succumbed to his injuries and died the next day.

Toh faces up to five years in jail if convicted of dangerous driving.

The penalty for driving under the influence of drugs is a maximum fine of S$5,000, or up to six months’ imprisonment.

The case will be heard on 5 May.

Black ice caused Doncaster crash death

Black ice on an ungritted road caused the death of a young Doncaster driver when he smashed into an oncoming lorry an inquest was told yesterday.

Cieran Morshead, 22, died when his newspaper delivery van collided with a lorry on the A630 at Hooton Roberts last autumn.

The impact was so violent it caused the Ford Transit to be lifted off the ground and the engine shot out of the van, coming to rest in a field.

A passing motorist tried to give first aid but found no sign of breathing or a pulse.

Mr Morshead, of Cranfield Close, Armthorpe, who also worked as manager of the Shooters bar on Silver Street, was driving along the centre lane of the road from Hooton Roberts towards Conisbrough when he lost control and collided with the lorry at 7.20am on November 4.

The Rotherham inquest was told ambulance and police cars also skidded on the black ice in the middle lane and one police car slid along the road after it was parked with the handbrake on.

The road temperature at that time was below zero but Rotherham Council had not gritted the previous night because frost was not forecast.

Lorry driver Melvyn Maughan told the inquest: “I just saw a van coming fast. I just braked and tried to get out of his path. I tried to get out of the way.”

The computer on Mr Maughan’s dashboard warned of icy conditions and gave an air temperature of minus 2C and he said ‘a lot of people were slipping all over the place’.

PC Stephen Stott, one of the first police officers on the scene, said: “We parked slightly behind and as I got out I slipped and fell back in the car because the road was so icy. It was like glass, quite a few people had problems standing up.”

PC Paul Greaves said he also slipped on the road and then saw another police vehicle ‘come round in an arc and crashed into Pc Stott’s car. There was nobody in and it had the handbrake on’.

Collision investigator Ged Barton said he took temperature readings from the road surface of minus 0.3C and skid tests showed its grippiness had been reduced.

Neither driver had consumed alcohol and the lorry was travelling well below the speed limit.

PC Barton said: “I can only attribute the collision to the icy conditions in lane two. Had that not been the case Cieran would have carried on and made his way home.”

He said the tall hedgerows on either side may have created a ‘microclimate’ in the centre lane because the other two lanes were not iced over.

The inquest heard the weather forecast received by Rotherham Council the previous day had made no mention of ice or a hard frost so the decision was taken not to salt the borough’s roads.

Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a verdict of accidental death and said it was ‘extremely tragic’ for Cieran the temperature had dropped below what had been expected and caused the black ice to form.

Armed Robbery, 11 Crashes, Theft at Credit Union and 4 Arrests

Tuesday, March 18: 4 arrests and 11 crashes 
                                
4:46 a.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at Concord St and Gordman Rd. Ambulance dispatched. Individual refused service. Vehicles towed.

9:14 a.m. Medical assistance requested at Staples HQ, 500 Staples Dr.

9:17 a.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at Welfare office, 75 Fountain St.

9:20 a.m. Police arrested at 351 Edmands Rd Edward E. Dilling, 54, 125 Newton St. of Marlborough. Charged with operating a motor vehicle after license revoked (subsequent offense), speeding, attaching wrong plates, driving a motor vehicle with no registration and driving a motor vehicle with no insurance.  

11:05 p.m. Larceny reported at Digital Federal Credit Union, 60 Worcester.

1:07 p.m. Motor vehicle crash between a UPS trucks and car at 123 Union Ave.

1:08 p.m. Report of a motor vehicle broken into at 20 Grant St,

1:29 p.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at 575 Worcester Rd.  

1:40 p.m. Police arrested Tyler Ergin, 27, og 473 Lincoln St. of Marlborough. Charged on warrants.

1:47 p.m. Motor vehicle crash, involving a town vehicle, reported at William Welch Way.              

2 p.m. Framingham Police arrested at UMass Memorial in Worcester Peter J. Curtis, 32, of 9 Heritage Dr. of Medway. Charged with two counts of assault with intent to kill, negligent operation of a motor vehicle and two counts of child endangerment.

2:15 p.m. Suspicious activity reported at Dunkin Donuts, 692 Cochituate Rd.

2:27 p.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at Central St. and Edgell Rd.

2;34 p.m. Medical assistance requested at Red Roof Inn. Framingham Fire transported one. 

4:15 p.m. Armed robbery reported at Brookside Apartments, 126 Beaver St. 8 Crusiers responded.

4:23 p.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at Central St. and Hallett Rd. No injuries.

4:43 p.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at 183 Concord St.

4:45 p.m. Police arrested at her residence Michelle DeYoung, 36, of 126 Beaver St. of Framingham. Charged with witness intimidation.

6:14 p.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at 121 Worcester Rd westbound. No injuries.

6:41 p.m. Undesirable individual reported at Hess Gas, 1701 Worcester Rd. Framingham Police removed an individual

7:50 p.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at High and Main streets. No injuries.

8:29 p.m. Motor vehicle crash reported at 1610 Worcester Rd, westbound, with no injuries.

Drunken Orlando woman who parked on train tracks saved before crash, cops say

Two good Samaritans rescued an apparently intoxicated woman from her car, parked on the Washington Street railroad tracks in downtown Orlando, moments before a train slammed into the back of the vehicle, police said.

Maria Espiet, 34, of Orlando, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with DUI property damage or personal injury.

She told police that she was coming from “Wall Street” off Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando before the crash.

Asked if she was aware that her car was sitting on the railroad tracks, “Espiet stated no,” police said.

Espiet told police she had three drinks earlier, and ranked herself as a “4″ on a sobriety scale of 0 to 10 — with 0 being sober and 10 being impaired.

Two witnesses saw Espiet drive onto the train tracks around 4 a.m.

As they saw the CSX locomotive heading toward Espiet’s black Mitsubishi, which was facing northbound on the tracks, they ran to the car to help her get out, an incident report said.

“When they attempted to remove Espiet from the vehicle, she resisted them,” police said.

Once out of the car, Espiet turned around and watched the train hit the back of her car, which was still running at the time, the report said.

Police said Espiet’s blood-alcohol level was 0.163 — two times the legal limit.

twalden@tribune.com, or 407-420-5620

Tampa council reverses vote; city to keep red light cameras into 2016

TAMPA — The City Council Thursday gave new life to Tampa’s red light cameras, voting 6-1 to continue the program for two years.

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The extension reversed a 4-3 council vote two weeks ago against renewing the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions of Tempe, Ariz.

Tampa has 51 cameras focused on 21 different intersections, and police say their use has raised driver awareness, reducing crashes and red light violations.

The council didn’t dispute those benefits before taking their first vote on March 20. But Charlie Miranda, Yvonne Yolie Capin, Mary Mulhern and Frank Reddick voted no after saying part of the revenues should be spent on traffic safety improvements near those intersections.

This week, Mayor Bob Buckhorn agreed to do just that. One-fourth of camera revenue, which netted the city $1.6 million last year, will go toward such projects.

“We have spent a great deal of time talking to council members, trying to find a compromise,” Buckhorn said afterward. “It is our belief and has been from day one that these red light cameras are changing behavior, and our families are safer as a result. … These cameras work.”

Council member Lisa Montelione, who previously voted for the cameras with none of the money going toward traffic safety projects, on Thursday changed her vote to oppose the renewal. The reason, she said, was that the council’s agreement with the mayor steers the use of the revenues to camera-monitored intersections, not necessarily to projects where they could do the most good.

The mayor’s staff has said the city already spends plenty on transportation safety. This year’s budget includes $8 million for such projects. The previous three years saw an a total of $28.1 million in similar spending.

Virtually all of that money, however, has come from gasoline taxes, impact fees and the Florida Department of Transportation. Council members said they wanted at least some red light camera revenue, which now goes into the city’s general fund, to be earmarked for safety projects.

Characterizing the camera revenue as “extraordinary” income, Capin said it’s important to show the public that the camera program serves a safety purpose.

It does, say police, who reject about 25 percent of potential violations. In the 2½ years that the camera program has been in place, the city has more than doubled the number of cameras in use, but the number of citations issued and the amount of fines collected generally have declined.

Once a police officer has verified a violation, the program sends tickets to the owners of the vehicles photographed running a light. The city gets $75 of the $158 fine, with $83 going to the state. The city pays American Traffic Solutions to run the program out of its share of the fines. If revenues fail to cover operating costs, city officials say ATS would cover the shortfall.

On March 6, the St. Petersburg City Council voted 6-2 to kill its red light camera program by Sept. 30. There, crashes rose 10 percent during the program’s first year at 10 camera-monitored intersections.

By contrast, Tampa police said crashes dropped nearly 11 percent at the first 14 intersections to get the cameras during the first year of the program. The second year, the same intersections saw a further 33 percent reduction in crashes. Meanwhile, police said collisions at 19 crash-prone intersections that don’t have cameras rose by nearly 20 percent.

Red light camera opponent Matt Florrell of St. Petersburg disputed those statistics.

Florell, who reviewed nearly 30 studies on the cameras before St. Petersburg launched its system in 2010, contended that Tampa’s statistics leave out many rear-end crashes and that the city’s contract is only cost-neutral when it comes to ATS’s costs, not what city must pay officers to review the images and its clerical staff.

Florell predicted that as a result of adding four-tenths of a second to yellow lights — something the state is requiring to give aging drivers more time to respond to caution lights — the city will not make any money from red light cameras. He urged the council to let the contract lapse, then negotiate a lower per-camera rate with ATS.

“Why leave hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table when you don’t have to?” he asked.

Incentives offered

Speaking of money on the table, in two unrelated votes the council approved more than $100,000 in cash incentives to two companies considering corporate expansions in Tampa.

Both companies’ names are being kept secret under a business recruitment exemption to Florida’s public records law, but outlines of the deals provided to the council say:

• The city will provide up to $70,200 to a health plan provider that is headquartered outside the state but is looking to expand five locations either inside Florida or five other locations in Missouri. At stake are 130 jobs with an average wage of $51,500. The company expects to spend $825,000 in facilities to house the new employees, to make a decision by May 1 and to create the jobs by Dec. 31. The state will contribute another $312,000.

• The city will provide $30,000, with another $30,000 coming from Hillsborough County and $240,000 from the state, for the second project, a shared services center for a law firm with global operations. The firm expects the expansion to create 100 new jobs by 2017, with an average annual salary of at least $48,813. The preferred site is in the city and would bring an estimated $1 million in capital improvements. Florida is competing with North Carolina for the expansion.

Miranda re-elected council chairman

At the start of their meeting, council members re-elected Miranda as chairman, Harry Cohen as vice chairman and Frank Reddick as the chairman of the council when it sits as the Community Redevelopment Agency. On Mulhern’s motion, it elected Capin to replace Mike Suarez as vice chairman of the CRA.

During the council’s annual organizational discussion, Mulhern also nominated Cohen as chairman and Capin as vice chairman, but both declined.

Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226‑3403, Danielson@tampabay.com or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Train, car crash in downtown Orlando


ORLANDO, Fla. –

A busy downtown street reopened early Thursday after an accident involving a car and a train blocked the roadway for nearly two hours.

The accident happened after 3 a.m. near the railroad crossing at Washington Street, which is located between Orange Avenue and Garland Avenue.

Video from the accident scene showed a dark-colored two-door coupe parked on the tracks directly in front of a CSX locomotive.  Police said the cause of the accident is under investigation.

Damage to both the train and car appeared to be minor.  No injuries were reported.

The driver of the car was given a field sobriety test shortly after the crash and was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Tampa City Council to consider renewing red light camera program to 2016

TAMPA — The City Council today could give new life to Tampa’s red light cameras by voting to renew the program’s contract to 2016.

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The extension appears likely to pass after Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s staff met with four council members individually over past week. It would come two weeks after a 4-3 council vote against renewing the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions of Tempe, Ariz.

Tampa has 51 cameras focused on 21 different intersections, and police say their use has raised driver awareness, reducing crashes and red light violations over time.

Council members didn’t dispute the benefits before taking their first vote on March 20, but Charlie Miranda, Yvonne Yolie Capin, Mary Mulhern and Frank Reddick voted no after saying part of the revenues should be spent on projects that further enhance pedestrian and driver safety near those intersections.

This week, Buckhorn agreed to do just that. One-fourth of camera revenue, which netted the city $1.6 million last year, would go toward such projects, he said.

“If what got us across the finish line was to give council a comfort level that a percentage of that revenue would go to traffic improvements, we’re happy to do that,” Buckhorn said Wednesday.

Buckhorn and his staff have said the city already spends plenty on transportation safety. This year’s budget includes nearly $3.7 million for such projects. The previous three years saw an additional $28.1 million in similar spending.

Virtually all of that money, however, comes from gasoline taxes, impact fees and the Florida Department of Transportation. City Council members said they wanted at least some red light camera revenue, which now goes into the city’s general fund, to be earmarked for safety projects.

Buckhorn’s administration says the camera money does go toward traffic safety by supporting operations of the city’s transportation division.

“You have to have money to run the operation in order to make the improvements,” Buckhorn said.

Council members, however, have indicated that’s not good enough. Capin describes the camera revenue as “extraordinary” money and said it’s important for the city to show the public that the camera program serves a purpose beyond generating operating income.

It does, say police, who reject about 25 percent of potential violations. Once a police officer has verified a violation, the program sends tickets to the owners of the vehicles photographed running a light. The city gets $75 of the $158 fine, with $83 going to the state. The city pays American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to run the program out of its share of the fines.

In the 2 1/2 years that the camera program has been in place, the city has more than doubled the number of cameras in use, but the number of citations issued and the amount of fines collected generally have been on a downward trend. If revenues fail to cover operating costs, city officials say ATS would absorb the shortfall.

On March 6, the St. Petersburg City Council voted 6-2 to kill its red-light camera program by Sept. 30. There, crashes rose 10 percent during the program’s first year at 10 camera-monitored intersections.

By contrast, Tampa police said crashes dropped nearly 11 percent at the first 14 intersections to get the cameras during the first year of the program. The second year, the same intersections saw a further 33 percent reduction in crashes. Meanwhile, police said collisions at 19 crash-prone intersections that don’t have cameras rose by nearly 20 percent.

•••

In unrelated business, the council is scheduled to consider offering more than $100,000 in cash incentives to two companies considering corporate expansions in Tampa. Both companies’ names are being kept secret under a business recruitment exemption to Florida’s public records law, but outlines of the deals provided to the council say:

• The city would provide up to $70,200 to a health plan provider that is headquartered outside the state but is looking to expand five locations either inside Florida or five other locations in Missouri. At stake are 130 jobs with an average wage of $51,500. The company expects to spend $825,000 in facilities to house the new employees, to make a decision by May 1 and to create the jobs by Dec. 31. The state would contribute another $312,000.

• The city would provide $30,000, with another $30,000 coming from Hillsborough County and $240,000 from the state, for the second project, a shared services center for a law firm with global operations. The firm expects the expansion to create 100 new jobs by 2017, with an average annual salary of at least $48,813. The preferred site is in the city and would bring an estimated $1 million in capital improvements. Florida is competing with North Carolina for the expansion.

Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226-3403, Danielson@tampabay.com or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Police Recreate Fiery Fairfield Crash That Injured 4

Tonight police reenacted the wild crash in Fairfield that sent four people to the hospital after a Bridgeport woman reportedly struck a convenience store at 60 mph.

The crash happened March 25 when 31-year-old Rosa Blanca Chavarria-Media, of Bridgeport, flew down an Interstate 95 ramp when she lost control, striking a Cumberland Farms and several other cars at 975 Kings Highway East.

Police said her blood alcohol content was .27, more than three times the legal limit to drive.

Chavarria-Medina was taken into custody Monday, March 31. She reportedly told police, “It was dark and I didn’t know the speed limit.”

Investigators plan to recreated the crash Wednesday night in an effort to better understand what happened. The reenactment began around 8:45, according to Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara.

Chamber Street was closed between Kings Highway East and Johnson Drive, and the I-95 exit 24 southbound ramp was shut down during the reenactment.

Chavarria-Medina’s car burst into flames and four people were taken to the hospital.

Emergency responders had to extricate Chavarria-Medina, who was driving alone in her car. A Good Samaritan extinguished the fire with an extinguisher from the gas station, police said.

Police have charged Chavarria-Medina with reckless endangerment in the first degree, driving under the influence of alcohol, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, reckless driving, passing on the right and failure to stop at a stop sign.

Chavarria-Medina’s driving privileges had been suspended twice for motor vehicle complaints and infractions, police said.

“This is a dangerous individual who created a very dangerous situation,” said Fairfield Police Lt. James Perez.

Police said one of the people injured in the crash, 24-year-old Daniel Chis, received three fractured vertebrae and a fractured orbital in the crash. He’s expected to suffer lifelong injuries as a result.

“I really just remember waking up in the hospital. My face didn’t really hurt that bad. It’s just my back, but I’m trying really hard to keep it straight…I can’t say for certain because most of it is a blur,” said Chis.

Another driver, Kayla Velez, was in her car with her 18-month-old daughter, Brooklyn, were in one of the cars that was struck. Kayla suffered some minor bruises on her side. Brooklyn was not hurt.

Four people who were injured in the crash are looking to file a lawsuit.

Chavarria-Medina appeared in court today and was held on $15,000 bond. A judge ordered her not to drive if she posts bond and is released.

Woman arrested in connection to fatal hit-and-run crash

Florida Highway Patrol troopers have arrested the woman blamed for the hit-and-run crash that killed an Osceola County man.

Troopers said Giselle Castellano drove the car that struck Rafael Cotto as he walked along Orange Blossom Trail in Kissimmee Sunday morning. Cotto was killed.

Troopers found Castellano’s car on Monday at an apartment complex near the site of the crash. The windshield was damaged and the passenger side mirror was missing.

Troopers said Castellano fell asleep while driving.

“She’ll have to face the consequences of what she did,” said Lisa Van Dam, Cotto’s sister. “What she did was wrong. Justice will make that right.”

While troopers found the car, they did not arrest the owner right away because they said they needed to collect evidence. They originally said it could be months before charges were found. No word yet on what troopers found that allowed them to arrest Castellano Wednesday.