Saturday, February 25, 2017

OSHA fines Western Sugar Cooperative and the injured worker's employer, DSI Mechanical, for failure to cover opening to prevent falls.

Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2017 11:33 am

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — Federal safety regulators have cited and proposed fines and penalties for two companies connected to a worker who fell at a Scottsbluff construction site.

The worker was injured in August after falling through a floor opening at the Western Sugar Cooperative plant expansion project.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says Western Sugar and the worker's employer, DSI Mechanical, should have covered the opening to prevent falls.

OSHA says DSI is contesting the proposed penalty of more than $8,100. The company's lawyer didn't immediately return a call Thursday from The Associated Press. OSHA says Western Sugar has negotiated its penalty down to $6,000 from nearly $9,100.


Billings man says his son voiced safety concerns before death in Western Sugar plant

Oct 5, 2015

A Billings father is awaiting answers after his son died at the Western Sugar processing facility Sunday.

Jack Boyer said his son, Matthew Boyer, 34, spent most of his life in Billings. He graduated from Skyview High School, served his country in the United States Army Reserves and earned an associate degree in plant process technology. His degree qualified him for jobs in a wide range of manufacturing facilities, including Western Sugar’s Billings plant.

Jack Boyer said Matthew worked at the sugar beet processing plant for five years and at the time of his death was a foreman in the beet-drying area of the facility.

“There were a number of safety concerns my son had brought up while he was there. Most were in his area, the dryer. He never went into detail with me,” Jack Boyer said.

He said Matthew voiced his complaints to the plant’s management on multiple occasions, as recently as the week leading up to his death.

At about 3 a.m. Sunday, police officers came to Jack and Renee Boyer’s home to see if their son was staying there.

Jack Boyer said Matthew worked a rotating schedule between morning, afternoon and night shifts. The day before the police visit he had worked 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Jack Boyer doesn’t know why it took so long for Matthew to be reported missing.

After the police visit, Jack Boyer and one of Matthew’s three brothers drove down to the plant looking for any information they could find, but little was available at the time.

Several hours later, Western Sugar employees discovered Matthew Boyer’s body in the beet-drying area of the plant.

Billings police determined his death did not appear suspicious, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration took over the investigation Sunday afternoon.

In a Monday release, Western Sugar representatives said the company launched its own investigation into the incident and is cooperating fully with OSHA investigators.

“Our focus at this time is on supporting employees and the family of the deceased. Words cannot describe the sense of loss our company and community are feeling from this tragic incident,” the release said.

Art Hazen, OSHA area director, said Western Sugar has a history of safety violations but he doesn’t recall any in the beet drying area of the facility.

Hazen said the company was placed in a severe violator program after an inspection in 2013 resulted in 17 citations and $117,000 in fines.

“Since the big inspection of January of 2013, (Western Sugar has) done a top-down restructuring of their corporate management system,” Hazen said.

He said he believes the company has started implementing a safety culture in their facilities and a follow-up inspection in January of this year found the plant to be in compliance.

Hazen said the investigation into Matthew Boyer’s death has a six-month limit, but cases like this one usually take much less time.

Jack Boyer said until that time he can only wait and know Matthew had a family who loves him and will miss him terribly.

OSHA fined Simpson Trucking and Grading $49,509 after finding that it did not properly train, support or equip an employee who died on a Gwinnett County work site last fall by a gas leak.

Company faces fines in construction worker's death

by: Nicole Carr Updated: Feb 24, 2017 - 8:25 PM

A Gainesville-based construction company faces nearly $50,000 in federal fines amid accusations it did not properly train, support or equip an employee who died on a Gwinnett County work site last fall.

Channel 2 Action News has learned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Simpson Trucking and Grading four citations totaling $49,509 following its investigation of the E.E. Robinson Park site in September. Jerry Davis, a 29-year-old heavy machine operator for Simpson, died in a manhole. He was overcome by a gas leak.

Two other workers, who were both temp employees with another construction company on-site, went into the hole after Davis. One was seriously injured. The other decided he was unable to save the two and he made his way out of the hole.

The company is contesting OSHA’s newly released findings.

“We deny all the allegations that are pleaded in the citation,” said attorney Philip Siegel. “Simpson Grading is simply not a bad actor.”

Simpson Trucking and Grading is a small family-owned company that’s been in business for more than 40 years. In September, Davis’ family told Channel 2 Action News several generations of the family have worked for the company, and the Simpsons were good to them. Siegel told Channel 2’s Nicole Carr the company prides itself on prioritizing employee safety, and right before the fatal incident, there was a focus on that.

“Just the day before the incident, the company did provide companywide safety training,” Siegel said.

Davis, we’ve learned, was not assigned to do work around manholes.

“He was not hired to perform confined space entry work, and the company would never knowingly place one of its employees in a position to do work that employee is not trained to perform,” Siegel said. “I think your own earlier reporting noted that, and again, with all due respect to Mr. Davis, he was a heavy equipment operator –(that) begs the question: What was he doing in the manhole?”

The question at hand is whether Simpson fell into the manhole, decided to enter on his own or was instructed to do so by someone on-site.

“It may be that it was just a freak accident where someone was really not where they were supposed to be,” Siegel said.

A witness, the man who survived the manhole accident, told Carr that Davis was not harnessed and did not have any supervision from any of his colleagues on site when he went down into the 18-to-20 foot manhole.

Carr filed an open records request with the Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services. It reveals 34 rescuers responded to the park, and were “slightly delayed” in their arrival because they thought the incident site was in Suwanee instead of Buford.  

According to the report, the crews were dispatched at 12:58 p.m. They arrived 13 minutes later. The report says the first rescuer was able to get into the manhole at 1:38 p.m. Nine minutes later, the first victim was pulled from the manhole. The second victim, Davis, was out by 2:03 p.m., which was 25 minutes after the first rescue attempt and and 65 minutes after units arrived.

Channel 2 Action News also found Simpson settled a May 2015 safety citation issued by OSHA. In hindsight and considering the latest case, Siegel said the company regretted settling the case with about $3,000, half of the citation fine.

“Well, Nicole, not surprisingly, it costs more than $3,000 to fight one of these citations," said Siegel. “And Simpson Grading made a business decision, one that they regret now, not knowing the consequences of just paying the penalty.”

The current citations are being contested by Simpson’s legal counsel and the case could lead to settlement or to court. Siegel said there’s a lot of work to do in discovery.

“The full story hasn’t come to light,” he said.

Three businesses damaged by 4-alarm fire in Balch Springs, Texas

Balch Springs, Texas

Multiple fire units responded to a four-alarm fire in Balch Springs on Friday night whose flames were visible for miles around. Three buildings were involved in the fire, including a pallet company, authorities said.

Crews from Balch Springs, Dallas, Mesquite, Seagoville, Forney and Combine battled the blaze at about 7 p.m. at the 2800 block of South Belt Line Road, said Deputy Fire Marshal Sean Davis of the Balch Springs Fire Department. A Dallas firefighter was injured.

Firefighters were mainly concerned with the blaze at the pallet company, with pallets stacked up to 20 feet high, Davis said. Cars ablaze at Jimmy's Auto Shop were put out quickly, he said.

KXAS-TV (NBC5) reported that the fire occurred at Jimmy's Auto Shop, while a WFAA-TV news producer placed it at the adjoining Texas Pallet Co. Quality Pro Collision Repair was also damaged but wasn't a total loss, Davis said. 


A four-alarm fire destroyed two Balch Springs businesses Friday night and briefly sparked a grass fire nearby.

The fire was first reported at about 7 p.m. in the 2800 block of Belt Line Road.

The cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation. Flames engulfed both Jimmy's Automotive and the Texas Pallet Warehouse next door. Both businesses were considered a total loss late Friday

One firefighter was treated for an injury, though the extent of the injury was not immediately known.

Several cars that were inside the auto shop for repairs were also damaged or destroyed.

Police chase of speeding driver, Kawme McGregory, leads to two deaths and three injuries in Raleigh, NC after a 90 mph chase in a 25 mph zone

A closer look at what factors are considered when Garner Police decide to initiate a pursuit.

By Joel Brown
Saturday, February 25, 2017 12:05AM
RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Two people are dead, including a 14-year old girl after a traffic stop for speeding escalates into a high-speed chase and then a deadly crash at a busy Raleigh intersection.

A day later, Garner Police are not saying much about why they decided to go after the car.

"One of our traffic-safety officers initiated a traffic stop for speeding on Garner Road," Garner Police Chief Brendan Zuidema detailed to reporters after the crash.

Seconds after Kawme McGregory was pulled over for speeding, Garner PD says he hit the gas and sped away.

That's when the Garner officer made the decision to pursue.

It was a harrowing high-speed chase from Garner to Raleigh, at one point the 18-year old McGregory reached speeds of 90 mph in a 25 mph zone.

"Vehicle is extremely careless and reckless in the opposite lane of travel," was heard over the police scanner monitoring the chase.

According to Garner's written directive on police pursuits, the decision to initiate a chase rests with the officer.

Each cop is tasked to decide whether the immediate danger created by the chase is less than the immediate or potential danger to the public if the suspect remains at large.

Thursday's night's pursuit ended when McGregory crashed his car into a white van. McGregory's passenger, 25-year-old Shada Taylor, was killed.

14-year-old Erieyana Holloway, a passenger in the van struck by the suspect's vehicle, died Friday after she was removed from life support; leaving her mother and twin sister devastated.

"I don't even know how to process all of this because I'm childless. I have three kids now, I had four. I have one less daughter. One less child," said Sherry Holloway-Burks, the victim's mother.

The Garner pursuit policy requires officers to consider the seriousness of the suspect's offense -- in this case, speeding, along with weather/ traffic conditions and the officer's knowledge of the roadway.

Garner does not prioritize offenses that warrant a chase.

But other agencies do.

In the pursuit policies for the Wake County Sheriff's Office and State Highway Patrol, "speeders" and "suspected impaired drivers" are listed among the highest priorities. Those policies state they should be apprehended as "quickly' as possible" with "due care for public safety."

There is dash-cam video of the Garner pursuit that will be reviewed as part of an internal investigation of the chase and whether its directives were followed by the officer involved. The video will not be released to the public.

Meantime, Erieyana Holloway's mother is making funeral arrangements. And, Kawme McGregory is facing DWI charges from Garner PD, along with potential manslaughter charges from Raleigh.


Garner Police chase ends in Raleigh crash with 2 dead, 3 injured

A 14-year-old has died following a crash in Raleigh that killed a woman and injured three others Thursday night. (WTVD)

Friday, February 24, 2017 12:46PM
RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A 14-year-old has died following a crash in Raleigh that killed a woman and injured three others Thursday night.

Garner Police Cpt. Joe Binns said the incident began as a chase involving Garner police officers but that the Raleigh Police Department is the lead investigating agency because of where the crash occurred.

It all started when Garner police tried to pull over a silver sedan for speeding on Garner Road near New Rand Road.

When the officer approached the vehicle, the man and woman in the car sped off before the officer could identify the driver.

Two Garner police vehicles pursued the car through Garner and ultimately onto Rush Street where they lost sight of the suspect's vehicle.

Authorities said as the officers turned north onto Hammond Road near I-40, they saw that the sedan had crashed into a van - heavily damaging both vehicles. According to a wreck report, the sedan was going 90 mph at the time of impact.

The driver of the suspect vehicle, 18-year-old Kawme Delanta Otis McGregory, was injured and taken into custody. His passenger, 25-year-old Shada Sahquea Taylor, was killed.

Kawme McGregory (Courtesy: Raleigh-Wake City-County Bureau of Identification)

The driver of the van, 36-year-old Shaun Dontay Jackson of Raleigh, and two children, 14-year-old Erieyana J. Holloway and a 12-year-old, were also injured in the crash and taken to the hospital. Authorities said Holloway later died from her injuries. She was an 8th grade student at Ligon GT Magnet Middle School in Raleigh.

The other child remains in critical condition at the hospital.

Meanwhile, McGregory has been charged with DWI and is expected to face more charges.

Dozens of officers at a serious crash on Hammond Road.

Tow truck driver critically injured after car smashes at the back of his truck near Schofield Barracks’ Lyman Gate.

Tow company urges drivers to slow down after worker critically injured near Schofield Barracks

By Elyssa Arevalo

Updated: February 23, 2017, 5:12 pm

The owner of a towing company is pleading with drivers to slow down after one of his workers was hit while on the job.

It happened just before 6:30 a.m. on Kunia Road, near Schofield Barracks’ Lyman Gate.

Police say the 25-year-old man was about to tow a vehicle when a car slammed into the back of his truck, which was in the right-hand lane.

“He had one of the trucks hooked up and was in the process in securing that truck when he was at the back of his tow truck and a third vehicle rear-ended him,” said Lt. Carlene Lau with the Honolulu Police Department.

According to Emergency Medical Services, the man was hospitalized in critical condition with injuries to both legs.

Police say speed may have been a factor in the crash. The posted speed limit on that stretch of road is 35 mph.

The driver works for Empire Towing. The company’s owner, Matthew Barros, says his entire crew is shaken.

“We’re praying that our driver pulls through and that nothing long-term happens to him that’s bad,” Barros said.

Hawaii has had a “move-over” law since 2012, which requires drivers to move over if an emergency or service vehicle is parked along the side of the road.

If you can’t move over, state law says the driver should slow down to a reasonable speed that’s safe.

Barros says that rarely happens, and tow trucks are often disregarded.

“I’ve been hit by car mirrors, because the people get so close to us,” Barros said. “I cannot tell you how many times just this month that I’ve almost been hit.”

We asked what safety procedures are in place for his tow truck drivers.

“Strobe lights come on. Drivers are always looking in their rear view mirrors before they even step out of the vehicle,” Barros said. “We’re always trying to work on the side of the truck where traffic is not gonna be. … At times, we light up road flares, but even when you light up road flares, people hit the road flare.”

Barros says each call is handled case by case, but his drivers will call HPD for assistance if needed.

“We put our lives on the line every time our boots touch the road, and if you could give us some space to work, we’d appreciate it,” he said. “(The victim) has a family. We all have families. Everybody has families, and what is five minutes to slow down?”

Honolulu police tell us the driver who crashed into the truck was not cited at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation.

The bill to repair California's crumbling roads, dams and other critical infrastructure hammered by an onslaught of storms this winter could top $1 billion

This winter's storms have eroded roads throughout California.

Friday, February 24, 2017 05:09PM

The bill to repair California's crumbling roads, dams and other critical infrastructure hammered by an onslaught of storms this winter could top $1 billion, including nearly $600 million alone for damaged roadways that more than doubles what the state budgeted for road repair emergencies, officials said Friday.

Adding to the problems, many communities have drained their emergency budgets and are looking to the state and federal government for help. But on top of the latest damage, the nation's most populated state is struggling with a $6 billion annual backlog of repairs for roads, highways and bridges that leaders can't agree on a way to fund.

Winter storms have dumped enough rain and snow on the northern part of the state to end a five-year drought. But with the wet weather comes a host of problems for crumbling infrastructure.

A section of mountain highway between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe has buckled, with repairs estimated to cost $6.5 million. In the Yosemite Valley, only one of three main routes into the national park's major attraction is open because of damage or fear the roads could give out from cracks and seeping water, rangers said.

On central California's rain-soaked coast, a bridge in Big Sur has crumbled beyond repair, blocking passage on the north-south Highway 1 through the tourist destination for up to a year. Until it is rebuilt, visitors can drive up to view the rugged coastline, then turn back.

The total cost for responding to flooding, storm damage and repairs statewide in the first two months of 2017 will probably exceed $1 billion, Gov. Jerry Brown's finance director, Michael Cohen, said Friday. Much of it will be covered by the federal government, which is helping the state recover from severe storms, he said.

The tally includes $595 million to clean up mudslides and repair state highways. Costs for evacuations and non-highway damage, as well as for repairs at Oroville Dam, whose spillways threatened to collapse and flood communities downstream, have not been precisely tallied, he said.

Early estimates put the fixes at the nation's tallest dam as high as $200 million.

Several more weeks remain in California's wet season, which brings the potential for more costly infrastructure damage.

The California Department of Transportation, which is responsible for maintaining highways, roads and overpasses, has a reserve fund of $250 million that's far short of what it would cost to fix recent storm damage.

"This is for 2017," Caltrans spokeswoman Vanessa Wiseman said. "So, essentially we're talking only two months."

Storms across the state have wrecked more than 350 roads, shutting down traffic on at least 35 that await rebuilding or shoring up of stretches that washed out, sunk or got covered in mud and rocks, officials said.

To cover the shortfall for emergency repairs, Caltrans will ask for more money next month from an appointed board that allocates state cash for road projects, Wiseman said.

Aside from emergency road repairs, Gov. Brown said Friday that California has $187 billion in unmet needs for water and transportation infrastructure. He suggested tax increases may be required, but he wasn't prepared to offer "the full answer" to raising enough money to shore up infrastructure.

That's bad news for local communities hardest hit by the storms. They say rebuilding will cost millions of dollars they don't have.

In San Jose, where storm flooding forced 14,000 residents from their homes this week, officials say they have not yet calculated the cost of the damage. Some people have not even returned home yet.

Storms in January cost Sonoma County, north of San Francisco, $12.5 million, mostly for road work. Spokeswoman Jennifer Larocque said the county is requesting federal emergency relief funding.

Dennis Schmidt, Butte County's public works director, said storms that led to the emergency at Oroville Dam tore out two roads and left potholes that will cost more than $1 million to repair. He said that will wipe out the county's emergency budget.

"I'm looking out the window, and it's blue skies and sunny," Schmidt said. "We need it for a couple days to get out and patch some potholes. Our residents will greatly appreciate that."

TO RELEASE OR NOT TO RELEASE; THAT IS THE QUESTION: California's balancing act between releasing water, but no more than they need to in order to save it for drier seasons.

Merced County and state leaders survey swollen rivers to identify infrastructure needs

The county is making preparations for the short term, but state officials say making improvements to water infrastructure is needed for the future. (KFSN)

By Nathalie Granda
Friday, February 24, 2017 06:31PM
MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Merced County and state officials flew over swollen rivers and streams in the north valley Friday as they prepare for the possible storms.

State officials say this winter could potentially be the second largest recorded rainfall and snow pack its history, and we could be seeing the snow melt until June.

The county is making preparations for the short-term, but state officials say making improvements to water infrastructure is needed for the future.

The north valley may have had a short break from the storms, but law enforcement and state officials took to the skies on Friday to look over worrisome waterways and rivers.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke says it's flooding like this that could be sticking around a little bit longer.

"We're going to be looking at months of water rolling down the Merced River due to snow pack and the incoming storms, right now the inflow outflow regulations on the dam are pretty significant," he said. "But the flows who are feeling the impacts now are going them for a while."

Warnke and Congressman Jim Costa flew over the west side of the county near Los Banos to take a look at water levels. He says water is dissipating and they have some space to work with as storms are expected to come throughout the weekend. However, his concern is with a possible increase in water flows.

"Our concern is what's going to be released at the exchequer, and the concern for that is what's coming into the exchequer," Warnke said.

Costa says, while in the air, the San Joaquin River looked more than a mile wide and the Merced River is flooding beyond its banks. He adds that right now, it's a balancing act between releasing water, but no more than they need to in order to save it for drier seasons.

Recently, the county received millions from FEMA for the damage from January storms. Costa says they could get more once the total amount of damage is determined.

"We have to make an assessment and that's based on the accumulation of the impact of these storms," Costa said. "We'll think we'll have a better idea hopefully by the end of March as our winter weather starts to recede."

He says while flooding problems are being dealt with in the short term, the state needs to focus on make improvements on where all this water should be placed.

"The problem right now is that we have no place to put it," he said. "So, we need to invest in our infrastructure in the long-term."

The sheriff's office says there's no major concern at this time, but is continuing to stress that residents - especially those in low-lying areas - need to be prepared by staying alerted through county-wide notifications and sandbags.

4-alarm fire burns through Upper West Side building in Manhattan, NYC

Friday, February 24, 2017 11:21PM
UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A 4-alarm fire is burning through the building that's home to a popular Upper West Side restaurant.

A fire broke out just after 6 p.m. inside the building on 85th and Amsterdam. E's Bar is on the first floor and Jacob's Pickles restaurant is next door.

The fire began in the third floor and then spread to other floors of the building.

From a nearby rooftop you could see the flames spreading fast through the old walk-up on Amsterdam Avenue.

"We just smelled something smelled like burning plastic," said Brady Byrnes, "E's Bar" employee.

"We could see when we went outside there was smoke coming up the roof," said Ralph Green, "E's Bar" employee.

"So I ran downstairs to the basement grabbed the keys to the building next door and we grabbed the fire extinguisher," Byrnes said.

"We just ran around yelling 'call 911, call 911,'" Green said.

"And then someone ran up and down the stairs banging on doors yelling 'fire,'" said Stephanie Gross, a resident.

Inside, Gross found herself face to face with a neighbor.

"He was like looking for his cat and trying to pour water on his armoire that was completely up in flames," Gross said.

"He was just like, 'My cat, my cat!' and he ran back towards the apartment but the door was locked. 'My doors locked, my doors locked,'" Byrnes said.

"I kicked the door to try to get it open but it was red hot, we couldn't get it open," Green said.

Firefighters arrived in minutes as the blaze quickly hit four alarms.

The flames had already consumed two floors and spread to the building next door.

"We have fire in two buildings. And it becomes very, very difficult because we can't get people here fast enough. Here we did, and we were able to get into both buildings at the same time," said James Leonard, Chief of Department, FDNY. "Here we are on a beautiful night in New York with a lot of people out, and that's how fast fires happen. And that's why it's so important that we get here quick."

There was one non-life threatening injury a civilian, and four non-life threatening injuries to firefighters.

A Robinson R44 helicopter, N44EK, hit a garage and crash landed in the Chatham Village Apartments' parking lot

Friday, February 24, 2017 11:16PM

CHATHAM, New Jersey (WABC) -- A helicopter crashed into the parking lot of an apartment complex in New Jersey, and incredibly all aboard survived.

Witnesses describe hearing a small explosion that drew people from every direction to this parking lot just behind the apartment complex in Chatham.

The helicopter's tail hit a garage.

Miraculously the body of this helicopter remained mostly in tact during the crash and the pilot walked away uninjured, but his passenger was taken to a nearby hospital.

It was a surreal movie like scene that immediately drew a crowd here at the Chatham Village Apartments Friday evening, when the Robinson R44 helicopter made a sudden crash landing in the complex's parking lot just before 6:30 p.m.

"I see the helicopter was coming, it was a little high," said Jose Cascant, a witness. "I see the guy is coming around from the buildings and he tried to go."

Investigators say the 30-foot helicopter weighing more than 1,400 pounds left from Richmond, VA, and was heading toward Lincoln Park, NJ, when some sort of malfunction happened.

"We heard something we thought was an explosion and we all stopped and tried to figure out what was going on," said Sarah Schwarz, a witness.

"We ran out to see if we can help and it was right in the middle of our parking lot in our apartment complex," said Kathryn Hill, a witness.

The 54-year-old pilot from New Jersey walked away unharmed, but witnesses say his passenger seemed to be in a lot of pain.

"I see the guys coming, they pulled the window out, the door out, one guy is ok, but another hurt the back I think," a witness said.

"I saw one man who was up and walking around and checking on everything and making sure that the helicopter was safe and stabilized, and the other gentlemen who was in the helicopter was injured, but he was conscious," another witness said.

The FAA and NTSB are now investigating, and city officials say considering how close this landing was to several power lines and homes things could have been a lot worse.

"I think the pilot from my vantage point did a wonderful job landing this helicopter where he did and could've averted catastrophe," said Stephen Williams, Police Information Officer Chatham Borough. "He crashed right in between the garages and the complex, like of all places to land, I mean there was a lot of angels out there."

Two people were aboard the helicopter, N44EK, a Robinson R44 built in 1999. The helicopter is registered to an owner in Newark, Del., according to the FAA.