Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Road construction worker Christopher Hewey, 37, of Alstead died when a trench he was working in on an Acworth, NH road collapsed

ACWORTH, NH — A local construction worker died when a trench he was working in on an Acworth road collapsed Tuesday afternoon, the authorities said.

The site inspection shows that no shoring was provided and a lot of rain had fallen the last two weeks, making the soil unstable. Someone should be fired over this, and the company fined and disbanded. Working-class lives matter.

Christopher L. Hewey, 37, of Alstead was working for a private contractor on a construction project on Bascom Hill Road when the accident happened Tuesday afternoon at about 1 p.m., according to Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA opened an inspection Tuesday afternoon to determine if any workplace safety standards were violated in the incident. However, the agency has yet to provide further information including the specific details about the accident, the company Hewey was working for, and the project he was working on at the time of his death.

State Police Trooper Brandon M. Dean confirmed the name of the victim this morning. State Police have referred requests for further information about the accident to OSHA.

Three other people were doing work on the town road at the time of the accident, according to police, who reached the scene at about 1:30 p.m., according to N.H. State Police Trooper Michael McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said first responders performed CPR on Hewey for about an hour after they arrived at about 1:15 p.m., but weren’t able to revive him. A medical helicopter had been on standby and was prepared to fly to a hospital.

According to an OSHA report from November 2016, in recent years the U.S. has seen a sharp increase in worker deaths caused by trench collapses, which typically occur when the walls of the trench cave in.

In 2015 there were 11 trench-related fatalities nationwide, according to the report. In 2016, as of November when the report was released, there had been 23 deaths caused by trench collapses. These collapses are rarely survivable, according to the report.

“One cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 lbs. — the weight of a small automobile — giving a worker in a trench little chance of survival when walls of soil collapse,” the report said.

Fitzgerald said OSHA inspections of trench collapses involve determining if companies took the correct safety precautions at the time an injury or fatality occurred. Such precautions could include shoring up the walls of a trench with supports or using a trench box, a device designed to protect workers, he said.

Fitzgerald said OSHA has up to six months to complete inspections.

“Inspections stemming from injuries or fatalities ... generally are not going to be wrapped up in a couple of weeks,” he said.

An OSHA official who arrived at the scene Tuesday at about 4 p.m. and left about two hours later declined to comment about the inspection.

Bascom Hill Road forks off Crane Brook Road in Acworth and winds through hilly farmland.

The stretch of the road where the accident occurred curves slightly and on Tuesday afternoon, an excavator sat there, angled upwards, on a large mound of dirt.

One side of the road borders land where hay for a dairy farm is grown, according to Bruce Bascom, who owns the land and the farm. On the other side, there’s a small pond. Uphill and a few hundred feet away is the farm itself.

Two men who were at the scene of the fatal accident while police and the OSHA official investigated and appeared to be construction workers declined to comment.

THE DEADLY ROADS: Pickup truck driver Kevin Marlin was killed in a fiery head-on crash after his Ford F-150 crashed into an oil tanker head-on in Maury County, TN

 Pickup truck driver Kevin Marlin was killed in a fiery head-on crash
 Pickup truck driver Kevin Marlin was killed in a fiery head-on crash; here with his dad

MAY 16, 2017

COLUMBIA, Tenn. - At least one person was killed in a fiery crash in Maury County involving a tractor trailer and a pickup truck.

The incident happened Tuesday along Hampshire Pike near the Maury-Lewis county line.

Specific details of the crash were not known, but Tennessee Highway Patrol officials confirmed one person was killed.

Emergency crews arrived on the scene to find the tractor-trailer engulfed in flames. It's not clear what the truck was hauling.

A number of fire trucks and ambulances were called to the scene, closing a portion of the road.


MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man from Hohenwald, TN (
Kevin Marlin) died Tuesday after he crashed into an oil tanker head on in Maury County.

The accident happened at 10:30 a.m. on Highway 412, not far from the Lewis County line.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says the tanker, driven by 61-year-old William Stoklasa, was heading east when a Ford F150 crossed the center line and hit it head-on.

Both vehicles were thrown off the road and the truck caught fire and burned, the THP says.

The driver of the truck, identified as 40-year-old Kevin Marlin, died at the scene.

Stoklasa suffered minor injuries and was taken to Maury Regional Hospital for treatment.

No charges were filed. The investigation is ongoing.


A multi-vehicle accident on State Route 412 East in Maury County, near the Lewis County line, blocked the roadway for 17 hours after a tanker and pickup collided and caught fire. The accident occurred Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at approximately 10:45 a.m. about one-quarter mile west of McClanahan Road.

The driver of the tanker was transported to Maury Regional Medical Center where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries. Reportedly, the tanker was hauling hot oil. Local officials stated the pick up truck apparently crossed the center line into the pathway of the east bound eighteen-wheel tanker.

A tractor trailer hauling a tanker of oil overturned in an attempt to avoid collision with a pick up truck. Both vehicle caught fire in Maury County, Tennessee, near the Lewis County line. Photo Hulon O. Dunn, Lewis County Herald

The driver of the pickup, Kevin Marlin, age 40, of Lewis County, was pronounced dead at the scene.

TDOT officials stated clean up of the roadway continued through the night and one lane of traffic opened at approximately 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

THE DEADLY U.S. ROADS TAKE MORE THAN 36,000 LIVES, INJURE MILLIONS EVERY YEAR: Three people, including rapper Lundy, were killed and one person was injured in a fiery crash along Suitland Parkway

 Three people were killed and one person was injured in a fiery crash Monday morning along Suitland Parkway in Prince George's County. (Published Monday, May 15, 2017)

MAY 15, 2017

Forestville, Maryland
An infant was critically injured in a crash that killed one adult and injured another in Forestville, Maryland, fire officials say.

The crash happened about 8 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Suitland Parkway and Forestville Road, according to Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady.

One driver died at the scene, Brady said. An infant inside the vehicle was taken to a trauma center with life-threatening injuries. The driver of the other vehicle was also taken to a trauma center with non-life-threatening injuries.

While the United States Park Police investigated the crash, a vehicle crashed into an unoccupied police cruiser. No injuries were reported in relation to this crash, but the driver was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.


MAY 15, 2017

Forestville, Maryland

A D.C. rapper was among the three people killed in a fiery crash along Suitland Parkway Monday morning.

London Dior, also known as Lundy, was a local rapper who had already gained national attention. Dior's fans loved her music, her beauty and her voice. Now they are sharing their sorrow on social media with the hashtag #RIPLundy.

Dior, whose birth name was Dasia Lasha'e Redd, and two other people were killed about 4 a.m. Monday in a crash involving a sedan and a Jeep on Suitland Parkway, near the intersection with Forestville Road.

The sedan caught fire, officials said. Authorities said the three people from the car all were pronounced dead at the scene.

3 Dead, 1 Injured in Fiery Crash on Suitland Parkway
Three people were killed and one person was injured in a fiery crash along Suitland Parkway early Monday morning.(Published Monday, May 15, 2017)

The victims were Dior, her boyfriend and another person in the sedan, Dior's family told News4.

The driver of the Jeep survived but was seriously injured and was taken to a hospital.

3 Dead, 1 Injured in Fiery Crash on Suitland Parkway
Three people were killed and one person was injured in a fiery crash along Suitland Parkway early Monday morning.(Published Monday, May 15, 2017)

Video from the scene shows two heavily damaged vehicles in the roadway. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

In March, a mother and her 2-year-old son were killed in a crash in the same intersection.

"The road has acquired a checkered history," said John Townsend, of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Twelve people have died in parkway crashes over the past three years.


Despite the improvements in road safety, the United States has one of the highest death rates at about 1 person dead per 10,000 people. Unfortunately, only undeveloped countries have higher death rate.

Some states, such as Texas and West Virginia (sorry, WV, despite your tremendous progress in traffic safety, you are still at the top of the worst-death-rate list) have death rates of nearly 1.5 percent, i.e., fifty percent more people die compared to the national death rate.

Approximately 34,000 people are getting killed each year.  In the 1950s and 1960s, about 55,000 people used to die on the roads – so, there has been improvement in the number of dead. 

However, the number of injured is rising.  Roughly 2.5 million are injured (yes, you read it correctly – 2.5 million injured) per year.  That is, 1 percent (1%) of the population that is eligible to drive is injured every year.

It is worse than a war zone out there.  So, please be safe and be on the lookout for weaving-through-the-traffic drivers, crazy drivers, reckless drivers, sick drivers, medical-condition drivers, sleepy drivers, negligent drivers, stupid drivers, careless drivers, drunk drivers, speeding drivers, drugged drivers, texting drivers, talking-on-the-phone drivers, looking-at-the-GPS drivers, hurry-hurry drivers, tailgating drivers, upset drivers, eating-while-driving drivers, putting-the-lipstick-on-while-driving drivers, elderly drivers, and so on.

Construction worker with Martik Brothers Construction critically injured after he fell 40 feet at the future site of Highpointe at Rebecca

A worker was rushed to the hospital Tuesday morning after falling 40 feet at a West Deer construction site.

Craftsmen and police said the man was on scaffolding when the accident happened about 8:30 a.m. at the future site of Highpointe at Rebecca, a retirement community.

The facility, along the 3700 block of Cedar Ridge Road, has been under construction since last year and should be completed by September, according to Concordia Lutheran Ministries' website. Emergency responders assessed and treated the man at the scene and took him to a hospital.

His name, age and condition were not released as of late Tuesday afternoon.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Pittsburgh office sent two employees to investigate, OSHA area director Chris Robbins said.

Robbins said it would be some time before additional facts are available.

“It was a masonry worker, and the individual fell,” he said.

Martik Brothers Construction of Finley­ville is in charge of construction.

The company declined to comment.

Concordia spokeswoman Shirley Freyer said the retirement community will have 109 units.

Highpointe at Rebecca is adjacent to another Concordia retirement community, Concordia at Rebecca Residence.

It is the third for Concordia in Western Pennsylvania. The company also has one near Akron, Ohio, Freyer said. 

R. Hill Costruction is also involved in this project.

THE GHOST SHIP DEADLY FIRE: new complaint accuses PG&E of acting negligently by failing to install separate electrical meters on the Ghost Ship and the buildings next to it, as required by state regulations

Families of Ghost Ship Fire Victims Sue Pacific Gas & Electric
 May 17, 2017

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — Family members of victims of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire sued Pacific Gas & Electric on Tuesday, accusing it of failing to monitor the dangerous flow of electricity to the building they blame for causing the deadly fire in December.

The mass complaint against PG&E et al. in Alameda County Superior Court is the latest addition to a list of 20 defendants and growing the families blame for the fire that killed 36 people at an electronic dance party.

The lead defendant in the new complaint is the building owner, Chor Nar Siu Ng. Also sued are its master tenants, Derick Almena and Micah Allison, a married couple who illegally rented space in the warehouse to residents of the Satya Yuga artist’s collective, and several people who threw the concert the night the fire broke out. Several families of victims have already sued them in individual complaints.

The new complaint accuses PG&E, one of the state’s largest utilities, of acting negligently by failing to install separate electrical meters on the Ghost Ship and the buildings next to it, as required by state regulations. It also claims PG&E failed to adequately monitor the flow of power to the buildings through the single meter that had been installed.

Investigators have yet to identify the cause of the fire, but the plaintiffs in the 58-page lawsuit blame overloaded electrical lines at the back of the warehouse.

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said in an email Tuesday that PG&E was not aware of anything amiss at the Ghost Ship.

“We’ve reviewed our records and over the last 10-plus years, we have no reports of electric theft or any other anomalies from this location or the adjacent premises,” Sarkissian wrote. “We’re fully cooperating with authorities as they investigate this tragic event.”

But the plaintiffs say that had PG&E inspected the meter, “as a reasonably prudent utility would have, they would have observed and identified the hazardous and out-of-code conditions within the electrical distribution system which led to the deadly fire.” This would have triggered an inspection and a fix before the fire could happen, the plaintiffs say.

They also sued, for the first time, Benjamin Cannon, an unlicensed contractor whom Almena hired in 2014 to do electrical work on the building after a transformer fire. In an invoice to the building owner, Ng, Cannon said the fire had likely been caused by “catastrophically overloading” the power system, according to the complaint.

Cannon charged Ng for $32,000 in unpermitted electrical work to replace the burnt-out transformer and recommended $15,000 in electrical upgrades to “get the whole building into a safe state,” the complaint states.

He also told Ng that the building needed a second transformer to replace one that had survived the fire but was “too small for the loads on it as well.” It was never installed, according to the complaint.

The 10,000-square-foot building had only two escape routes: a makeshift stairway at the front made of pallets and scrap wood, and a staircase at the back that was hidden behind a stage.

There were no sprinklers, fire alarms or fire extinguishers, and no emergency exits, according to the complaint.

The Ghost Ship’s power was supplied from an auto shop next door via a cable snaked through a hole in the wall, and extension cords and cables were strewn around the building.

“There were often sparks from the electrical system that smelled and circuit breakers blew out often,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs are represented by Mary Alexander, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


First Lawsuits Filed Over Oakland Warehouse Fire
 December 27, 2016

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – The families of two victims who died in a massive fire at a warehouse in Oakland earlier this month have sued a slew of individuals, including the building’s owner and its master tenants, in the first civil lawsuits filed over the fire that killed 36 people attending an electronic music show at the warehouse.

In twin complaints filed in Alameda County Superior Court late Friday, the parents of victims Michela Gregory, 20, and Griffin Madden, 23, accused eight individuals of negligence, negligent failure to evict, premises liability and wrongful death, for allowing artists to use the warehouse as a live/work space and musicians to throw concerts there despite being zoned only for industrial use.

Named defendants include Chor Ng, the Ghost Ship’s owner, and her daughter Eva Ng; master tenants Derick Ion Almena and Micah Allison, a married couple who lived in the warehouse with their three children and who sub-leased space to other tenants; Daniel Lopez and Omar Vega, who supplied electricity to the Ghost Ship from their auto shop next door through a hole in the wall; Joel Shanahan, who hosted the concert, and John Hrabko, the concert’s promoter.

The Gregorys and Maddens also filed claims against the city of Oakland and Alameda County, the first step in suing a government agency.

“Their contribution was a horrific tragedy,” Mary Alexander, an attorney for the two families, said in an interview Tuesday. “This was a death trap once the fire broke out and people couldn’t escape.”

In their 26-page lawsuits, the families claim Michela and Griffin, who were both attending the concert at the Ghost Shift the night it went up in flames, “suffered many minutes before they died.” The lawsuits do not give a cause of death.

According to the Gregory suit, the Alameda County Coroner’s bureau found Michela’s body in the arms of her boyfriend, Alex Vega. He had been trying to shield Michela from the flames.

The families describe the interior of the warehouse as a maze of “makeshift” rooms cluttered with flammable materials like art supplies and propane tanks, and at least one RV.

They say the 10,000-square-foot building had only two escape routes: a makeshift stairway at the front of the building made of pallets and scrap wood, and a staircase at the back of the building that was hidden behind a stage.

There were no sprinklers, fire alarms or fire extinguishers, and no emergency exits, according to the complaint.

Although the cause of the fire hasn’t been identified, the complaints cite a dangerous and overloaded electrical system as a likely culprit. The Ghost Ship’s power was supplied from the auto shop next door via a cable snaked through a hole in the wall, and extension cords and cables were strewn around the building. The electrical system threw off sparks and the circuit breakers blew out regularly. Unlicensed contractors, including Almena, had installed electrical boxes at the warehouse, the families say.

The Dec. 2 inferno that quickly engulfed the Ghost Ship wasn’t the first fire to break out in the building, the families say. A day earlier, a refrigerator ignited and the fire was put out by residents.

People had warned Almena that the Ghost Ship was a “death trap” and told him to buy fire extinguishers, according to the complaints.

Asked Tuesday whether all eight defendants could be held equally liable for Michela and Griffin’s deaths, Alexander said only a building’s owner is responsible for ensuring a building’s safety. But she emphasized that Hrabko and Shanahan had invited more than 100 people to the Ghost Ship the night it burned down despite the its safety hazards.

“That number of people not having a safe way to escape is just reprehensible,” she said.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced a criminal investigation into the fire earlier this month that could bring charges of manslaughter or murder. Her office has yet to file any charges.

The Gregorys and Maddens also say Oakland and Alameda County are liable for their children’s deaths. In their claims against the city, they say the Oakland fire and police departments and the planning and building department knew people lived at the Ghost Ship illegally but didn’t shut it down.

And despite media reports that the fire department never inspected the Ghost Ship, they say fire department employees held a concert there before the blaze.

“Therefore, it was well known to the city the illegal use and dangerous condition of the warehouse,” they say in the claims.

A representative for the Oakland City Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Alexander acknowledged that it will be difficult to sue the city and county given a California law that immunizes public entities from such claims.

“There are immunities for governments but it’s not insurmountable,” she said. “You have to try to show that they not only failed to act but they acted with negligence not to warn the public. It’s just horrific that this place was allowed to exist and a fire broke out and people were trapped.”

Michela, a student at San Francisco State University, had been studying child development when she died. Griffin, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, was studying philosophy, Slavic languages and literature.

“It’s important that this doesn’t happen again,” Alexander said. “People need to be protected.”

The families seek general, special and punitive damages. They’re represented by Alexander, Jennifer Fiore and Sophia Aslami of Mary Alexander & Associates in San Francisco.

Almena is represented by Tony Serra of Pier 5 Law Offices, also in San Francisco. He did not return a request for comment.

4 SPENNATI FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED: 5 people, including two children, were killed and 4 others were seriously injured in a fiery crash involving multiple vehicles on Interstate 95


 Elise Ann Spennati was driving the Dodge pick-up truck that was hit by the speeding Volvo tractor trailer tanker that failed to slow down in a work zone.

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) — The names of the victims of the fatal multi-vehicle crash that happened on Interstate 95 Tuesday have been released.

According to officials with the N.C. Department of Public Safety, four of the people killed lived in Goose Creek.

They said 32-year-old Elise Ann Spennati was driving the Dodge pick-up truck that was hit by the speeding Volvo tractor trailer tanker that failed to slow down in a work zone. Investigators said the pickup was pushed into the rear of a Ford Explorer which was then pushed into the rear of a Ford Escape.

The Volvo tractor trailer tanker continued out of control and rear-ended a Freightliner tractor trailer. The the gasoline that was being hauled in the Volvo tanker was ignited as both tractor trailers were pushed into a Kenworth tractor trailer.

The Volvo tanker then ran off the road and caught fire. The driver of the tanker, 68-year-old Michael Elliott Bricker, died.

Spennati's husband Cole and their two children, 1-year-old Sianna and 4-year-old Aila, all died as a result of their injuries.

Cole's mother spoke with ABC News 4 and said the family was visiting for Mother's Day weekend in Pennsylvania.

Her son, Cole, was in the Navy Munition Command at the Naval Weapons Station. He was a mineman who dealt with underwater mines and just received orders to be stationed in San Diego.

The driver of the Ford Explorer, identified as 46-year-old Javier A. Estrada-Beltran of Charleston, and his passengers, 35-year-old Francisco Morales-Gaspar and 34-year-old Lucia De-La-Cruz, were taken to UNC Chapel Hill with serious injuries and were reported in stable condition.

The 68-year-old driver of the Ford Escape was taken to Florence Medical Center with serious injuries and reported in stable condition.

The drivers of the Freightliner tractor trailer and the Kenworth tractor trailer were checked out by emergency services and released at the scene.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.


5 victims of I-95 crash identified

LUMBERTON, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Five people, including two children, were killed and four others were seriously injured in a fiery crash involving multiple vehicles on Interstate 95 Tuesday afternoon.

The crash shut down both directions of I-95 for almost 12 hours near Exit 10 in Robeson County - which is just north of the South Carolina border.

Pictures from Chopper 11 HD showed there were at least 3 tractor-trailer trucks and 3 smaller vehicles involved.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said the driver of a tanker truck failed to slow down for some highway construction around 1 p.m., causing a rear-end chain reaction.

Fuel in the tanker truck caught fire. The flames and spreading gasoline then ignited other vehicles. The main trailer of the tanker did not ignite.

The driver of the tanker truck, identified as 68-year-old Michael Elliott Bricker of Myrtle Beach, was killed.

The others killed were all members of a Goose Creek family in one vehicle:

Elise Ann Spennati, age 32
Cole Allen Spennati, age 25
Aila Spennati, age 4
Fianni Spennati, age 1

The flames spread across the grass of the median and shoulders and then into nearby wooded areas leaving a huge burned area visible from the air.

Troopers said late Tuesday that three of the seriously injured were flown by helicopter for treatment. Forty-six-year-old Javier A. Estrada-Beltran, 35-year-old Francisco Morales-Gaspar, and 34-year-old Lucia De-La-Cruz - all of Charleston - were in stable condition at UNC Chapel Hill.

Sixty-eight-year-old Mary Ann Payne of Kanas City, Missouri was at the Florence Medical Center in stable condition.

Two other drivers were checked out at the scene by EMS workers and not taken to the hospital.

The crash closed the highway between exits 2 and 10, forcing traffic in both directions to be detoured off the interstate.

The NC DOT said northbound lanes of I-95 were reopened just before midnight and the southbound lanes reopened about an hour later.

Interstate 95 became a road of carnage Tuesday as a wreck left 5 dead and 4 injured.


A Goose Creek, SC family of four was killed and three other Charleston residents were injured Tuesday in a fiery chain-reaction collision on Interstate 95, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Elise Ann Spennati, 32, Cole Allen Spennati, 25; and their daughters, Aila, 4, and Sianni, 1, died in the crash, which happened around 12:30 p.m. near Lumberton, N.C., and involved three tractor-trailers and three vehicles.

The family was on its way home from a long weekend visiting family in Pennsylvania over Mother’s Day, according to Facebook posts.

Both directions of I-95 were closed for almost 12 hours near Exit 10 in Robeson County, just north of the South Carolina border.

The crash happened when transportation workers were repainting the highway lane lines, and traffic was forced to merge to one lane, according to the Highway Patrol.

A 2013 Volvo tanker failed to slow and collided with a Dodge pick-up driven by Elise Spennati, causing a chain reaction with a Ford Explorer and Ford Escape, according to the Highway Patrol. The driver of the tanker, Michael Elliott Bricker, 68, of Myrtle Beach, also died.

The tanker ignited as it struck two tractor-trailers. Flames spread across the grass median and highway shoulders and into nearby wooded areas, according to WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham.

Three Charleston residents in the Explorer were injured.

Driver Javier A. Estrada-Beltran, 46, and passengers Francisco Morales-Gaspar, 35, and Lucia De-La-Cruz, 34, were all transported to UNC-Chapel Hill with serious injuries. They were reported in stable condition.

The driver of the Ford Escape was identified as Mary Ann Payne, 68, of Kansas City, Mo. She was transported to Florence Medical Center with serious injuries and reported in stable condition.

The drivers of the tractor-trailers were treated at the scene.