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University High Students Participate in Driving Safety Program

According to The Century Council, underage drinking and driving fatalities are down almost 60 percent since 1991. However, thousands of teenagers die in vehicle accidents each year. The Century Council went to University High School to not only test the students’ knowledge about driving, but collect data for a national survey.

Ashley Faulkner, a UHS student and member of the FCCLA (Family, Career, Community Leaders of America) applied to have Stacey Berger and The Century Council come to UHS. Faulkner pursued the partnership "As an idea to gather data and inform students on safe driving habits and different things on distracted driving."

"It's a teen driving safety program and new drivers think they know everything," said Berger. "The challenge shows the students that they need to do a little homework to do if they want to make honor roll."

During the program, students answered questions about what could cause them to be distracted while driving and The Century Council tracked each answer the students gave for the questions.

"We're collecting data for a national study. The National study is going to be used in classrooms across the United States," said Berger. "This way teachers can more effectively educate their students on teen driver safety based on what they already know."

The 'I Know Everything' quiz is a good way to prepare young drivers for common driving mishaps. Some students were surprised at how much they knew, and didn't know.

The Century Council will be traveling across the United States to do these surveys at different high schools. They expect the research to be done by the end of the 2014 school year.

Please visit our Safe Driving Tips for West Virginians page to learn more about accident preparedness and safe driving tips. 


Firm involved in West Virginia Cell Tower Collapse Fined in 2009

The company that employed two of the three people killed in the collapse of a pair of cellphone towers in Clarksburg, W.Va., was sanctioned after a fatal accident in 2009 in Missouri, according to Occupational Health and Safety Administration records.

The Exponent Telegram reported Friday that OSHA cited S&S Communications with two “serious” violations after an employee fell to his death from a 330-foot communications tower in Oregon County, Mo. OSHA said the worker detached his harness but should have had a secondary tether. The company was fined $3,000.

“The key here is, this was a preventable accident,” said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen.

In addition, OSHA said two S&S employees were found to have “defective components” in their lanyards.

S&S Communications declined to comment Thursday.

Two workers for the Oklahoma-based company were killed last Saturday when a 300-foot tower owned by SBA Communications collapsed. One of the contractors was more than 60 feet up on the tower and the other about 20 feet up when the structure toppled. Two other workers on the tower were injured, and a firefighter also died after a second, smaller tower collapsed.

OSHA is investigating. Prentice Cline, area director for the agency’s Charleston office, said it could take up to six months to determine whether to issue any violations.

The four workers were performing maintenance to strengthen the tallest tower’s structure when it collapsed, killing 32-year-old Kyle Kirkpatrick of Hulbert, Okla., and 27-year-old Terry Lee Richard Jr. of Bokoshe, Okla., police have said. The second tower came down a few minutes later, striking Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Department member Michael Garrett, who died at a hospital.

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Three Dead, Two Injured After Cell Tower Collapse in Clarksburg

A cell tower with 4 workers collapsed just after 11:30 a.m. on Murphy's Run Road in the Summit Park area of Clarksburg.

Two men were killed and two men were injured as they were making structural repairs to the tower when it fell. They were repairing and removing old structural supports, and before any of that could be done, the tower collapsed. All four were pinned in the wreckage for sometime, said Cpl. Mark Waggamon.

Summit Park Volunteer Fire Department's Fire Chief said four contractors, subcontracted by SBA Communications, were approximately 80 to 100 feet up on the tower, and harnessed to it, when it collapsed.

A Nutter Fort Volunteer Fireman was also killed when a second tower collapsed. The second tower was weakened by the collapse of the first tower, officials said.

The two injured workers, and an additional injured firefighter were transported to Ruby Memorial hospital and United Hospital Center for treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

Nutter Fort Fire Chief Jeremy Haddix confirmed the death in a statement sent out Saturday. "It is with great sadness that the Nutter Fort Fire Department is confirming the line of duty death of one of our members. The firefighter was injured on scene in Summit Park during a secondary collapse at the cell tower, and transported to United Hospital Center," said Haddix.

The names of those who died as a result of this incident are Kyle Kirkpatrick, 32, from Hulbert, Oklahoma, Terry Lee Richard, Jr., 27, Bokoshe, Oklahoma.  Nutter Fort Volunteer Fireman Michael Dale Garrett, 28, Clarksburg, W.Va.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families of this tragedy. 

Contact our accident lawyers for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached at (304) 599-4229, or by e-mail.

Small plane crash in Upshur County

Authorities were called to the scene of a small plane crash in Upshur County Saturday night. It happened just after 5:30 p.m. on Brushy Fork Road outside of Buckhannon.

The Upshur County Sheriff's Department said James Meadows, 30, of Hendersonville, Tennessee was flying a Cirrus SR 22 aircraft to Pennsylvania when he heard a bang and his engine failed. 

The plane came down and struck a truck driven by Billy King, 42,  that was passing by on Brushy Fork Road. The plane ended up on Brushy Fork Road between Jenkins Ford and Buckhannon Toyota. Meadows and King are both uninjured. 

"I must have an angel looking over me somehow," said King of the close call. "I've been everywhere, but never had anything like this happen to me."

King moved from Greenbrier County, and lives in Upshur County. King was on his way to work in Jane Lew when the accident happened.

"I didn't see nothing, all I heard was a boom, and I thought it was one of those poles giving away because of the cold, I looked around and seen this plane and said oh my," King said.

"He called me, and I said oh lord what's going on? A plane had landed on my truck," said Delvia King, Billy's wife. "And I said a plane landed your truck? He said, there's a plane that hit my truck seriously." 

The Buckhannon Volunteer Fire Department and West Virginia State Police assisted at the scene.

The plane was following a second plane, a Grumman aircraft, which was preparing to land at the Upshur County Regional Airport to refuel.

Deputies said the Cirrus SR 22 will be taken to the Upshur County Regional Airport so the FAA can continue to investigate.

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Winter weather causes dozens of accidents in North Central West Virginia

Several 911 centers across North Central West Virginia reported dozens of vehicle accidents on Sunday morning as a result of the icy, hazardous road conditions. 

Marion County 911 said it dispatched authorities to almost 30 accidents, including one in Fairmont around 8 a.m. which involved one vehicle on Cleveland Avenue, causing one person to be trapped in the vehicle to later be taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital. Marion Country 911 said the driver hit a patch of ice and drove off of the road. 

Another accident in Tucker County resulted in one person being injured after a vehicle collision involving a snow truck. Tucker County EMS took the victim to Garrett Memorial Hospital in Maryland. No word on the extent of his or her injuries.

About 25 weather-related wrecks were reported in Kanawha County by mid-Sunday afternoon. Ice, slush, snow and ponding water all posed travel dangers as the weather shifted from snow to rain. The National Weather Service said there is a flood watch for Kanawha and surrounding areas from 1 p.m. Sunday through Monday afternoon.

While accidents during hazardous conditions may not always be preventable, there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent them. Read more to find out how you can prepare yourself for hazardous driving condition in West Virginia. 

If you have been the victim of an accident at the fault of another due to their unsafe driving practices it is important that you contact an attorney immediately. If you or a family member has been injured in a car crash, please contact our car accident lawyers for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached at (304) 599-4229, or by e-mail.


WVU Extension Service Hosts Gas Well Drilling Forum

WVU Extension Services is collaborating with Penn State officials to educate West Virginians on their private water suppliers and gas well drilling.

West Virginia is home of one of the largest Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits on the East Coast. West Virginia citizens and landowners have voiced many questions about the gas exploration process, fundamentals of leasing, and environmental concerns, including its effect on their private wells.

According to officials from the Penn State Extension Service, across the nation, 1/4 of private drinking water sources have never been tested. Officials from Penn State University came to Marion County Monday night to improve that statistic and help people understand the regulations and testing of their private wells.

Bryan Swistock, a water research specialist from Penn State Extension, said that many people don’t understand what is already wrong with their water supplies and often find out as they're getting prepared for the gas drilling and start to do testing for it.

Swistock said some of the chemicals used in fracking to keep gas wells clean are controversial, and recommends testing private wells and springs every year for certain types of bacteria and every three years for additional pollutants.

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Four traffic-related Deaths within 24 hours on WV highways

Police believe that a combination of the first consistent rain some parts of the state had seen in a few weeks and falling leaves may have contributed to four traffic-related deaths in West Virginia between Wednesday night and Thursday evening last week.

The first accident occurred in on Wednesday night. Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies said it was raining when driver Ramona Abbott of Walton was struck by another driver heading north on U.S. Route 119. The driver went across the center line near the Kanawha-Roane county line and slammed into her car. Abbott died a short time after the accident.

The following morning, an 88-year-old woman was struck by an SUV as she attempted to cross Greenbrier Street in Charleston at around 7:30 a.m.  Thursday. A passenger on a KRT bus in the area says she got off the bus and tried to administer CPR, but there was nothing she could do. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Later that day, Jeremy Gilles, 23, of Craigsville was killed when he lost control of his truck on Route 41 near Nile Road in Nicholas County. Gilles was ejected from the truck and taken to Summersville Regional Medical Center.  Gilles died from his injuries.

The fourth accident occurred in Barbour County. Police reported that the fatal traffic accident occurred Thursday afternoon after a Barbour County man lost control of his truck and it rolled over on Route 76 near the intersection with U.S. Route 119. The driver died at the scene and his wife was injured and taken to the hospital. Authorities have not released further information about her condition. 

Heavy rains contribute to accidents but causing reduced visibility and slippery driving conditions. While accidents may not always be preventable, there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent them:

1. You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.

2. If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you steer into the skid.

3. Avoid hydroplaning by keeping your tires inflated correctly and maintaining good tire tread.

4. If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. However, if your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally. The car's computer will automatically pump the brakes much more effectively than a person can do.

5. Remember: A defensive driver adjusts his or her speed to the wet road conditions in time to avoid having to use any of these measures.

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Two remain in the hospital after Randolph County log truck & train crash

A loaded log truck collided with a train on Cheat Mountain near the Randolph and Pocahontas county line around 1:30 p.m. last Friday, October 11th. The collision was caused when a log truck failed to stop at the U.S. Route 250 crossing at Cheat Bridge on Cheat Mountain and hit a train with people on board.

Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady said two of the train’s passenger cars flipped on their sides after impact at a rail crossing with a mountain highway, the log truck was rendered a “total loss” and the truck driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

The train was carrying 63 passengers and 4 crew members on a scenic leaf-viewing circuit in West Virginia’s mountains. The truck driver, Danny Lee Kimble Sr. of Bartow, WV, was the single fatality while 23 others were injured. At least six of the injured were hospitalized in serious condition after the accident, and as of Thursday, October 17, 2013 two still remained hospitalized. 

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is currently conducting an investigation into the cause of the collision and will reconstruct the weight of the logging truck to help determine how the accident occurred. However, the cab of the truck suffered severe damage and therefore PSC may not be able to reconstruct the brakes. According to according to Lawrence Messina, of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, the truck was inspected two days before the crash and he said nothing was cited on the truck during the inspection.

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South Charleston, WV Residents put under shelter in place order after chlorine leak

Kanawha County officials implemented a shelter in place early Wednesday morning following a leak at the Clearon Plant along MacCorkle Avenue, in South Charleston, WV. Officials said an unknown amount of chlorinated dry bleach, used in cleaning supplies and in swimming pool products, was spilled which caused a small fire and a chlorine gas cloud that hovered over the western part of Kanawha County.

According to the company's website, Clearon Corp. is a premier, world-class manufacturer and worldwide supplier of water treatment chemicals. Clearon employs 120 people at its South Charleston facility with 118 employees at the plant at the time of the leak. Employees were first evacuated and then told to go back inside during the shelter in place. One plant employee was taken to the hospital as a precaution and a couple of firefighters were also treated at the scene for heat exhaustion.

The shelter in place included the area near the Mound in South Charleston, Spring Hill, North Charleston and the city of Dunbar and lasted for about 30 minutes. 

County officials reached out to the people of the community to alert them to the shelter in place in a variety of ways including text messages, calls to land lines, Facebook and Twitter posts, radio and television announcements and ringing the sirens so that anyone outside could hear. 

As of Wednesday afternoon the cause of a chemical spill that forced the shelter in place in the Kanawha Valley remains under investigation. Emergency officials say the chemical left in air is not strong enough to cause any problems or illness.

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Salem Worker Flown to Ruby Memorial after Gas Well Explosion

A gas well worker was injured on Saturday afternoon around 3:30 P.M. after a gas well explosion caused by a high pressure airline rupture. The explosion occurred at the Antero site on Dog Run Road in Salem, WV.  

The injured worker was flown by HealthNet Aeromedical Services to Ruby Memorial Hospital after he was knocked back 20 feet and struck his head on some materials. Firefighters said the worker was alert and talking with them when they arrived at the scene.

A previous incident occurred at another Antero gas-drilling site on July 7, 2013 in New Milton, WV, just 30 miles from the Salem site. The incident resulted in several injured workers who suffered burns and other injuries in connection to the explosion. Some received medical treatment at local facilities, according to news reports, while at least five workers were transported to West Penn Hospital for treatment.  

Jason Mearns, age 37, died on July 28th after being hospitalized for injuries he sustained in the gas well drilling accident in New Milton, WV. Less than a week earlier Tommy Paxton, age 45, died as a result of his injuries as well.  One of the individuals admitted to West Penn is now in stable condition, according to WDTV, while two others, Charles Arbogast and Michael Murray, remain in critical condition. A fund has been established at Citizens Bank in Weston to collect donations for the men, according to the report.

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