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NCHP announce #Move Over campaign

Troop GThe North Carolina State Highway Patrol is joining thousands of law-enforcement agencies across the country in promoting the “Move Over Law”. The “Move Over” awareness campaign comes in the wake of a crash this past weekend that killed a Nashville, TN Metro Officer while he was working an accident on I-65. A tractor trailer struck and killed Officer Michael Petrina, 25, even though drivers had a two-mile notice.

To bring more awareness to each state’s “Move Over” law, the Tennessee Highway Patrol just recently launched a massive social media campaign. As a result, law enforcement agencies across the country, including the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, have joined forces in spreading the message through Facebook and Tweets. The outpouring of support has resulted in hundreds of people holding small signs with the hashtag #MoveOver.

Just like Tennessee, North Carolina is not immune to these types of incidents. On August 7, 2013, Trooper A. G. Knight was conducting a traffic on US 64 in Wake County, a practice he had done time and time again. But this day would be like no other day.

As he spoke to the driver on the shoulder of the roadway, he suddenly heard the sound of skidding tires and smelled burning rubber. With 80,000 pounds of metal bearing down on him, he ran for cover out of harm’s way. Thankfully, in this case, everyone walked away without a scratch.

However, not all law enforcement officers have been so lucky. Since 1999, more than 164 U.S. law enforcement officers have been struck and killed by vehicles along America’s highways. Since the Highway Patrol’s inception in 1929, six troopers have been struck and killed while conducting a traffic stop.

Originally enacted in 2002, the Move Over law directs motorists to change lanes or slow down when passing a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights on the roadside.  In the fall of 2012, the law was revised to include “public service” vehicles. Public services vehicles are described as any vehicle that is being used to assist motorists or law enforcement officers with wrecked or disabled vehicles, or is a vehicle being used to install, maintain or restore utility service, including electric, cable, telephone, communications and gas. These vehicles must display amber lights.

Lambert And Hodgins Face Run-Off In Republican Race For Sheriff

The Jackson County Board Of Elections on Tuesday released the certified results of the Primary Election held on Tuesday May 6th 2014. The canvas showed that neither of the three Republican candidates for sheriff exceeded the 40% plus one vote threshold to be declared the winner. Curtis Lambert was the top vote getter with 424 votes. He was followed by Jimmy Hodgins with 376 and Mary Rock had ONE VOTE fewer with 375. This election shows that ONE vote makes a difference. As reported on WRGC Radio News last week Jimmy Hodgins said that he would exercise his right for a runoff election if he was the number two vote getter. Hodgins trails Lambert by exactly 50 votes. According to Jackson County Board Of Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl, Hodgins immediately filed the form required for a run-off. Lovedahl further reported that a 2nd primary has been called in a federal office (congressional district)
and all 2nd primary dates have been moved to July 15 (federal election date). All of the precincts will be open on a regular election day schedule. Early voting will be offered at the Board Of Elections during the week prior to the run-off election. In the initial vote tally Hodgins had led Mary Rock by four votes 374 to 370 but when the additional ballots were counted and the certification process took place Rock gained five voted and Hodgins gained two votes. The outcome of the Democrat races were unchanged. Democrat Chip Hall who won the Democrat primary outright will face the winner of the run-off race between Curtis Lambert and Jimmy Hodgins.

Cherokee Man Charged with Meth at Huddle House

SCC-JessicaWaldronRobert John Ayen, 36, of Cherokee was arrested Sunday at the Huddle House in Whittier. Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a call from Huddle House employees regarding a man who was unresponsive and sleeping in the restaurant.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputies attempted to revive Ayen who became agitated. An altercation broke out. Ayen was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a government official. Upon arrest, it was discovered he had in his possession Methamphetamine.

He was charged with resisting arrest, assault on a government official, trespassing, possession/concealing a weapon, as well as possession of Methamphetamine and possession of a schedule IV.

His bond has been set at $22,000.

 

Blue Ridge School Break-In

crime-sceneIn the early morning hours of April 7, 2014, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was requested by the Cashiers Fire Department to come to Blue Ridge School.  The Fire Department was already on scene for a fire alarm activation.  Suspects had forced entry into the school and thousands of dollars of damage to the interior of the building was done.  Damages included spray painting and flooding.  The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident and is asking for anyone with any information to contact Detective Rick Buchanan.  The Sheriff’s Office is offering a $500 reward for anyone with any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an offender in this case.  Please contact Detective Rick Buchanan at (828) 269-5698, email him at rlbuchanan@jacksonnc.org or contact Crime Stoppers,at (828) 631-1125 or crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org

WCU Student Killed in Car Accident In Greensboro

A 22-year-old Western Carolina University student was killed in an automobile accident Thursday night in Greensboro. According My Fox 8 TV News In Greensboro the student was killed when her car was hit head on by a driver driving west on the eastbound lanes of I-40 near the Wendover Avenue exit around ten fifteen last night. The student has been identified as 22-year-old Reagan Hartley who was scheduled to graduate next month from Western Carolina University with her degree in elementary education. Hartley was from the town of Willow Springs NC and a 2010 graduate from West Johnston High School. She was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.
The driver of the S U V has been identified as 46-year-old Ronnie Fichera. Police said Fichera entered Greensboro on I-40, exited the interstate at the High Point Road exit leading officers around Four Seasons Mall and reentered the interstate again driving west in the eastbound lanes. He struck the convertible about a mile down the highway. Greensboro police were not involved in the pursuit but are investigating the crash. Units were called to assist when Randleman Police initiated the pursuit. “It’s a tragedy, there’s no way around that,” Lt. C.M. Shultheis said. “I don’t know what goes through a drivers mind when they are trying to elude police. I don’t know what the level of impairment was, the driver may not have realized he was going the wrong way.”
540 A-M WRGC Radio shares the grief with the entire University family with the death of this aspiring teacher who is described by her student teaching supervisor “as having all the qualities for being a really great elementary school teacher.”

Haywood Co. Man Pleads Guilty

James Daniel Sawyer

James Daniel Sawyer

A Canton man faces nearly 30 years behind bars after pleading guilty to sexual assaults that left a 3-year-old boy with a sexually transmitted disease. James Daniel Sawyer, 33, was arrested in October of last year after Sgt. Shawn Gaddis with the Canton Police Department received a report from the Haywood County Department of Social Services involving the little boy. The boy and his then 7-year-old sister were examined and interviewed at Mission Hospital. Though the girl did not have any physical illness, she did speak of Sawyer’s sexual behavior. Authorities believe the crimes occurred on and off between January 2012 and September 2013, based on statements by the mother, children and Sawyer himself. Sawyer has never even had so much as a traffic ticket, comes from a well-respected family, is a lifelong local resident and has a stable employment history.  Sawyer’s father and pastor were present in the courtroom as well. His father teared up as he stood to speak. Judge William Coward did not recognize any mitigating factors and sentenced him to 240 months to 348 months in prison and fined him $10,000 to go to the state. He also granted the defense’s request to allow Sawyer work release so he can help support his 5-year-old daughter, despite adamant disagreement from prosecutors. Upon his release, Sawyer will be a registered sex offender and required to wear satellite based monitoring for life.

Ledbetter Road Incident

crime-sceneA student ended up in the emergency room early Friday Morning, March 28th after allegedly being hit by a vehicle on Ledbetter Road in Cullowhee. The incident happened around 12:30 a.m. Joshua Thomas, 21, of Cullowhee, had been drinking before he was struck by a vehicle, according to N.C. Highway Patrol. Thomas left Tuck’s Tap & Grille on foot and claims he was hit by a car on Ledbetter Road.  There was no evidence of a vehicle and a very vague description of a suspect vehicle from the victim. He had some damage to his left ankle. The N.C. SHP was notified by the hospital’s emergency room around 2:30 a.m. Anyone with information about the incident, is asked to contact the N.C. SHP at 828-627-2851 and ask for Bowers.

NCHP Information Sessions Planned

Troop GThe North Carolina State Highway Patrol Troop G  Invites you to their open house at Reynolds Fire Department for informational sessions regarding employment with the Highway Patrol.  These sessions will be held at Reynolds Fire Department on April 26th and May 3rd from 9 am until 12 noon.  Troopers will discuss everything from basic qualifications of an applicant to retirement from the organization.  If being a North Carolina State Trooper has ever crossed your mind, or if it is something you have always wanted to do, come by and see us at one of these two sessions.  If you would like to speak to a recruiter, call Trooper Metcalf at (828) 234-5603.

Booze It & Lose It

NC Highway Patrol

NC Highway Patrol

The North Carolina Highway Patrol along with other local and state agencies have released numbers for their 2014 St. Patricks Day “Booze It & Lose It” Campaign. Jackson County had a total of 18 checkpoints and patrols with a total of 130 traffic stops with some nature of violation. Haywood County had 162 and Macon County with 108 citations.

Haywood County Murder

Crystal Brook Howell

Crystal Brook Howell

A 17-year-old MaggieValley teen has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the shooting death of her father. Crystal Brooke Howell was arrested Sunday in Richmond County, Georgia, on a HaywoodCounty warrant initially charging her with concealing the death of her father, 50-year-old Micheal Joseph Howell. Mr. Howell’s body was discovered by potential renters of his property at 497 Pless Underwood Road in the SheepbackMountain community near MaggieValley.  Local law enforcement received information about the incident Saturday afternoon. According to this morning’s preliminary autopsy findings, Howell died from a single shotgun wound to the head.  A murder warrant for Crystal Howell was issued a short time later. “This tragic event appears to have been an isolated incident,” said Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher.  “There is no evidence to suggest any risk to other HaywoodCounty citizens.” The investigation unfolded quickly as Haywood County officers worked together on the case with Waynesville Police Department, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, District Attorney’s office and Maggie Valley Fire Department, as well as sheriff’s offices in Richmond and Columbia counties, Georgia. “Hard work and cooperative effort brought this matter to a rapid conclusion,” said Sheriff Christopher.  Ms. Howell is being held in jail in Georgia while awaiting extradition proceedings.

Stolen Puppy Recovered

Fish & More Pet Store

Fish & More Pet Store

Police have recovered a puppy that was stolen from a Sylva pet store safe and sound. They also picked up two juveniles in the case. The owner says they are still considering whether they will file charges in the case. Surveillance video at Fish and More Pet Store shows one of the juveniles putting the all black pomeranian/chihuahua puppy in her purse and then walking out of the store. One of the co-owners says the theft happened at the close of business Monday. The puppy would have cost $250. Sylva Police are investigating.

State Troopers Contract Lawsuit

NC Highway Patrol

NC Highway Patrol

Some attorneys say North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers are facing severe financial hardships because the state has broken a promise to give them pay raises. A breach of contract lawsuit was filed Monday in Cherokee County, with nearly 40 state troopers as plaintiffs. Attorney David Wijewickrama says troopers were promised graduated or step pay raises when they completed training at the academy. But he says that hasn’t happened in years. He says that has created financial hardship for some troopers who are having trouble making ends meet. A beginning trooper makes about 35,000 a year.

Sylva Officer Terminated

sylva-police-3_15312A former Sylva police officer wants to see on paper why he was fired last week. Curtis Lambert lost his job as a patrol officer last Monday. The next day, he wrote the town manager requesting to see all documents involved in his termination. Town leaders say North Carolina is an “at-will” state and anyone can be fired without providing information. They say only general information can be released under state law without Lambert’s written consent. Lambert said he intends to go through his due process rights. Lambert is running for Jackson County Sheriff and speculates this might have been a reason for his termination. Sylva town leaders flatly deny politics had anything to do with his termination.

Franklin Stabbing

21 Kirkland Road, Franklin, NC 28734

21 Kirkland Road, Franklin, NC 28734

31-year-old Adam Lee Hensley of Franklin has been charged with first degree murder. Macon County Sheriff’s deputies responded Sunday afternoon to a 911 call and found victim Larry Nelson Wilt laying face down on a porch with multiple stab wounds. Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland said emergency responders tried to revive Wilt, but he was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. Sheriff Holland said the suspect was covered in blood and had his hands raised above his head when deputies arrived and took him from the scene. Both men have past records with Macon County Sheriff’s Department. We’ll bring you more details as they become available.

Haywood County Inmate Escape

Jeffery Wayne Medley

Jeffery Wayne Medley

An inmate from Haywood County Detention is in custody after having jumped and run from a transport van early Wednesday evening. Jeffery Wayne Medley, 18, had been at the Justice Center for a court appearance and was being transported back to detention shortly after 5 p.m. when he escaped from the van. After a quick foot chase, he was apprehended by law enforcement a few blocks away. Mr. Medley had been in court on an Order for Arrest for a misdemeanor probation violation. Mr. Medley is facing additional charges of misdemeanor escape and property damage in excess of $200 for damage to the van.

Investigation Into Forest Fire

Cherokee Reservation Fire

Cherokee Reservation Fire

Investigators are looking into who started a forest fire in Cherokee Tuesday morning that burned 120 acres on Mt. Noble. The fire also burned some land in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Bureau of Indian Affairs said Wednesday most of the fire is out, but not all of it. It is under control, but a few hot spots remain. Crews are on hand to make sure wind doesn’t re-start it. Bureau of Indian Affairs Supervisor Darlene Whitetree says they know it is an arson fire since it was started in four places. No arrests have been made and Whitetree says there are no leads.

Proposed Changes For Sylva Police

Sylva Police Department

Sylva Police Department

Sylva Police Cheif Davis Woodard along with town leaders are looking into the possibility of their police officers having the ability to take home their patrol vehicles. The ability to do so would possibly help attract and retain officers to the department. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office provides individual cars to their deputies and so does the town of Franklin. Officers would pay $15 per month to help cover the cost of gas for the take home cars. Take Home cars are calculated to add between $5,000 and $7,000 per year annually to an employees paycheck. Some local governments provide certain employees a monthly vehicle allowence for gas and other expenses. Officers would however be required to live within Jackson County to participate in the take home car program. Woodard says “It’s one of the first questions people ask when we interview them for a job.” Currently the town of Sylva has 11 cars and 15 officers. The proposed idea is part of the 2014-2015 budget work session.

Breaking And Entering Arrest

Jack Milton Kern III

Jack Milton Kern III

On February 20, 2014 deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a possible residential breaking entering in progress on Owen Mountain in the Glenville Community of Jackson County.  Shortly after arriving on Owen Mountain, deputies located a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle near the reported break in location.  A traffic stop was conducted and multiple items of stolen property were located in the pickup truck.  The two occupants were placed under arrest.  A subsequent search warrant was applied for and received for the home of the suspects.  Numerous items of stolen property were located in the home linking the suspects to multiple breaking and enterings and larcenies in the Glenville and Cashiers Communities.  The investigation into these property crimes is continuing and further charges are expected.  The arrested persons are husband and wife. Jack Milton Kern III of 174 Lakeside Circle in Glenville is charged with two counts of breaking and entering, felony larceny, possession of stolen goods along with other charges. Leann Kinsey Kern is also charged with the same in the case.

 

 

 

Leann Kinsey Kern

Leann Kinsey Kern

Swain County Shooting

crime-sceneInvestigators are looking into a shooting that left a Swain County woman dead. It happened early Wednesday morning at the home of Alex Crisp and his girlfriend Summer Johnson, just outside Bryson City. Crisp’s father, Mike, lives in the house next door. He says his son Alex, Summer, and their 8-month-old baby girl lived in the mobile home on Gibby Road. Neighbors are shocked at the news. Summer graduated from Swain County High School just three years ago. The medical examiner is conducting an autopsy on Summer Johnson. The results will determine if charges will be filed. We’ll bring you the latest as details of this story become avalible.

Swain County Sex Charges

David Peterson

David Peterson

A Swain County school resource officer and former teacher is accused of having sex with a high school student. David Peterson is charged with felony statutory rape in Macon County. That’s where the arrest warrant says he had sex with the 15-year-old victim. Peterson had taught science at Swain County High School and had only been with the sheriff’s office in Swain County for three weeks. Peterson was an SRO for East Elementary and was terminated after his arrest. The SBI is handling the investigation. Peterson was released on a written promise to appear in court. His next court date is set for March 6th.