AP NewsBreak: Speed to blame for Walker crash

By JUSTIN PRITCHARD
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Porsche carrying “Fast Furious” star Paul Walker was traveling approximately 90 mph when it lost control on a suburban street and crashed, killing the actor and his friend, according to an investigation by law enforcement agencies into the November accident.

The sports car slammed into a light pole which had a speed limit sign of 45 mph, killing Walker and Roger Rodas in a fiery wreck.

Investigators concluded that unsafe driving, not mechanical problems, caused the crash, according to a person who has reviewed a report by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol. Investigators calculated that Rodas was driving between 81 mph and 94 mph when his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT began to drift as it lost control after coming out of a curve.

“The vehicle had no mechanical failure and the damage that occurred to the vehicle was from the collision,” accident reconstruction specialists with the Highway Patrol wrote, according to the person, who requested anonymity because the report has not been officially released yet.

A spokeswoman said Tuesday that the Sheriff’s Department had no new information to release regarding the investigation into the Nov. 30 crash. “We will have something in the very near future,” department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida wrote in an email. The CHP declined comment.

The Associated Press reported in December that investigators had found no evidence that the car had mechanical problems and ruled out debris or other roadway conditions.

Subsequently, Porsche sent engineers to California to review the rare car’s wreckage. Though it was badly mangled and burned, the engineers were able to do a thorough analysis. They found no problems with the car’s electrical systems, brakes, throttle, fuel system, steering, suspension or other systems.

Porsche declined a request for comment Tuesday.

The conclusion about the speed was based on a “yaw” mark on the road that the car’s tire left on the road in an area of industrial office parks in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Witnesses told a sheriff’s deputy that they thought the car could have been traveling in excess of 100 mph.

Post-crash investigators noted several issues with the condition of the car, which had several prior owners, including IndyCar driver Graham Rahal:

-Its original exhaust system had been modified in a way that could allow it to go faster, but also could have been done to change its sound.

-Its tires were about nine years old; the owner’s manual suggests changing the tires after four years.

-Its left rear brake rotor was worn below manufacturer specifications, but that did not contribute to the crash.

Rodas, 38, and Walker, 40, had taken what was supposed to be a quick ride from a fundraiser benefiting Reach Out Worldwide, a Walker charity that gives first-response aid to victims of natural disasters. The crash occurred near the fundraiser, and horrified friends of the men raced to the scene.

While Rodas was Walker’s financial adviser, the two had bonded over their shared love of fast cars. They co-owned an auto racing team named after Rodas’ shop, Always Evolving, and Rodas drove professionally for the team on the Pirelli World Challenge circuit in 2013.

Walker starred in all but one of the six “Fast Furious” blockbusters, which glorify muscular cars and risky driving.

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Contact Justin Pritchard: https://twitter.com/lalanewsman

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Associated Press Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.

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

Car crash victim’s mother asking for answers 1 year later

Players from the Columbus Lions and soldiers on Fort Benning came together Friday March 21 for an extreme workout!

They all worked out at the Bolton Obstacle Course to build team work while building community relationships.

No injuries reported after car crashes into school bus

Columbus police are looking for an attacker who reportedly stabbed a man twice in the rear end. Officers say Baudelio Alvidrez lost a lot of blood and was rushed to the hospital.    

According to investigators, the attack happened at about 7 p.m. Sunday at Stoker’s Mobile Homes in the 3200 block of Plateau Drive.

Happening Now: No injuries reported after car crashes into school bus

Columbus police are looking for an attacker who reportedly stabbed a man twice in the rear end. Officers say Baudelio Alvidrez lost a lot of blood and was rushed to the hospital.    

According to investigators, the attack happened at about 7 p.m. Sunday at Stoker’s Mobile Homes in the 3200 block of Plateau Drive.

Child Injured When Car Crashes Into Home

Crews are assessing the damage at a north Columbus home after a car slammed into one of the bedrooms.

The accident happened around midnight Monday in the 2500 block of Atwood Terrace.

The property owner told 10TV that the car hit the home so hard it shoved the wall in and pushed the bed where a 6-year-old girl was sleeping. That girl was taken to the hospital to get checked out.  She did not have any serious injuries.

The driver of the car was also taken to the hospital with a broken leg. Police were investigating whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Stay with 10TV and refresh 10TV.com for updates on this story.

Child struck by a car airlifted to Columbus Regional, driver charged

A Georgia legend has been laid to rest.  

Howard “Bo” Callaway, the former Congressman and co-founder of Callaway Gardens, died Saturday March 15 at the age of 86 after suffering from a brain hemorrhage in Columbus.

Hundreds gathered for the funeral mass at a small church in Pine Mountain, including News Leader 9′s Tyrone McCoy.

3 car accident on I-680

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A three-car accident
resulted in a rollover on Interstate-680 south bound on Tuesday afternoon.

It happened right after the Glenwood Avenue
exit.

Youngstown police say no serious injuries
were reported.

 

News helicopter crashes near Space Needle; 2 dead

By MANUEL VALDES and PHUONG LE
Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) – A news helicopter crashed into the street and exploded into flames Tuesday near Seattle’s Space Needle, killing two people on board, badly injuring a man in a car and sending plumes of black smoke over the city during the morning commute.

The chopper was taking off from a helipad at the KOMO-TV station when it went down on Broad Street downtown and hit three vehicles, starting them on fire and spewing burning fuel down the street.

Kristopher Reynolds, a contractor working nearby, saw the wreck. He said the helicopter lifted about 5 feet and was about to clear a building when it tilted. It looked like it was trying to correct itself when it took a dive.

“Next thing I know, it went into a ball of flames,” he said.

KOMO identified the pilot as Gary Pfitzner. The other man killed was Bill Strothman, a former longtime KOMO photographer who was working for the helicopter leasing company.

Strothman was someone “who really knew how his pictures could tell a million words,” news anchor Dan Lewis said on the air. “He was just a true gentleman.”

“We’re going to miss you guys. And thanks so much for all that you gave to us,” Lewis said, choking up.

Firefighters who arrived at the scene before 8 a.m. found a “huge black cloud of smoke” and two cars and a pickup truck engulfed in flames, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said.

Fuel running down the street also was on fire, and crews worked to stop the fuel before it entered the sewer, Moore said.

An injured 38-year-old man managed to free himself from a car and was taken to Harborview Medical Center, Moore said.

The man suffered burns on his lower back and arm, covering up to 20 percent of his body, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said. He was in critical condition in intensive care and likely will require surgery, she said.

Two others who were in cars that were struck by the helicopter were uninjured.

A woman went to a police station and talked to officers. A man from the pickup walked off to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, and police later located him unhurt, authorities said.

Only the helicopter’s blue tail end could be identified among the wreckage strewn across the lawn in front of the Seattle Center, a popular spot for tourists and locals that hosts many festivals and sporting activities. National Transportation Safety Board investigators inspected the scene.

The cause of the wreck is not yet known. Mayor Ed Murray said the crash site could be closed for three to five days while officials with the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration probe what happened.

The station said the Eurocopter AS350 helicopter might have hit the side of a building before it went down.

Lewis said it wasn’t the regular KOMO helicopter but a temporary replacement for one that is in the shop for an upgrade.

Workers at KOMO rushed to the window when they heard the crash. Reporters with the station were then in the position of covering the deaths of colleagues.

On the street shortly after the crash, KOMO reporter Denise Whitaker said: “It is definitely a tragic scene down here. It is a difficult time for all of us this morning.”

The crash site also is near the EMP Museum, the music and culture museum created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The Seattle Monorail, which runs about 50 yards away, was operating Tuesday morning and passed the scene about 15 seconds before the crash happened, said Thomas Ditty, the monorail’s general manager.

Other cities have experienced helicopter crashes as TV stations rush to cover the news from above major cities.

Two news helicopters collided in midair in Phoenix in 2007 as the aircraft covered a police chase, sending fiery wreckage plummeting onto a park. Four people in the helicopters were killed.

The crash prompted changes at the stations in how they operated their helicopter crews.

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

2 killed in helicopter crash near Space Needle

SEATTLE (RNN) – A news helicopter has crashed Tuesday morning in Seattle near the Space Needle killing two people on board the aircraft.

Former KOMO news photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner were identified as the two victims killed in the crash.

The Seattle Fire Department tweeted in addition to the two fatalities a man in his late 30s was transported to the hospital in critical condition after being extricated from his car.

Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore told CNN the injured man had burns over 20 percent of his body.

A woman inside a second car was not injured and a man inside a pick-up truck left the scene, but was found shortly after uninjured.

“What we have left is basically just a part of the tail and burnt-out metal from the main chassis of the helicopter,” Moore said.

The accident occurred around 7:40 a.m. PT on Fourth and Broad Street.

The office for KOMO is catty corner to the Space Needle.

According to the Associated Press, the helicopter crashed into several vehicles setting them ablaze.

Kelly Koopmans, a reporter for KOMO, tweeted that a person crawled out of one of the cars on fire.

“The reports are that it hit the building and teetered off … right onto the top of the cars,” said a KING reporter on the scene of the accident. “The reports were possibly four cars; I’ve only seen the two. We heard about one person being transported [to the hospital], they’ve just closed off the rest of this street. They have got Medic One in their now. It does not look like they are rushing to transport anybody at this point. From what I’ve seen, anybody that needed to be transported has already been transported.”

The chopper was Air 4, the news helicopter is jointly used by two local stations, KOMO and KING.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will be conducting an investigation.

The Space Needle is an observation landmark in Seattle. Construction on the Pacific Northwest landmark was completed in Dec. 1961. It has drawn over 2.3 million visitors and the elevators are used daily by 20,000 people.

The structure stands 605 feet tall and 138 feet wide. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

It’s built to withstand winds up to 200 miles per hour, and earthquake magnitudes up to 9.1.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

Suspect in deadly South By Southwest crash charged

By WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The drunken-driving suspect who police say killed two people after he smashed his car through a street barricade at the South By Southwest festival did not use his brakes and even accelerated as he approached crowds, according to an arrest warrant released Friday.

Rashad Charjuan Owens was charged with one count of capital murder, though additional charges can be added later. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has said Owens intentionally steered toward pedestrians early Thursday in hopes of escaping an officer who was trying to pull him over. Acevedo has suggested Owens could face two capital murder charges and as many as 23 counts of aggravated assault with a vehicle.

The 21-year-old from Killeen, about 70 miles north of Austin, remains in police custody after a district court judge set his bail at $3 million. Jail records did not list an attorney for him.

According to the arrest warrant, Owens told police that he “got scared” when he saw police lights behind him around 12:30 a.m. Thursday because outstanding warrants meant he could go to prison for five years. Owens told police he’s facing old kidnapping warrants issued as part of a custody battle over his daughter.

A breath test indicated Owens’ blood-alcohol content was .114, exceeding the legal limit of .08, the arrest warrant released Friday says.

The officer who tried to stop Owens was looking for suspected drunken drivers when he spotted a 2012 gray Honda Civic that didn’t have its headlights turned on, the arrest warrant says. Owens then made a turn from a middle lane and “would have caused a crash” with the police cruiser had the officer not turned to avoid it, according to the warrant.

Investigators say Owens then cut through a gas station and sped the wrong way down a one-way street before crashing through police barriers blocking a street closed for South By Southwest festivities – forcing another police officer manning the roadblock on foot to dive out of the way.

Police say Owens then plowed into a crowd of concertgoers, hitting and killing a man from the Netherlands on a bicycle and an Austin woman on a moped. Investigators say he eventually crashed into a taxi and parked van and tried to run before police subdued him with a stun gun.

The warrant says a video from the police unit giving chase “shows the Honda accelerating into crowds, not simply crowded areas but crowds of people who are hit by the car and flung into the air.” It adds that Owens drove “for almost three city blocks, accelerating into crowds and does not use his brakes, as in the video there are no brake lights visible from the rear of the Honda.”

Court records indicate that Owens pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Fairbanks, Alaska, in October 2011, when he was 19. He also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, but that was later dismissed.

Owens also faced 2012 charges in Alaska of criminal mischief, and a warrant was issued for him after he failed to appear in court. In 2010, meanwhile, he was arrested in Texas by Killeen Independent School District police for criminal trespassing and pleaded guilty.

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