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Local News

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Updated 5/23/17  12:02 pm

Rising waters leave truck driver trapped on Ringgold Road:
(Ringgold, Va.) – Ringgold firefighters made a swift water rescue early Tuesday morning.
    Fire Chief Mike Neal says they were called to the 200 block on Ringgold Road about 7 a.m. Heavy rains overnight caused flooding, leaving standing water three-feet deep in the curve at the railroad tracks.
      A Pony Express box truck that carries mail was headed to the Ringgold Post Office. When the driver rounded the curve, he drove through the standing water. The vehicle was caught by the rising water and was pushed to the edge of a 15-foot embankment, trapping the driver inside.
    Neal says the truck was sitting on two wheels and was “very close to turning over” when rescue personnel arrived. Firefighters used a four-wheel drive pickup, dropped the tail gate and backed to the driver’s side door of the mail truck. Three firefighters plucked the driver from the truck and put him on the back of the pickup. Water had already risen to the floorboard of the truck but the driver was not injured.
      It took about ten minutes to rescue the driver, but the Ringgold Road was closed for about 90 minutes as two wreckers worked to tow the truck from the embankment.     

Flood watches cover huge area:
(Atlanta) -- The threat of flooding continues across several southern states as heavy rain soaked the area and prompted new flood watches and warnings in Virginia and in the Carolinas while a massive storm system swept eastward.
      The National Weather Service said flash flood watches early Tuesday extended from southeast Louisiana across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and a sliver of southern Virginia. Here on the Southside, a flood warning is in effect for the Dan River in Danville, Paces and South Boston.
      Forecasters said the slow-moving front would produce locally heavy rain Tuesday along the Gulf Coast and in several states in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
      The flood fears come as the ground is already saturated from heavy rains. Montgomery, Alabama, saw more than 8 inches of rain Saturday, and neighboring counties got more than 6 inches.
      In south Georgia, the weather service says there is a threat of tornadoes on Tuesday.

Halifax Co. man killed in single-vehicle crash:
(Halifax County, Va.) – Virginia State Police have identified the Halifax County man killed in an accident  Sunday night as Thomas Lee Mortan.
     The 80-year-old died in a single-vehicle wreck that happened on State Route 735 in Virgilina. According to Trooper D. T. Spencer, Mortan was driving a 1989 Ford Ranger pickup truck when he ran off the road to the right and struck a tree around 8 p.m. Sunday.
     Mortan, who lived in Buffalo Junction, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Most charges dismissed in burglary ring:
(Chatham, Va.) – A Pittsylvania County judge has dismissed charges against most of the eight defendants in a burglary ring that targeted homes along Smith Mountain Lake.
      The break-ins happened late last year. Investigators charged Ryan Lee Compton, Robert Lee Dalton, Ronald Wayne Patterson Jr., James Ricky Pruitt, Jeffrey Scott Smith, Ricky Dean Tate, Cristie Lee Trottier and Annegalique Elizabeth Wood.
     According to the Danville Register and Bee, charges against Compton, Patterson, Pruitt, Tate and Trottier were dismissed during preliminary hearings Monday.
     Burglary and grand larceny charges againt Jeffrey Scott Smith were certified to a grand jury.
      The homes were entered in December and January and items taken included electronics, tools and a motorcycle. Four of the defendants face additional burglary and theft charges in Franklin County.
Former Halifax Co. resident enters plea in toddler’s death:
(Halifax County, Va.) – A woman charged with killing a 3-year-old Halifax boy has entered an Alford plea to a second-degree murder charge.
       Jessica Eve Baker, 40, of Boydton did not admit guilt but conceded the prosecution had enough evidence for a conviction. By doing so, she avoided a possible life sentence. Baker was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of her step-grandchild, Alonzo “A.J.” Roane.
      In earlier court hearings, Baker claimed the toddler suffered a brain hemorrhage when he fell on steps outside her home. In addition to second-degree murder, Baker also entered an Alford plea of felony child abuse.
    The medical examiner determined the boy died of blunt force trauma on Feb. 3, 2016, after going at least a day without medical attention for internal injuries.
Danville Police seize drugs, cash and weapons; 4 face charges:
(Danville, Va.) -- Members of the Danville Police Department and the Regional Narcotics Task Force raided four homes over the weekend and seized drugs, cash and firearms.
    Search warrants were executed Saturday at homes on Southampton Drive, Girard Street, Stokes Street and in the 41-hundred block of Riverside Drive. Four people were charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, with additional charges expected.
     Danville Police confiscated 5 handguns, one of which was stolen, and 200 rounds of ammunition. They also found cocaine, marijuana, and synthetic narcotics, along with digital scales, gang paraphernalia and $1,860 in cash.
     The weapons and drugs will be destroyed following court proceedings, while the stolen firearm will be returned to its owner.
     Tips from the public led police to the homes.

Shooting leaves two with serious injuries; suspects sought:
(Eden, N.C.) -- Rockingham County Sheriff’s Detectives are investigating a shooting that left two people seriously wounded.
       It happened just before 2:00 Sunday morning near the 9500 block of U.S. 29 Business, in Ruffin, N.C.
      Investigators say the incident followed a fight between several individuals at nearby Lera's Baile Mexicano Nightclub. A man and a woman were struck by bullets when someone shot into their Lincoln Navigator after leaving the nightclub. The two suffered serious injuries and were transported to Moses Cone Hospital for treatment.
      The suspects are believed to be driving a newer model black, full-sized pickup truck. Security cameras photographed the suspects and their truck.
        Anyone who knows these individuals or that has information about this shooting is asked to call the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office at 336-349-9683.


Richmond woman falls to her death on Parkway:
(Pisgah Forest, N.C.) -- A retired University of Richmond employee fell to her death from an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
     Spokeswoman Leesa Brandon said that 83-year-old Nancy Ann Martin of Richmond, Virginia, fell over the edge of the East Fork Overlook at Milepost 418 in Haywood County on Friday. Martin was on her way to meet her sister for a vacation around Asheville, N.C.
      According to park officials, Martin's companion called 911, and National Park Service law enforcement rangers, in cooperation with Haywood County rescue and emergency personnel, responded to the scene.
      Rescuers found Martin's body about 150 feet below the overlook.
      The incident remains under investigation.
      It's the second death on the Blue Ridge Parkway this year. Authorities say a man was killed earlier this year in a single-vehicle crash on the Virginia side of the parkway.
State senator to call hearing over gov's power plant plan:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- A Republican state senator running for governor is planning to call a legislative hearing to investigate Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants.
     Sen. Frank Wagner tells The Richmond Times-Dispatch that he will convene an emergency meeting of the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules within a few weeks to question McAuliffe administration officials on the executive order. Wagner has said he will do everything in his "legislative authority" to stop the governor's power plant plan.
      McAuliffe, a Democrat, signed an executive order Tuesday that begins developing regulations on carbon emissions.
      A spokesman for McAuliffe called Wagner's hearing "election-year posturing" but said the administration would gladly answer questions about the plan.
      Recent polls show Wagner trailing Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart for the Republican nomination.

Missing man found and home with family:
(Chatham, Va.) -- The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office has located an elderly man who disappeared from his home early Saturday morning.
     Kessie Jessie Burchett, 82, went missing from his Sutherlin home at around 10 am. Burchett suffers from dementia but was located late Saturday afternoon and was reunited with his family. The sheriff's office says he is doing well.

 FBI: 3 more gang members arrested; 7 still sought:
 (Charlotte, N.C.) (AP) -- Three more people have been taken into custody in connection with a five-state sweep that targeted members of the United Blood Nation gang, and seven more are still being sought.
     The FBI said in a statement on Friday that two of the suspects were taken into custody Friday morning in Charlotte, while the third turned himself in to authorities in Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday. Seven others remain at large.
     Federal prosecutors announced on Thursday that 83 members of United Blood Nation had been indicted as part of a five-state crackdown on gang activity. The U.S. Department of Justice said more than 600 federal, state and local law enforcement officers carried out the arrest warrants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida and New York.
Tobacco Commission wants repayment from Martinsville:

(Martinsville, Va) – The Virginia Tobacco Commission wants the city of Martinsville to repay an $800,000 opportunity grant they received nearly two years ago.

     According to the Martinsville Bulletin, the city received the money in July 2015 to start a medical school to be called the “College of Henricopolis School of Medicine.” Terms of the grant required that the school was to have hired at least 30 full-time employees and generated at least 1-point-5 million dollars in capital investment by the 18-month mark, which was January of this year. 

     When those goals weren’t met, the commission held an appeal hearing, at which time Henricopolis president Dr. Noel Boaz, asked for an extension.  Citing a change in status from for-profit to non-profit and a change in structure for the proposed medical school, the Commission refused the extension.

     The City of Martinsville has just over a month to come up with a payment plan.

Arson charge filed against Danville woman:
(Danville, Va.) -- A Danville woman has been charged with arson in connection with a fire that did heavy damage to a Dame Street home last weekend.

     Police say 34-year-old Edwina Davis had been arguing with a man believed to be her boyfriend inside the home in the 700 block Dame Street close to midnight on Sunday. They say when the argument ended, Davis poured gasoline on the floor and threw a lit tissue into it, then left the house, with three other adults and a 2-year-old child still inside. Everyone was able to get out of the house without getting hurt.

     Davis, 34, was arrested Wednesday and charged with felony arson. She’s being held in the Danville City Jail without bond, until her bond hearing comes up on May 22.

Danville receives recognition for 10th year running:
(Danville, Va.) -- For the tenth year in a row, Danville has been recognized as a Playful City USA by national non-profit KaBOOM!

     Danville Parks and Recreation Director Bill Sgrinia says the city now holds “the streak for the most designations in Virginia.” And he says the honor is no surprise to him, since his staff and partners work tirelessly to provide opportunities for the community through access to trails and playgrounds and special events.

     Most recently, Danville has upgraded, the playground at Doyle Thomas Park on Green Street, started work on a new park in the River District, and continued work on the Riverwalk Trail.

First Street fire deemed arson:
(Danville, Va.) – Danville fire investigators say a porch fire on First Street was set intentionally.
     Firefighters were called to 221 First Street just before 12:30 Friday morning, where they found a fire burning on the front porch. The flames were put out quickly and there was no extension into the home.
     The occupant was asleep when he heard some noise outside. He went to investigate and found his porch ablaze. He got out of the house and was not injured and spent the night with a family member.
     The fire marshal was called to the scene and listed the cause as arson.
     3 engines a ladder truck and 18 firefighters responded and were on scene for an hour and 45 minutes.
Bogus $100 bills passed at area businesses:
(South Boston, Va.) – The Halifax County Sheriff’s Department says several counterfeit $100 bills have been passed in the area.
      The bogus bills have been passed at four businesses in Halifax and South Boston this week and it’s believed all are related. The incidents occurred Tuesday and Wednesday.
     Police believe there are at least two suspects, both Hispanic males. One is 5’7” tall, possibly in his thirties, with short dark hair and clean cut. The second suspect is of slender build and unshaven.
       It is believed the two may be traveling in a white, 2014 Nissan Altima that has black front and rear bumpers. The car has Florida license plates.
     Anyone with information is asked to call the Halifax County Sheriff’s office or the South Boston Police Department.

Fentanyl/Heroin combo hits Southside:
(Franklin Co., Va.) - The Franklin County Sheriff's Office says a potent drug mixture has made its way to Southside Virginia.
       Investigators say fentanyl is being mixed with heroin to increase the potency. And that could be a deadly combination. High doses of the opioids can cause the user to stop breathing, which can lead to death. The presence of fentanyl increases the risk of an overdose
      Sheriff’s deputies are now carrying doses of naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, because of the increased number of cases involving fentanyl.
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