Union Hospital donates more life saving devices

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - Union Hospital continues to be in a giving mood.

On Thursday, UnionHospital’s LugarCenter distributed 23 heart-saving-devices in Parke and VermillionCounties.

It’s an effort by the center to get automated external defibrillators in rural areas.

U.S. Representative Larry Bucshon attended the event at Clinton’s City Hall.

Experts say this can be a life saving measure.

“It’s very important to have early access to not only CPR but also a defibrillator so we can shock a patient’s heart into a more normal rhythm if need be.   It’s very important for that to happen very quickly as they said in the presentation to limit the damage of the heart muscle,” Clinton Fire Chief Chris Strohm said.

Earlier this week, Union Hospital’s Lugar Center presented Clark County with 12 AED devices.

Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea’s southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the coast guard said it was investigating whether the ferry’s captain was one of the first ones off the sinking ship.

The first instructions from the captain were for the passengers to put on life jackets and stay put, and it was not until about 30 minutes later that he ordered an evacuation, Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member, told The Associated Press. But Oh said he wasn’t sure if the captain’s order, given to crew members, was actually relayed to passengers on the public address system.

Several survivors also told the AP that they never heard any evacuation order.

The loss of that precious time may have deprived many passengers of the opportunity to escape as the Sewol sank Wednesday, not far from the southern city of Mokpo.

Twenty people, including a female crew member, at least five students and two teachers, were confirmed dead by coast guard officials Thursday night. But the toll was expected to jump amid fears that more than 280 missing passengers — many high school students — were dead. Coast guard officials put the number of survivors Thursday at 179.

Video obtained by AP that was shot by a survivor, truck driver Kim Dong-soo, shows the vessel listing severely as people in life jackets cling to the side of the ship to keep from sliding. A loudspeaker announcement can be heard telling passengers to stay in their quarters.

The increasingly anxious search for the missing was hampered all day Thursday by strong, dangerous currents, rain and bad visibility. Officials said divers would continue trying overnight to enter the ship, hoping for gentler currents.

There were 475 people aboard, including 325 students on a school trip to the tourist island of Jeju in the south of the country. The ferry had traveled overnight from Incheon on the northwestern coast of South Korea and was three hours short of its destination when it began to list. The cause is not yet known.

The 146-meter (480-foot) Sewol now sits — with just part of its keel visible — in waters off Mokpo, about 470 kilometers (290 miles) from Seoul.

Oh, a helmsman on the ferry with 10 years’ shipping experience, said that when the crew gathered on the bridge and sent a distress call the ship was already listing more than 5 degrees, the critical angle at which the ship can be brought back to even keel.

At about that time, a third mate reported that the ship could not be righted, and the captain ordered another attempt, which also failed, Oh said. A crew member then tried to reach a lifeboat but tripped because the vessel was tilting, prompting the first mate to suggest to the captain that everyone should evacuate, Oh said.

The captain agreed and ordered an evacuation, but Oh said that amid the confusion and chaos on the bridge he does not recall the message being conveyed on the public address system.

By then it was impossible for crew members to move to passengers’ rooms to help them because the ship was tilted at an impossibly acute angle, he said. The delay in evacuation also likely prevented lifeboats from being deployed.

“We couldn’t even move one step. The slope was too big,” said Oh, who escaped with about a dozen others, including the captain.

At a briefing, Kim Soo-hyun, a senior coast guard official, told reporters that officials were investigating whether the captain got on the first rescue boat, but didn’t elaborate.

Passenger Koo Bon-hee, 36, told the AP that many people were trapped inside by windows that were too hard to break. He wanted to escape earlier but didn’t because of the announcement that said passengers should stay put.

“The rescue wasn’t done well. We were wearing life jackets. We had time,” Koo, who was on a business trip to Jeju with a co-worker, said from a hospital bed in Mokpo where he was treated for minor injuries. “If people had jumped into the water … they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out.”

It is not clear if the captain’s actions violated any procedures, and he may have believed at the time that it was still possible to control the vessel, which would have made the order to evacuate unnecessary.

Worried and angry parents of the students gathered at Danwon High School in Ansan, which is near Seoul, while other relatives assembled on Jindo, an island near where the ferry slipped beneath the surface, leaving only the blue-tipped, forward edge of its keel visible.

In Mokpo, relatives of the dead students wailed and sobbed as ambulances drove away with the bodies, headed to Ansan. The families, who spent a mostly sleepless night at the Mokpo hospital, followed the ambulances in their cars. At the school, some desperate relatives lashed out in frustration, screaming threats at journalists. On Jindo island, one woman passed out and was carried to an ambulance.

The family of one of the dead, 24-year-old teacher Choi Hye-jung, spoke about a young woman who loved to boast of how her students would come to her office and give her hugs.

“She was very active and wanted to be a good leader,” her father, Choi Jae-kyu, 53, said at Mokpo Jung-Ang Hospital while waiting for the arrival of his daughter’s body. Choi’s mother, sitting on a bench at the hospital, sobbed quietly with her head on her knee.

While more than 400 rescuers searched nearby waters, coast guard spokesman Kim Jae-in said that in the next two days, three vessels with cranes onboard would arrive to help with the rescue and salvage the ship. Divers were working in shifts in an attempt to get inside the vessel, he said, but strong currents wouldn’t allow them to enter.

Kim said that divers planned to pump oxygen into the ship to help any survivors, but first they had to get inside.

The water temperature in the area was about 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit), cold enough to cause signs of hypothermia after about 90 minutes of exposure, officials said. The ocean was 37 meters (121 feet) deep in the area.

Kim said coast guard officials were questioning the captain, but declined to provide details or speculate on the cause of sinking.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,” a man identified by broadcaster YTN and Yonhap news agency as the captain, 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok, said in brief comments shown on TV, his face hidden beneath a gray hoodie. “I don’t know what to say.”

Kim Han-sik, president of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the ship’s owner, also apologized separately, bowing deeply and saying, “I committed a sin punishable by death. … I am at a loss for words. I am sorry. I am sorry.”

The last major ferry disaster in South Korea was in 1993, when 292 people were killed.

___

Klug reported from Seoul. Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Ansan and Jung-yoon Choi in Seoul contributed to this report.

Accident on SR 54 claims life of Bloomfield man

GREENE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – A Bloomfield man was killed in an accident Tuesday evening on State Road 54.

Greene County Sheriff’s Department responded to the accident around 9:30 p.m. on State Road 54 just east of County Road 250 W.

Officials report Phillip C. Lash, 26 of Bloomfield, was traveling west on State Road 54 west of Bloomfield when the vehicle left the roadway on the north side of the highway.

Lash’s vehicle struck a culvert and came to rest on its side.

Lash was transported to Greene County General Hospital’s helipad where he was transferred to Air Evac and transported to Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis.

His condition is not known at this time.

The passenger in the vehicle, 42-year-old Michael Joe Abrams of Bloomfield, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Accident on SR 54 claims life of Bloomfield man

GREENE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – A Bloomfield man was killed in an accident Tuesday evening on State Road 54.

Greene County Sheriff’s Department responded to the accident around 9:30 p.m. on State Road 54 just east of County Road 250 W.

Officials report Phillip C. Lash, 26 of Bloomfield, was traveling west on State Road 54 west of Bloomfield when the vehicle left the roadway on the north side of the highway.

Lash’s vehicle struck a culvert and came to rest on its side.

Lash was transported to Greene County General Hospital’s helipad where he was transferred to Air Evac and transported to Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis.

His condition is not known at this time.

The passenger in the vehicle, 42-year-old Michael Joe Abrams of Bloomfield, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Wabash Valley woman giving hope


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – One Wabash Valley woman is doing her part to ensure stronger, healthier babies.

Indiana State University Alum, Marcie Brock knows all about hardship.

Doctors diagnosed Brock with Antley-Bixler Syndrome when she was a child.

Brock overcame many medical problems and surgeries.

As a result, March of Dimes is an organization very dear to her.

Now Brock is the author of a new book.

It’s called “Through Jake’s Eyes: A Grandmother’s Creation of Love”.

In celebration of the book, Brock is holding a party.

Her book will be available for purchase. Part of the proceeds will go to the March of Dimes.

“I just want to provide hope to other families. That there is help out there. Don’t get down. Just don’t give up. Just keep working and everything will be all right,” Brock said.

The book party takes place Friday, April 25th.

It’ll be held at the McDonald Lake Rod and Gun Club in Clinton, Indiana from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

If you’d like to buy a copy of the book, paperbacks will cost $13 and hardbacks $16.

Clinton to start big mine project next week

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) – An important project in Clinton, Indiana will begin Monday.

The Department of Natural Resources will be working on an old mine shaft that was found in Sportland Park.

Water has been pouring from the shaft since its discovery, and the city has a temporary fix in place.

The DNR will come in, close the shaft, and keep it from flooding the park.

“Hopefully, it’s not going to take them but two to three weeks, and they should be out of there. It all depends on the weather. But it’ll be a lot better because there’s been a lot of ponding down there, and we’re going to address those issues,” Clinton Mayor Jack Gilfoy said.

Mayor Gilfoy said most of the standing water they’ll address can be found near the playground.

The city is also looking at grant money to purchase new playground equipment.

Kathleen Sebelius resigning from top HHS post

WASHINGTON (AP) – Embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning as the White House seeks to move past the election-year political damage inflicted by the rocky rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Sebelius’ resignation comes just over a week after sign-ups closed for the first year of insurance coverage under the so-called Obamacare law. The opening weeks of the enrollment period were marred by widespread website woes, though the administration rebounded strongly by enrolling 7.1 million people by the March 31 deadline, exceeding initial expectations. Enrollment has since risen to 7.5 million as people were given extra time to complete applications.

Even with the late surge in sign-ups, the law remains unpopular with many Americans and Republicans have made it a centerpiece of their efforts to retake the Senate in the fall.

Sebelius’ resignation could also set the stage for a contentious confirmation hearing to replace her. In a sign that the White House is seeking to avoid a nomination fight, the president was tapping Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius. Burwell was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for current post.

A White House official requested anonymity to confirm Sebelius’ resignation and Burwell’s nomination ahead of the formal announcement. Obama has not nominated anyone to replace Burwell as budget director.

Obama remained publicly supportive of Sebelius throughout the rough rollout, deflecting Republican calls for her resignation. But she was conspicuously not standing by his side last week when he heralded the sign-up surge during an event in the White House Rose Garden.

The official said the 65-year-old Sebelius approached Obama last month about stepping down, telling him that the sign-up deadline was a good opportunity for a transition and suggesting he would be better served by someone who was less of a political target.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Sebelius’ home state of Kansas, called the resignation “a prudent decision” given the total failure of Obamacare implementation.

Sebelius dropped no hints about her resignation Thursday when she testified at a budget hearing. Instead, she received congratulations from Democratic senators on the sign-up surge.

A popular former governor of Kansas, Sebelius has been one of Obama’s longest-serving Cabinet officials and his only HHS secretary. She was instrumental in shepherding the health care law through Congress in 2010 and implementing its initial components, including a popular provision that allows young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.

But Sebelius’ relationship with the White House frayed during the fall rollout of the insurance exchanges that are at the center of the sweeping overhaul. The president and his top advisers appeared caught off guard by the extent of the website woes, with warnings from those working on the technology never making it to the West Wing.

After technical problems crippled online sign-ups after the Oct. 1 launch, the White House sent management expert and longtime Obama adviser Jeffrey Zients to oversee a rescue operation that turned things around by the end of November. After taking helm of the project, Zients said management issues were partly to blame but did not point the finger at any individuals.

Sebelius took personal responsibility for the chaotic launch of the website and asked the HHS inspector general to conduct an investigation. That report is not expected for months.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a staunch supporter of the health care law, praised Sebelius as a “forceful, effective and essential” secretary.

“Secretary Sebelius was a leader in the long effort to make history for our country with passage of the Affordable Care Act,” the California Democrat said in a statement.

In nominating the 48-year-old Burwell, Obama is tapping a Washington veteran with a low-profile and the respect of some Republicans on Capitol Hill. Though she only joined the Obama administration last year, Burwell held several White House and Treasury posts during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Between her stints in the executive branch, Burwell served as president of Wal-Mart’s charitable arm and head of the global development program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

If confirmed, Burwell will have to with contend with huge challenges related to the continued implementation of the health overhaul, as well as the divisive politics surrounding the law that show no sign of abating.

On the practical side, the administration has to improve customer service for millions of Americans trying to navigate the new system. There’s also a concern that premiums may rise for 2015, since many younger, healthier people appear to have sat out open enrollment season.

On the political front, congressional Republicans remain implacably opposed to Obamacare, even as several GOP governors have accepted the law’s expansion of safety-net coverage under Medicaid. GOP opposition means Republicans can be expected to continue to deny additional funds for implementation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell., R-Ky., welcomed Sebelius’ resignation but appeared to indicate an openness to a dialogue with Burwell, the new HHS nominee – even as he declared that “Obamacare has to go.”

“I hope this is the start of a candid conversation about Obamacare’s shortcomings and the need to protect Medicare,” McConnell said.

___

Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Erica Werner in Washington, and John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., contributed to this report.

Major road project underway in Clinton

 

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - Motorists who travel through Clinton know this all too well: State Road 163 is pretty beat up.

That’s why its welcome news in “Little Italy” that INDOT plans to resurface the highway.

“They said it needed paved last year.  They just didn’t have the funding, and this year they said they could secure the funding to do it,” said Mayor Jack Gilfoy.

This is a major project that will span the entire city.  And after some minor delays, work on the project is underway.

INDOT will resurface 163 from State Road 63 to the Wabash River bridge. Once milling gets underway, motorists will see an increase in lane restrictions.  So the project will cause traffic delays and the mayor says alternate routes will be in use.

“Wabash Valley Asphalt will be using flaggers and they will be rerouting people over to Walnut of Blackmon Streets to get over to main to get access to the river bridge.  I believe they’re going to try and keep one lane open at all times, but it’s still going to create quite a bit of traffic congestion during this period,” said Mayor Gilfoy.

An INDOT spokesperson says they don’t have a specific date on when resurfacing will begin, but it will be soon.

Gilfoy says the project will be complete sometime in July or August.  That means it will be wrapped just in time for the Little Italy Festival coming up on Labor Day weekend.

Mayor Gilfoy says the city will also replace some water lines along the highway.  He also says the city is finalizing its list of which city streets will be resurfaced.

Child found safe in Linton

LINTON, Ind. (WTHI) -5:52 PM: Selena Stevenson has been found.

Officials report several minutes after Linton Police sent out an Alert, she was located walking down a side street in town heading home. She had been out playing with friends and is now home and safe.

————–

5:30 PM: Officials report Selena normally rides the bus home, but today she never got onto the school bus after seen leaving the school.

Linton Police are still concerned about her welfare and would ask ANYONE with any information contact the department.

————–

The Linton Police Department is asking for you help locating a missing child.

Selena Stevenson, 10, has long blonde hair and is wearing purple shoes, blue jeans and a blue shirt.

She was last seen leaving school around 3 p.m. today.

Officials are asking to take immediate action if she is seen: Contact the Linton Police Department at (812) 847-4411 or call 9-1-1.

They are also asking for anyone with information to call the Linton Police Department.

Gov. Pence appealing denial of FEMA aid

INDIANA (WTHI) – Governor Mike Pence is making an appeal after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Indiana’s request for aid for the winter storm on January 5-9.

Pence is requesting public assistance for governments and certain non-profit organizations that would pay for 75 percent of eligible expenses.

Those expenses would pay for damage to roads, bridges, utilities, debris removal, buildings’ contents and equipment, water control facilities, parks and recreational facilities as well as emergency protective measures like traffic control and rescue operations.

STORY | Indiana denied FEMA aid for Jan. storms
STORY | Will we see any money from FEMA for our Winter Storm clean-up?

The appeal would cover the following counties:

Allen*, Benton, Blackford*, Boone*, Carroll, Cass, Clay*, Clinton*, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart*, Fountain, Fulton*, Grant*, Hamilton*, Hancock, Hendricks*, Henry, Howard*, Huntington*, Jasper*, Jay, Johnson*, Kosciusko*, LaGrange*, Lake*, LaPorte, Madison*, Marion*, Miami*, Montgomery*, Morgan*, Newton*, Noble*, Owen, Parke*, Putnam*, Rush, Shelby, Sullivan*, Tipton*, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo*, Wabash*, Warren, Wells, White* and Whitley*.

The above counties listed with asterisks were requested to be designated for Snow Assistance.

A Snow Assistance designation would cover all costs associated with snow removal for the 48-hour period with the highest costs.

State Rep’s Comments Upset Valley Superintendent

 

CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI)- Comments from a state representative questioning the results of public school teacher evaluations have many in education very upset.

The results show most teachers are effective, but Representative Robert Behning said that’s unrealistic.

South Vermillion High School Biology class students are under the careful watch of Mrs. Terry. She and 95 percent of her South Vermillion colleagues rated effective by principal like Levi Yowell.

The numbers don’t surprise Superintendent David Chapman.  “I think we’ve got a great group of teachers.”

South Vermillion’s numbers nearly mirror statewide evaluation results.  97 percent of the Indiana’s public school teachers were rated as either effective or highly effective.

State Representative Robert Behning is the chair of the House Education Committee.  He’s also instrumental in passing a more stringent teacher evaluation system.

“It’s good to think that everyone would be in those two categories.  I think it’s probably not realistic,” said Behning.

The comments upset Chapman, to say the least.  “Again, it’s the whole issue of public education getting a slap in the face.  We keep getting told or asked to do more and more, and as we do that we keep getting slapped more and more.”

Chapman stated South Vermillion teachers support evaluations.  In fact, he credits the process with helping teachers become more effective and giving them goals to achieve in the classroom.

And his message to lawmakers, like Behning, who questions these results?  Come out of the statehouse and come to class.

“You’re going to see things going on that, ‘yeah, that’s what we want.  That’s what we expect.’  It’s not a dog and pony show.  It’s reality,” said Chapman.

Evaluation results are based, in part, on student test performance.  How much test results played a role in a teacher’s evaluation is up to each school district.  Behning wants to see some of that local control taken away.

Linton man arrested after leaving scene of fire

JASONVILLE, Ind. (WTHI) – Jasonville Police Department arrested a Linton man after they saw him leaving the scene of a house fire on Sunday night.

Ryan Powell, 28 of Linton, is accused of setting fire to the outside of a home on North Washington Street in Jasonville late Sunday.

An on duty officer witnessed Powell leaving the scene and getting into a vehicle. As the officer got out of his patrol car the vehicle sped off.

The officer pursued the suspect in the vehicle south on Washington Street, west on Gray Street and stopped at the intersection of Gray and North Park Streets.

Powell got out of the car and informed the officer that the female driving the vehicle had no idea of the fire and that he was the only to blame.

After interviewed, the female driver was released. According to the affidavit, she thought they were going to look at a four-wheeler and that it was kind of late. She stated Powell got out of the vehicle saying he would be right back and the next she knew he came running back to the vehicle yelling for her to go.

Officials state Powell may have had issues with a resident at the home that was set on fire.

Powell is being held at the Greene County Jail.

Motel has DOC contract to house sex offenders

 

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – We have new details involving a local motel where a registered sex offender was arrested.

Police took him into custody following an alleged incident where he lured a 5 year old girl into the room where he was living.

As we reported Wednesday, Terre Haute Police say Timothy Blazier was living at the Econo Lodge fresh off his prison sentence.

We learned he’s not the only sex offender living here, and this motel is contracted with the state to house sex offenders coming off of prison sentences.

Timothy Blazier was convicted of molesting an eight and a three year old in Fountain County back in 2007.  Later, Clinton County also convicted him for failing to register as a sex offender.

Now, he’s in Vigo County’s jail for criminal confinement, and police say the alleged incident happened here at the Econo Lodge.

“A family had got off the interstate and was staying at the hotel, and there was some children out playing in a play area there, and he lured one of the children into his hotel room,” said Clark Cottom, Vigo County’s Chief Deputy.

Police say the girl’s screams led to her escape from Blazier’s room, where police found her pants.

News 10 learned Blazier is not the only registered sex offender staying at this motel.  According to the Indiana Sex Offender Registry, there are currently 13 registered sex offenders living here at the Econo Lodge.  Eight of those sex offenders are listed as sexual violent predators.

The Vigo County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for tracking all sex offenders in the county.  Chief Deputy Clark Cottom told us the Econo Lodge has an agreement with the state department of corrections to house sex offenders coming off prison sentences.

“To our knowledge it’s the only hotel in the State of Indiana that is accepting sex offenders,” Cottom told News 10.

Cottom says the motel fits the requirements for a residence of a registered sex offender.  Mainly, the Econo Lodge is not within 1000 feet of a school or park.  It does welcome visitors to Terre Haute, visitors who most likely wouldn’t think a sex offender would live here, let alone 13.

“Add one more thing to your list that we’re going to have to check now,” recommends Cottom.

Cottom says this is just another reason why it’s a good idea to consistently check the Indiana Sex Offender Registry.  You can even sign up to receive for e-mail alerts, and it’s completely confidential.

To learn more, click here.

Motorists trapped by flood waters in multiple counties

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Emergency crews in three different counties had to help motorists who ended up in flood waters Friday morning.

Around 6 a.m. in Shelby County, a motorist was trapped in water in the Boggstown area by Sugar Creek, near County roads 825 West and 275 North.

There were also situations in Greene and Putnam counties around 8 a.m. In Putnam County near County roads 1200 South and 700 West, a car was swept up in moving flood waters.

Near the Greene/Owen county line at State Road 43 someone drove into flood waters and had to be rescued.

In all cases, emergency crews were able to safely rescue everyone.

Officials warn drivers not to drive into flooded areas.

Indiana denied FEMA aid for Jan. storms

INDIANA (WTHI) – The 49 counties that applied for FEMA assistance from the January severe weather have been denied.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied Indiana’s request for assistance to governments and certain non profits from the severe winter storm that happened on January 5 through the 9.

The federal grants requested for governments and certain non-profit organizations are under the FEMA designation of public assistance.

Public assistance grants would pay 75 percent of eligible expenses including debris and snow removal, emergency protective measures such as search and rescue and damage to buildings and equipment.

The counties that applied on March 6 include:

Allen, Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Huntington, Jasper, Jay, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Madison, Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Newton, Noble, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Rush, Shelby, Sullivan, Tipton, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Wells, White and Whitley.

Indiana plans to appeal the decision.

Accident involving CSX train in Vincennes

VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI) – Vincennes Police Department worked an accident involving a car and a train on Saturday.

Officials report Rhonda Buntain, 58 of Clinton, was traveling south on N 6th street and did not stop for a CSX train near the intersection of 6th and Sycamore Street.

Buntain’s vehicle had to be towed from the scene, but no injuries were reported.

Eight railroad crossings from N 6th Street to North 2nd Street were blocked for about 44 minutes.

The Vincennes Police Department encourages drivers and pedestrians to use caution when approaching rail grade crossings.

Never try to beat a train, take the few extra seconds to stop, look and listen when the warnings are activated.

Deadline for tornado aide near

 

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The date to file for a tornado loan for last November’s storms is fast approaching.

The deadline to file for disaster relief loans from the US Small Business Administration is April 7th.

The SBA declared select counties to be eligible for loans due to the November tornadoes and severe storms.

Among those counties are Daviess, Fountain, Greene, Knox, Martin, Parke and Vermillion.

Disaster loan information can be found online at this link.

You can also call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or email them at Disastercustomerservice@sba.com.

Obama tells Pope Francis he is a “great admirer”

VATICAN CITY (AP) — President Barack Obama called himself a “great admirer” of Pope Francis as he sat down at the Vatican Thursday with the pontiff he considers a kindred spirit on issues of economic inequality. Their historic first meeting comes as Obama’s administration and the church remain deeply split on issues of abortion and contraception.

Obama arrived at the Vatican amid the pomp and tradition of the Catholic Church, making his way to greet the pope after a long, slow procession through the hallways of the Apostolic Palace led by colorful Swiss Guards and accompanied by ceremonial attendants. The president bowed as he shook hands with the pontiff in the Small Throne Room, before the two sat down at a wooden table in the Papal Library.

“It is a great honor. I’m a great admirer,” Obama said. “Thank you so much for receiving me.”

As they meet, the six-year president, with his sinking poll numbers, would not be blamed for seeking some reflected glory from a pope who, one year into his pontificate, is viewed as an agent of change in the Roman Catholic Church.

Obama is the ninth president to make an official visit to the Vatican. His audience marks a change of pace for the president, who has devoted the past three days of a weeklong, four-country trip to securing European unity against Russia’s aggressive posture toward Ukraine.

The pope whom Obama will sit with this time is a different pontiff than the last one to host him. Obama visited Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, a cordial meeting that nevertheless drew attention to the differences between the church and Obama on abortion.

To be sure, the relationship between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church is a fraught one. And Vatican officials say Obama will not leave without having heard Francis’ views on Obama’s health care law and its mandates for contraception coverage. But in Francis, the White House sees the popular pope and his emphasis on economic disparity as a form of moral validation of the president’s economic agenda.

“Given his great moral authority, when the pope speaks it carries enormous weight,” Obama said in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published ahead of his papal visit. “He can cause people around to the world to stop and perhaps rethink old attitudes and begin treating one another with more decency and compassion.”

Several presidents have found allies if not comfort in the pope.

President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II famously shared an antipathy for the former Soviet Union, Reagan the Cold War warrior and the pope a Polish priest who fought communism in his country and later in Europe.

“Sometimes in these meetings there are compatible personalities,” said Paul Begala, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and a Catholic himself. He recalled being with Clinton when the president met John Paul II in Denver.

“They were only supposed to meet alone for five minutes,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “Those two gregarious, charismatic men sat in that room for an hour without another soul in there.”

The Obama-Francis chemistry remains to be seen, but thematically both seem to be on some of the same pages.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, at the Vatican this week trying to secure Francis’ attendance in Philadelphia next year, said he expected the Obama-Francis meeting to be good for both the U.S. and the Vatican.

“We have the most important religious figure in the world as part of that meeting, and one of the most important political leaders, so anytime the church and politics come together is an important moment for dialogue, discussion and the commitment to the common good,” Chaput told reporters Tuesday at the Vatican.

Still, there are difficult areas of discord between U.S. bishops and the Obama administration over abortion and the administration’s health care overhaul. U.S. bishops were among the most outspoken opponents of Obamacare, objecting to its mandatory coverage of contraception. The Supreme Court this week seemed divided when hearing arguments in a case in which companies argued that they have religious rights and can object to such coverage based on such beliefs.

Vatican officials noted that during the recent visit of Secretary of State John Kerry with his Vatican counterpart Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the cardinal raised the issue of the health care mandate. The Vatican statement issued after that meeting said Parolin had “expressed the concern of the U.S. bishops for the reforms in relation to the guarantee of religious freedom and conscientious objection.”

Anticipating that the issue will be a topic of their meeting, Catholics for Choice published an ad in the International New York Times Thursday as an open letter to Obama declaring that “Francis’ interpretation of church teachings does not represent that of the majority of Catholics, especially on issues related to sexuality, reproductive health and family life.”

Francis faithfully backs church teaching on abortion — he has said he’s a “son of the church” — but his emphasis and tone are elsewhere. He has said he wants his church to be more of a missionary, welcoming place for wounded souls rather than a moralizing church.

He caused a fuss in November when he decried some conservative economic theories as unproven. “The excluded are still waiting,” he wrote.

Francis’ attention to poverty has also captured the attention of Republicans, prompting some to stake out high-profile anti-poverty positions. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has extended a formal and open invitation to the pope to address Congress when he visits the United States.

No doubt there is a political dimension to Obama’s visit as well. The president won the Catholic vote in both of his elections, helped by heavy support from Hispanic Catholics. Some of that support has waned since.

Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center found that the pope remains hugely popular, with more than 8 in 10 U.S. Catholics saying they have a favorable view of the pontiff.

U.S. Marshals find missing Greene County teen

LOUISVILLE, Kent. (WTHI) – A 13-year old missing from Greene County has been found and returned to family early Thursday after she was found in Louisville, Kent.

Multiple agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, were able to successfully reunite the seventh grader with her father in the early morning hours.

The missing juvenile was found with Howard David Estes, 29, in the 2200 block of Deveron Drive in the Shively area of Jefferson County by the U.S. Marshals Western Kentucky Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Estes was taken into custody and charged with custodial interference and unlawful transaction with a minor.

He is scheduled for an arraignment hearing tomorrow in Louisville.

Jasonville man served city 34 years

JASONVILLE, Ind. (WTHI) – One man served his last day as a public servant last week.

Rick Van Horn started as a reserve officer in Jasonville in 1979. He was then appointed Chief of Police for Jasonville in April of 1984.

After 34 years serving the city, Van Horn decided to retire. His last day of service was March 14.

Last week, Van Horn’s family surprised him with a tribute to his years of service. Hundreds of friends, coworkers, family and other law enforcement gathered for a surprise retirement party.

But he’s still keeping with his oath to protect and serve by joining the Greene County Hospital as a Public Safety Officer.

Documents show Irsay battled Rx drug abuse for decades

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – Colts owner Jim Irsay’s arrest Sunday night on four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance follows a documented history of prescription drug abuse stretching back nearly two decades.

Problems may have begun surfacing decades earlier, however, when Irsay was in college at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

Court records obtained by our sister station WISH-TV show Irsay was arrested in Dallas County, Texas on a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge on January 16, 1979. According to court records, he was later found “not guilty” of the offense by a judge.

But, his battle with substance abuse wasn’t over.

In 2002, Irsay admitted that he had become addicted to painkillers. Several reports show Irsay was first prescribed Vicodin in the 1990s following several different surgeries on a chronic back injury sustained during his football playing days at SMU.

According to reports filed by the Associated Press at the time, Irsay sought substance abuse treatment at least three times, beginning in 1998. AP stories at the time also cited multiple sources who alleged that Irsay overdosed on prescription drugs in both 2000 and 2001.

VIDEO | New video and details: Irsay booked into jail

Then, in 2002, reports surfaced that Irsay was the target of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration probe into prescription drug fraud, along with two Indianapolis-area doctors who were under investigation for prescribing excessive amounts of painkillers.

No charges were ever filed against Irsay in connection with that case.

But, in response to those reports, Irsay did admit for the first time that he had developed a dependence on prescription painkillers.

“After several years of orthopedic operations and procedures, accompanied by long bouts of chronic pain, I became dependent on prescription pain medications,” Irsay wrote in a 2002 statement to the media. “This summer I sought professional help at a nationally recognized facility located outside Indiana. I have successfully dealt with my dependence and my chronic pain issues.”

Addiction specialists say that promise is often hard for addicts to keep.

“By and large, that’s the trend, to where someone needs repeated exposure to education, repeated exposure to therapy, repeated exposure to treatment in order for them to “get it,” and begin to put together, proactively, a lifestyle of recovery,” said Fairbanks Addiction Treatment Center Assistant Director of Adult Services Tobyn Linton.

Still, Irsay seemed to have embraced that recovery.

“It’s a lifelong thing,” he told USA Today in 2007. “It’s something you deal with every day for the rest of your life.”

Linton says that admission is key to recovery.

“It is a lifelong process. People refer to recovery as a journey, and not as a destination. It’s those little days you put together, one day at a time, and then looking back and reflecting now and then,” he said.

Linton said prescription drug abuse has grown quickly in Indiana, outpacing national rates, and has reached across all gender, race and income barriers.

“Addiction knows no bounds. It’s non-discriminatory. It can affect a seemingly well put together person. And, it can affect people who don’t appear on the outside to have their life together. That’s a real myth we try to work against,” he said.

Irsay spoke publicly about his use of drugs and alcohol as a college student and young adult. And, in a 2010 interview with USA Today, he said he had been “clean and sober” since 2002, in part because of his father’s addition to alcohol. Robert Irsay, who moved the Colts to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984, died in 1997.

“The alcohol turned him into Jekyll-and-Hyde, and he was a bad Jekyll-and-Hyde drinker,” Irsay said in the story, which was printed shortly before the Colts played in their last Super Bowl. “But, there was a part of him that said ‘I don’t want that to happen to my son.”

More recent public affirmations of sobriety were made on Irsay’s most popular communication medium: Twitter.

“I don’t drink…haven’t in over 15 years,” he wrote in a tweet last October.

Then, in December, he addressed the issue again.

“Sorry to ruin your theories…but I don’t drink…at all,” he tweeted. “I’m allergic to alcohol…I break out in handcuffs if I drink!!!”

Still, if Irsay relapsed into additional prescription drug abuse, experts say it wouldn’t be a unique situation.

“I hesitate to say that there is any sort of usual situation, because we’ve heard of cases where someone will put together 6 years or 15 or 20 years [in sobriety], and for whatever reason, those triggering reasons and external cues come together at the wrong time and wrong place and trigger a relapse,” Linton said. “As a treatment provider, it doesn’t matter how you get to the door. You just have to be willing to accept the help.”

Wolfe murder trial finally comes to a close

GREENE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – UPDATE 5:15 PM One of the most heinous murder trials Greene County has ever seen came to a close Tuesday.

A judge sentenced Jordan Buskirk for his part in the murder of Linton teen, Katelyn Wolfe. It’s a case that the prosecution is glad to see finished. It started with the disappearance of 19-year-old Katelyn Wolfe in June of 2013.

Eventually Buskirk and Randall Crosley confessed to her abduction and murder. Crosley heard his fate earlier in March with a sentence of 81 years in prison.

Tuesday, families of Wolfe and Buskirk sat in court awaiting Buskirk’s sentencing. Emotions ran high as police testified how Buskirk and Crosley planned to abduct, rape and murder someone.

They would eventually target Wolfe.

Tuesday, Wolfe’s family took the stand. Perhaps the most gripping moment was when Wolfe’s aunt asked Buskirk directly, “How did it feel to kill Katelyn?”

Buskirk simply shook his head and broke into tears. He said the murder tears him apart and he deserves his punishment. He repeatedly said he was sorry to both his family and Wolfe’s.

Eventually the judge did make her ruling. She sentenced Buskirk to 81 years in prison. It’s an identical sentence to what she gave to Randall Crosley.

Like Crosley, she also said Buskirk was a “danger to the community.”

“I’ve thought about this case everyday since it began, and again there is some sense of relief now that it’s over,” Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw said.

Because of a prior deposition, the maximum sentence Buskirk could have faced was 85 years.

Both Buskirk and Crosley can appeal their sentencing.

UPDATE 12 PM Jordan Buskirk appeared in court Tuesday morning for sentencing in the murder of 19-year-old Katelyn Wolfe. He was also sentenced to 81 years just like Randal Crosley on March 4th.

Last summer police arrested Crosley and Jordan Buskirk in connection to Wolfe’s death. They both eventually owned up to killing the teen.

 

17-year-olds cast first votes in March 18 primary

PALATINE, Ill. (AP) — As a high school senior in the Chicago suburb of Palatine, Kira Swearingen’s weeks are packed with schoolwork, babysitting, interning at a local elementary school and coaching cheerleading.

Yet, the Fremd High School student is also carving out time to research the campaigns of Illinois primary candidates — reading articles, scrolling through their Facebook pages and campaign websites and talking out the issues at her family dinner table.

Swearingen is one of more than 11,000 17-year-old students across the state who registered to vote in the primary under a new state law, an opportunity many newly christened voters say is more about the experience than any political allegiance as they head to their local polling place for the first time.

“I think it’s good to see what it’s like to go in there and vote before next November,” Swearingen said.

The number of freshly registered teens is a small fraction of the more 7.4 million total voters registered across the state, according to the state board of elections, and isn’t expected to make much of a dent in the outcome of various primary races. But advocates of the new law say the change will result in making more teens lifelong, civic-minded voters.

“I stress rigor, relevance and relationships,” Paul Houston, global studies department chair at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, said. “This really gets to the relevance. Why are we teaching kids all of this stuff if it doesn’t relate to them?”

The law change was spurred by a proposal from Stevenson High School students and civic teachers. Sponsored by Democratic Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills and Republican Rep. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein, the measure passed with broad bipartisan support in both the state House and Senate. Signed into law last summer by Gov. Pat Quinn on Stevenson’s football field in Lincolnshire, Illinois became the 20th state to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries, provided they are 18 by the November election.

Stevenson government teacher Andrew Conneen had pushed for the legislation for more than a decade.

“Despite the long journey of the bill, we always knew the heavy lifting was going to be getting 17-year-olds to take advantage of the law,” he said.

Stevenson began working almost as soon as classes began last fall to make students aware of the opportunity to register come January, and of opportunities to connect with local political campaigns. Conneen said the school works closely with the Mivka Challenge, a nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to encouraging civic leadership among young people.

Voter registration ended in mid-February, but a “grace period” of registration ran through Saturday.

In Lyons Township, Houston said more than 400 teens registered to vote in a single day this semester, thanks to a combined effort by National Honor Society members, the LaGrange-area League of Women Voters, and a campaign by teachers, who spoke to students about the opportunity in their classrooms and sent emails home to parents.

Many signups were done during lunch hours in the school cafeteria.

“When it’s made that easy, then they’re more likely to exercise their right to register,” Maureen Larsen, of the League of Women Voters, said.

With a four-way contested Republican gubernatorial primary, Fremd High School social studies teacher Jason Spoor said that race has generated a bit more excitement among some of his students.

Yet, Cook County Clerk David Orr points out that even if a number of the county’s roughly 5,500 teen voters vote Republican, their overall impact is still “swimming upstream against the overall political implications of the (largely Democratic) county.”

At the same time, with voter turnout being traditionally low in nonpresidential primaries, Orr said getting students excited about the new opportunity helps “push against the general lack of interest.”

Still, despite successful drives at a number of high schools around the state, others have seen more tepid results, as students have been slow to take advantage of the new law change.

John Burns, a Granite High School senior in Granite City and the first student in the state to register to vote, helped run a registration drive where only 20 students registered, a number he says he hopes will increase with time.

“I think it really makes sense,” he said. “All of my friends should be voting in November, so it makes sense for us to have the option to nominate the candidates we’ll be voting for then in the March election.”

UPDATE: Accident on Interstate 70 involving ambulance


VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Just before 3 p.m. a Sullivan County ambulance was returning from dropping a patient off in Indianapolis.

According to officials, the ambulance was driving westbound on I-70 near the 12 mile marker.

The driver of the ambulance drifted off the south edge of the roadway, and couldn’t regain control.

The ambulance began to rotate clockwise in the median, eventually rolling over multiple times, coming to a stop on the driver’s side about 200 feet from where it left the roadway.

The driver of the ambulance, 25-year-old EMT Jessica Boyle and the passenger, 27-year-old EMT Kindra West from Jasonville, were able to get themselves out of the ambulance with minor injuries.

There were no patients on board.

Boyle says a strong gust of wind, while passing a commercial truck was a contributing factor in the crash.

State Parks and Reservoirs seeking lifeguards

WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WTHI) – Lifeguarding tests are now offered online for applicants seeking such positions at Indiana State Parks & Reservoirs facilities.

The test is for first-year applicants only. First-year applicants must pass the test as part of the job application.

Candidates who have already worked at a state park or reservoir facility need not take the test again.

The test is 50 questions. Half of the test is about CPR and first aid, and half is about lifeguard training knowledge.

The applicant must score at least 70 percent.

A link to the test and information for both first-year and returning candidates on how to apply are available at stateparks.IN.gov/lifeguardtest.

Applicants must already be certified in lifeguarding and CPR for the professional rescuer before taking the test.

If an applicant is in a certification class but has yet to finish, he or she may take the test but must complete certification before being hired.

The test serves as a hiring tool and is not a recertification of any type. Guards must recertify on their own through their local Red Cross and YMCAs prior to the swim season.

The swim season generally runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Hiring will begin immediately and last until all positions are filled.

Lifeguard positions are available at Brown County, Clifty Falls, Versailles, Spring Mill, Harmonie, O’Bannon Woods, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Mounds, Indiana Dunes, Shakamak and Prophetstown state parks.