Plane crashes into front yard of rural Ohio home; 2 dead

APPLE CREEK, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say two pilots are dead after a plane crashed into the snow-covered front yard of a rural Ohio home shortly after taking off from a private airfield nearby.
The State Highway Patrol says initial reports indicate the plane had engine trouble Monday morning after departing Stoltzfus Airfield in Wayne County, roughly 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Cleveland. It hit trees and took down power lines, and the front of the aircraft was destroyed.
Troopers say 55-year-old pilot Brian Stoltzfus and 56-year-old co-pilot Curtis Wilkerson died at the scene. Both were from nearby Apple Creek. No one else was hurt.
The crash shook but just missed Michael Morrison’s home. Morrison tells The Daily Record in Wooster he ran outside, spotted the wreckage in the yard and immediately called 911.

Stole priest wore at DeWine inauguration had special meaning

By JULIE CARR SMYTH
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) —
For members of Ohio’s large new first family, the stole worn by Father Tom Hagan throughout Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s inaugural weekend was a way to involve their beloved late daughter in the celebration.
First lady Fran DeWine sewed the priest’s garment from pieces of fabric cut from her late daughter Becky’s dresses and other clothing items. She gave it to him about six years ago, to wear when officiating her son Mark’s wedding.
“I was trying to think of some way in the program to include Becky, and the idea just came to me about Father Tom,” Fran DeWine said in an Associated Press interview. “He always wears a stole and he had one that was kind of rainbow colored, so I thought, ‘I could make it out of Becky’s clothes.'”
The clothes had been lovingly stored since Becky DeWine, who was 22 at the time, died in a car crash in 1993. She was the third of the DeWine’s eight children and was looking forward to a career in journalism after recently graduated from Wooster College.
Hagan runs the Hands Together charity in Cite Soliel, Haiti, and a school there named for her late daughter.
Fran DeWine said she thought for years about making Becky’s clothes into a memory quilt, but she could never settle on a satisfactory design. Then she thought of the stole and the project took off. “Actually, I made it fairly quickly once I had that idea,” she said.
The stole incorporates fabrics from throughout Becky’s life — a little pink-and-white checked baby dress, a skirt Becky made as her first 4-H project, a scarf that was part of her work uniform at Ponderosa, her running shorts and the white blouse with black polka dots that she wore in the last photo ever taken of her.
“Lots and lots of special little pieces in there,” Fran said.
Fran DeWine said assembling the stole was emotional for her and she struggled to pick only the most special items to include — but now that it’s done, it brings back many good memories.
“When I look at it, I see Becky at Ponderosa, I see her working on her 4-H project, I see her at the College of Wooster, I see her running,” she said. “I see her all these places. I see every part of her life in that little piece, and so it’s really special to me.”
Hagan reserves the stole for special occasions, especially when saying Mass with the DeWines.
DeWine said Hagan wore it on Sunday morning, Jan. 13, for a Mass at the DeWines’ home in Cedarville and again at Mike DeWine’s formal inauguration at midnight that night.
Hagan drew attention to the stole at DeWine’s ceremonial inauguration on Jan. 14, approaching Fran DeWine to place it around his neck.
“It is my great honor to be able to receive this stole that was made lovingly by Fran out of all the dresses of her daughter, Becky,” he told the crowd in the Statehouse Rotunda. “She’s with us now.”
DeWine said the very bottom piece on each side of the stole came from vestments that her parents donated to their church in honor of her uncle, Ralph Struewing, who died in Korea. He was also 22 when he died, so she said it was her way of tying the whole family history together.

Jesse Jackson meeting with GM workers about racist threats

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson will be meeting with auto workers suing General Motors after racist graffiti and nooses were discovered at their plant in Ohio.
Jackson will be in Toledo on Tuesday to talk with the workers who say they’re facing ongoing racial harassment.
A group of GM workers filed a lawsuit against the automaker last April, saying the company didn’t do enough to stop the racial harassment at its Toledo transmission plant. A former union leader filed a second lawsuit against the company in November.
GM says it’s taking the matter seriously and has taken several steps to address harassment at the plant and is continuing to investigate.
Workers in one of the lawsuits say GM didn’t do enough to stop the harassment that stretched over four years.

Interns work on prison inspections at short-staffed watchdog

CLEVELAND (AP) — The legislative watchdog evaluating Ohio’s prisons is so short-staffed that unpaid interns are working on inspections, prompting concerns from critics about oversight of the prison system.
But the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee’s inspection reports are up to date despite the “troubling” staffing situation, the panel’s interim chairman told The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.
The committee inspects 30 state correctional facilities and reports to lawmakers on issues affecting inmates, such as prison conditions, health care and use of force. The committee’s administrative staff shrunk over the past five years, from a handful of inspectors with criminal-justice backgrounds to a single full-time employee in recent months.
“As you might imagine, this has been troubling for me,” said Republican state Rep. Doug Green, of Mount Orab, who restarted the committee’s rare meetings last fall after becoming interim chairman. “People can go above and beyond for a while, but to do that with one employee is unrealistic.”
Critics argue that inspections should be done by knowledgeable, paid staff, not interns, and that the committee isn’t living up to its intended purposes.
“To have inexperienced interns investigating and evaluating what is going on in Ohio prisons is not what the statute requires,” two longtime inmate advocates, attorneys Alice and Staughton Lynd, said in an email to the newspaper.
The inspections at issue used to be posted online within a month. The online reports haven’t been updated since 2017, but Green said the inspections are up to date.
A prisons spokeswoman wouldn’t comment, nor would the committee’s full-time employee, 52-year-old senior research analyst Charlotte Adams, who served as an administrator in the prison system for almost two decades.
Both referred questions to Green, who said he hopes to bring accountability to the committee.
How it approaches its work could be affected by which lawmakers are named to the bipartisan committee in the new legislative session that just started. Those assignments are expected this week.
The committee has met sparsely over the past few years, especially since its leaders departed.
Then-director Joanna Saul resigned in May 2016 after clashing with lawmakers in attempts to access medical and mental-health information. The committee’s meetings then stopped after the lawmaker serving as its chairman resigned in October 2017.
Saul, now the prison ombudsman for Washington state, has argued that what happens in publicly funded prisons housing tens of thousands of inmates deserves an objective review.
“There are serious issues within the corrections system in Ohio, and people should be concerned that there is no oversight,” she told the newspaper.
___
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com

Man hurt in jail fight dies; charges expected for 2nd inmate

SIDNEY, Ohio (AP) — A coroner says an inmate hurt in a fight at an Ohio jail died a day later at a hospital.
The Dayton Daily News reports the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office hasn’t ruled on what caused the Saturday death of 54-year-old James Richards.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says the Sidney man was punched by another inmate at the Shelby County jail.
Chief Deputy James Frye tells The Sidney Daily News an inmate repeatedly asked Richards not to speak so loudly while talking on a phone, and Richards then yelled at the man, leading to a physical fight. Frye says Richards hit his head as he fell, then was repeatedly punched.
Officers intervened, and the second inmate is expected to face charges.
Richards was in custody on a domestic violence charge.

Patient’s widow: Hospital safeguards ‘failed tremendously’

By KANTELE FRANKO, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The 44-year-old excavator was taken to the emergency room with shortness of breath. Breathing trouble also sent a 64-year-old woman to the same hospital. A third patient, a 79-year-old woman with health problems, was transferred from an assisted care facility.
Now their relatives allege each died because employees at a hospital in Ohio either negligently or intentionally gave them inappropriately large doses of powerful pain medicine.
The families’ wrenching personal stories about loved ones’ deaths are emerging in wrongful death lawsuits after the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System announced this week that a doctor ordered pain medicine for at least 27 near-death patients in dosages significantly bigger than necessary to provide comfort.
The announcement involving patients from the past few years raised questions about whether drugs were used to hasten deaths intentionally and possibly illegally. Mount Carmel publicly apologized and said it fired the intensive care doctor, reported its findings to authorities, removed 20 employees from patient care pending further review, and notified affected families.
Christine Allison, of Columbus, said the recent notification that her 44-year-old husband, Troy, was among those cases re-started her grieving process and left her shocked that such a scenario could happen despite procedural and technological safeguards in hospital care.
“The system failed tremendously,” Allison said Thursday.
She said she is sure her husband’s July death wasn’t a case of assisted suicide because he wasn’t communicating with caregivers at the time.
Her lawyer, Gerry Leeseberg, said Troy Allison experienced multi-system organ failure, but Leeseberg said medical records raise questions about whether the man’s condition was as grave as his family was told or might have been treatable.
Allison’s lawsuit is among at least three so far against William Husel, Mount Carmel and other employees who approved and administered drugs.
Husel’s lawyers aren’t commenting on the allegations.
Leeseberg said he is representing families of at least a dozen of the 27 patients. He said he’s also been contacted by other families asking questions about the medical care of loved ones who were treated by Husel or received hefty doses of drugs but weren’t among the 27 notified by Mount Carmel.
President and CEO Ed Lamb has said Mount Carmel is taking action to understand what occurred and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Columbus attorney Adam Todd, who was notified that his grandmother’s death was among the 27 concerning cases, said his family feels Mount Carmel has tried to “cover their actions and to reduce their financial responsibility.” His 83-year-old grandmother Thelma Kyer died in June. Todd is following what happens with Mount Carmel but has not filed a lawsuit.
Todd said when Mount Carmel contacted him in December, the hospital wouldn’t say why it had reviewed the doctor’s work. But the health system said this week that the situation came to light because an employee reported a safety concern. It shared no information about what might have prompted employees to approve and administer excessive dosages.
A prosecutor confirmed an investigation is ongoing in Franklin County.
Husel’s work also is under internal review by the Cleveland Clinic, where he was a supervised resident from 2008 to 2013. The medical center said its preliminary review found his prescribing practices were “consistent with appropriate care.”
Records show the State Medical Board in Ohio has never taken disciplinary action against Husel.
___
Follow Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10.
___
Have a tip? Contact the author securely at https://www.ap.org/tips.

Attorney: New racist threats at GM plant where nooses found

By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Workers who sued General Motors after nooses and racist graffiti were found at its largest U.S. transmission plant nearly two years ago are still facing racial harassment, their attorney said Thursday.
Just this week, one of the workers found a monkey doll and a racist drawing near his work station, said attorney Michelle Vocht.
The harassment has been ramping up since December — including threatening and racist messages left on restroom and factory walls and near machines where the employees work — after workers began speaking out publicly, she said.
Nine workers sued GM last April, saying the company didn’t do enough to stop racial harassment that stretched over four years and included the discovery of five nooses in the spring of 2017.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission said last year its investigation found GM seemed indifferent to the racial harassment and that its minimal steps didn’t end the problems. The automaker disputed the findings.
GM said Thursday it is taking the matter seriously and has taken several steps to address harassment at the plant, including mandatory training. It also said it’s continuing to investigate but has not yet identified those responsible.
“Discrimination and harassment are not acceptable and in stark contrast to how we expect people to show up at work. We treat any reported incident with sensitivity and urgency, and are committed to providing an environment that is safe, open and inclusive,” the company said in a statement.
The latest racist messages, Vocht said, show that GM still is falling short when it comes to protecting the workers and needs to increase security.
“They say they’re working on it, but it’s still occurring,” she said. “One would think GM would take stringent, remedial measures to address this problem.”
The racist notes apparently are being left by more than one person, based on the handwriting, and are being found in a few departments, not the entire plant, Vocht said.
In the federal lawsuit filed last year, workers described finding three nooses attached to the plant ceiling in March 2017 and then two more nooses in the following months.
Nazi symbols and “whites only” were written in the plant’s restrooms and white workers would call black employees racist names, the lawsuit said.
It detailed a long list of other instances of racial harassment and discrimination, saying they had created a hostile work environment.

Man convicted of killing 2 women gets life sentence

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A man convicted of fatally shooting two women before shooting himself after a police standoff has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole.
Authorities said James Geran (GEHR’-uhn) killed a woman they described as a business associate in a “criminal activity” and dumped her body in Madison Township hours before killing his girlfriend’s mother during a standoff with Butler County sheriff’s deputies in Trenton in June. He then shot himself.
The 46-year-old Middletown man earlier pleaded guilty to a murder charge in the death of 27-year-old Maegan Motter and to an aggravated murder charge in the death of his girlfriend’s mother, 63-year-old Sharon McCleary. Geran released his girlfriend and her sister unharmed.
No motives were given.
Geran said in court that he constantly regrets his actions.
___
This story has been corrected to show that Geran is a 46-year-old man, not a 45-year-old man.

New suits filed over pain meds given to near-death patients

By KANTELE FRANKO and ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man said Wednesday he was stunned to learn of allegations that his wife’s hospital death last year was caused by a doctor’s order for a fatal dose of pain medication.
David Austin said he called an ambulance in September after his wife, Bonnie Austin, had trouble breathing. A doctor told him she was brain dead after she suffered cardiac arrest.
Austin felt “like somebody kicked me in the chest” when he was told this month of the alleged circumstances of the death of his wife of 36 years.
At least three wrongful death lawsuits have now been filed against Dr. William Husel, the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System, and nurses and pharmacists employed by the system.
The lawsuits accused the doctor of ordering that near-death hospital patients get potentially fatal doses of pain medicine without their families’ knowledge.
Mount Carmel announced this week that the intensive care doctor ordered pain medicine for at least 27 patients in dosages significantly bigger than necessary to provide comfort for them after their families asked that lifesaving measures be stopped.
Mount Carmel publicly apologized and said it has fired Husel, reported findings of its internal investigation to authorities and removed 20 employees from patient care pending further review.
Attorney James McGovern confirmed his firm is representing Husel, but he said both the firm and Husel had no comment on the allegations.
The announcement involving patients from the past few years raised questions about whether drugs were used to hasten deaths intentionally and possibly illegally.
A lawsuit filed by David Austin on Tuesday alleges his wife, 64, was killed negligently or intentionally in September when she was given an outsize dose of the painkiller fentanyl and a powerful sedative ordered by a doctor who said she was brain-dead.
Austin, a retired trucker in Columbus, said Wednesday he filed the lawsuit in the hopes nothing like this would happen again. He spoke emotionally of his late wife, a waitress, who he married in 1982 just three months after meeting her.
Austin, also 64, said he’s struggling to understand the doctor’s alleged actions.
“I have no idea why anybody would do that,” he said.
Medical records indicate the drugs were administered before her husband decided to withdraw life support, said attorney David Shroyer, who represents the family.
Their lawsuit was filed against Husel, the health system, a pharmacist who approved the drugs and a nurse who administered them.
The lawsuit, which seeks financial damages, is aimed at determining what happened and why, and ensuring it’s not repeated, Shroyer said.
Mount Carmel said it wants that, too.
“We’re doing everything to understand how this happened and what we need to do to ensure that it never happens again,” system President and CEO Ed Lamb said in a video statement .
A third lawsuit alleges that 44-year-old Troy Allison died on July 15 after receiving “a grossly inappropriate dose” of pain medicine, according to attorney Craig Tuttle, who confirmed the Wednesday filing in Franklin County Court.
Allison went to the hospital July 14 with shortness of breath, believed to be related to sepsis, which then caused heart failure, Tuttle said. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition triggered by the body’s response to an infection. The hospital told Allison’s wife that he received a lethal dose of morphine, Tuttle said.
The Franklin County prosecutor said Mount Carmel has cooperated with an ongoing investigation.
Husel’s work also is under internal review by the Cleveland Clinic, where he was a supervised resident from 2008 to 2013. The medical center said its preliminary review found his prescribing practices were “consistent with appropriate care.”
Records show the State Medical Board in Ohio has never taken disciplinary action against Husel. It’s unclear whether that board ever received a complaint or conducted an investigation about him, as such records are confidential and outcomes are public only if the board takes formal action.
Shroyer said he expects the case will prompt other hospitals to review their own procedures and safeguards.
“I think every hospital in the country is going to be saying, ‘Could this happen at our hospital? And if it can, let’s fix it,'” he said.
___
Associated Press Writer John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report. Follow Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 .
___
Have a tip? Contact the author securely at https://www.ap.org/tips .

Authorities: Space heater caused fire that killed teen

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Fire officials say a house fire that killed a 14-year-old boy in Ohio was caused by a space heater.
The Repository in Canton reports Plain Township fire officials have ruled that the fire that killed Christian Werstler on Monday was an accident.
Firefighters were called to Werstler’s home in the township in Stark County on Monday afternoon. They said they found fire in the living room and the boy in a back bedroom. He was taken to a hospital in Akron where he died Monday night.
An investigator with the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office had said Tuesday that preliminary results of the investigation into the death indicated the teen died of smoke inhalation.
No other injuries were reported in the fire.
___
Information from: The Repository, http://www.cantonrep.com