public safety

Safe Communities reviews fatal accidents

Wood County Safe Communities’ Fatal Data Review Committee met on Tuesday, April 9 to review 3 fatal crashes from the first quarter of 2019. The following fatal crashes were reviewed: Bays and Bradner RoadsI-75 at MP 198I75 at MP 183 The following countermeasures were established: Drive for weather conditionsRemain inside your vehicle when disabled on the interstate.  Call #677 or 911 for assistanceDon’t drive distractedMove Over/Slow Down

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Safe Communities: Halloween is not occasion for making nightmares

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Safe Communities of Wood County has announced that the annual safe driving Halloween National Mobilization is October 3  to November 1, 2018. Each year, thousands of trick-or-treaters flock to the streets on Halloween night Thousands of others head to local bars and restaurants to also partake in the merry-making. Don’t put yourself and others at risk by choosing to drink and drive. To help spread the message that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, Safe Communities of Wood County is teaming up with the U.S Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind everyone of the dangers of drunk driving. Halloween poses a potentially dangerous threat to pedestrians, as more people are out at night on the hunt for candy. If your night involves alcohol, plan for a sober ride home. Remember: It’s never safe to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Between 2012 and 2016, there were 168 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. October 31 – 5:59 a.m. November 1). In 2016, there were 13 vehicle occupants killed in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night. According to NHTSA, 44 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night from 2012 to 2016 were in crashes involving a drunk driver. Children out trick-or-treating, and those who accompany them, are also at risk, as 14 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night (2012-2016) involved drunk drivers. Younger drivers are most at risk: The 21- to 34-year-old age group accounted for the most fatalities (46%) in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2016. Halloween is a time for making memories, not for causing nightmares. This Halloween, Safe Communities of Wood County would like to remind everyone to party responsibly and to be safe, while also keeping others safe by refraining from drunk driving.

Summer fatal accidents reviewed

Wood County Safe Communities announced today that the Fatal Data Review Committee met on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 to review 3 fatal crashes from the third quarter of 2018. The following fatal crashes were reviewed:  I-280 in Lake Township  SR 795 at I280  SR 105 at Chamberlain Rd. The following countermeasures were established:  Drive within the posted speed limit  Don’t Drive Distracted  Obey all traffic laws  Obey all traffic control devices  Maintain a safe distance when driving and for the conditions  Always look twice at an intersection

BGSU working to get sexual violence victims to report assaults

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mike Campbell, police chief and director of public safety at Bowling Green State University, knows what people do when they look at the Campus Security and Fire Safety Report. They scroll to the end where the numbers are. Numbers that show how many thefts and liquor code infractions there are. He knows what number is going to pop out on the 2018 report. In 2017 there were 20 rapes, all on campus,  reported, up from 14 reported in 2015 and eight reported in 2016. There were also seven reported cases of fondling when none had been reported before. That number comes with a caveat though. The key term is “reported.” Campbell said: “If we’re talking about those numbers themselves, it’s not completely unexpected.” The university has expanded its efforts to combat sexual violence, and a lot of that effort has been to increase reporting.  “We’re trying to create an environment  where people are comfortable reporting. …If we don’t know something transpired it’s difficult to support the survivor, and it gives us the ability to investigate that and hold someone accountable for their actions.” Jennifer McCary, the Title IX officer for BGSU, has been central in getting out the message that sexual assaults should be reported. She has given presentations to 2,100 students and about 200 faculty, who are required to report if a student tells them of an assault. She noted that nine of the rapes reported in 2017, actually happened in 2016. But neither McCary nor Campbell would say that the increase in the number represents just more reporting as opposed to an actual increase. “That’s always tough to discern,” Campbell said.  “Studies out there show approximately 90 percent don’t report their assaults ever,” he said. “Sexual violence is very underreported. Everything we can do that encourages those  victimized to report gives us the ability to investigate that crime but also to support that survivor.” McCary, who is assistant vice resident for student affairs, was hired as a result of the report by a task force on sexual violence that was created in response to protests in spring, 2017, over the way the university handled reports of rape and sexual violence.“We do have new student sexual misconduct and relationship policy,” McCary said. “We will investigate reports that come in.” A student may report an incident but may not want to pursue it, she said.  A student may talk about something to a professor, but will not want to go through the investigative process. If a student “is willing to participate,” fact-finding is conducted “to try to get as much information as possible,” McCary said. That may progress to disciplinary action. That process has resulted in students being permanently and temporarily removed from campus. That disciplinary process is under a shadow as institutions of higher education are awaiting new guidance from the US Department of Education. The current interim guidance was handed down under the Obama Administration. Officials are expecting that the new guidance will advise the use of the higher clear and convincing standard for determining guilt. The university uses a preponderance of evidence standard. By that standard a finding is made based on whether “it’s more likely than not” that there has been a policy violation. This is in keeping, McCary said, with the student code of conduct. Under the clear and convincing standard requires that it is “significantly more likely than not to determine whether there a policy violation,” which is closer to the criminal code. McCary said the policy was set up to allow for some flexibility if the standard…

Gas leak downtown reached dangerously high levels

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Several businesses and apartments in downtown Bowling Green were evacuated Thursday evening after dangerously high levels of natural gas were detected in the area. Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, said that she noticed the gas smell shortly before 6 p.m. The coffee shop and Coyote Beads, both on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street, were shut to the public after that because of the gas smell. Owners of those two businesses and Lahey Appliance & TV said Columbia Gas teams were in their stores working on gas lines earlier in the day on Thursday. The natural gas company has been working in the downtown area all summer replacing old gas lines. Wicks said a Columbia Gas employee was on the scene, and told her and Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads that he needed to call in more help to handle the problem. However, the Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified of the gas leak until nearly two hours after the smells were noticed, when Columbia Gas called 911. “We were never notified until 8,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said on Friday. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed high levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Moorman said. The fire chief classified the gas levels as being in the “lower explosive limits.” “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off,” Moorman said. “Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to limit the risks. “Fortunately, after 8 p.m. most of the businesses are closed anyway,” Moorman said. The Columbia Gas spokesperson for the Bowling Green project was not available Friday afternoon, but Moorman said the crew members on the scene Thursday evening said they were having difficulty shutting the leak, and were initially unsure if the leak was from an old or new line. The fire division ventilated the affected buildings and stayed on the scene until about 11:20 p.m. “It was a dangerous situation. It was handled well by police and fire,” Moorman said. However, city officials do have some concerns about how the leak was handled by Columbia Gas. Those issues will be raised on Monday or Tuesday, when city leaders plan to meet with Columbia Gas representatives. “We’ve got concerns like everybody else,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “We want to share the concerns of the public.” Moorman is also anxious to discuss how a leak can be handled in the future. “We need to come up with a better procedure if it ever happens again,” he said. The fire division has always encouraged the public to report suspected gas leaks. “What we always recommend is if anyone smells anything, call 911,” Moorman said. “Safety is our primary concern. We prefer to err on the side of safety.” Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, responded Friday evening and said the fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved, she said. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most…

Fire Marshal looking for tips about suspected arson in McComb

The Division of State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigations Bureau seek tips from the public regarding a residential fire at 235 North Liberty Street in McComb (Hancock County). The fire occurred just before 5 a.m. on Saturday, July 7, 2018. The Northwest Hancock Joint Fire District responded to the scene and found the residents were not home at the time of the fire. The second story of the home later collapsed. The investigation is being conducted jointly by the Marshal’s office, the Northwest Hancock Joint Fire District and the McComb Police Department. A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered by the Blue Ribbon Arson Committee for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the fire. Anyone with information relating to the fire is encouraged to call the State Fire Marshal’s office at 800-589-2728 or the McComb Police Department at 419-293-3667.

Safe Communities reports on fatal crashes

From WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today there have been six fatal crashes in Wood County compared to seven last year at this time. This is a decrease of one crash to date. This month Safe Communities is highlighting National Safety Awareness. National Safety Month promotes four key aspects each week, including: emergency preparedness, wellness, falls and driving. By avoiding distracted driving and focusing on buckling up, you can increase safety on the roadway. Distracted driving is a public issue that affects us all. More than 40,000 people were killed on the nation’s roadways last year, and distracted driving is a major contributor. Each death is 100 prevention preventable. Cell phones, dashboard infotainment systems, and evolving voice command features all pose a threat to our safety. Taking just one second of your attention away from the task of driving is all it takes to change a life forever. Additionally, during a crash, being buckled up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. Being thrown from a vehicle almost always leads to injury. Seat belts are the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers. Let’s make this summer a fun and safe one!