Attorney General Kane warns of winter storm scams

(Stock Image) © Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

HARRISBURG – As Pennsylvanians tackle major snowstorms in the days ahead, Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today cautioned consumers to be on the lookout for weather-related scams.

“Heavy snow and wind can cause significant damage to property,” Kane said. “Any time we have a major storm, opportunistic con artists may follow up with promises that sound too good to be true.”

Attorney General Kane encouraged Commonwealth residents to heed the advice of local officials, emergency responders and utility providers during any winter storm, and to be vigilant after a storm when contractors come calling.

All home repair contractors are required to provide consumers with the following information before proceeding with any project:

Contractor registration number on all estimates and contracts.
A written contract for any project costing more than $500.
Information about the consumer’s three-day right to cancel a home improvement contract.
Details about the materials and labor included in the project.
Total price.
Approximate start and end date for the project.
Kane said consumers should guard against those contractors who require full payment in advance of services or pressure them to quickly sign a contract.

Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act limits the amount of any upfront payments that contractors can collect. Contractors may not accept advance payment of more than one-third of the total price for projects costing more than $5,000.

All home improvement contractors who do more than $5,000 worth of business per year in Pennsylvania are required to register with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. However, registration is not an endorsement of the contractor’s honesty or quality of work.

To help consumers contract reputable home repair services, Kane offered the following tips:

Secure multiple estimates for any major project.
Check a contractor’s references before signing any contract.
Ensure that the contract includes liability and personal insurance coverage.
Confirm a contractor’s insurance coverage with the insurance carrier.
To verify that a home contractor is registered with the Attorney General’s office, consumers may call the Home Improvement Registration Hotline at (888) 520-6680.

Consumers can report potential scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Helpline by calling (800) 441-2555 or by filing a consumer complaint online at .


Arnold car fire overnight; Tarentum crash keep police, EMS and firefighters busy with additional snow on the way

East 10th Avenue Crash Scene

East 10th Avenue Crash Scene

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 12:29 pm

Alle-Kiski Valley, Pa. – Snow continues to make for difficult driving conditions in some locations in the Alle-Kiski Valley early Monday afternoon.

PennDOT salt crews are being requested to numerous locations across the Valley as snowfall stays steady throughout the afternoon. Several crashes were reported along the Allegheny Valley Expressway and one vehicle crash in the Borough of Tarentum on East 10th Avenue. Eureka’s Deputy Chief Brad James said the crash on East 10th Avenue involved two vehicles and four occupants but there were no injuries to report. The cause of this crash is under investigation.

In Westmoreland County, fire crews are dispatched for wires down and a stove fire in East Huntingdon.

Arnold Car Fire

Arnold Car Fire

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

In overnight news: Arnold firefighters were dispatched to a car fire in the 2300 block of Freeport Road at the Sunoco. At the scene, the vehicle was heavily involved with flames coming from the engine compartment. Arnold snow plow driver Justin Cratty attempted to extinguish the inferno with a fire extinguisher but was not successful. Cratty said he was trying to slow it down until firefighters arrived. Crews quickly arrived on scene to douse the flames but the car was a total loss.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

From the National Weather Service for Monday Afternoon:









Head-on crash: three vehicles involved near Sevic Landscaping on Rt. 56

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 10:34 am

Allegheny Township, Pa. – Two people were injured after a three car crash a few hundred feet east of Sevic Landscaping on SR. 56 in Allegheny Township about 8:30 am Monday morning.

Allegheny Township Police Chief John Fontaine said a vehicle driven Westbound towards Lower Burrell by Gina Sublinsky of New Kensington crossed the centerline and crashed into a Chevy Exuinox driven by Diane Kawka of Leechburg. Upon striking the Equinox , Sublinksy’s vehicle spun hitting a Chevy Saturn head-on driven by Melissa Budzilek of Leechburg. Initial reports of the crash indicated at least one person was trapped in their vehicle.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

Sublinsky was taken to Allegheny General by Lower Kiski EMS. The extent of her injuries are unknown. Budzilek was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital by Freeport EMS with injuries sustained primarily from her air bag and seat belt. The driver of the Equinox was not injured in the crash.

Assisting at the crash scene were Freeport EMS Units, Markle Fire Department and Allegheny Township Fire Department. The roadway was closed and traffic diverted for a little more than an hour. Kochka & Son Towing of Vandergrift removed the vehicles from the crash scene.


Governor Wolf meets with PennDOT executives, workers to review winter weather preparations

(Supplied Image)

Harrisburg, Pa. – With Pennsylvania and the East Coast facing a double-barreled snow event in the coming days, Governor Tom Wolf met with regional PennDOT executives and equipment operators Sunday to review preparations.

Governor Wolf met with District Executive Mike Keiser, Assistant District Executive for Maintenance Dave Rock, and York County Maintenance Manager Mike Martin at the equipment shed here. The Governor also greeted equipment operators and looked at the equipment and received an update on preparations.

“I came to Yocumtown to visit with the people out on the front lines,” said Governor Wolf. “These are the folks who are out there making sure our roads are as clear and as clean as possible. I urge people to exercise caution over the next few days and to stay off the roads in areas affected by bad weather.”

PennDOT storm managers have been reviewing weather forecasts and assembling crews from the ranks of the agency’s 5,400 equipment operators, who will be working shifts 24-7 during the duration of the winter weather.

“We have been loading salt and starting our patrols and we are ready for these events,” Keiser said. PennDOT has 2,250 trucks, 235 rental trucks and 200 trucks on standby across  the state to respond to the weather. Going into the weekend, PennDOT had more than 600,000 tons of salt on hand. So far this winter, PennDOT has used 350,000 tons and is running slightly lower than the five-year average winter usage. PennDOT estimates it has enough salt reserves to handle roughly 18 to 20 storms.

Keiser noted that snow is forecast to be falling through the morning commute, which promises to make travel challenging. Long-distance travelers should consider delaying their plans until after the winter weather passes.  Traffic on roadways hinders PennDOT snow plows from doing their jobs.


Fatal crash in Washington Township

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 7:32 pm

Washington Township, Pa. -(UPDATE:)  Westmoreland County Coroner, Kenneth A. Bacha, has released the following information after the death of a motorist in Washington Township.  Jeannie M. Heltion, 57 y/o female from Pleasant Valley Drive in Washington Township died at the scene of a fatal car crash in Washington Township on  January 24, 2015.  Heltion was the operator and lone occupant of a Toyota Camry traveling south on State Route 66 in Washington Township.  For an unknown reason,  Heltion’s vehicle crossed the center line into the opposite lane of traffic and was struck by a vehicle traveling north on State Route 66.   Deputy Coroner John A. Ackerman investigated the incident and pronounced Heltion dead at the scene.  A seat-belt was not utilized and air bags were deployed.  Cell phone use is unknown and an autopsy will not be performed.  Toxicology testing results will not be available for several weeks. 

(Original Story) Sources have confirmed one person has been killed and two people injured in a head-on crash near Kiski Park Drive and Sr. 380. Kiski Park Drive has been shut down by fire crews near the scene. Pennsylvania State Police from Greensburg has been called to the scene for reconstruction of the crash.

The incident occurred about 5:30 pm. Road conditions appeared to be mostly wet in the crash area.


Cheswick/Harmar Police apprehend stolen vehicle suspects who fled on foot

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 10:17 am

Cheswick Borough, Pa. – Diligent work by multiple police units working together results in two suspects being apprehended after an early morning vehicle theft at the Sheetz located in Cheswick.

Cheswick Police Chief Bob Scott said the vehicle theft occurred about 5:00 am when a Kia was taken from the Sheetz parking lot in Cheswick after the operator left his vehicle running and went into the store. The exact path two suspects took from the Sheetz is not known and police were searching several parking lots areas looking for clues or damages the actors might have caused as they fled the scene. The actors eventually headed South on Freeport Road towards the turnpike bridge and it appeared the suspects were headed for the SR. 910 entrance ramp to Rt. 28 Southbound when the driver lost control and hit a blue SUV near the 910 ramp. Harmar Law Enforcement Officer AJ Yonek (in the photo above) confirmed to AKVNEWS one female was injured in that incident but was going to go to the hospital on her own.

The KIA came to rest near the curb at the ramp when both suspects fled on foot from the scene. Multiple police units searched several areas of known or possible travel and a short time later the suspects were apprehended near the Day’s Inn and an area south towards Oakmont. Both suspects were interviewed and later held in New Kensington lockup until all paperwork processing was completed for transport to Allegheny County Jail.

Chief Scott said the suspects told police they recently bought a place in Acmetonia and worked for McDonalds. Bocheks Collision Center removed the SUV from the scene at Rt. 910.

In the photo below at left, Law Enforcement Officer Matt Ellinger escorts suspect Darryl Jarrett, age 26 of Clairton, Pa. and Cheswick Police Chief Bob Scott on right escorts suspect Rapheal Caldwell, age 25 of Pittsburgh from New Kensington Police lockup to Allegheny County Jail. AKVNEWS will update this story on the charges the suspects face as more information becomes available.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

Chief Scott thanked Harmar, Springdale Borough and Township, and Frazer PD for their assistance with this incident.


Hazardous roads cause crash in Harrison Township

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

Harrison Township, Pa. – Saxonburg Road is shut down for a short time after a single vehicle crash early Saturday morning in Harrison Township.

Law Enforcement Officer Chris Cottone said there were no injuries after the driver of a 2005 Silverado lost control of his vehicle on slick roadways. It appeared the truck began to climb a hillside striking a utility pole and split it about three feet from the base. The truck sustained heavy damage and the utility pole will have to be replaced.

Terry’s Service of Brackenridge removed minor road debris and towed the vehicle from the crash scene.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer


Tarentum: Gas leak forces residents to evacuate

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 3:43 pm

Tarentum, Pa. – Several residents were forced to evacuate their apartments in the 200 block of East 2nd Avenue after a significant natural gas leak outside their residence.

The incident occurred about 12:25 pm when a Comcast technician noticed a strong odor of gas coming from a gas meter located along a sidewalk next to the building. The technician called 911 and went to the front door of the structure to notify the residents. Tarentum’s Eureka Fire Rescue Lieutenant Chad Clark said the gas leak was significant enough to blow mortar out of the joints and dislodge a few bricks. In addition to the Comcast technician, another passerby knocked on the front door of the apartment to notify the residents of the problem.

At least four or five residents evacuated the building and fire crews immediately began ventilation but were unable to access the basement. Crews has to force their way into the basement where air levels of gas were 10-15 times their normal level. Fire crews turned off the gas to the structure. Peoples Gas was called in to assess the situation and it’s not known when the residents were allowed to return to their apartments.

Lieutenant Clark told AKVNEWS there were no injuries to report. Highland Hose, Summit Hose VFD, and Eureka EMS also responded to the scene. Residents are urged to immediately call 911 when they smell natural gas in their residence or outside near gas lines and meters. If you do smell gas, get out and call 911.

Fire Departments need volunteers, please do you part and support your community !!


New Kensington bridge overpass taking shape on final phases of construction

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 12:49 am

New Kensington, Pa. – A mild twenty-nine degrees being reported from Valley Middle School overnight makes for great construction work on the SR. 366/56 bypass near Memorial Park in New Kensington.

Once span trucks started to arrive on Thursday morning, construction crews geared up on removing the old beams in preparation for setting the new beams early Friday morning. Crews at the scene around 1:00 am Friday morning had only two more beams to set before the 6:00 am deadline to reopen the roadways for morning traffic.

Industrial lighting units are fired up to illuminate the work area as heavy cranes are poised to lift the old spans from their abutments. Once the old beams are removed, oversize trucks move into place for unloading of new beams and installation.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

Prime Contractor Carmen Paliotta began the $ $2,796,296.63 project in April and has until 5/6/2015 to complete the work. The new bridge will be approximately two feet higher to accommodate new bridge and roadway standards.

This bridge is being constructed in 2 phases maintaining 2 way traffic eastbound and westbound throughout the entire project on SR 0366. Motorists are reminded to drive with caution and be alert when entering a work zone.with


House fire in Burrell Township a total loss

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 4:41 pm

Burrell Township (Armstrong County), Pa. – Fire consumes a house on Creek Road in Burrell Township about 1:00 pm Thursday afternoon.

According to fire radio dispatch in Armstrong County, the fire had been burning for some time as firefighters responded to a house fire that was already on the ground by the time firefighters got to the scene. The house and it’s contents appeared to be a total loss. There were no fire hydrants on the single lane dirt road as fire crews hauled water into the scene by tankers. Roads leading into the wooded area are just wide enough for large truck traffic. When fire crews were exiting the scene, one Kiski fire engine had to back their truck up for about a half mile to find a place to turn around.

AKVNEWS spoke with a friend of the family who said three family pets were lost in the fire. Burrell Township was asisted by Kiski Township VFD. There were no other injuries to report with this fire.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer


Another vehicle crash at the bottom of Murray Avenue in Arnold

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 1:55 pm

Arnold, Pa. – One person was injured in a single vehicle crash at the bottom of Murray Avenue in Arnold just after noon on Wednesday.

Arnold Law Enforcement Officer David Klaus said the female driver of the vehicle who was involved in the crash was having troubles with her car. The driver said she thought she had air in her brakes and for an unknown reason decided to come down Murray Avneue.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

After jumping the curb, her vehicle hit the same house that was hit last February 11 when a vehicle plowed through a front living room pinning a woman underneath the vehicle. The impact of today’s crash tilted a roof support about 20 degrees and pushed the front porch deck about six inches exposing the concrete block underneath.

Please follow this link for last years story:

After the impact, the vehicle spun hitting a chain link fence and bushes, coming to rest near the house next door. Next door resident Shariena Headen spoke with the news media about the issues with Murray Avenue and the amount of times vehicles and houses have been hit at the bottom of the steep hill. Headen said this is the third time this has happened and asked the question: is someone waiting for someone to die here?

Headen said she heard a big boom during impact and wants the street made into a one way “up only” street. Her mother was outside when the incident occurred and Headen said her mother has complained about them sliding down the hill to “them down there”.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

The female driver of the Ford was complaining of a knee injury and was transported to Allegheny Valley Hospital. Hawk Towing of Arnold removed the vehicle from the crash scene. Lower Burrell #3 EMS was on scene treating an additional patient indirectly involved with the crash.


More snow on the way to the Alle-Kiski Valley !

(Stock Image AKNVENWS.COM)