Pennsylvania Traffic Deaths Hit New Record Low in 2014

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Harrisburg, Pa. – Traffic deaths in Pennsylvania in 2014 reached an all-time low, continuing a favorable trend as safety advocates work towards the nationwide goal of zero fatalities, acting PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said today.

The 2014 number totaled 1,195, the lowest since recordkeeping began in 1928.

The Transportation Department (PennDOT) also announced that the public can now search for finalized crash and traffic fatality data using its new Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool, which is accessible at dotcrashinfo.pa.gov. The new tool reflects PennDOT’s commitment to meeting Gov. Tom Wolf’s agenda of “Government that Works.”

“PennDOT continuously strives to drive down crash and fatality numbers, and we ultimately want to reach zero deaths on our roads,” Richards said. “Keeping in mind that each crash or death involves a member of someone’s family, we urge the motoring public to be aware of their driving behavior by observing traffic laws, paying attention and using caution.”

PennDOT data shows that while the number of highway deaths dropped in many types of crashes, there were significant decreases in unbuckled, drinking-driver-related and hit-tree crashes last year when compared to 2013. Unbuckled fatalities dropped from 425 to 383. Deaths in drinking-driver related crashes declined to from 342 to 294. Fatalities in hit-tree crashes decreased from 254 to 221.

Fatalities increased in some types of crashes, including those involving hit utility poles and drowsy or sleeping drivers. There were 113 fatalities in crashes involving hit utility poles, up from 103 in 2013. Also, deaths in drowsy or asleep crashes increased to 23 from 10 in 2013.

PennDOT has invested $50 million over the last five years for safety improvements at approximately 4,000 locations. Types of low-cost safety countermeasures include centerline and edge-line rumble strips.

PennDOT also invests about $20 million annually in state and federal funds for safety education and enforcement efforts statewide.

Fatalities in crashes involving drivers ages 65 and older also increased, from 277 in 2013 to 300 in 2014.To help address safe driving in this age group, PennDOT offers information on approved Mature Driver Improvement courses available statewide, a brochure on talking with mature drivers and other safety tips at its highway safety information website, www. JustDrivePA.com.

With its release to the public, the Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool allows access to these and other types of crash data. The tool allows users to search data pulled from law enforcement crash reports involving passengers, drivers and different vehicle types.

“Highway safety is our top priority, and this tool will help educate our customers about safety in their communities,” Richards said. “The site also gives quick access to our many safety and emergency partners, community leaders and media who may want to review this information.”

The Custom Search Tool can display data showing the number of crashes, people involved, or vehicles involved. It can be filtered by timeframe, county or municipality, and by various crash characteristics. Additional statistics available in the site are crash, fatality and major injury statistics as well as access to annual crash facts publications.

Continuing with standard personal privacy policy and legal requirements, the tool will not provide access to specific police crash reports.

 

Fire destroys Natrona house, origin suspicious

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

Natrona, Pa. – Fire lights up the night sky in Natrona as multiple fire crews responded to people trapped on a porch roof along Vine Street about 1:00 am Thursday morning.

At the fire scene, heavy flames were seen coming out windows on the second story front side of the building and the rear of the structure was fully involved with smoke and flames. Fire crews from Hilltop Hose, Harrison Hills and Citizens Hose tapped hydrants to get a good knockdown on the fire but severe damage to the interior had already been done.

Initial radio reports indicated a woman was on a back porch roof and had to be rescued from the fire. Almost immediately there was talk at the scene of someone being seen with firecrackers near a back porch. Sources at the scene said the upstairs and back portion of the structure were apartments. Fire crews laid a 6″ hose across Norfolk Southern tracks from the South end of Vine street to attack the fire. Several trains were being held up in Tarentum and further south until fire command determined it was safe to disconnect the secondary water supply.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal and Detectives were called to the scene. Additional fire units were released from the scene about 2:30 am. Also assisting Harrison Township Police at the scene were Eureka Fire Rescue EMS, and Pioneer Hose. No injuries were reported in the blaze. The structure appears to be a total loss.

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


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

 

Driver shears utility pole in East Deer

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© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 11:01 pm

East Deer, Pa. – One person was injured after her vehicle struck a utility pole on Freeport Road in East Deer Township just after 7:00 pm Wednesday night.

East Deer Police and fire units didn’t have far to go as the crash occurred a few hundred feet North of the fire station at Rowe Street. The driver of the four door Honda drove through a roadside utility pole shearing it off at the base and breaking the pole apart at the top. The vehicle continued at a forty-five degree angle towards Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and came to rest with the drivers side wheels inside the tracks. Sources at the scene said the female driver suffered a leg injury and was transported to the hospital by East Deer EMS.

Terry’s Service removed the vehicle from the railroad tracks. West Penn Power was immediately called for evaluation of power lines and Norfolk Southern was notified to inspect any possible damage to the rails. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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

 

Two seriously hurt after head-on type crash in Allegheny Township

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© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 4:18 pm

Allegheny Township, Pa. – Two people were flown by helicopter after a head-on crash on SR356 near Park Road in Allegheny Township.

Allegheny Township Police Chief John Fontaine said a total of four vehicles were involved in the crash that happened just before 3:00 pm when two SUV type vehicles collided nearly head-on. Chief Fontaine said a woman in her 70’s and a man believed to be in his 30’s were flown to a Pittsburgh Hospital and their conditions are serious. One person was reported to be trapped in their vehicle and had to be cut free with the jaws of life. Heavy car part debris was littered all over the highway from the impact.

The other two vehicles, a Chevy Silverado and a Ford Ranger were also involved in the crash. It appeared the man driving the Silverado braked to avoid running into the crash scene ahead of him when he was hit from behind by a Ford Ranger. Those two individuals were being evaluated by EMS at the crash scene and were not transported to the hospital. Damage to the Silverado was minimal while damage to the Ranger was moderate.

Assisting Allegheny Township Police were Allegheny Township VFD, Markle VFD, Washington Township VFD, Upper Burrell VFD, Lower Burrell EMS, Lower Kiski EMS and Kochka & Son Towing removed the vehicles from the crash scene.

Traffic was detoured around the crash scene for about an hour. The cause of the crash is under investigation. The roadway reopened about 4:00 pm.

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House fire on Catalpa Street in New Kensington

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© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 4:05 am

New Kensington, Pa. – Firefighters in New Kensington responded to a house fire in the 100 block of Catalpa Street about 12:15 am Tuesday morning.

When firefighters arrived on scene, smoke and flames were seen coming from the lower corner of the structure closest to Catalpa Street. The fire had progressed to the first level floor as firefighters were tapping hydrants and laying hoses. Within minutes crews had a quick knockdown on the fire and subsequently gained entrance to the structure through a back door. Neighbors said the house has been vacant for some time.

First Assistant Fire Chief Ed Saliba Jr. said the fire appears suspicious and all utilities have been disconnected for some time. The fire is being investigated by Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal and the New Kensington Police department. There are no injuries to report. Chief Saliba said the building is owned by the City of New Kensington according to Code Enforcement.

Assisting New Kensington Fire was Arnold VFD and Station #69 RIT from Lower Burrell. New Kensington Police and EMS also assisted at the scene.

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Allegheny County man charged with possessing child pornography

Patrick Jonathan Carrick

Patrick Jonathan Carrick

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane recently announced the arrest of an Allegheny County man accused of ordering child pornographic movies through the Internet and possessing other child pornography.

Patrick Jonathan Carrick, 56, 2000 Monroe St., Apt. 1, Swissvale Borough, was arrested Wednesday following a joint investigation by the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Investigators said Carrick ordered roughly 30 child pornographic movies from 2007 through 2011 and had the videos shipped to him. The videos were purchased from a company that was known as an international distributor of child pornography, agents allege.

That led investigators to approach Carrick at his home, where they said he gave consent for them to conduct a search. Agents reported using that consent to obtain a search warrant.

A preliminary review of two computers seized from the home showed at least 10 files containing apparent child pornography. The devices will be further analyzed as part of an ongoing investigation.

Multiple professionally-produced videos, printouts and compact discs also were seized from the residence. Each showed suspected child pornography.

Attorney General Kane thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania for assisting with the investigation.

Carrick is charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. His bail was set at $10,000 at his preliminary arraignment. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for April 15.

Reporting Child Predators

Suspected child predators can be reported to the Office of Attorney General by calling the Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044. Individuals who suspect an online predator or child sexual abuse can also send an anonymous tip to the office by texting PAKIDS + YOUR TIP to 847411.

 

Fire departments battling brush fires in multiple counties

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Armstrong and Westmoreland County – Fire crews from several fire departments are battling brush fires just East of Saltsburg near Tunnellton, Pa. Crews are faced with 8-12 mph winds battling these brush fires, some of them over steep hillsides and inaccessible places. Armstrong County has also been dealing with brush fires in multiple locations. Weather conditions are overcast with only a slight chance of a rain shower. High near 70F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.

Markle Fire Department Assistant Chief Matt Rearick recommends the following guidelines for recreational fires, campfires and burning brush. Severe dry conditions and carelessness can result in massive brush fires destroying thousands of acres, structures and vehicles.

As temperatures warm up and brush season rapidly approaches, we want to remind you of a few safety tips should you decide to burn.

1. Be aware of weather conditions, if wind is too strong do not burn.
2. Have a water supply such as a garden hose or large bucket of water should your fire get out of control. Try to wet the surrounding areas of your burn area with water to prevent fire spread
3. Do not use gasoline or other combustible fuels to start your fire as they can explode causing severe burns.
4. Make sure to watch your fire to ensure that it does not get away from you.
5. Lastly, before leaving the area, ensure that the fire has been extinguished and area is adequately watered down to prevent an out of control fire.

Check with your towns local government to see what codes or standards there are for burning, each town is different with their policies.
Be safe this spring season and let’s not meet by accident.

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Guns and casings recovered after vehicle pursuit in Arnold/New Kensington

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Photo: Arnold Police

Arnold, Pa. – Police units from surrounding communities assisted Arnold police after several residents called 911 to report shots fired in the 1900 block/area of Woodmont Avenue early Saturday morning.

Arnold Law Enforcement Officer Wes Biricocchi said there were reports of shots fired in other areas near Woodmont as the suspects headed South towards Taylor Avenue, North Street and Constitution Boulevard. Officer Biricocchi said the pursuit on Constitution Boulevard escalated to high speeds as the driver and passengers attempted to elude police capture.

Police said the chase continued towards the 500 block of Fourth Avenue in New Kensington where the suspects bailed and scattered from a Black Ford Edge. Police officers initiated foot pursuit with one juvenile suspect being apprehended. Two other suspects were able to elude police capture. Officer Biricocchi said two guns; a .38 caliber revolver and a 45 caliber handgun were recovered along with several casings. Additional evidence was collected near the bail-out location. There were no reports of injuries. The incident occurred at 12:39 am Saturday morning.

If you have any additional information on this shots fired incident, please call Arnold Police at (724) 339-9663. Assisting Arnold Police were Lower Burrell, Upper Burrell, New Kensington, East Deer and Springdale Township Police.

Woodmont Avenue in Arnold, Pa.

Woodmont Avenue in Arnold, Pa.


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Woman hit by train in Brackenridge

EMS on scene of a woman hit by train in Brackenridge

EMS on scene of a woman hit by train in Brackenridge

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 3:55 am

Brackenridge, Pa. – (UPDATE:)  10:24 am  The Allegheny County Medical Examiners Office has confirmed with AKVNEWS.COM the identity of the woman killed after being struck by a train early Sunday morning as Rachel Vulgris, age 40 of Natrona Heights.  Additional  information has not been released.

(Original Story) Police units responded to a train vs. pedestrian incident near Thompson Scrap Metal along Sixth Avenue in Brackenridge early Sunday morning.

Tarentum Fire Rescue EMS arrived on scene to treat a woman after she was hit by an Eastbound Norfolk Southern train about 1:15 am. Authorities at the scene said the woman suffered a head injury and was immediately transported to Allegheny Valley Hospital for possible helicopter transport to a Pittsburgh Hospital.

One witness who lives across the street from the scene said she heard the screeching of the train as it was trying to get stopped. There did not appear to be a motor vehicle involved in the incident. County detectives were reportedly called to the scene. Brackenridge Police was assisted by Pioneer Hose VFD, Eureka Fire Rescue EMS, and Tarentum Police.

Train crossings from Morgan Street to the Tarentum Bridge were blocked by the stopped train and will remain closed pending mandatory investigations. No time frame was available as to when the crossings will re-open.

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

 

Fatal house fire in Applewold Borough; Kittanning

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© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 11:34 pm

Applewold Boro, Pa. – Firefighters in Kittanning responded to a house fire in the 100 block of Franklin Avenue just before 7:00 pm Saturday night.

East Franklin Fire Chief Mark Feeney said when crews arrived on scene one man was trapped-pulled out from inside the 2 1/2-story structure and subsequently transported from the scene to Armstrong County Memorial Hospital where he died. Chief Feeney said a second patient was also transported to the hospital with smoke inhalation. Witnesses at the scene said heavy smoke and flame were seen coming from the upper story of the structure. Smoke was so heavy traffic was slowed on the long bridge/ramp going down the hill towards the Kittanning Bridge. Three small children who lived in the duplex escaped without injury.

Armstrong County Coroner Brian K. Myers released the following information as related to the fatal fire.

David Michael Hozier, 42 of 141 Franklin Ave, Kittanning (Applewold) was transported to ACMH Hospital by ambulance where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death is under investigation and an autopsy will be performed.

The investigation is ongoing by Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshall, Kittanning Police and the Armstrong Co Coroner’s Office. Applewold, East Franklin, West Kittanning, Worthington, Kittanning #1, Kittanning #4 Fire Departments and the Armstrong Co. Host Team 330 were on scene of the Fire.

Fatal house fire in Applewold Boro-Kittanning

Fatal house fire in Applewold Boro-Kittanning


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Freeport Road Reconstruction Work begins Monday in Harmar Township

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© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 3:27 pm

Harmar Township, Pa. – PennDOT is announcing roadway reconstruction work on Freeport Road (Route 1001) in Harmar Township, Allegheny County, will begin Monday, April 6 weather permitting. Beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, Freeport Road will be restricted to a single 11 foot lane in each direction in the area of the Hulton Bridge. The long-term restriction will be in place around-the-clock through Monday, October 19.

The southbound dedicated left turn lane will be eliminated during construction. Motorists traveling southbound will still be able to turn left to cross the Hulton Bridge. Crews will conduct roadway reconstruction work. The work is part of the $64.8 million dollar project to replace the 105 year old bridge with a new four lane structure. The new bridge will be approximately 1,600 feet long and located directly upstream of the existing bridge. Additionally, the project includes reconstruction of approximately 1,300 feet of Freeport Road and 550 feet of Hulton Road, signal and lighting upgrades, curb and sidewalk improvements, drainage, pavement markings and utility relocation.

Motorists are advised to use caution and allow extra time when traveling through the area. Visit 511pa.com or call 511 from any phone to check traffic conditions and cameras on major roadways before traveling.

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

 

“Person of interest” wanted in Arnold Shooting

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Arnold, Pa. – Arnold Police Chief Willie Weber has released a “person of interest” photo possibly related to a shooting at the Arnold Towers on February 20, 2015 at 4:50 am.

The suspect is believed to be in his 20’s and his address is unknown. Charges pending in this incident: Aggravated Assault and Attempted Homicide. If you can identify or know the whereabouts of this individual, you are asked to call the Arnold Police Department at 724-339-9663 or dial 911. Do not approach this individual.

(Original Story) Arnold Police were on scene of a shooting at the Arnold Tower on Horne Boulevard about 5:00 am Friday Morning.

Arnold Police Chief Willie Weber said a man approximately 33 years old was shot four times in the early morning incident. Chief Weber said he was shot once in the shoulder and 3 times in the stomach.

At the scene, one male individual was brought out of the Arnold Tower by New Kensington EMS just as Pulsar arrived on scene to transport the individual to a Pittsburgh Hospital. The man was sitting up on the stretcher as he was brought out of the building. New Kensington and Lower Burrell Police assisted at the scene. Westmoreland County Detectives are assisting in the investigation.

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