Basement fire displaces residents in North Apollo

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 3:44 pm

North Apollo, Pa. –  Firefighters from Apollo, North Apollo and Kiski Township responded to a structure fire in the 1200 block of Birch Street about 12:40 pm Tuesday afternoon.

Assistant Fire Chief Cliff Rearic said crews were dispatched to the scene with reported entrapment and upon arrival he encountered heavy smoke conditions in the basement.  Assistant Chief Rearic said there was a lady in a wheelchair who did get out along with her daughter. The woman was wheeled down the street to a waiting Lower Kiski EMS unit.

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

Crews made a good attack on the basement to get the fire out said Rearic. Fire trucks had trouble getting back to the scene due to the street being a dead end and had to deal with a frozen hydrant. The possible cause of fire was a portable heater in the laundry-room.

The extent of damages are unknown and there were no injuries to report.


Thin ice, NO DICE! on the Allegheny River

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 8:32 am

Alle-Kiski Valley, Pa. – Sponsored by Tarentum’s Eureka Fire Rescue EMS, orange flyers are placed along the fence line in Riverview Park to caution kids of all ages to be aware of the dangers of thin ice on the river.

With spring time approaching and warmer temperatures just around the corner, the river can be a playground for young kids not understanding the real dangers of walking on ice along the shoreline of the Allegheny River. Parents are urged to warn their children of the impending dangers and “taking chances” of walking on ice on rivers, ponds, even the backyard swimming pool.

Eureka’s Deputy Fire Chief Brad James says the thickness of ice depends on water flow, time of year, temperatures and geographic location. The best way to stay safe and prevent a possible tragedy is to stay off the ice and don’t go near the river. If you happen to see a pet or person on the ice, call the police immediately.

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

The Alle-Kiski Valley with see a mixture of rain, possibly freezing rain and additional snows over the next 24 hours. The National Weather Service has issued the following warnings and forecast.

River Flood Warnings:

SAFETY MESSAGE…a watch means that flooding is possible but not a certainty. rainfall of 1.50 inches to 2.00 may cause flooding. actual rainfall amounts and potential flooding will ultimately depend on the direction and speed of the storm. PEOPLE IN THE WATCH AREA SHOULD KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEATHER AND BE PREPARED FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION SHOULD HEAVY RAINS AND FLOODING OCCUR OR A RIVER FLOOD WARNING BE ISSUED.WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 7 PM EST THIS EVENING…

Today’s Forecast









Female EMT killed in Johnstown’s Upper Yoder Township


Upper Yoder Township, Pa. – AKVNEWS.COM has confirmed with Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski’s office a female EMT from the West End Ambulance Service was killed Monday in a multiple vehicle accident on Route 271 in Upper Yoder Township.

Coroner Kwiatkowski said several EMS units were responding to a crash scene at 9:40 am and were treating victims at that scene when a coal truck approached and could not stop sliding right through the accident scene. Janice Livingston, 38 of Johnstown died at the scene at 10:35 am after being hit by the coal truck. Coroner Kwiatkowski said Livingston attempted to flee the oncoming truck but unfortunately ran in the same direction the truck was sliding and was struck. Livingston was an EMT out of the West End Ambulance Service.


Consumer Advisory: Top 5 most common scams from 2014

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 12:45 pm

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced the five most common types of scams reported to the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in 2014. The Bureau received more than 124,000 consumer-related inquiries in 2014. Based on these those inquiries, AG Kane issued this consumer advisory to Pennsylvanians about the most common scams and how to avoid them.

The advisory coincides with National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Consumer-protection agencies nationwide observe the week to encourage consumers to make well-informed decisions and understand their consumer rights.

“Con artists and scammers rob Pennsylvanians of thousands of dollars every day,” Attorney General Kane said. “Consumers should be on alert and report any suspected fraudulent activity to our Bureau of Consumer Protection.”

Last year, Kane’s Bureau of Consumer Protection opened more than 37,000 consumer-related investigations and recovered more than $17.4 million in restitution.

Here are the top five most common scams from 2014, as identified by the Bureau of Consumer Protection:

TELEPHONE SCAMS : Consumers should be on the alert for telephone scams used by con artists who try to get them to surrender personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or credit and debit card numbers. These con artists may attempt to have consumers wire money or purchase reloadable debit cards under the guise of helping a friend or family member. Telephone scammers may also try to convince consumers that they have won a contest or lottery and claim that fees must be paid first in order to obtain the prize.

EMAIL SCAMS : Consumers should be on the alert for scammers who may use emails and the Internet to troll for potential victims. Many of these scams take on the elements of current events. At this time of year, scams involving tax returns are prevalent. Consumers should note that the IRS or other taxing bodies will not communicate by email.

Consumers are urged to refrain from providing personal banking information to anyone via email. Even if an email includes a bank logo and appears to be legitimate, consumers should contact their financial institution immediately to report the incident.

ENERGY COST-SAVINGS SCAMS : Consumers may be solicited to change energy providers with promises of considerable savings. Some of these savings may not materialize or may amount to a teaser rate that increases substantially after an initial trial period. Consumers are urged to be cautious when dealing with door-to-door or telephone solicitors who offer deals, prices and rates that sound too good to be true. A list of approved energy suppliers is available on the Pennsylvania Utility Commission website at .

HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAMS : Consumers should be aware that one of the biggest expenses they will incur is for the maintenance and improvement of their home. Pennsylvania law requires home improvement contractors to register and disclose information about their insurance coverage, background, contract forms, and terms of their work. Consumers should verify that a contractor is registered by checking the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General website at or calling (800) 441-2555.

Registration is not a seal of approval. Consumers should still research and check references for other jobs that the contractor has performed, get at least three bids for the work that is to be done and realize that the least expensive is not necessarily always the best.

MOTOR VEHICLE PURCHASES AND REPAIRS : Since most motor vehicle repairs are not planned, consumers are placed in a vulnerable position and could be fleeced by disreputable auto repair shops. Repair shops should provide consumers with a written estimate for labor and parts that outlines all costs associated with the repair.

Consumers who are in the market to purchase a vehicle should be aware that car dealers licensed in Pennsylvania must comply with a number of laws requiring truthful and full disclosure of all terms. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. A rushed consumer is an easy target.

Consumers can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 441-2555 or visit for additional information or to file a consumer complaint.


Three charged in heroin death of Lower Burrell woman


HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced charges on Friday against three people in an ongoing investigation into fentanyl-laced heroin that killed a Lower Burrell woman.

“My office created a task force with Westmoreland County law enforcement in a partnership to fight heroin trafficking because it is destroying neighborhoods and communities,” Attorney General Kane said. “We are using every resource we have to protect Pennsylvanians from heroin abuse, which destroys lives and families.”

The bag of heroin that killed Christina Donati-Racioppo of Lower Burrell, Westmoreland County, was stamped “Theraflu,” one of the stamps Attorney General Kane’s office found to contain a deadly mix of heroin and the narcotic Fentanyl.

The following are charged with the Jan. 22, 2014, death of Christina Donati-Racioppo:

Demetrius Houser, 19, 1722, 3rd Ave., Arnold, Westmoreland County.

Kristy Guzzi, 31, 201 Floral Ave., Leechburg, Armstrong County.

Derek Miller, 32, 160 Orr Ext. Lane, Apollo, Armstrong County.

All three defendants face one count each of delivery resulting in death; possession of a controlled or counterfeit substance; possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; manufacture/delivery/possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; and criminal use of a communication facility. Houser and Guzzi are currently lodged in the Westmoreland County Jail.

Attorney General Kane thanked the Lower Burrell Police Department for its assistance with the investigation and Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck’s office, which is prosecuting the cases.

The Westmoreland County OCDETF project has been active since the spring of 2013 and was developed to target heroin and prescription drug distribution throughout Westmoreland and surrounding counties.

Attorney General Kane’s commitment to the partnership, which includes dozens of law enforcement agencies in Allegheny, Fayette and Cambria counties, has resulted in 362 arrests.


Fire destroys house in Salem Township

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 9:57 pm

Salem Twp, Pa. – Fire destroys a house on Italy Road in Salem Township just after 7:30 pm Saturday evening.

Multiple fire companies responded to a house fire that appeared to get a head start on firefighters as initial reports alerted firefighters the fire was through the roof. The main part of the structure had approximately 50% of the roof gone and the roof over the attached double car garage was nearly gone when crews arrived. Fire crews could only work from the outside of the structure due to heavy fire and smoke making entry unsafe.

The house is located off Italy Road in Salem Township. Two young men went around and asked some homeowners if anyone was in the house and they said there wasn’t but there were dogs in the house. Those two young men went up a very long driveway to the house to find out if anyone was actually in the house.

Westmoreland 911 reported fully involved house fire, explosion and possible entrapment. According to the interview with the young men, they went around the back side of the structure and kicked in the door not knowing if anyone was inside. They saw a black lab on the floor but was not sure if the dog was still alive; picked the dog up and carried it back outside. First responders arrived and the two men told them they found a dog and were then advised to stand back. The full interview is located at

Delmont Police indicated there were no human injuries in the fire. The status of the pet/s are unknown. The house appears to be a total loss and no information was available as to the cause of the fire.


Vandergrift fire departments respond to basement fire on Holmes Street

219 Holmes Street in Vandergrift

219 Holmes Street in Vandergrift

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 12:20 pm

Vandergrift – Firefighters in Vandergrift responded to 212 Holmes Street early Saturday morning after a house catches fire about 8:14 am.

Vandergrift #2 Fire Chief Steve Potoka said when firefighters arrived on scene there was a working fire in the basement of the structure. Chief Potoka said the house is under renovation and there was a lot of garbage in the basement making it difficult to get to the fire.

Firefighters came out in droves from multiple surrounding communities to help fight the fire. Fire crews made entrance to both the front and rear doors including a side door keeping the fire at bay. There did not appear to be any lack of water or issues with frozen hydrants as crews put a lot of water on the interior of the structure. Damage to the interior was severe. Quick work by Vandergrift fire departments kept the fire from getting out of hand and protected adjacent houses.

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

Responding companies: Vandergrift #2 & #1, Lower Burrell RIT, Upper Burrell, Parks Township, Leechburg, Arnold #2, Oklahoma and Parks Township from Armstrong County. Vandergrift Police and EMS were also on scene.


Leechburg man faces child porn, molestation charges

Jeramie Dustin Platt

Jeramie Dustin Platt

(Photo Courtesy Armstrong County Jail)

Leechburg, Pa. – Leechburg Police, in conjunction with Special Agents with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section filed multiple charges on Wednesday against Jeramie Dustin Platt, age 38 of the 400 block of Grant Avenue in Leechburg.

On March 25, 2013 the Leechburg Police Department received a complaint from the Armstrong County Children and Youth Services of a reported sexual abuse case allegedly involving Platt. Three days later, two girls were interviewed by a CYS caseworker and witnessed by several involved authorities.

One girl reported three incidents involving Platt when she was 11 or 12 during the summer. Platt allegedly told the girl that this would be, “their secret”.

By December 2013, a special agent with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section conducted an undercover online investigation relating to the sexual abuse of children. The information from this investigation was subsequently tied to Platt.

On February 24, 2015 a search warrant was obtained by authorities for Platt’s residence. Platt was advised he was not under arrest, however a search warrant was being executed and was related to computer use. During the interview and investigation, Platt admitted he viewed child porn on his computer and stated he had wanted to seek treatment, but didn’t know how.

Subsequently Platt was arrested and charged with the following charges and remanded to the Armstrong County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond pending his preliminary hearing scheduled for March 4, 2015 @ 1:00pm in front of The Honorable Magistrate District Judge James Andring.

Total 16 Felony Counts



Tractor-trailer fire a total loss in Washington Township

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 3:39 pm

Washington Township, Pa. – No injuries to report after a truck-tractor burns to the ground near Kistler Driver along SR66 in Washington Township.

AKVNEWS spoke with the female operator of the tractor who said she had just picked up the rig from the shop and was headed North on 66 when she heard this clicking noise. She said she called the shop and was advised to pull over and then the rig caught fire. The flames and smoke were visible for over a mile on the straight stretch of road on Route 66 as fire crews headed to the scene. Traffic was stopped in both directions at Kistler and Pfeffer Roads for over an hour as fire crews from Washington Township, Oklahoma Borough, and White Valley contained the blaze to just the truck-tractor.

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

Kochka & Son Towning was called to the scvene to remove the tractor-trailer from the roadway.


Veterans and their families warned about pension fraud

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 10:01 am

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane and Acting Adjutant General James R. Joseph today warned Pennsylvania veterans and their families to be aware of schemes aimed at selling veterans financial products they don’t need or charging them for services which are otherwise free.

These kinds of schemes, referred to as “pension poaching,” may be perpetrated by attorneys, financial planners, insurance agents or others who use misleading or incomplete information to encourage veterans to make decisions about their finances in order to qualify for benefits.

Kane said her agency’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs has received reports of dishonest planners or people misrepresenting themselves as veteran service officers targeting veterans in senior centers, assisted living facilities and other locations where they couple guarantees about qualifying for benefits with a high pressure sales pitch for their products.

“Some unscrupulous financial planners attempt to take advantage of our veterans by offering high-priced services that veterans and their families can typically obtain for free,” Kane said. “Veterans should avoid these dishonest advisors and keep the money that’s rightfully theirs. My Office of Military and Veterans Affairs is committed to advocating on behalf of veterans and protecting them from scams.”

Often, pension poachers try to convince veterans to transfer their assets or invest in insurance products to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, but don’t disclose how those transactions impact the veteran’s eligibility for other federal programs like Medicaid.

Aid and Attendance can supplement a military pension but is only available in limited circumstances.

“We need to get the word out that veterans should never pay for these services,’’ said Joseph. “Free assistance is readily available from any accredited veterans service officer at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, their County Director of Veterans Affairs, or through a chartered veterans service organization such as the American Legion, VFW, DAV, or AMVETS to name a few.”

Educating veterans, their families and their caregivers is the first line of defense in combating pension poaching. Kane and Joseph said that collaborating with other state and national stakeholders has been helpful in reaching Pennsylvania’s large veteran community.


Allegheny Township crash injures two; vehicle flips on side

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 7:16 pm

Allegheny Township, Pa. – Two people are injured after a vehicle crash on SR356 about a mile North of Orr Road in Allegheny Township.

The incident occurred near the 6:00 pm hour involving two vehicles on a straight stretch of road which was initially reported to be a crash involving pediatrics and entrapment. Sources at the scene said there were no children involved in the crash just car seats and groceries on the highway.

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

It was reported two females were trapped and had to be rescued from their vehicles. The extent of their injuries are unknown. Rescue crews cut part of the windshield and roof away from a Chevy Equinox to extricate the trapped driver. A Chevrolet Cobalt sustained heavy damage to the front end and the driver’s door had to be cut from the vehicle. The Chevy Equinox was approximately 150′ South of the Cobalt on its side with front end damage. It appears heavy damage to a guide rail prevented either vehicle from going over a small hillside. A heavy amount of fluids and car parts were strewn all over the roadway.

Firefighters from Markle, Allegheny Township, Vandergrift, Washington Township and Oklahoma assisted Allegheny Township Police at the scene. Washington Township and Vandergrift Police also assisted. Kockka & Son of Vandergrift was called to remove the vehicles along with a PennDOT truck for salting the roadway. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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


Shots fired; CERT standoff averted overnight in Springdale Township

Male suspect in handcuffs after averted standoff in Springdale Township

Male suspect in custody after averted standoff in Springdale Township

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 8:10 am

Springdale Township, Pa. – One man was taken into custody at a second floor apartment in the 1200 block of Butler Road after a report of shots fired outside a residence.

Springdale Township Police Chief Mike Naviglia said Todd Scherba of Archery Street in Springdale assaulted and choked a female in an upstairs bathroom. Chief Naviglia said the female was outside when police arrived and the suspect indicated he was not coming out of the residence. The female victim was removed from the incident and was in protective services of Cheswick Police near the intersection of Butler Road and Shrader Street.

A CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) request was made by police at 12:05 am after the male suspect refused to exit the residence. Chief Naviglia said he was able to apprehend Scherba after Sherba kept pacing back and forth to the door. Police were uncertain if Sherba was in possession of a firearm and after about ten minutes Sherba was apprehended by police. CERT was cancelled shortly after the request with police advising 911 dispatch they had one in custody.

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

Several police units were on scene as Lower Valley EMS was summoned to the scene to evaluate the suspects medical condition. The suspect exited the residence in handcuffs and was loaded into the EMS unit for transport to Pittsburgh Presbyterian Hospital with escort from Springdale Township Police.

Springdale Township Police Chief Mike Naviglia said police would be back to the residence Thursday morning with a search warrant to look for additional evidence of guns and casings. Sherba faces numerous charges including aggravated assault, harassment, and resisting arrest.

Springdale Police was assisted by Cheswick and Springdale Borough Police.

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