Entries in West Virginia (12)


West Virginia Mayor ‘Relieved’ After Son’s Drug Arrest

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W. Va.) -- A mayor in West Virginia says the arrest of his son on drug charges might be the only way to save him and he’s “relieved” to hear about his incarceration because his son has a better chance of staying alive while in jail.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones released the statement on Thursday, hours after his 23-year-old son, Zachary, was arrested on a charge of possession with intent to deliver an ounce of cocaine.

“If in jail or prison, I know that Zac has a better chance at living than on the outside.  This is because Zac is a hopeless drug addict who has broken the heart and the will of everyone and anyone who has tried to help him,” Jones said in a statement obtained by ABC News affiliate WCHS-TV.

Zachary Jones was arrested along with Moldavian Harris, a 24-year-old from Detroit, and is being held at the South Central Regional Jail on $25,000 bail, WCHS reported.

“This arrest comes on top of a DUI arrest in 2008 and a heroin possession arrest in 2010,” Danny Jones said.

Danny Jones, in his statement, said he has never lobbied for favorable treatment during his son’s past troubles and even told police of Zachary’s whereabouts prior to his 2010 arrest.

“I know there are a few parents that will read this and relate to the heartbreak I feel,” the Republican mayor said.  “I plead with those in the law enforcement, judicial, jail and prison system to treat my son no better or worse than any other defendant.  My son does not need anyone to save him from taking this life saving fall.”

Zachary Jones was pulled over for speeding when a Metro Drug Unit officer found 25.7 grams of cocaine in the vehicle, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court, WCHS reported.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Convicted West Virginia Mine Supervisor Sentenced to 21 Months

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nearly three years after one of the deadliest mining disasters in modern times, another top official from the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia is going to prison.

Former superintendent Gary May was sentenced Thursday to 21 months after he was convicted last year of falsifying records, disabling a methane gas monitor and tipping off workers ahead of inspections at the mine.

Twenty-nine workers were killed by an explosion at the mine in April 2010.  Prosecutors said that the blast was the result of then-owner Massey Energy allowing methane and dust to build up.

Last year, former Upper Big Branch security chief Hughie Elbert Stover got three years in prison for lying to investigators.  He failed to win his case on appeal and is now in jail.

The mine's new owner, Alpha Natural Resources, is also paying $210 million in damages as the result of the deadly explosion.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Abused West Virginia Wife Allegedly Treated Like 'Slave' 

West Virginia Regional Jail(PARKERSBURG, W.Va.) -- A West Virginia man is accused of torturing his wife for nearly a decade, keeping her as a "slave" in their home, burning her flesh with a hot iron and frying pans, and keeping her shackled while she delivered a still-born baby, according to police.

Peter Lizon, 37, will be charged Friday with malicious wounding. He is currently in jail awaiting a hearing on $300,000 bond and has yet to enter a plea.

Lizon was arrested after his wife, Stephanie Lizon, 43, fled her husband on July 2 while the two went to return a roto-tiller at an equipment rental store in Parkersburg. Stephanie sought refuge in the store's back office and employees there offered to call police. She refused their help in contacting the authorities, but accepted their help in finding a battered women's shelter.

According to the criminal complaint, confirmed by police, officials at the shelter described Stephanie as "gaunt and filthy" and covered in scars and burns, including one in the shape of a clothes iron on one breast. She had "mutilated and swollen feet," according to a witness interviewed by police.

Stephanie told officials she was treated like a "slave" and made to kneel before Lizon each time she entered a room for nearly 10 years since the couple moved to West Virginia from Maryland.

She said she was shackled to a bed when she delivered a still-born baby, which Lizon later buried on the property of their farm in Leroy, W.Va.

The date of that delivery is currently unknown. The couple also has a 1-year-old son, who was born under similar circumstances, officials said.

According to police records, Stephanie's burns and wounds were photographed at the shelter. Police says they have 45 images depicting abuse. On July 5, officers executed a search warrant of the couple's home and seized items that included a Sunbeam iron.

Jackson County sheriff deputies said neither member of the couple had police records in West Virginia, but they were arrested together in Maryland in 2004, after shredding a Bush-Cheney campaign sign with a bayonet, according to reports.

"The allegations are heinous, but the real question is whether the allegations are meritorious," said Lizon's defense attorney Shawn Bayless. "The allegations are a fabrication, levied by a third party and everyone is rushing to judgment."

"A domestic battery charge is noticeably absent. The facts will bear out what did or did not happen," he said.

County prosecutors would not comment on the charges until the hearing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


West Virginia House Fire: Ninth Victim, a 7-Year-Old Boy, Dies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- A ninth victim, a 7-year-old boy, died on Sunday from the tragic house fire in Charleston, W.Va., that killed two adults and six other children.

Bryan Timothy Camp was taken off life support this morning.

"I talked to our, what would be our emergency services chaplain, and he was there ... when the young man was taken off the ventilator," Charleston Assistant Fire Chief Bob Sharp said.

Sharp said the firefighters who were first on the scene Saturday will be offered counseling when they return to work on Monday.

"When you hold a young child in your hands, especially if you know that there's no chance that they survived, that's tough on anybody and then, some of these had children of their own, you know, it's almost like holding their own child in their arms," he said.

Sharp told ABC News that officials do not believe it was a case of arson, but are investigating how the early-morning blaze started.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fire in West Virginia Home That Was Overdue for Inspection Called Worst in 40 Years

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- The Charleston, W.Va., home where eight people were killed in a fast-moving fire was supposed to be inspected last month, but the fire department official was turned away because there was no adult home, city officials said on Saturday.

"If we had gotten in to inspect we might have saved a lot of lives," Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said. "One of the messages we got out of this tragedy we need to have inspectors."

Two adults and six children under the age of eight died in the fire, officials said, and one child remains on life support. The home had only one working smoke detector, and it was not in a location where it would have helped, city officials said.

The victims -- a man and two children, his girlfriend's two children, and his girlfriend's sister and her two children -- appear to have been sleeping when they died, officials said.

"These bodies looked like they were frozen in time, like a statue," Jones said.

The man's girlfriend escaped the two-story dwelling around 3:30 a.m. and called 911 from a neighbor's home. An ambulance and fire trucks arrived within four minutes, but the house had already burned down.

Assistant Fire Chief Bob Sharp told ABC News that officials are investigating how the blaze started.

Jones said officials do not believe it was a case of arson.

According to the mayor, inspectors were supposed to check the home on Feb. 28, and had received permission from the woman who owned and managed the home. But when inspectors arrived, they were told by a juvenile to come back when an adult was at home.

Sharp said the house did not have any smoke detectors installed on the ceilings, however, one was placed under a counter, but wouldn't have been able to detect the inferno in time to warn the occupants of the home.

"Where it was at, it wouldn't have helped at all," Sharp said. "I've been here 26 years and never had this many fatalities period, especially involving children in a single family dwelling."

Officials said there needs to be at least one smoke detector on the first floor and one in every bedroom.

"Had they abided by international property maintenance code a lot of people would've been alive that aren't alive today," said Jones.

For now, investigators are sifting through the debris, hoping to find clues of what caused what they called the worst fire in Charleston's history.

"I mean it was quite a hot fire, you know coming out, fully involved out the front, it had already vented itself, so we know there was no survivability in the front room at all," Sharp said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Adults and Six Children Dead in West Virginia Slumber Party Fire

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- Flames engulfed a Charleston, W.Va. home early Saturday morning killing eight people, including a group of children.

Six children, all under the age of eight years old, died in the fire, officials said.

One child remained on life support, ABC affiliate WCHS reported.

The victims, who are unidentified, were two sisters and their children, neighbors told the station.

An adult woman escaped the two story dwelling around 3:30 a.m. and called 911 from a neighbor's home.

Assistant Fire Chief Bob Sharp told ABC News that officials are investigating how the blaze started.

Sharp said the house did not have any smoke detectors installed on the ceilings, however one was placed under a counter but wouldn't have been able to detect the inferno in time to warn the occupants of the home.

"Where it was at, it wouldn't have helped at all," Sharp said. "I've been here 26 years and never had this many fatalities period and especially involving children in a single family dwelling."

For now, investigators are sifting through the debris, hoping to find clues of what caused what they called the worst fire in Charleston's history.

"I mean it was quite a hot fire, you know coming out, fully involved out the front, it had already vented itself, so we know there was no survivability in the front room at all," Sharp said.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones will hold a press conference this afternoon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


West Virginia School Shut Down after Meth Residue Found

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(BOONE COUNTY, W.Va.) -- A West Virginia school where the principal and a teacher were arrested for allegedly smoking meth has been shut down because meth residue was found in the building's duct system.

Boone County officials shut down Boone County Career and Technical Center on July 22.

"There were positive tests that came back for the residue of methamphetamines," West Virginia Department of Education Spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro told ABC News. "What we had were micrograms, a very small amount, but nonetheless we're being very proactive...until we absolutely know that this is cleaned up and the health and safety of the students is number one."

The vocational school will reopen once the residue is cleaned up.

Cordeiro said that this is the first school in West Virginia to be shut down because of methamphetamine contamination.

Exposure to low levels of meth residue can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said.

Individuals might get sick from inhaling toxic substances at a site where meth ingredients were used or from inhaling second hand smoke from individuals using the drug, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Resources. It also warned that if someone's skin is exposed to a surface contaminated with meth, that can pose a health risk too.

Meth residue was found in the school's duct system and the main office, WCHS reported.

"As the smoke would raise it gets in the duct work and it's spread throughout the school system," West Virginia State Police Sgt. A.S. Perdue told ABC News affiliate WCHS.

It was recommended, not required, that the school shut down. School officials do not believe the school was used as a meth lab where the meth was both cooked and smoked.

The testing of the school was prompted after West Virginia State Police alerted the Department of Health and Human Resources in June that methamphetamines may have been smoked by a teacher and a principal at the school.

In May, Principal Keith Phipps and teacher Jack Turley were arrested as part of a months long investigation that alleges they smoked meth on the school's campus, WCHS reported. They were both suspended by district officials.

Turley confessed to state police that he bought Sudafed pills from a man, converted them to methamphetamine, and smoked it at the school, WCHS reported.

The vocational school teaches 450 students during the school year. This summer, about 20 students were attending classes, Cordeiro said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Massey Energy At Fault In Fatal West Virginia Mine Explosion

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An independent report issued Thursday blames mine operator Massey Energy for last year's deadly West Virginia coal mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 men.

The report lists three major safety violations:

  • Not enough ventilation to clear dangerous gases.
  • Too much coal dust which, when ignited, causes a powerful explosion.
  • Water sprayers on the coal cutting machine were inadequate. Out of 30 nozzles on one part of the machine, seven were missing. Of 23 on another part, nine nozzles were clogged. The spray of water would have prevented any ignition.

According to the report, the mining machine hit a rock and created a spark, which ignited a pocket of gas. The crew saw it and shut down the machine, the report says, but the fireball moved and hit the coal dust. It was not one explosion, but a series of massive blasts that spanned two miles of the mine, the report says.

While Massey Energy is the main party at fault, the report also criticizes federal and state regulators for "failing to use all the tools at their disposal" to protect the miners.

Of the 29 dead, 19 died of carbon monoxide intoxication. The other 10 fatalities stemmed from injuries caused by the blast.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


One Year Later: West Virginia Miners' Families Seek Answers, Healing

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images(MONTCOAL, W.Va.) -- One year after an explosion ripped through the Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, W.Va., killing 29 men, survivors say they're still searching for answers amid what remains an overwhelming sense of loss.

"There just ain't no peace out there right now. There just isn't," said Charles Davis, 76, who lost his son Timmy, 51, and grandsons, Cory, 21, and Joshua, 27, in the accident.  "My boy, he was everything," he said, fighting back tears. "I can't look at the pictures. I can't say their names. The only thing I'd like to know is why it happened. I'm still waiting."

Federal and state investigators, initially hampered by lingering toxic gas, standing water and debris inside the blown-out mine, still have not released an official report on the cause of the explosion. But sources close to the investigation say a buildup of methane or natural gas in the mine shaft, ignited by a spark from a piece of mining machinery and fueled by combustible dust swirling in the air, was likely to blame.

The Upper Big Branch mine accident was the country's deadliest in more than 40 years.

Officials with Massey Energy, which owns the mine, have said an unexpected flood of gas seeping from an underground crack probably overwhelmed the mine's ventilation system just before the explosion.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which enforces U.S. mine safety standards, however, has said Massey may have failed to follow the law. The company racked up more than 1,300 safety violations over the past five years, including 80 in the past month alone, MSHA records show. Many were deemed willful or gross negligence. And as recent as one month before the accident, records show inspectors cited the company for high levels of explosive dust, poor ventilation and flawed escape route plans at the Upper Big Branch facility.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


W.Va. Governor Remembers Upper Big Branch Miners Killed One Year Ago

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is planning on Tuesday to observe a day of prayer and remembrance for the 29 men killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine one year ago.  Tomblin issued a proclamation last Friday requesting that statewide observances honoring the victims begin Tuesday at 3:01 p.m.

"One year ago, 29 hard-working miners perished," Tomblin said in a written statement.  "In their memory, I request that every church in our state ring its bell 29 times at 3:01 p.m."

The governor noted that 3:01 p.m. is the estimated time of the Upper Big Branch explosion.

Gov. Tomblin will also lay a wreath at the Miner's Statue on W. Va. State Capitol grounds.  Later Tuesday evening, the governor plans to attend a memorial service in Whiteville, W. Va. with the families of the dead miners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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