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Alabama

January 15, 2014 - 7:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Darien, Stafford, Alabama.

Angela Irene, 44, of South Grand Road, Medina, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Irene was arrested as a result of reports on The Batavian and OrleansHub of a purse being stolen from a shopping cart in the parking lot of the Batavia Walmart and a gift card subsequently being used to purchase a cake at the Walmart in Albion. As a result of the publication of the surveillance photo from the Albion Walmart, the suspect turned herself in to local law enforcement. The Sheriff's Office also received numerous phone calls identifying the suspect. The case was handled by Investigator Kristopher Kautz and Deputy James Diehl.

Jillian E. Dibble, of Akron, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Dibble was stopped at 7:50 a.m. Sunday on Route 77 at Reynolds Road, Darien, by State Police.

Alexander E. Dills, 23, of Stafford, is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, possession of a hypodermic instrument, unlawful possession of marijuana, criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, and aggravated unlicensed operation. Dills was arrested by State Police at 8:55 a.m. Saturday. No further details released.

Darrnell J. Barnes, 51, of Alabama, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Barnes was stopped at 7:42 p.m. Saturday on Alleghany Road in Alabama by State Police.

January 9, 2014 - 2:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, elba, Oakfield, fire, Alabama.

A house fire is reported at 2884 E. Shelby Road, between Burns and Crane roads. Fire is "in the wall with flames seen." Oakfield Fire Department is responding, along with mutual aid from Alabama, Town of Batavia and Elba.

UPDATE 2:17 p.m.: Upon arriving, the fire chief reports no fire seen.

UPDATE 2:21 p.m.: The chief is holding everything to equipment already in route. Cancelling Town of Batavia.

UPDATE 2:29 p.m.: Alabama and Elba units returning, in service.

January 2, 2014 - 7:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Alabama.

Investigators found no mechanical issues with a car that crashed on Ledge Road, Alabama, in August, and split in two after striking a utility pole.

The accident claimed the the life of a 10-year-old Batavia boy.

The findings are part of a final accident report filed in October and obtained today by The Batavian through a Freedom of Information Law request.

The driver, the boy's father, Shawn P. Wolcott, told investigators the day of the accident that he had taken the car into mechanics several times because of issues with the steering and that prior to the accident he felt the car wobble and heard a pop or a knock.

Deputy Nathan Balduf, certified by the state for post-accident mechanical inspections, thoroughly examined Wolcott's 2004 Chrysler 300 and found no mechanical deficiencies that would have contributed to the accident.

Sgt. Bill Scott, a lead investigator for the Crash Management Team, concluded in his report that all the evidence pointed to the sedan drifting off the road either because Wolcott fell asleep, became unconscious or was otherwise distracted.

The Chrysler's front passenger fender struck a utility pole on Ledge Road. "After initial contact," according to the report, "the vehicle rotated counter-clockwise causing the vehicle to split in half."

Wolcott, who was uninjured in the crash, exited the front half of the vehicle as soon as it came to rest, according to witnesses, and pulled his son, Shawn Jr., from the back passenger seat.

One person reported seeing somebody performing CPR on the child.

Shawn Jr., was flown by Mercy Flight to Mothers and Childrens Hospital in Buffalo. He died five days later.

Wolcott told investigators he was driving to the reservation to buy a carton of cigarettes.

The accident was reported at 8:18 a.m.

Two people -- including his estranged wife and a person on probation with multiple arrests -- reported to authorities that Wolcott had been partying the night before and consumed drugs and alcohol. Wolcott denied the accusation to investigators.

Deputy Lonnie Nati, a certified drug-use recognition expert, was the first deputy on scene and did not detect the odor of alcohol on Wolcott and observed nothing to indicate Wolcott had consumed any drugs.

Investigators were also told that Wolcott was transporting two bags of marijuana in the trunk of his car, but a thorough search of the vehicle turned up no cannabis, though baggies were found that may have contained marijuana (based on odor) at one time.

Wolcott did have a prescription for hydrocodone for carpal tunnel pain in his wrists and he told investigators he had taken a pill the morning of the accident, but he'd been taking the prescription for years without incident.

According to the report, within the three years prior to the accident, Wolcott had taken the car in for service or repairs at multiple local garages, including Monroe Muffler, Midas, Dunn Tire, Castilone Chrysler, Chesley Automotive and Zirbel Automotive.

One person at an automotive shop told an investigator that Wolcott treated the car "like it's his only possession."

Wolcott told an investigator that a mechanic at Castilone, where the car was taken in April, said that the balance was missing from the rack and pinion and that the rack and pinion would need to be replaced.

The repair, he said, would cost $1,200, which he couldn't afford.

Repair receipts obtained by investigators from Castilone mention nothing about any problem with the rack and pinion, though notes indicate that Wolcott did complain about the handling and steering of the car. Wolcott reportedly told a mechanic that the "left front wheel feels like it's going to fall off."

The right front caliper, front rotors and pads were replaced during that visit.

In March, 2010, Wolcott had the front sway bar links replaced at Chesley's.

The struts were replaced by Monroe in late August, 2010. Monroe did alignments on the car in early August, 2010, late August, 2010 and September, 2010. Chesley's did a wheel balance in October of that year.

January 1, 2014 - 10:25am
posted by Billie Owens in elba, Oakfield, fire, Alabama, east pembroke.

A possible chimney fire is reported at 6842 Fisher Road, Oakfield. Flames were seen shooting from the chimney, but no flames or smoke are showing now, says a firefighter. The residence has been evacuated. Oakfield fire is on scene. Mutual aid response was cancelled but units are asked to stand by in their quarters from Alabama, Elba and East Pembroke.

UPDATE 10:41 a.m.: Oakfield fire back in service.

December 30, 2013 - 7:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Basom, accident, Alabama.

A car has hit a building at 852 Bloomingdale Road, Basom, the Arrowhawk Smokeshop, and a person is reportedly unconscious.

Alabama fire and Mercy EMS responding.

UPDATE 8:40 a.m.: Alabama back in service.

December 26, 2013 - 11:38am
posted by Billie Owens in Alabama, accidents.

A car reportedly rolled over and careened into water, of undetermined depth, just south of the Orleans County line on Route 63. Unknown injuries, but a witness reported one person trapped on the passenger side. Alabama fire and Mercy medics are responding along with mutual aid from Shelby, whose crew will be wearing water rescue gear. Mercy Flight is unavailable due to weather.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m.: About five people at the scene have been attempting to extricate two victims, who told them they had been in the water for two hours. A tow truck will try and pull the vehicle out, which is "completely upside down, only the back wheels sticking out of the water right now." Route 63 at Roberts Road will be shut down to southbound traffic.

UPDATE 11:44 p.m.: The incident is so close to the county line, but it's deemed to be just over the line in Orleans. Mercy medics from Genesee County have arrived along with Alabama fire.

UPDATE 11:50 p.m.: Both victims have been extricated and are inside the ambulance.

UPDATE 11:58 p.m.: At least one of the patients is being taken to the hospital in Medina.

UPDATE 12:06 p.m.: Dispatch is informed that Orleans County is in command of the accident scene and Alabama is assisting.

UPDATE 2:09 p.m. (by Howard): One person is dead as a result of this accident, the Orleans County Sheriff's Office has confirmed. The names of the victims have not yet been released, but the male occupant of the vehicle was pronounced dead at Medina Memorial Hospital. The female occupant is being treated at the hospital.

According to the OCSO, the vehicle was southbound on Route 63 at 11:35 a.m. when the driver apparently lost control. The vehicle crossed the center line and left the roadway on the east side of Route 63 and overturned, coming to rest in flooded swampland.

A Shelby Fire Department pumper pulled the vehicle out of the water and onto the roadway. Both occupants were extricated and transported by ground ambulance to Medina. 

The male occupant was pronounced dead at 12:31 p.m.

Deputy J.W. Halstead, OCSO, responded to the incident. He was assisted by sergeants D.W. Covis and G.T. Gunkler, and Investigator C.L. Black. State Troopers stationed at both Albion and Batavia also assisted at the scene. The incident remains under investigation by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

UPDATE 6:01 p.m.: The Orleans County Sheriff's Office has released the identities of the two people involved in the crash in the Town of Shelby. The driver of the 1998 Pontiac sedan is David M. Russo, 43, of Stafford, who died at Medina Memorial Hospital at 12:31 p.m. His female passenger was Lisa A. Stanley, 40, of Le Roy, who was treated at MMH, then transferred to Highland Hospital in Rochester. The press release from Orleans County Undersheriff Steven D. Smith concludes "While the incident remains under investigation, it’s apparent that weather and slippery road conditions were contributing factors."

December 24, 2013 - 8:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

When Colin Phillips returned to his Vermont home, he thought about how well his Muck Boots performed while he was stranded in the middle of a frozen swamp on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

He thought about one of the firefighters who helped rescue him. That firefighter didn't have Muck Boots. His boots leaked. They filled with water. He was in danger of frostbite. That firefighter was airlifted out of the swamp before Phillips. The rescuer was rescued first.

So Phillips sent a letter to the Muck Boot Company and suggested maybe they could send a pair of Muck Boots, perhaps for free, to this firefighter.

Last night, that firefighter, Ryan Thompson, along with every other member of the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department, received a free pair of Muck Boots, courtesy the Muck Boot Company.

Phillips drove in from Vermont to help hand out the boots.

"I wanted to show my appreciation," Phillips said. "A lot of people, get rescued and you never hear from them again. I wanted these guys to know I appreciate the small town kind of life and how people are out here."

Alabama Chief Gary Patnode said the media recognition and the gift are a great morale boost for members of his department. It's nice, he said, to have their volunteer efforts recognized.

"Typically, since we're a non-transporting agency, we load somebody in the back of an ambulance and that's the last time we see them," Patnode said. "Unless (the patient) is related to one of the members, we don't get any kind of follow-up.

"This is a good thanks for what we do," Patnode said.

Previously:

Thompson and Phillips

As soon as Thompson got his new boots, he put them on. "I'm sleeping in them," he said.

December 21, 2013 - 5:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, pembroke, Alabama, indian falls.

A kitchen fire is reported at the Flying J Travel Center on Route 77 in Pembroke. Nothing is showing, according to a responder, but the restaurant is being evacuated. He also says there are no flames and that the fire is probably electrical in nature and is in the ceiling.

Pembroke, Indian Falls and Alabama fire departments responding, along with a ladder truck from Akron.

UPDATE 5:12 p.m.: They are going to open up the ceiling tiles. The gas and electricity are shut off. A light tower will be put up so firefighters can see the roof. A rep from National Grid is requested. A thermal imaging camera is requested.

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: Fire is out. Checking for extensions.

UPDATE 5:41 p.m.: "The roof is cleared." The public health department will be notified of the incident as required. A crew from Newstead is asked to stand by in Pembroke Fire Hall.

UPDATE 5:46 p.m.: Town of Pembroke Code Enforcement will be notified of the incident as required.

UPDATE 7:21 p.m. (by Howard): The Alabama assignment is back in service, but the restaurant remains close pending code enforcement clearance.

December 21, 2013 - 1:28pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Oakfield, fire, Alabama.

A house fire with light smoke showing is reported at 32 S. Main St. in Oakfield. Mercy medics are on scene and Oakfield Fire Department is responding along with mutual aid from the Town of Batavia and the city's Fast Team. Alabama is asked to fill in at the Oakfield hall.

UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: Alabama is asked to reroute and go to the scene.

UPDATE 1:38 p.m.: National Grid is called to the scene. No ETA.

UPDATE 1:41 p.m.: A thermal imaging camera is requested.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: Elba Fire Police are called to shut down traffic at Orchard and Main, and at Main and South Pearl. The fire is knocked down. They are checking for extensions.

December 20, 2013 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Basom, Alabama.

A 49-year-old woman reported last week as missing is not missing, according to State Police.

According to NYSP, Joy Howard walked into a police station (the location or agency was not disclosed) and told authorities that she was not missing and she is in good health.

December 13, 2013 - 12:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Alabama.

An Alabama man was convicted of child sexual abuse by a Genesee County jury this morning following a nearly two week trial.

Earl Francis Sprague, 42, of 1366 Church St., Alabama, was indicted by a grand jury on 28 criminal counts of sexual abuse as well as three counts of criminal contempt.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on those 31 counts. He was found not guilty of criminal solicitation, which stemmed from an allegation that he tried to hire a hit man to take out a witness against him.

Sprague still faces a possible trial on additional felonies contained in another grand jury indictment, including predatory sexual assault, two counts of first-degree burglary, first-degree sexual abuse, assault, 1st, and four counts of criminal contempt, 2nd.

Sprague was tried on charges that he repeatedly molested two children in 1997, 1999 and in 2001.

December 10, 2013 - 7:59pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in accident, Alabama.

The Alabama Fire Department is on scene at 5912 Knowlesville Road with a car partially submerged in the water.

The driver called 9-1-1 after the vehicle began to fill up with water after going off the road into the swamp.

Alabama fire units on scene say the victim has been extricated and other emergency personnel can come in non-emergency. The Shelby Fire Water Rescue unit will not be needed.

 

December 3, 2013 - 1:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, byron, Darien, Alabama.

These are the latest indictments issued by the Genesee County Grand Jury.

Patrick E. Sewar is indicted for first-degree sexual abuse, a Class D felony, for allegedly subjecting another person under the age of 11 to sexual contact on June 24 in the Town of Darien.

Saul D. Standsblack is indicted for second-degree burglary, a Class C violent felony, for allegedly knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a dwelling on Bloomingdale Road in the Town of Alabama on Oct. 13 with the intent to commit a crime.

Michael B. Kropp is indicted for driving while intoxicated, a Class D felony, for allegedly operating a 1995 Ford on June 17 on Freeman Road and Ivison Road, Town of Byron, while intoxicated. In count two, he is further accused of aggravated driving while intoxicated, also a Class D felony, for allegedly having a BAC of .18 or more at the time. In count three, he is indicted for aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony, for operating a motor vehicle at the time of the incident while knowing or having reason to know that his driving license was suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn, and the defendant was driving while allegedly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

December 2, 2013 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Basom, crime, pembroke, Alabama, corfu, bergen.

Dustin Michael Locicero, 29, of Gibson Street, Bergen, is charged with forgery 2nd. Locicero was arrested following an investigation into a complaint of a stolen check and its forged use at a location in the City of Batavia. Locicero was jailed without bail.

Thomas E. Newcomb, 42, of 27 E. Main St., Le Roy, is charged with harassment, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Newcomb is accused of striking a woman in the face with his hand during an argument.

Brandon David Gendron, 25, of Judge Road, Basom, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, uninspected motor vehicle and failure to keep right. Gendron was stopped at 11:25 p.m. Fridayon Fotch Road, Stafford, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Stephen Joseph Peters, 18, of Wyoming Road, Warsaw, is charged with petit larceny. Peters accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

David William Buchholtz, 54, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Buchholtz is accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

Harry Lee Flatt, 68, of Fruit Avenue, Medina, is charged with felony DWI, felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, failure to keep right and moving from lane unsafely.

Donald Anthony Irwin, 43, of Main Road, Stafford, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon. Irwin was allegedly found in possession of a metal knuckle knife following a property damage accident at 9:12 p.m. Thursday in the Walmart parking lot.

Michael J. Wall, 39, of Oak Orchard Road, Elba, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing and endangering the welfare of a child. Wall was arrested following an investigation into an alleged domestic incident reported at 6:40 a.m., Nov. 23.

Christopher Brian King, 22, of Pearl Street Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. King is accused of ordering food at the Denny's in Pembroke and leaving without paying for the food.

Dana Robert Devin Cipra, 21, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Cipra was arrested following a traffic stop at 12:47 a.m. Thursday on Route 77, Corfu, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Danielle M. Stevens, 37, of Ford Road, Elba, is charged with petit larceny. Stevens was arrested after a check of video surveillance footage indicated she allegedly stole two vacuums from Walmart.

Robert Allen Norway, 40, of Lake Avenue, Rochester, is charged with violation of a Family Court order. Norway was arrested on a warrant out of Family Court.

November 25, 2013 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Alabama, corfu.

Patrick Raymond Krieger, 23, of Exchange Street, Akron, is charged with burglary 2nd, criminal contempt, 1st, menacing, 2nd. Krieger was arrested in the Town of Amherst after a brief foot pursuit by State Police, the Cheektowaga PD, Amherst PD and the Erie County Sheriff's Office. Krieger was turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Offices on charges stemming from an alleged incident reported in the Village of Corfu at 7:10 a.m., Friday. He was jailed on $30,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond.

Shannon L. Smith, 37, of 2 Goad Park, upper, Batavia, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Smith was arrested following an investigation into a disturbance at 96 River St., Batavia.

Philip E. Wolfe, 58, of Alabama, is charged with petit larceny. Wolfe was arrested by State Police. No further details released.

Daniel T. Henning, 33, of Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Henning was arrested by State Police. No further details released.

November 25, 2013 - 1:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Alabama, hunting, outdoors, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

At 4:38 p.m., Bill Schutt, Alabama fire's assistant chief, is reminded the sun sets in three minutes.

"That's what I'm worried about," he says. "It's not just light. It gets colder."

His chief is out on an island in the midst of frigid water with a hunter who became stranded in the swamps of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on a day when temperatures dipped into the teens. One firefighter, who was with the chief, is at risk of frostbite after his boots filled with water while trying to reach the hunter.

It's too risky for the firefighters to walk out, even though they've located the hunter and he's in good health.

The hunter called for help at 2:30 in the afternoon. He started hunting at 12:30. He called for help, he said later, having spent an hour in the icy waters of the swamp tracking a deer he'd shot.

"At first the water wasn't too deep," said Colin Phillips, here from Vermont to hunt. "I was hopping from island to island out there and then it started getting deeper and deeper and I'm breaking through the ice. Finally, I reached an island and went about 50 yards and I couldn't go any further. I was exhausted."

His hands were freezing because he didn't have any gloves, but was otherwise appropriately dressed for the conditions. It was so cold that after his gun got wet it jammed with ice. He couldn't even fire a shot to alert rescuers to his location.

He was found with the help of a State Police helicopter and good tracking by Alabama Chief Gary Patnode.

As sunset neared, a hovercraft from Clarence Center returned from its crew's effort to reach the stranded hunter and the two firefighters. 

The sticks and logs popped nearly ever single floatation tube from around the boat. 

One of the crew members said that when they were about halfway to the location, the boat's stern took a nosedive into the water and that's when most of the damage was done.

The crew decided to be safe and make its way back to the shore.

"We realized, it's just a machine," he said. "It can be repaired."

As the sun's light wanes outside the command center, Jim Bouton, a coordinator with the Office of Emergency Management, learns that the weather had cleared enough for the State Police helicopter to return to the scene.

The helicopter isn't really equipped to hoist people from the ground, so the plan is for the chopper to hover right on top of the ice and pull one person at a time into the craft.

Bouton relays the plan to Schutt and looks skeptical.

"We need a plan C," he says.

A little later, scene commanders learn the helicopter from the Erie County Sheriff's Office will attempt the rescue. The two-man crew can deploy a hoist.

"I'm usually the type to remain calm and I was confident enough in our resources and our fire companies that I knew we were eventually going to get out," Patnode said after he returned safely to Casey Road. "We were already working on plans B, C and D."

When the rescue effort first started, Schutt noted, it seemed straightforward enough. Dispatchers were able to provide coordinates of the stranded hunter and he wasn't too difficult to find.

But getting him out safely proved to be harder than expected.

"The amount of water they had to go through, lightly frozen over, was the problem the hunter ran into in the first place," Schutt said. "Our firefighters could not have safely gotten back because they would have had to walk back through the water."

Alabama firefighters have all recently been through wilderness rescue training and Patnode had Thompson carrying a backpack equipped with what rescuers would need in a wilderness situation.

Except for a kit to start a fire.

"If I could have started a fire, I would have," Patnode said.

The idea of a nighttime rescue in the wilderness certainly carried an innate sense of risk.

"Any time you have a helicopter operating in the dark close to trees and people, it's definitely an elevated level of danger," said Andy Merkle, who worked the scene during most of the incident as operations manager.

His job was to keep an track of all the people and resources going in so they could be accounted for coming out.

"We want to make sure we don't come up with any more victims," Merkle said.

The first person rescued was Ryan Thompson, the firefighter with the cold feet. He was fine and was out walking around after a few minutes of rehab in an ambulance.

Thompson expressed nothing but confidence in his chief and his fellow firefighters. He said he never felt like it was a desperate situation.

"I knew it was our job and they would get us out some how," Thompson said.

Phillips was the next one brought back to the command post on Casey Road.

Upon his return, the demeanor of his brother and a friend who had been pacing the road for more than two hours went from fretful to joyous.

"You go from being absolutely terrified to utter rejoicing in the matter of two hours," said friend Matthew Laflair.

Laflair had some familiarity with the swamp area and knew what firefighters were up against.

"I know how tough it is to get back there, so to see the effort is good," Laflair said. "It's impressive to see a helicopter pulling some people out of here."

Patnode was the third person airlifted out of the swamp. He was also impressed by the effort of the Erie County pilot.

"I think he went above and beyond," Patnode said. "Maybe he went out of his comfort zone doing a night rescue like that, but he got the job done."

There were two other members of the Alabama team who got stranded in the woods. They were brought out by members of the Clarence Center Fire Department who were dressed in cold-water rescue suits.

In all, volunteers from fire departments in Genesee, Orleans, Erie and Niagara counties assisted in the rescue of Phillips.

"I owe them my life," Phillps said. "If they didn't come out and get me, I'd be dead tonight. I appreciate every second of it. They're great people."

Patnode, Thompson, Schutt, all said, "this is what we do."

So what can we say about that?

"I think you say 'Thank you,' " Schutt said. "I don't know what more you can say than that.

"These guys are out here, no paycheck," Schutt added. "They've been out here in the cold for hours, but it's something you do for your community. When you're part of a volunteer fire department, somebody calls for help, you go help. It's not something you complain about. None of these guys are going to complain about being out here cold and away from home for hours."

The initial post on this incident by Billie Owens contains a lot of details in chronological order of how the rescue went down. If you haven't read it, read it.

Bill Schutt, communicating with dispatchers early in the incident.

Patnode, center of the picture, after being airlifted from the swamp.

Top photo, Colin Phillips escorted to an ambulance after being rescued.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

November 24, 2013 - 2:34pm
posted by Billie Owens in Alabama.

A hunter is reportedly stranded in the middle of the swamp in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. He called dispatch on his mobile phone seeking help and they used GPS to track his position. "He's obviously cold," and not injured, but possibly has hypothermia. The man, whose vehicle has out-of-state license plates, shot a deer and tracked it well into the swamp. He has fallen down in the swamp several times and is now chest-deep in icy water. Rescuers are staging at 968 Casey Road. Alabama Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding, along with reps from the Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Forest Service. Mercy Flight is on ground standby.

UPDATE 2:36 p.m.: The State Police helicopter is available if needed.

UPDATE 2:37 p.m.: The hunter has been tracked to "smack dab in the middle" of two large bodies of water between Casey and Feeder roads. An ATV is at the rescuers' disposal, too.

UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: "I have a group of guys going in there on foot," says the Alabama fire chief. A crew from Lyndonville is requested to fill in at Alabama Station #2.

UPDATE 2:48 p.m.: Command says "Do you still have phone contact with him? Ask him to fire off one round into the air so we've got a bearing." The dispatcher replies "I'll see if he's got a whistle. ... The firearm is frozen to the point that he can't even unload it."

UPDATE 2:55 p.m.: Command says "He tells dispatch he can hear something, so maybe you guys are close." They want dispatch to ask the victim "to ping his cell" -- and/or a crew member's 9-1-1 call -- so they can see if indeed they are getting close. The crew on foot has spotted fresh boot prints on the ground. The original ATV is out of commission but two more are headed to the scene. Alexander Fire Department is assembling in its hall for possible deployment of its Gator.

UPDATE 3:01 p.m.: The State Police Helicopter has been deployed and rescuers "have a visual on it." It is hovering just west of command. The foot crew of four firefighters is northward, in the woods west of the area between two ponds where they can now see the victim. Also, a family member of the victim is on scene.

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: "We are about 80 yards away from him, we are working our way across the swamp toward him," says a member of the foot crew. Another responder asks "Is he conscious?" The reply is that he is upright. The State Police helicopter pilot says heavy lake effect show is moving in from the Northwest and he won't be able to stay in place for much longer. The visibility is very low and, besides, he could see no place to land. He provides rescuers with the exact geographic coordinates of the victim's position. A crew member reports there is solid ice around there, and they are slogging through three feet of water, and the Gator probably can't get back there. So the hovercraft from Clarence Center is called for and stand-by crews from Clarenden and Shelby.

UPDATE 3:22 p.m.: Foot crew members are going to be sent back. The State Police helicopter has gone back to the hangar. Command says they have both the pilot's coordinates and compass coordinates, but it's difficult to discern where access paths may be. A crew member said they have so far gone 300 yards in knee-deep water and doubt that ATVs could be useful in that terrain. They await the hovercraft from Clarence Center.

UPDATE 3:32 p.m.: "Command, he's 100 yards in front of us. He's in four feet of water."

UPDATE 3:35 p.m.: It's sounding as though the foot crew members may be in jeopardy. "We're depending on the hovercraft at this point." The ATVs won't be useful. The crew members are in three feet of water and the path, and others, are not clearly discernable. They want to see if they can get the State Police helicopter back to try and better pinpoint their location at this time for rescuers to be able to find the foot crew. But command says the weather, which prompted the helicopter to leave, is likely to prevent it from responding to the scene a second time.

UPDATE 3:41 p.m.: The helicopter, with zero visibility, cannot fly. A foot crew member says "We're east of (the victim). We're trying to find higher ground. We're surrounded by water." A person says to look for a path to the east and the crew member responds "We followed the path to the east all the way here," and it apparently can no longer be clearly seen. The hovercraft and the Clarence Center crew are at the ready, preparing to enter the swamp. A rescuer says the victim "is trying to work his way to us," and they are going to set up a rehab area in the vicinity.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: "We're on an island in the middle of water," says a foot crew member. It is announced that a patch of landing space to the west may be a possibility if Mercy Flight is needed and is able to fly. It remains on standby.

UPDATE 3:54 p.m.: Command tells the now-stranded foot crew that the hovercraft crew of four, fully suited, is going to trek in and try to retrace the tracks and locate an access point for the hovercraft.

UPDATE 4:02 p.m.: The lost hunter and members of the foot crew have met up. The hunter "has cold hands" but otherwise seems OK. They are going to remain stationary and try to stay warm. Someone has hot packs now on his feet. One of the men is going to the edge of "the island" to try and get a visual on the rescuers looking for them.

UPDATE 4:07 p.m.: Dispatch says the Forest Service is on the way, with an ETA of two hours. A responder says "Could you repeat that? The hovercraft just went zipping by."

UPDATE 4:09 p.m.: "The hovercraft is in the middle of the pond headed your way."

UPDATE 4:13 p.m.: There is some confusion. The hovercraft is said to be in the wrong pond. But someone says that its location is in sync with the coordinates provided.

UPDATE 4:16 p.m.: They have definately found a path to the stranded men. They just need "to make a plan" to get the hovercraft to them.

UPDATE 4:21 p.m.: "We're having some issues with the hovercraft. Is it possible to walk out?" "No, that's not possible. We walked through waist-deep water to get here." Several hunters are seen walking in the area, and someone asks if perhaps their location may provide an access point.

UPDATE 4:31 p.m.: It is determined that the Clarence Center hovercraft will not be able to do the job. "But we'll need a hovercraft of some kind." "Can a boat get in there?" "There's a land mass between two bodies of water."

UPDATE 4:35 p.m.: Dispatchers are contacting Erie County and the State Police, again, for aerial aid.

UPDATE 4:36 p.m.: Meanwhile, they are going to try to re-deploy the hovercraft from Clarence Center and the men are asked to listen for it. All they can do is try to stay warm and wait.

UPDATE 4:50 p.m.: The hovercraft is not going to work. "We're going to have to go with another plan." A total of five men, including the victim, need to be rescued and they are in two separate locations.

UPDATE 5:03 p.m. Concern at the scene grows as it is nearly dark and the weather is expected to get colder. A plan involving a helicopter is under way.

UPDATE 5:06 p.m.: "We're are going to send in a team for you two and then airlift the other three," command tells a stranded firefighter. "We'll sit tight," is the reply.

UPDATE 5:11 p.m.: A helicopter from Erie County is on the way with a 10-minute ETA.

UPDATE 5:14 p.m.: A water rescue team is going to attempt to extricate the pair of men in one of the locations. The helicopter and its crew will try to get the others. The pilot asks what the condition is at the scene. There's "a few flakes in the air," but otherwise it looks good.

UPDATE 5:22 p.m.: All available manpower from Alabama Fire Department is requested to the scene's command post at Lewiston and Casey roads.

UPDATE 5:27 p.m.: "Make sure a landing zone is clearly marked in case they have to land quickly."

UPDATE 5:29 p.m.: "We're hovering above but there are so many lights shining, we can't see where the victims are," says the pilot. The responders on the ground are told to shut off all lights except in the two locations were the stranded parties are.

UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: The Erie County helicopter is hovering over the ice and "will lower the basket down for the victim." A firefighter who is with the victim has a dead radio and it's not known whether they can contact him via mobile phone to let him know about the basket drop.

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: Dispatch is in phone contact with the firefighter who is with the victim and will remain in contact with him until the victim has been extricated.

UPDATE 5:44 p.m.: Dispatch is communicating now with the State Police helicopter pilot who is appearantly going to be able to return to the incident. The pilot asks about the location and is told "same spot as before but now the rescuers need rescuing." Meanwhile, the other helicopter pilot is asked whether the victim's firearm can be put aboard the helicopter with him or "will it have to be walked out?" The answer is pending.

UPDATE 5:53 p.m.: One issue has been getting wetsuits (for protecting from hypothermia) for at least two individuals needing rescue, as well as those who will be trying to get the wetsuits to them.

UPDATE 6:02 p.m.: The men who were to be led out by the water rescue team are now being told they will be airlifted out. The process in either of the victims' locations is done one person at a time, thus multiple trips by the helicopter(s).

UPDATE 6:47 p.m.: "OK we're coming out. Everyone's accounted for."

UPDATE 6:59 p.m.: "Alabama command -- all the men and equipment are accounted for. We're out."

UPDATE 7:43 p.m.: All responders are back in service. The Alabama assignment is concluded.

November 18, 2013 - 10:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Basom, crime, Pavilion, Alabama, bergen.

Thomas Monte Carlo, 57, of Lewiston Road, Basom, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, unlawful possession of marijuana and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Carlo was apprehended by Deputy Joseph Corona following a reported one-vehicle motorcycle accident at 7:23 p.m. Saturday on Lewiston Road, Basom.

Matthew James Florian, 25, of Slusser Road, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant related to an aggravated unlicensed operation charge. Florian was stopped by State Police on Route 5, Town of Batavia, and turned over to the Sheriff's Office on a warrant. Florian was jailed on $200 bail.

Michael Scott Vanburen, 46, of Alexander Road, Batavia, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, unsafe backing and consumption of alcohol in a vehicle. Vanburen was arrested after he reportedly backed his 2004 Pontiac GTO out of his driveway, across the road and into a ditch at 12:27 a.m. on Saturday.

Dana Lewis Toates, 19, of Roosevelt Highway, Hilton, is charged with unlawful possession of alcohol under age 21. Toates was reportedly a passenger in a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation and found to allegedly be in possession of alcohol.

Corey M. Vickers, 29, of Morrow Road, Pavilion, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, unlicensed operation and stopped on pavement. Vickers was charged after being observed by a Wyoming County deputy allegedly stopped on the roadway in the Town of Perry, outside of his vehicle, vomiting. Vickers' driving privilege was suspended after he allegedly failed to appear for a summons in the Village of Portville.

Alissa A. Fodge, 23, of Bergen, is charged with grand larceny, 3rd. Fodge was arrested by State Police in the Town of Barton for an alleged act reported Oct. 18. No further details released.

November 16, 2013 - 5:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in Alabama, accidents.

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported at Meadville and Salt Works roads in West Alabama. Alabama Fire Department and Mercy medics are responding.

UPDATE 5:22 p.m.: A responder on scene says all parties involved will be sign-offs. Two flatbed tow trucks are called.

UPDATE 5:43 p.m.: The Alabama assignment is back in service.

November 15, 2013 - 12:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, Alabama, Milestones, Photography by Arielle.

Press release:

Genesee Community College is pleased to recognize the entrepreneurial spirit of its students through a new Entrepreneur of the Month program. This month, 19-year old Arielle Thompson is being recognized. Arielle graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma from Oakfield-Alabama Central School in 2012 and started her business Photography by Arielle in October 2012. She is a Liberal Arts major at GCC.

Arielle has always had an interest in photography, but wasn't able to purchase the camera she needed until after high school.

"I took a basic course with a local photographer on how to use my camera and all of the settings, but other than that I am self-taught," she says. "I like to consider myself a portrait photographer because that is what I enjoy most. I enjoy being with people and being able to create something that makes them smile."

Arielle's business was born out of necessity. Her mother, Tonya Thompson, needed Arielle to take her brother Justin's senior pictures. Though she had limited experience and knowledge about taking a portrait, Arielle did it and found that everyone loved how they turned out.

"That is when I decided to try and turn that into something, because of how excited everyone seemed to have been when they saw them," she said.

While business was slow in the beginning months, Arielle saw a significant increase in interest when the weather warmed and has been surprised at the inquiries she's received.

"I never thought I would be having so many people call and ask me to take photos of their special moments," she says. "I was even given the opportunity this past June to take photos of a wedding."

Business professor Lauren Paisley is full of praise for her student.

"Arielle is an outstanding example of a student willing to do whatever it takes to succeed," Paisley said. "GCC's Entrepreneurship program, offering the option of an associate in applied science degree or certificate, is the perfect pathway for students of all ages to pursue their dream of owning their business or launching a new product or service. Arielle is a very focused student and we are supporting her efforts in every way possible."

A President's List full-time student, Arielle also has two part-time jobs in addition to her photography business.

"Many people do not understand how I am doing all of this, but photography is my stress reliever from work and school. Many people want to sit, relax and watch TV during their down time, but I would rather be taking photos," she says.

"Her commitment to success in all her endeavors is inspiring," Paisley said.

Arielle finds inspiration from the support of family and friends and the response she's received to her photographs.

"I have never received so much support for anything I have ever done like I do with my business," she says. "It is my driving force."

Arielle currently shoots on location only, but is looking for a space to set up a small indoor/outdoor studio. People interested in contacting her can find her on Facebook at Photography by Arielle.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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