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Marine killed in helicopter accident was doing rope training

In this Wednesday, April 15, 2015 file photo, a Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter sits in the sand where it made an emergency landing in Solana Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File)

JONATHAN DREW, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Marine who died during a helicopter accident at Camp Lejeune was part of a Virginia-based anti-terror and security team training on how to use ropes to access difficult terrain, officials said Friday.

Military officials identified the dead Marine as 31-year-old Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lewis from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, Company B, based in Yorktown, Virginia. He was a native of Warrenton, Virginia.

Two Marines remained hospitalized in stable condition Friday, while nine have been treated and released.

About 20 Marines from Virginia and North Carolina were participating Wednesday night in training that requires them to exit through the back of a helicopter using suspended ropes. The rappelling and fast-rope techniques allow Marines to enter terrain where helicopter landings would be difficult.

"The training requires the highest-caliber Marine," said Col. Jeffrey Kenney, officer in charge of the Expeditionary Operations Training Group. He described the training as "high-risk" but also "invaluable" because it allows Marines to deploy anywhere.

A news release said Lewis joined the Marines in 2006, and he received the Iraq Campaign Medal among other awards.

Marine officials said at a news conference that Lewis was inside the CH-53E Super Stallion when it landed harder and faster than normal around 9 p.m. in a Camp Lejeune training area. They declined to elaborate on how the accident happened or discuss the maintenance history of the helicopter.

Col. Sean Salene, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 29, said that the aircraft is damaged and that officials haven't determined whether it will return to service.

A 2003 edition of the Marines' manual for Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques warns of the potential for injury or death in the training. It also discusses how nighttime operations can be a challenge, lays out safety procedures and primes Marines on how wind from the helicopter's rotors can affect them.

It's not clear if those factors played a role; the Marines said a full investigation will take weeks or months. The National Weather Service said skies were clear and winds were calm at the time.

The helicopter was assigned to Heavy Helicopter Squadron-464, Marine Aircraft group-29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Sgt. Charles Brabec, who spoke with Lewis the day of the accident, said Lewis wasn't nervous about training, according to a news release from the Marines.

"As a matter of fact, he was super excited about doing HRST," Brabec said. "He was constantly practicing his knots for the course."

Lewis was a tremendous man, he said. "He cared tremendously about the Marines under his charge and held all of us, including himself, to a very high standard," Brabec said.

The Super Stallion, a massive, heavy-lift helicopter, is the largest in the military and considered the Marine Corps' workhorse. It stands nearly three stories tall and has a top speed of 172 mph.

It was used in Afghanistan and Iraq to ferry troops and equipment to remote bases.

In 2005, a CH-53E went down in bad weather in western Iraq, killing 30 Marines and a sailor. At the time, it was the worst loss of life for the Marines since the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 220 Marines.

In April, a Marine Corps CH-53E had to make an emergency landing on a California beach after a low oil-pressure indicator light went on in the cockpit during training. It didn't cause any damage or injuries.

Another type of helicopter — a Black Hawk — was involved in a deadly March crash off Florida in heavy fog, killing 11 service members. The military said two National Guard pilots became disoriented while switching from visual-based to instrument-based flight procedures.

Flyover used to help locate spilled oil in Mississippi River

A crew works on a damaged barge along the shore of the Mississippi River moored at Columbus-Belmont State Park in Columbus, Ky., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015.(AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)

BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press
ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard used aerial observations of the Mississippi River on Friday to try to determine the location of more than 120,000 gallons of oil that spilled after two tow boats collided, prompting the closure of that part of the river.

More than 30 vessels were backed up along the busy waterway by midday Friday as cleanup crews tried to locate the clarified slurry oil that leaked into the river. A flyover of the area was meant to help determine the extent of the cleanup.

"We're doing the overflights to get a better idea of where most of that oil is to see what we can recover, if anything," said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash.

The collision Wednesday evening near Columbus, Kentucky, damaged at least one barge carrying the slurry oil. The cargo tank ruptured, causing tens of thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the river, the Coast Guard said.

No injuries were reported.

The river was closed from mile markers 939 to 922, Petty Officer Lora Ratliff said.

The barge was carrying approximately 1 million gallons, but the breach was only in one area, affecting just one of its six tanks, Ratliff said. That tank holds 250,000 gallons, and Coast Guard Lt. Takila Powell said a little more than 120,000 gallons spilled into the river.

Slurry oil is heavier than water, so it sinks below the surface, Nash said. Oil has not been seen on the shorelines, he said.

"It goes below the surface and then it tends to collect in columns just below the surface, which has made cleanup efforts difficult," he said Friday. "The overflight was to determine what pockets are recoverable, if any."

Nash said there were no reports of fish kills.

The Coast Guard said it was working with the barge owner, Inland Marine Services, and an oil spill response organization. An Inland Marine Services spokesman has not returned calls seeking comment.

Both tow boat operators had been interviewed by Coast Guard investigators and underwent drug and alcohol testing, but results weren't back yet, Powell said.

The Coast Guard determined five barges were damaged in the collision, but nothing other than the oil leaked into the river, Powell said.

The tow boats were moored on opposite sides of the river, and a long gash was apparent in the smaller vessel.

Powell said cleanup efforts had started with the barge and that crews put a boom around the ruptured cargo tank to prevent any residual oil from leaking into the river.

The collision happened in the middle of the river channel near Columbus, Kentucky, the Coast Guard said. The cause was under investigation. The closure stretched 17 miles south to the city of Hickman.

A July 2008 spill caused by a collision between a tugboat and a barge carrying oil on the Mississippi River in New Orleans sent 282,000 gallons into the water and caused the closure of the river.


Sainz reported from Memphis. Associated Press writer Stephen Lance Dennee also contributed to this report.

Jeld-Wen makes transition to North Carolina
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon's once-largest private company has made a quiet exit, leaving its global headquarters in Klamath Falls and moving to Charlotte, North Carolina.

A spokeswoman for the multinational window-and-door manufacturer, Jeld-Wen Holdings Inc., confirmed the company's big move Thursday. Darcie Meihoff said the company's transition has been a slow one.  

Executives initially denied rumors that Jeld-Wen would move to Charlotte, but it moved in 2012 to be closer to East Coast customers.  

When the company sold its ownership for $871 million in 2011, it employed about 1,200 people in Oregon at its headquarters and factories.  
Meihoff said Jeld-Wen still has a presence in Oregon with a search and development division and manufacturing operations.

Moody's Corp. says Jeld-Wen reported $3.5 billion in revenue in the previous fiscal year.

Alba students ride with firefighters and police
By Jessica De Nova/KTVL.com

MEDFORD, Ore.-Three students from Italy went on a ride-along with Medford Fire Rescue and Medford Police.

Two of them won the rides in a raffle at Thursday's City Council meeting.

The third Alba student, Lucia Erne', said she really wanted to ride with firefighters because she's interested in the medical field, so the city let her go along. 

"It's type of work really dangerous and at the same time when you finish you feel good 'cause maybe you save someone or do something good for other people," Erne' said.

The students were part of the group visiting from Medford's sister city in Italy.

Their trip includes visits to Crater Lake, local sports games and the Britt Festivals.

They fly to New York in just less than two weeks.

Bear Hit By Driver
The bear was hit on I-5 near Central Point, 09/03/15, (KTVL/Megan Allison)

By Megan Allison/KTVL.com

Central Point, Ore. --

A driver hit a black bear on Interstate Five early Thursday morning. Just after 3:00 a.m. a woman was driving south near Central Point.

She struck what she thought was a piece of metal in the road, and pulled over at a gas station. A central point police officer found blood and hair on the car. When they visited the site of the accident - they found the body of a black bear.

"We really don't have any way to control them. So what we ask people to do, especially at night, is to slow down and be looking for animals, reflections of eyes, anything else they might be able to see," said David Gifford with Oregon State Police.

The department of transportation disposed of the animal. Gifford said between two to three bears a year get hit in the area. He said to be aware of more deer and elk by the road during Fall. The animals are more likely to interrupt traffic during mating season.

Fun for Everyone in Central Point
Fun for everyone as a new playground will be built in Central Point. (KTVL/Aaron Nilsson)
By Aaron Nilsson/KTVL.com
CENTRAL POINT, Ore. -- A new all-ages park in Central Point.  

The city will build an inter-generational park near the Twin Creeks Retirement Community.

A couple living in Twin Creeks pushed to have this kind of park for the neighborhood.

Grandparents and children can enjoy various activities, along with an A.D.A.-compliant walking path.

"There's not many in the state of Oregon. None that I specifically know of. I've read articles about them and have seen information about them in conferences I've attended, but it's great concept to try to integrate features that's good for each generation," Director of Parks and Recreation, Jennifer Boardman, said.
"We've got a lot of people that are involved giving ideas, having comments, so to integrate all that information to hear what people are saying and put all of that into play is one of the biggest challenges," architect, Tom Madara, said.

Central Point's park and recreation commission will meet at the end of the month to help with grant funding for the park and approve its design.

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