Sunday, March 13, 2005
Woman shot, killed in Roanoke; police rule her death a homicide
A man was taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, a police spokeswoman said.By
David Harrison 981-3340The Roanoke Times e-mail this story
Police found a woman shot to death and a man injured with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a Southeast Roanoke home Saturday night, spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said.
Police have ruled the woman’s death a homicide, Johnson said. Emergency workers first got the call at 7:21 p.m. and took the man to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in an unknown condition, said Johnson. Police did not release any names Saturday night because the next-of-kin had not been notified yet.
Johnson said she did not know if the two people knew each other or if they lived in the house on the 1500 block of Kirk Avenue Southeast. Neighbors said they did not know the house’s occupants but that they did not cause any trouble.
“I’ve never seen much commotion up there,” said Bobby Underwood, who has lived across the street for 20 years. He said “a couple young guys” moved into the house – a two-story white structure on the top of a hill – about six or seven months ago.
Shortly after police arrived, they escorted a visibly upset woman from the house. She talked to police for a few minutes before getting into an unmarked car with a police official and driving away. Johnson said she did not know whether anyone else was in the house at the time of the shootings.
“That’s Southeast,” said Underwood, as he watched the scene from his front porch. “But things ain’t all that bad around here. People put Southeast down but it ain’t a bad place to live.”
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Man with gunshot wounds found on fire outside cemetery
Police say the man was transferred to the burn unit at the University of Virginia Medical Center.By
David Harrison 981-3340The Roanoke Times e-mail this story
A man was found with gunshot wounds and on fire Saturday evening outside the Fairview Cemetery in Northwest Roanoke, police spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said. Police said passersby helped rescue the man.
The man, who remained unidentified Saturday night, was transported to the burn unit at the University of Virginia Medical Center, she said, adding that she did not know his condition. It was unclear whether his wounds were self-inflicted, Johnson said. She also said she didn’t know whether a weapon was found nearby.
Robert Thomas said he and his wife, Katie, were driving down Salem Turnpike when they noticed smoke and sparks coming from a bush near the cemetery gates.
“It was probably just the cedars melting,” Katie Thomas said.
They pulled over and Katie called 911 while Robert grabbed a blanket the couple kept in the car for their dog and ran to pat the burning man down.
“This shirt would have been the first thing off if I didn’t have the blanket,” Robert Thomas said, fingering his flannel shirt.
“I had to pull his jacket off of him because his jacket [was] still on fire,” he said. “Moaning and groaning was all he was doing.”
He said the man looked “not too good” and had burns around his face, arms and chest. “I’d say he’s probably my age, somewhere between 40 and 50 probably.”
Charles Chestnut, who was walking down Salem Turnpike shortly after the Thomases got there, said the man was moving when rescuers put him on a stretchers.
“He was gargling,” said Chestnut, of Southwest Roanoke, who was on his way to the bus stop after leaving his grandson’s first birthday party. “They say burning is one of the worst pains you can go through.”
A police officer gave Chestnut a ride home.
Police received the call at 7:51 p.m. Johnson said. About 45 minutes later, the Thomases’ red pickup truck was parked in front of the cemetery with their dog still inside. Their blanket as well as the man’s clothes were lying near the gates behind yellow police tape.
“It’s very rattling,” said Robert Thomas. “You don’t want to see anything like that.”
Accident at work leaves Roanoker with severe burns
Lindsey Nair 981-3334The Roanoke Times e-mail this story
A chemical accident at a Roanoke distributing company early Thursday has left a man in critical condition at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Greg Staley, 27, of Roanoke suffered burns over 50 percent of his body when the chemicals he was mixing to form a de-icer for airplanes came into contact with his arms, shoulders, legs and back, said his father, Mike Staley.
The incident happened about 5:45 a.m. Thursday at Chemical & Solvents Inc., or Chemsolv, at 1140 Industry Ave. S.E, said Roanoke Fire-EMS spokeswoman Jennifer Faulkner.
Staley was taken by ambulance to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, then airlifted later Thursday morning to Charlottesville, his family said. No one else was injured in the accident.
Mike Staley said he was upset by news that his son had to wait for some time after medics arrived at the scene before they would put him in an ambulance and transport him to the hospital. Staley believed medics did not want to soil their ambulance with the chemicals.
“A person’s life is much more important than a doggone ambulance,” Mike Staley said.
Roanoke Fire-EMS Division Chief David Hoback said the medics’ first contact with Greg Staley was at 5:55 a.m. and the ambulance transported him to the hospital at 6:16 a.m.
Hoback said chemical burns are different from any other injury, and handling the scene of a chemical spill is complicated. Even if a patient tells them which chemical was involved, he said, their protocol requires them to obtain Material Safety Data Sheets from the company because different chemicals require different responses.
Once they get the information, firefighters and medics look up the chemical to determine whether anyone else is at risk and what type of decontamination must take place. Staley had rinsed off, but some chemicals require a shower of 20 minutes or more, Hoback said.
He said the delay Thursday was to avoid endangering medics or transporting a chemical to an emergency room and endangering other patients.
“I certainly don’t want any of our citizens to think that we would put a material or a piece of equipment in front of the health of our citizens,” said Roanoke Fire-EMS Chief Jim Grigsby.
Fire department officials have not released information on the type of chemical involved in the accident.
Jamie Austin, vice president and general manager at Chemsolv, said the company has been a member of the National Association of Chemical Distributors and has had a successful safety record for more than 20 years.
“We always want to put our employees out in the field … with all the information and all the training that is required and necessary,” he said.
Austin said Staley went through full pre-employment training and is a good employee with the company.
“We’re concerned and our prayers go out to the employee and his family,” he said.
The company is investigating the matter to determine what caused the accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor will also investigate the case, said OSHA spokesman Lee Willis.
Willis said the investigation will take up to six months. A search of OSHA databases revealed no prior investigations at Chemsolv between 1972 and the present. Chemsolv has operated since 1979.