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News
DOT might have way to reduce wrong-way wrecks
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DOT might have way to reduce wrong-way wrecks

DOT might have way to reduce wrong-way wrecks
Another wrong-way driver has been killed on an Atlanta roadway. This Wednesday afternoon crash happened in Fulton County on I-85 northbound just north of I-285 on the south side of Atlanta.

DOT might have way to reduce wrong-way wrecks

Could there be a solution to stop wrong way drivers? Jill Goldberg, spokeswoman for The Georgia Department of Transportation, tells WSB they're looking very closely at a model being used in Houston, Texas. 

The Harris County Toll Road Authority came up with a system after a wrong way crash killed three people on New Year's Eve in 2008. 

They are repurposing speed radars to detect cars traveling the wrong way on exit ramps. 

A warning sounds in the toll authority's transportation command center when the system is triggered.  The cameras will focus on the location where a dispatcher can verify the alarm. Once confirmed, an officer is sent to respond. 

As that is happening, there are message boards in the area warning drivers nearby of the wrong-way driver and to move over and stop. 

"We want to keep up with it, we want to know how it works, we want to know what they're doing.  But it's way too early to say whether it would be effective here in our area with our driving conditions, the way that our roads are with many lanes, entrances, and exits," said Goldberg. 

She does admit that so far, the system has already had some early success.  In four years, the 17 mile stretch has had 100 wrong way drivers but not a single car crash. 

"I definitely want to caution people, it is on a very small amount of road.  Only a few miles of like one or two exits and one or two lanes, so it's quite a different situation than what we have here," said Goldberg. 

Another big factor is the cost.  The system in Houston cost $335,000 to install in 19 locations and there have been a few hiccups.  Because the radars are prone to false alarms, the toll authority is spending more than $500,000 to install sensors in the pavement instead. 

To install something similar to Houston's system around I-285 in Atlanta, the cost would be about $3 million.  

"How much equipment you need, how quickly can 911 get out there, so there are a lot of factors involved," said Goldberg. 

She says even if a wrong way driver is spotted, stopping them takes longer than you might think. 

"Not that long ago, we did have a wrong way driver in the H-O-T lane on I-85 and even though it was seen immediately and reported immediately, it still took nearly 16 miles before the police were able to reach that driver.  Fortunately, there was no incident and everything was resolved safely," said Goldberg. 

In August, five people died on metro Atlanta freeways in wrong way crashes, but Goldberg says that is highly unusual. 

"It did seem like there for a few weeks that we were getting one or two a week and it did come in sort of a rush.  So it was fresh on people's minds and certainly it always is a reminder to everyone to be extra cautious out there and be very careful," said Goldberg. 

She admits that posting signs and improved road markings will only go so far. 

"Study after study has shown that more than 90 percent of drivers doing the wrong way driving are impaired in some way, so that's a very difficult situation to control.  Unfortunately, it's really out of our hands from that aspect," said Goldberg.

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  • A Gwinnett County family is trying to make sense of the murder of their husband and father outside their home in a Buford subdivision overnight Thursday. The victim, identified as 43-year-old George Young, was shot dead right outside his own front door. He had just come home from working a security job and his keys were still in the front door when he was shot twice. “I heard two loud gunshots,” says his wife Tia. “At first, I thought it was gunshots, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I wasn’t sure if it was firecrackers.” Her brother, who was asleep on the couch, heard it too. He opened the door to find Young lying on the front porch. “I never heard a car speed off. My brother didn’t either,” says Tia. Gwinnett Police detectives told the woman it does not appear to have been a robbery. “We don’t know where the gunshots came from--whether they came from the porch or came from the street. But our ultimate motive, right now, is to figure out what other people heard,” says Cpl. Michele Pihera. She is asking anyone with information to come forward to police. Tia and her husband had been married close to 23 years and she wonders how she will continue alone raising their three sons. “I lost my dad a few years back to suicide, and I didn’t think it could any worse. But losing a spouse like this, I think it tops that,” she says.
  • His book called gay people 'vile.' Now, a federal judge says she may rule within the next month whether the city of Atlanta fired its fire chief over his religious views.  Kelvin Cochran lost his job in January of 2015, after self-publishing the book 'Who Told You That You Were Naked?' It includes passages that referred to homosexuality as 'vile, vulgar and inappropriate' and akin to 'bestiality.' When concern was raised about the book in late November 2014, Cochran was suspended for 30 days. His lawyer, Kevin Theriot, contends the chief was punished for his religious faith, but attorneys for the city argued that it was Cochran's actions during his suspension while an investigation was underway that got him ousted. City lawyer David Gevertz pointed out that Cochran had been directed to not make public comments about his suspension, but instead helped launch a PR campaign with the Georgia Baptist Convention that resulted in thousands of angry e-mails being sent to City Hall. 'We did not fire Chief Cochran because of his religious beliefs,' said Atlanta Chief Counsel Robert Godfrey. 'It was about trust. It was about his campaign to have people contact the mayor and things like that afterwards.' Theriot contends that Mayor Kasim Reed's public statements and social media posts contradict that, including one in which Reed made clear that he did not share the anti-gay views expressed in Cochran's book. The lawsuit points out that there were 'zero instances of discrimination' by Cochran against any employees, and so Theriot says the rest of what the city says is a pretext. 'There are a few isolated passages that they take out of context to try to depict Chief as being hateful, when in fact, Chief Cochran's beliefs require him to treat everybody equally--and the only evidence before the court is that what he always did,' says Theriot. Theriot acknowledged that some copies of Cochran's book were given to men on the job, but he insists they were from people who asked for it and/or shared similar beliefs as the chief. Gevertz pointed out in court that the book created a hostile work environment and could leave the city open to lawsuits from disgruntled employees or unsuccessful candidates once the views of Cochran, a member of the mayor's cabinet, were known publicly. Cochran's lawsuit seeks back pay after his suspension and termination, as well as reinstatement. He has also filed a separate complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Cochran says his childhood dream was to become a fire chief, and he says the discrimination and racial slurs experienced in his early years working in Louisiana combined to make him vow that if he were ever in a position of authority, no one would face discrimination because they were a minority under his leadership. Yet, he says, that is why the city terminated him. 'I was shocked that writing a book encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers and men that God had called us to be would jeopardize my 34-year career,' said Cochran on Friday. 'It's still unthinkable to me that the very faith and patriotism that inspired my professional achievements and drove me to treat all people with love, equity, and justice, are actually what the government used to end my childhood dream-come-true career. 'In the United States of America, true tolerance should be a two-way street for all Americans,' Cochran continued. 'No one deserves to be marginalized or driven out of their profession because of their faith.' U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May grilled lawyers on both sides with questions about the cases they cited in support of their arguments, and says she will write a detailed analysis and likely issue a ruling in about three weeks. The attorneys are seeking summary judgment, meaning they are asking the judge to decide the case. If she cannot rule on every issue raised, says Judge May, the Cochran case will go to trial on the ones she cannot resolve, putting the questions in the hands of a jury. A trial would likely be held next spring. Any jury pool will likely include some people like Tonya Ditty, who tells WSB that she has been a longtime supporter of Cochran since the case began in 2014. She attended Friday's hearing and says she was also at a rally at the state Capitol for him. Ditty says she is concerned about 'the trampling of religious rights,' no matter what religion. 'When our Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they did not pick a religion,' says Ditty. 'This is fitting for everyone. I think that often is said that, 'Oh, the Christians just want protection.' This is for any religion. I don't think it's ever been stated that we are trying just to protect Christians.' Ditty, who says she is a Christian, says people of faith are being stifled. 'I either have to live out my faith in church or in my home, but dare me come out into the marketplace of ideas, and then I'm under attack,' she says.
  • A priest who wasn't allowed to preach instead turned his ears and heart to the needy. Now, decades after his death, Solanus Casey is on a path to sainthood, celebrated as an incredibly humble man who brought people to God.Father Solanus, as he was known, will be beatified Saturday at a Mass attended by 65,000 people at a stadium in Detroit where he spent much of his ministry. Pope Francis said he met the requirements to earn the title of 'blessed,' especially after a woman from Panama was instantly cured of a chronic skin disease while she prayed at his tomb in 2012.Father Solanus can be made a saint in the years ahead if a second miracle is attributed to him. He'll be only the second U.S.-born man to be beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, joining the Rev. Stanley Rother, a priest killed in Guatemala's civil war, who was beatified in Oklahoma in September.One U.S.-born woman has been beatified and two others have been declared saints.'It's a great event,' Archbishop Allen Vigneron, who leads the southeastern Michigan church, said of the honor for Father Solanus. 'It's hard to communicate how vivid and real the presence of Father is to our community.'Even 60 years after his death, 'people don't say, 'I'm going to Father's tomb,'' Vigneron told The Associated Press. 'They say, 'I'm going to talk to Father.''Father Solanus, a native of Oak Grove, Wisconsin, joined the Capuchin religious order in Detroit in 1897 and was ordained a priest seven years later. But there were conditions: Because of academic struggles, he was prohibited from giving homilies at Mass and couldn't hear confessions.'He accepted it,' said the Rev. Martin Pable, 86, a fellow Capuchin. 'He believed whatever God wants, that's what he would do.'He served for 20 years in New York City and nearby Yonkers before the Capuchins transferred him back to the St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit in 1924. Wearing a traditional brown hooded robe and sandals, Father Solanus worked as a porter or doorkeeper for the next two decades, but his reputation for holiness far exceeded his modest title.The unemployed shared their anxieties with Father Solanus, the parents of wayward kids sought his advice, and the ill and addicted asked him to urge God to heal them. As he listened, he took notes that were later turned into typewritten volumes of his work.Later in life, when Father Solanus was stationed at a seminary in Huntington, Indiana, Detroiters boarded buses for a four-hour ride just to see the man with a wispy white beard. Mail piled up from across the country.'He had a gentle presence. He left people with a wonderful feeling of peace inside their hearts,' Pable said. 'He would say, 'Let's just pray about this and see what God wants to do.' Some people were not healed. He told them to bear their problems with God's help.'Father Solanus, who died in 1957, also co-founded the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which serves up to 2,000 meals a day to Detroit's poor.The Capuchins built a center that bears his name and explains his life story. The public is invited to pray and leave handwritten pleas atop his tomb. Father Solanus' name is invoked by many people who attend a weekly service for the sick.Shirley Wilson, 78, said she regularly prayed to Father Solanus to help her nephew get a kidney. He got one a few weeks ago.'It was a perfect match,' she said. 'I believe in miracles.'Vigneron hopes Father Solanus will inspire people to show mercy toward others.'We need to care for the poor and give them a high priority,' the archbishop said. 'Father was very loving and understanding to people who came to him with their troubles.'___Follow Ed White at https://twitter.com/edwhiteapA priest who dedicated himself to helping others is on a path to sainthood decades after his death.Solanus Casey, known as Father Solanus, will be beatified Saturday at a Mass attended by 65,000 people at a stadium in Detroit, the city where he spent much of his ministry.Pope Francis said Father Solanus met the requirements to earn the title of 'blessed,' especially after a woman from Panama was cured of a skin disease while she prayed at his tomb in 2012.Father Solanus can be made a saint in the years ahead if a second miracle is attributed to him.Barred from giving homilies because of academic struggles, he dedicated himself to helping the poor and counseling people with emotional and health problems. He died in 1957.
  • Members of a Florida church congregation will not turn the other cheek to those who might wish them harm. >> Read more trending news They are armed and ready to retaliate. That is according to a sign outside the River of Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, which warns in all capital letters that the sanctuary “is not a gun-free zone.” The sign continues with a deadly warning: “We are heavily armed -- any attempt will be dealt with deadly force. Yes we are a church and we will protect our people.” It is signed by “The Pastors.” The sign at the 21-year-old church was erected about a year ago, Associated Pastor Allen Hawes told The Tampa Bay Times. However, the warning drew more attention when Senior Pastor Rodney Howard Browne posted a photo of it on his Instagram account. The minister was responding to the deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in which 26 people were killed and 20 more were injured. “It is a deterrent,' Hawes told the Times. “Look at what is going on. In the past two months, look at what happened in Texas. Look at what happened in Las Vegas. Because we are a church that is on television, we are very involved in the community. We want people to know that this is a safe zone.” Hawes has a concealed weapons permit and said his congregation of nearly 1,200 people has “many armed members” ready to use force if necessary. “If you walk through the door with the intention to harm, that sign serves as a deterrent to you,' Hawes told the Times. 'We are not a soft target. People here will defend their families.” Hawes said his congregation is also paying close attention to the string of four unsolved murders recently in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. 'I think just collectively, we pay very close attention,' he said. 'Look at Seminole Heights. Someone is murdering people. This stuff is happening all the time. Do you wait for another shooting to take precautions?
  • New York SoundCloud rapper Lil Peep — whose real name was Gustav Åhr — passed away on Wednesday at the age of 21. He was reportedly found in an unresponsive state by his manager on his tour bus, according to The Guardian. >> Read more trending news In a video posted on Instagram just a few hours before his death, he said he had consumed some prescription drugs as well as some other substances, saying: “I’m good, I’m not sick.” In the wake of the young artist’s untimely death, tributes poured in from fans and peers alike. “I am shocked and heartbroken,” said Sarah Sennett — the CEO of First Access Entertainment, a management company that represented Lil Peep last — in a statement released on Twitter. “I do not believe Peep wanted to die, this is so tragic. He had big goals and dreams for the future which he had shared with me, his team, his family and his friends. He was highly intelligent, hugely creative, massively charismatic, gentle and charming. He had huge ambition and his career was flourishing.” Fellow rapper Post Malone said Åhr was “a great friend to me and a great person. your music changed the world and it’ll never be the same.” EDM composer Diplo wrote on Twitter that Åhr “had so much more to do man he was constantly inspiring me,” and fellow producer Marshmello said, “We were just talking last week about working on a song together and now you’re gone. You will be missed, R.I.P.” British pop stars Charlie XCX and Sam Smith also shared their sympathies:
  • Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama's Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women in particular.'He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama,' Kayla Moore said Friday at a 'Women for Moore' rally. Acting as her husband's lead defender, she lashed out at the news media and thanked people who were sticking behind her husband. 'To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are,' Moore said.Not everyone is sticking with Roy Moore, however, and certainly not all women.'I was going to vote for him. I was going to be one of his voters. I just don't know that I can vote for him anymore,' said Laura Payne, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.One said Moore molested her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.'I have not found any reason not to believe them .... They risked a whole lot to come forward,' Payne said of the accusers.Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she also has no reason to disbelieve the women and is bothered by their allegations. But Ivey said she will vote for Moore anyway for the sake of GOP power in Congress.'We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like Supreme Court justices, other appointments that the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions,' Ivey said.Moore has ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that if he stays in the race against Democrat Doug Jones he may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party's brand among women nationwide as they prepare for a difficult midterm election season.The Alabama GOP, meanwhile, reaffirmed its support for Moore on Thursday.The accusations sent a shockwave through the Senate race in Alabama, where Republicans typically have a lock on statewide election. Democrats already hoped to stand a chance against the polarizing jurist who was twice removed from chief justice duties because of defying court orders regarding the Ten Commandments and gay marriage.A Fox News poll released Thursday, a week after the first accusations, showed Jones leading Moore by eight points. Support from women was helping to give Jones the edge with 68 percent for Jones compared to 32 percent for Moore.One of them is longtime Republican Tracy James, who worked for former senator and current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Her cousin was a Republican governor. She won't vote for Moore, a decision she made before the election.'My hope is that the Moore debacle will not only be a wake-up call for evangelicals, but also for Republicans, who should stand back and say, 'Wow, look at the kind of person we almost elected to our ranks,' James said.But Kayla Moore says her husband is exactly the kind of person who needs to be in the Senate.Decades ago, then known by her maiden name, Kayla Kisor, she was performing in a hometown dance recital when she first caught Roy Moore's eye. As he wrote in his 2009 autobiography: Seeing her was something he never forgot.'Years later,' Moore wrote, when she was 23 — she's 14 years his junior— he finally met her. They wed in 1985.Now, Kayla Moore is doing more than standing by her husband — she's his most aggressive defender against allegations threatening his Republican bid for U.S. Senate.When Moore makes a public appearance, Kayla Moore is there. When something pops up on social media that could help his cause, she shares it on Facebook. And she was the star at the Statehouse rally in Montgomery.Speakers there said the allegations against Moore were out of character for the man they have known for years.'I do not recognize the man these ladies are describing,' Ann Eubank, a fixture in Alabama Republican politics, said of the accusers.Across the street from the rally, Rose Falvey, 25, who runs an LGBT community center, said she was angered by the stories about Moore since he had fought to block gay marriage in the state.'I think it's really hypocritical and an embarrassment for the state of Alabama, and he's dragging us backwards,' Falvey said.____Associated Press writers Steve Peoples and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.