Posts Tagged ‘BREAKING’

North Ridgeville soldier home after close call in Afghanistan

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Two months ago, an improvised explosive device blew up beneath the armored patrol vehicle carrying Army Spc. Joshua Kearney in Afghanistan and tossed it about like a children’s toy.

“It was like a soccer ball being kicked,” said Kearney, 23. “The truck flipped two times and landed on the passenger’s side.”

Everyone inside the Mine Resistant Ambush Protective vehicle was alive, but they all were banged up.

Kearney’s head was pounding from a concussion, muscles in his neck and shoulders were torn, and he suffered a cracked vertebra.

Training kicked in for Kearney, a 2007 graduate of the Lorain County Joint Vocational School, who is home until next Wednesday for some rest and relaxation.

Kearney, who was harnessed into the gunner’s seat, got out of the vehicle to make sure they wouldn’t be attacked again.

“I grabbed my M-4 (rifle) and crawled out of the gunner’s hatch to make sure there wasn’t a second IED,” he said. “Sometimes they do what’s called a ‘daisy chain’ — they’ll plant another bomb relatively close to the first one.”

Kearney helped his lieutenant tend to the driver, who had a concussion as well as leg injuries, and to an Afghan translator who also was hurt.

Kearney credits the 43,000-pound vehicle with saving their lives.

“If it had been a Humvee, I don’t think I’d be here,” he said.

There was a terrible odor in the air, and the blast blew a hole in the ground 7 feet deep, and 17 to 20 feet wide and long.

The force of the blast melted dirt into the truck’s chassis, and tore off thick bulletproof glass windows and blew open the top hatches, Kearney said.

It also broke straps inside the truck, launching gear and ammunition into the air like weapons.

“I got hit in the head with an ammo canister, and those weigh about 25 pounds,” Kearney said. “My fifth vertebra was cracked, and my doctor said I’ll probably have chronic back pain for the rest of my life.”

When help arrived, the soldiers eventually discovered that the bomb had been triggered by someone lying near a wooded area.

Kearney suspects the attack was engineered by forces loyal to the ousted Taliban or the Haqqani Network, an insurgent group The New York Times called “the Sopranos of the Afghanistan War.”

Kearney, who was awarded a Purple Heart, said he’ll return to Afghanistan and presumes he’ll work on fueling helicopters until his enlistment is over in December.

He is in the 4-1 field artillery, 3rd Brigade 1st Armored Division, whose motto is “First Or Not At All!”

While home, he has enjoyed the company of family and friends, especially his wife Anne, a 2006 graduate of Elyria Catholic High School.

He also found a little time to work on his 1987 Toyota Supra with his dad, Richard, who served in the U.S. Navy.

Kearney, who arrived in Afghanistan in September, said his other close calls in the war involve being shot at with high-powered rifles.

“There’s this weird supersonic crack — it’s almost like someone snapping fingers — and you’ll hear it hit close to you, and a split-second later, you hear the sound of the gunshot coming from the hills,” he said.

Asked if the U.S.-led NATO forces are winning the war, Kearney replied, “Yes — slowly but surely.”

“Our whole fight is counterinsurgency — to win over the locals and get them on our side to see what we’re doing as a good thing and to trust the (Afghan) government,” he said. “We’re already starting the drawdown process — the goal is to be out in 2013, which is a pretty lofty goal.”

Kearney said he is looking forward to returning to civilian life but is glad he served his country.

Upon his return, he plans to study at Lorain County Community College and earn a mechanical engineering degree.

“I eventually want to open up my own small machine shop,” he said.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.

Former OSU coach Jim Tressel takes job with Akron

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

AKRON, Ohio — Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel is going back to school— in a newly created position at the University of Akron.

The school announced Thursday that Tressel has been hired as vice president for strategic engagement and will earn a base salary of $200,000 per year. The job starts May. 1.

University officials say he will work with alumni, community organizations and friends of the school to develop strategies and efforts to help students succeed.

Akron president Luis Proenza said in a statement that Tressel will bring his energy, leadership, passion and compassion to the university.

Man sought in abduction, assault and Dollar General robbery arrested

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

A man who is a suspect in both an Elyria robbery yesterday and an assault and abduction in Lorain was arrested this morning in Oberlin.

Mitcheal J. Orr II, 30, was picked up by the Elyria Police Department’s Neighborhood Impact Unit and U.S. Marshals at his father’s home, in the 14900 block of Baird Road, about 10 a.m. Orr was arrested without incident, according to Tony Keffer, U.S. Marshals Service task force coordinator for Lorain County.

Orr is suspected of beating and kidnapping the mother of his child Tuesday morning on Oak Point Road, according to Lorain police Lt. Roger Watkins. Watkins said Orr stole the white Kia the woman was driving.

The woman was not seriously injured, and Lorain police said the assault happened about 8:15 a.m.

Orr, whose last known address was the 200 block of Park Meadow Drive in Elyria, has a criminal record that includes convictions for domestic violence and theft.

He is suspected of robbing an Elyria Dollar General following that incident.

The store robber was described as a white male in a green short-sleeved shirt, according to an Elyria police report. An employee told police the man approached the register in the store, 622 Leona St., at about 9 a.m. with something silver in his hand, which looked “almost like a stun gun with grips,” according to the report.

The man demanded money and can be seen in surveillance footage pulling bills from the register, then lifting the cash drawer. The man left in a small vehicle, which went south on Leona Street, the report said.

The vehicle was found abandoned by Elyria police in the Foxes Lair apartment complex at 2280 West River Road about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Crews remain on scene of Wellington gasoline leak

Friday, January 13th, 2012

WELLINGTON — Crews continue working to clean up an underground gasoline leak reported last night in Wellington.

The Fire Department got a call about an odor of gas about 10:45 last night and found a leak in an gasoline transmission line under the township maintenance garage at 105 Maple St, according to Chief Mike Wetherbee.

About 75 people were evacuated from Brookside Park Mobile Home Park.

Gasoline had pooled in the parking lot and gotten into a nearby waterway, the White Ditch, Wetherbee said.

Crews built dams in the ditch to contain the gasoline and had the spill contained about an hour and a half after it started, Wetherbee said.

“We’re very confident that we held it in check,” Wetherbeen said.

Tom Kelley, Lorain County Emergency Management Agency director, said it is estimated that 125,000 gallons of gasoline leaked.

The cleanup is expected to take a couple days. Most of the residents who were forced out of their homes are staying with relatives, and others are taking advantage of a Red Cross shelter that has opened up in the Wellington Village Hall.

Sunoco Logistics, the company that owns the pipeline, is handling the cleanup with the assistance of firefighters and under the watch of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Lorain County Emergency Management Agency and a Lorain County hazardous materials squad responded to the scene along with firefighters from Oberlin, Spencer, LaGrange and Elyria.

Wetherbee said no one was hurt due to the leak. He said the underground gasoline transmission line is used to transport gasoline between holding facilities, not to deliver it to gas stations.

Read Saturday’s Chronicle for more on this story.