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Children find Spirit Airlines pilot, wife dead in apparent overdose

Four children found their parents – including their airline pilot father – dead Thursday in their Centerville, Ohio, home in what investigators said appears to be the latest incident in a scourge of drug deaths plaguing Montgomery County and Ohio.

>> Read more trending news 

The husband, Brian Halye, was an active pilot for Spirit Airlines, flying for them nine years, and captaining a passenger jet as recently as last Friday.

He and his wife, Courtney Halye, were found in a bedroom of their home on East Von Dette Circle, a suburban cul-de-sac.

RELATED: Centerville pilot, wife deaths may be fentanyl-related

The deaths appear “drug related due to paraphernalia found at the scene,” Centerville Police Officer John Davis said. Ken Betz, director of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, said the incident resembles other opioid cases and “could be consistent with what we’re seeing with fentanyl products in our community.”

“We’ve been talking about this for how long now?” Betz said by phone. “Here I go again … year-to-date, accidental drug overdoses exceeded 160 already this year.”

Official causes of death for the couple have not been released, as a full medical exam will be performed today.

‘They were very cold’

The couple each had two children from previous marriages. In two 911 calls to Centerville police shortly before 8 a.m., the children ages 9 to 13 told dispatchers their parents are on the floor and “not waking up.”

“They were very cold,” said the oldest child, politely answering “yes, ma’am” to the dispatcher as his sisters cried in the background.

The children ran outside the home to relatives as police conducted an investigation. By 10:30, police and emergency response vehicles cleared the usually tranquil neighborhood.

The Halyes purchased their home in summer 2013. The neighborhood, Pellbrook Farm, is just southwest of the Ohio 725-Wilmington Pike intersection. The quiet suburban cul-de-sac features homes valued around $150,000 to $225,000.

Warren County Court records show Brian Halye was divorced in 2011 in a shared parenting case. Courtney Halye was convicted of a felony drug possession charge in 2009, but the case was expunged. Her previous husband Jacob Castor, the father of two of the children, died in 2007 at age 27.

Neighbors were stunned by Thursday’s news.

“There’s never much activity going on over there,” said a neighbor, who declined to be named. Added another neighbor, “That’s what surprises us, because he was an airline pilot, and he flew for Spirit.”

Pilot flew last week

Halye last flew for Spirit on Friday, according to the “ultra low fares” carrier. The pilot’s social media accounts indicate he was based at its Detroit operations center. The airline does not provide service to Dayton International Airport.

“Captain Halye served at the airline for just over nine years,” Paul Berry, the company’s spokesman, said in a statement expressing the company’s sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.

The Dayton Daily News asked Spirit Airlines officials to provide more details about Halye’s last-flown routes and upcoming flights, as well as the dates and results of any drug screenings. Spirit declined to answer.

Federal regulations require employers to administer drug and alcohol testing in pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random, post-accident, reasonable cause and follow-up situations, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said.

MORE: Spirit Airlines pilot suspected in OD flew 6 days ago

Pilots must hold valid medical certificates in order to fly. The Airline Transport Pilot certificate, which Halye held, requires a first-class medical certificate, which must be updated every 12 months for a pilot under the age of 40. Halye was 36.

The FAA database lists Halye’s medical certificate date as September, 2011, which would mean the certificate expired more than four years ago. Asked to double check, Cory said Halye’s certificate was up-to-date, with it due to expire this fall.

“I’m not sure why the online database does not have that information,” Cory said in an email to the Dayton Daily News. “The system could be in the process of update.”

Dr. Richard Garrison is among the doctors who conducts such tests locally. Garrison said that exam is roughly similar to an annual physical, and also includes vision testing and EKG heart tests for pilots over a certain age. But he said those exams do not include substance-abuse testing.

Drug issues everywhere

Multiple-death overdoses at a single site happened at least four times in Montgomery County in 2016 — including to Jamie Haddix and Darrell Morgan, who were found dead on Christmas Eve. The place where they died, a four-unit apartment building on Wiltshire Boulevard in Kettering, isn’t ground zero in the region’s opioid crisis because there is no ground zero.

“You always hear, ‘It can’t happen in my neighborhood,’ ” said Michael Link, who lives around the corner from the Halyes in Centerville. “But it does.”

Centerville ranked comparatively low on Montgomery County’s 2016 overdose list, with only five residents dying from drug causes, according to preliminary coroner’s data. That’s much lower than comparably sized Trotwood (17), Miamisburg (14) and Riverside (13). But nearly every community in the county had a spot on that list, which included 355 deaths.

Two of the children attended Centerville’s Tower Heights Middle School and two attended another district. Centerville schools Superintendent Tom Henderson said the district “continues to support friends of the students who were part of this family. Centerville had guidance counselors “on call and on deck as needed.”

Henderson said so many students know each other not only from school, but from sports and other cross-community activities that a tragedy like this can have a wider impact that people might think.

“These two students have come up through our district, so we try to be cognizant of that and get out to the other buildings they’ve attended,” Henderson said. “We’ll be ready (Friday) when students come in, and we’ll be ready when the students (in that family) come back to attend school again.”

Staff Writers Chris Stewart, Malik Perkins, Katie Wedell and Hannah Poturalski contributed reporting.

PHOTOS: Americana Amusement Park through the years

The former Americana Amusement Park site in Monroe was recently purchased by Butler Tech and is set to become a new school campus.

5 things you should know about the Great Blizzard of 1978

The Great Blizzard of 1978 struck the region with force on Jan. 26, 1978, when more than a foot of snow fell on the region, setting a single-day record that still stands.

Here are five things you should know about the event and its aftermath:

» PHOTOS: 53 images that show just how impactful the Blizzard of 1978 was

» MORE MEMORIES: Great Blizzard of 1978 paralyzed region

1. The area record for single-day snowfall was part of the blizzard. On Jan. 26, 12.2 inches of snow fell on the region, which remains a single-day record. Second place on that list is 11.5 inches, which fell on Dec. 22, 2004.

2. Many people had trouble doing the most basic things. The massive snowfall of Jan. 26 was part of more than 40 inches of snow in the month, which created snowdrifts up to 25 feet high.

» EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: Download our apps for real-time alerts on news you want most

3. Traveling was a significant challenge. As one example, the Miami University basketball team was returning from a game in Toledo and couldn't make it past Vandalia, so the team stayed in the Vandalia city jail.

4. Dozens died from the events. The death toll from this storm climbed to more than 70 people, with 51 of those deaths in Ohio.

» LOCAL MEMORIES: Where were you, and what was your experience?

5. Mail couldn't be delivered for the first time in 65 years. The great 1913 flood was the last time the postal service failed to do regular rounds.

Bob Evans sells all restaurant locations

Bob Evans Restaurants announced it has sold all of its restaurant locations to a private equity firm for $565 million.

Golden Gate Capital has bought the restaurant chain, and will retain the Bob Evans leadership team to guide the transition as it takes part of the company private, the company said. Net proceeds are expected to be between $475 million and $485 million, according to a company statement.

The transaction splits the company in half. Bob Evans Farms food division, which makes mashed potatoes, sausage and various side dishes, will become a standalone company.

“This is an important time for our brand, our company and our team, and this partnership will provide Bob Evans Restaurants with the resources, knowledge and flexibility needed to drive our growth, while remaining true to the values of our founder, Bob Evans,” said Saed Mohseni, CEO of Bob Evans Farms, Inc.

Mohseni will become CEO of Bob Evans Restaurants following the transition. The sale of the restaurant comes months after the company announced it would close 27 locations back in April, including one in Riverside.

Mohseni said the company’s executive team, including Bob Evans Restaurants President John Fisher, will remain in place to oversee the transition and following the completion of the transaction. Bob Evans is headquartered in New Albany, just outside of Columbus.

Bob Evans Restaurants currently operates 523 restaurants, in 18 states across the Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. The restaurant has locations in Centerville, Moraine, Dayton, Beavercreek, Miamisburg, Xenia and Springboro.

FIVE QUICK BUSINESS READS:

» Beer company issues recall impacting Ohio stores

» Residential, retail developments transforming Sugarcreek Twp.

» 5 businesses coming to Cornerstone of Centerville in 2017

» New t-shirt company opens in Kettering

» Woolpert opens office in downtown Cincinnati

2 new Chick-fil-As in Kettering, Troy to offer free meals for a year

Both the Chick-fil-A at the Town & Country Shopping Center in Kettering and on West Main Street near Meijer in Troy will offer the restaurant chain’s signature “First 100” promotion starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18. Both restaurants will then open to the public at 6 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19.

Chick-fil-A’s “First 100” promotion, launched 13 years ago to mark each restaurant opening, has given away nearly $31 million in free food through 2016.

Here’s how it works:

• Participants can begin lining up 24 hours in advance, at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at each restaurant. Only adults residing in specific zip codes within approximately 25 miles of the restaurant are eligible for the giveaway, and they must offer identification to prove their residence.

• A digital gift card loaded with a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A Meals — 52 meals consisting of a Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, medium waffle fries and a medium beverage — will be given to each of the first 100 eligible adults, ages 18 and older with identification, in line when the doors open at 6 a.m. Thursday.

• If more than 100 people are on site when the line officially forms Wednesday morning, then all 100 spots will be determined by a drawing held that morning — and those selected still need to camp out for 24 hours to secure their spot, Chick-fil-A officials said.

A complete listing of eligible zip codes and rules can be found at www.chick-fil-a.com/Locations/First-100. Other details and restrictions can be found at this Chick-fil-A FAQ web site.

Chick-fil-A also invites First 100 guests as well as restaurant customers to bring in new gently used childrens’ books as part of a book drive Wednesday and Thursday. Those collected at the Kettering location will be donated to Kettering Backpack Program, while books collected in Troy will benefit Free to Read in the Bethany Center in Piqua. The donated books at each restaurant will be placed in a nearly “Book House” that will serve as a free library exchange, Chick-fil-A officials said.

The 4,988-square-foot Kettering restaurant at East Stroop and Shroyer roads will seat 124. It will employ perhaps as many as 100, according to franchise owner Matt Eller. Eller grew up with Chick-fil-A: his father has operated one of the chain’s restaurants in Greensboro, N.C., for more than 23 years.

The 4,137-square-foot Troy restaurant is located at 1910 W. Main St. (Ohio 41) at Experimental Farm/South Stanfield Road. It will seat 106 and will employ 80 to 90, a Chick-fil-A spokeswoman last month. The Troy restaurant’s franchisee is Doug Knostman, a Troy native and graduate of Troy High School.

The Chick-fil-A restaurant chain currently operates a half-dozen locations in the Dayton region, including a restaurant that opened in 2015 in Cornerstone of Centerville. Another location on Miamisburg-Centerville Road (Ohio 725) in Washington Twp. completed a $1 million makeover in 2016.

Like other Chick-fil-A restaurants, the two new locations will offer a full-service menu, including breakfast until 10:30 a.m., and will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc. operates 2,100 restaurants in 45 states and Washington, D.C.

Crash victim's parents outraged at fundraiser for driver's family

The parents of a teenager killed in a 2015 car wreck are upset about a fundraiser to recoup legal fees, medical bills and other expenses of the family of the driver who caused the wreck.

>> Read more trending stories

The GoFundMe page called Family Help Fund seeks to raise $75,000 for the family of Abigail McGaha.

Prosecutors charged McGaha and later reached a plea agreement after she crashed an SUV in 2015. Police said the vehicle had been traveling more than twice the speed limit.

The crash killed Alex Mundt, 16, of Sante Fe, New Mexico. He had been wearing a seat belt and riding in the car with McGaha and one other passenger at the time.

The GoFundMe webpage lists the creator as Joseph McGaha.

The fundraiser description says, "Abby's criminal legal battle is pretty much behind us. But the civil battle remains with Alex's family."

It cites legal fees from criminal and civil cases, medical bills from the accident and a family knee surgery as creating a "financial burden."

The post said the two families settled out of court to avoid a civil lawsuit.

"The second portion of an established payment is due to Alex's family in February. The first payment was made in November. We are establishing a Go Fund Me for this purpose," part of the post read.

Mike and Lynn Mundt, Alex's parents, had not been not aware of the page until WSOC contacted the couple Monday.

"I'm stunned that they would do such a thing," said Mike Mundt. "I can't imagine what all was involved in the case and then a civil settlement afterwards, but those are natural consequences of crime and to ask the community to pay for the consequences of crime is incredulous to me."

Calls and messages made in attempt to reach the McGaha family were not immediately returned. 

Secret Santa drops $1K gold coin in red kettle for what might be second year in a row

The Salvation Army Corps of Springfield, Ohio, got a kick start to its holiday fundraising when they found a gold coin worth $1,000 in one of its red kettles.

It’s the second time in two years that a South African gold coin wrapped in a $100 bill has been dropped in a red kettle at the Kroger store on Bechtle Avenue, Salvation Army Resource Developer Ryan Ray said.

>> Read more trending stories

Around the same time last year, a gold coin valued at $1,200 was dropped in the bucket, Ray said.

The Salvation Army never figured out who dropped the coin, he said.

The Red Kettle Campaign kicked off on Nov. 4 and runs through Christmas Eve.

More than 800 Clark County families signed up for Christmas assistance through the Springfield Salvation Army office this year, Ray said.

Money raised in the kettles goes toward community programming for the Salvation Army throughout the year. The organization says that for every dollar donated to the Salvation Army in Clark County, 83 cents goes back to the community.

Police: Child taken along for ride as 4 people rob Central Florida home

Four thieves burglarized a Central Florida home while a child sat in the back seat of a getaway car, police said.

The burglary happened during the middle of the day Tuesday in the Orlando suburb of Ocoee.

Thanks to astute neighbors, the thieves only made it about three miles down the road, police said.

Officers said they caught the culprits and found the stolen items and the child, who is younger than 10.

According to a charging affidavit, neighbors called police after they watched the car with the four people inside pull up to the home.

The affidavit also said one woman got out and banged on the door, and when no one answered, the two men inside the car got out and, "ran up to the door and kicked it open.”

Police said the culprits ran out of the home with a briefcase, got in the car and drove away.

Neighbors said it is important to look out for each other.

"I think it's great I think we need to do that," neighbor Alice Nice said.

The child was placed in the custody of relatives.

Detectives said they are working on charging Kameron Allen, Tyshira Davis, Kiara Jackson and Joshua Joseph with child endangerment.

The four were arrested and charged with burglary and remain in the Orange County Jail.   

No injuries were reported.

Man,mistaken for deer, shot, killed by brother on hunting trip

An Atlanta man was shot and killed Saturday by his brother while on a hunting trip with family members in South Carolina, an official said.

The brother of Brian Gregory Pickle, 30, mistook him for a small doe or a coyote, Union County Sheriff David Taylor said Tuesday afternoon.

Brian Pickle and Scott Leonard Pickle had the same Roswell Road address, Taylor said. Their father, who lives in Arlington Heights, Ill., also was in the hunting party.

>> Read more trending stories  

The incident happened shortly before 6 p.m., not long before nightfall on land leased for hunting, Taylor said. Because darkness was near, Pickle’s brother said he felt limited in time to take a shot, never thinking it could’ve been a person, Taylor said.

“We see these types of accidents all too frequently,” Taylor said.

The autopsy showed that the victim died of a gunshot wound to the head, coroner William Holcombe said.

“It was a family hunting outing turned horribly tragic,” the coroner said.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is investigating the incident.

College student becomes youngest elected to Florida House of Representatives

Amber Mariano cut her four classes on Tuesday, but the third-year political science major at the University of Central Florida more than likely won’t be penalized by her professors. In fact, she might get extra credit.

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Not only was she studying the political process, she was winning at it.

Mariano, a Republican candidate who turned 21 on Oct. 18, became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives, winning District 36 by 719 votes over incumbent Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy. Before Mariano, the youngest person elected to the Florida House was Adam Putnam, who was 22 when he won in 1996 and is now Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

“It was honestly the best night of my life,” Mariano told WFTS.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the margin was 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent out of 66,939 ballots cast in Pasco County, located north of the Tampa Bay area — according to final but unofficial results.

Mariano the youngest of any gender since 1996, when Adam Putnam, then 22, won his first statehouse race.

According to her website, Mariano gained experience on the issues of education and health care during her time working for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Washington, D.C. During the 2016 Florida legislative session, she worked for state representatives Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and Scott Plakon. She received endorsements from Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mariano, who plans to attend law school after graduation, is no stranger to politics. Her father, Jack Mariano, won re-election to a fourth term as a Pasco County commissioner.

“We didn’t expect this opportunity to present itself so quickly in her life,” Jack Mariano told WFTS. “But I will tell you at 6 years old she said she wanted to be the first woman president.

“So it’s been in her blood from way back when.”

“He says I’m leapfrogging him. He just wanted me to follow my dream,” Amber Mariano told WFTS.  “And this is my dream.” 

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