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Lawmakers could legalize passing on double-yellow lines

Drivers who get stuck behind slow cars, may soon have another way to get around them in North Carolina.

State House members are looking at a proposal that would allow drivers to cross double-yellow lines which are usually no passing zones to get around slower drivers.

The slow driver would have to be going no faster than half the posted speed limit.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation and some House members expressed concerns about the idea including Mecklenburg County Rep. Becky Carney.

"I'm concerned about the liability when I pass on the double-yellow line, legally, if for some reason I hit something," Carney said.

A House committee decided to postpone a vote on the issue.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:42:08 -0500

WATCH: Test run of Fury 325 at Carowinds

Carowinds officials released video of the first test run of Fury 325 from a riders point of view.

VIDEO: Fury 325 test ride

The coaster was tested late Wednesday afternoon.

Debuting this spring, Fury 325 will be the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster.

The thrill ride stands 325 feet tall with an 81 degree initial drop and reaches speeds of 95 mph.

Fury 325 is part of a planned $50 million multi-year expansion at the Charlotte amusement park.

PAST COVERAGE: Carowinds crews finishing world’s fastest giga coaster

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:26:52 -0500

Octopus snatches GoPro camera, takes photo

A series of photos posted by a filmmaker on Reddit have quickly gone viral.

That’s because the camera was in the arms of an octopus.

Bill Watterson explains that he was filming video in the science department at Middlebury College in Vermont using a GoPro camera. The device was set to automatically take several photos of the octopus per second, but the octopus turned the camera around and starting shooting photos of the filmmaker and a student.

Some questioned the authenticity of the images, but Watterson released a GIF that shows the curious octopus playing with the camera and then the camera lands in a position where it captures Watterson and the student.

http://twitter.com/CreatorsProject/status/573158563834564609

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:58:35 -0500

Board denies civil case to former CFD investigator

A former Charlotte fire investigator spent hours Wednesday trying to convince the city's Civil Service Board to take up her case.

But the board unanimously ruled against Crystal Eschert’s plea for a case. Board members said they have no jurisdiction to hear her case.

Eschert has been fighting the Charlotte Fire Department ever since she was fired from her job as a fire investigator last September.


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She and her attorney asked the Civil Service Board Wednesday to take on her case.

As Eschert testified, her attorney showed the board pictures of her in uniform, and that was important because the city's charter says the Civil Service Board has hiring and firing power over uniformed personnel.

But the Fire Department said only firefighters who took the civil service exam qualify, which Eschert admits she didn’t take.

“She didn't take the civil service exam,” said Sara Lincoln, who is representing the Fire Department. “She didn’t go through the physical agility test. She didn’t get the background check."

Eschert claims she was fired in retaliation for raising questions about safety inside a building the Fire Department renovating.

The city blames her termination on Eschert's provocative post on social media about the Ferguson, Missouri, shootings, saying it violated city policy.

Eschert's plea for a full civil service hearing of her case boils down to whether she was a firefighter or civilian employee.

Fire officials, including Chief Jon Hannan, testified at Wednesday’s hearing.

Eschert's plea for a full civil service hearing of her case boils down to whether she was a firefighter or civilian employee.

Eschert has a right to appeal to Mecklenburg County Civil Court.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:56:03 -0500

Viral video: Lion opens family’s car door at safari park

A family received the shock of a lifetime on a ride through a safari park in South Africa.

One curious lion came right up to the family’s car, peered in and then managed to open the car door with its mouth.

The family manages to quickly shut and lock the door. No one was injured.

One of the car’s occupants exclaimed, “I didn’t know they could do that!”

The video was taken in 2014, but is just now going viral, according to the Huffington Post.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:51:49 -0500

Man who tried to stop attack of 83-year-old woman talks to Channel 9

Scottie Barringer sat in a wheelchair as he appeared before a judge Wednesday.

Barringer is accused of assaulting and robbing an 83-year-old woman in the parking lot of the Cotswold Harris Teeter Tuesday. A store employee witnessed the robbery and tried to stop Barringer from stealing the woman’s car.

STORY: Arrest made in assault, robbery of elderly woman at Cotswold Harris Teeter

Reporter Tina Terry spoke with the employee Wednesday.

He has bruises all over his body and is on crutches. The employee, who did not want to be identified, said several people in the parking lot watched as the robbery happened. He told Terry he felt compelled to jump in.

He said Barringer bit him in the arm and ran over his legs with the victim’s car.

No bones were broken, but he is bruised and on crutches. Many are applauding his courageous effort.

“There’s still good people in the world,” said shopper Erica Barrett.

Barringer has been arrested in Mecklenburg County for charges such as larceny and assault. He is also a convicted sex offender.

He was released from prison in December for failing to register.

A judge gave him a court appointed attorney and reduced bond on one of his charges. Barringer’s total bond sits at more than $185,000.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:42:09 -0500

Charlotte leaders look to recruit companies overseas

Members with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce are preparing to fly to China in May to recruit companies to relocate here.

Eyewitness News reporter Stephanie Coueignoux uncovered the changes that are bringing more jobs from overseas to Charlotte and how it's boosting the local economy.

“(The) cost of living in Asia is rising,” said Eileen Cai, Charlotte Chamber of Economic Development. “(The) cost of labor is rising, energy costs are rising.”

Asian companies, especially from China, are now targeting Charlotte as an affordable place to re-locate and save money, Cai said.  

“Financially they're ready,” Cai said. “They've gotten more experienced. Their products are more sophisticated.”

With so many products saying "Made in China," it's actually cheaper to now make these products in the U.S. so they don't have to ship them overseas.

“A lot of companies feel like this having a facility here is an advantage where they're close to their potential customers,” Cai said.

It's been challenging to find enough local talent to hire, Philip Maung, the CEO of Hissho Sushi in southwest Charlotte said.

The company just added a 5,000-foot warehouse and next month they're set to open two locations inside airports in Nashville and Portland, Oregon.

City officials hope if more international companies move to Charlotte, skilled workers will also follow.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:22:49 -0500

Warrants state details in triple homicide involving aspiring model

Channel 9 anchor Stephanie Maxwell sifted through search warrants Wednesday for a triple homicide in Charlotte that police said is connected to a homicide in Matthews.

There is a memorial outside the home on Norris Avenue where three people, including former "America's Next Top Model" contestant Mirjana Puhar, her boyfriend, Jonathan Alvarado, and another friend were shot to death.

A week later, emotions are still raw for neighbors.

"I wasn't around when it happened, but they were good neighbors," said Al Thomas. "It's unreal, but all we can do is pray and keep it moving.”


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Emmanuel Rangel, 19, was charged with the homicides.

Police collected evidence at the home, on Norris Avenue and in Concord, according to search warrants.

A reliable informant reported the Norris Avenue crime scene to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and they found a marijuana-like substance in a plastic-bag, another brownish-red substance in plastic, numerous shell casings and $140, warrants stated.

One of the victims had several pairs of sneakers stolen from the home, and police confiscated sneakers at Rangel's mother's home, in Concord, records indicated.

The case is drug-related, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officials said.

Meanwhile, investigators are anxious to talk to the two suspects picked up in Texas in a separate case.

They, along with Rangel, were charged in connection with the shooting death of a man outside the Microtel Inn & Suites in Matthews two days before the triple-homicide.

"We're just waiting for the extradition process to take place out there," Officer Tim Aycock, with the Matthews Police Department, said. "It is in progress, and we're just waiting for them to get here."

Police said the cases are connected, but they aren't revealing how.

Warrants from Matthews police showed police confiscated three cellphones for the investigation.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:48:18 -0500

Georgia man pleads guilty in DUI crash that killed his new bride

A Jasper man has pleaded guilty in a DUI crash that killed his wife on their wedding day.

Ryan Quinton, 29, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in Cherokee County superior court Tuesday.

Investigators said Quinton was driving drunk  Dec. 30, 2013 when he lost control of his vehicle. His wife, Kali Shay Dobson, 25, of Ball Ground died when the couple’s sports car veered off the road and rolled down an embankment, the Georgia State Patrol said.

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They had been married earlier in the day and the crash occurred shortly after the couple left their wedding reception that night.

Quinton also pleaded guilty to drunk driving in May 2014.

He was sentenced to 15 years with the first two to three months in detention. He is ordered to spend the rest of his sentence on probation and is barred from having a driver’s license for at least five years.

— Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:39:51 -0500

Harrisburg residents, leaders deal with road construction troubles

Harrisburg residents have had to deal with traffic and construction through their town for more than a year and they just found out it's about to last even longer.

The projects along Highway 49 are designed to update the railroad lines.

Eyewitness News anchor Eric Philips found out town leaders are pushing for answers just as much as everyone else.

Some might call it the price of progress.

Since 2013, construction has been underway to upgrade passenger and freight rail lines and put in overpasses where surface streets currently cross the tracks.

That has led to closing roads and rerouting traffic, frustrating those who live south of the tracks trying to get to Highway 49 or any of the businesses along that main drag because it adds minutes.

Traffic along Robinson Church Road is congested because so many other intersections are closed.

Roberta and Caldwell roads will remain closed until at least the end of year instead of the fall like first projected.

"It's very inconvenient and I think it's very poor planning to do everything at one time," said Harrisburg resident Jeff Cochrane.

To add to it, North Carolina Department of Transportation is simultaneously doing repairs to several bridges that cross creeks in the town.

"It just keeps piling up one right after the other and it doesn't seem to stop and it's been a real pain," said resident George Brun.

Town officials realize it's a headache for residents and businesses, but the state is controlling the timetable, not the town council.

"They can advocate for it, they cannot change the schedule themselves," said Harrisburg's communication director Ann Gibson.

Local officials are hoping to get some answers Monday when the NCDOT briefs council on the progress of the rail construction.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:35:41 -0500

Traffic backed up after serious wreck on I-77S

A medical helicopter was on scene of a serious wreck on southbound Interstate 77 in York County.
 
The wreck happened at 2:14 p.m. Wednesday near David Lyle Boulevard.
 
Delays were expected after the wreck. Check back to wsoctv.com for updates to this developing story.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:51:12 -0500

Smoke reported in American Airlines flight from Charlotte

Smoke from the cockpit was reported in an American Air plane headed to Denver from Charlotte after it landed, according to officials with the Denver airport.

The plane, Flight 445, was taxiing to the gate at the time. Passengers were evacuated via emergency slides and taken to the concourse.

"American Airlines confirms that US Airways Flight 445, from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Denver International Airport was involved in an incident at Denver this afternoon. While taxiing to the gate, the pilot was alerted to possible smoke in the cabin. The passengers and crew deplaned via the slides and are all in the terminal," read a statement from American Air. "We are in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration."

The Airbus A321 had 158 passengers and six crewmembers.

No runways were closed after the landing and response.

There was one minor injury reported at the time. The plane’s final destination was Denver.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:42:44 -0500

Man pleads guilty in rape, murder of Lancaster County woman

Only Channel 9 was in court Wednesday as a man plead guilty to the rape and murder of a young woman that happened three years ago.

Hope Melton was newly married and planned on starting a family.

Melton was killed the day after Christmas in 2011. She happened to buy gas at a convenience store in Jefferson, in Chesterfield County. Nickolas Miller was in the store too. Surveillance video shows him watching her as she was filling up at the gas pumps.

He followed her in his car, and ran her off the road. Melton had called her grandmother telling her she was being followed, but the call dropped. Miller raped her, beat her to death with a baseball bat, and left her naked body off a rural road behind a turkey house in rural Kershaw County.

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Chesterfield County sheriff's deputies later found Miller in his car, shoeless, and acting nervously. They found the bloody baseball bat in the car as well, and later, Melton’s wallet.

Deputies believe hope Melton was Miller's second attempt at an abduction that day. They believe he tried following another woman, but she drove north toward Monroe, a heavily-populated area, and he broke off, and later followed Melton.

Prosecutors wanted to seek the death penalty against Miller, but in court Wednesday they revealed why they instead, went for life in prison.

The assistant solicitor said the gross misconduct of former Chesterfield Sheriff Sam Parker was to blame.

When Parker met with the suspect, Miller, he told him if he showed him where the body was, he promised him he wouldn't get the death penalty. 

Because of that action, Miller's complete confession was considered coerced. That forced prosecutors to drop their push for the death penalty.

Parker was later convicted of corruption and misconduct charges unrelated to the Miller case, and is still serving time in prison.

The deal that led to a life in prison sentence for Miller angers Melton's family.  Several of them, spoke out in court Wednesday, including her grandmother Loretta Roscoe.

"He doesn't deserve nothing but the death penalty, and I don't mind saying it," she said. "He raped my granddaughter, and beat her with a baseball bat!"

Melton's sister Chanda Roscoe told the court, she disagrees with the plea deal, and hopes Miller will suffer in prison.

"Let him suffer, let him be tormented, taunted, raped, beaten, just like he did my sister!" she said.

Hope Melton’s brother-in-law Frankie Melton read a statement from her husband, who was too devastated to appear in court.

"When he brutally raped her he could have let her live, but he didn't. When she begged for her life, Nickolas Miller, why didn't you show mercy?" he said.

Miller's sentence does not allow for parole, and also does not allow any appeals. When it was his turn to speak, Miller said nothing. He showed no remorse and gave no apology. He told the judge he has two young children of his own, ages 6 and 7.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:37:54 -0500

Police: Man accused of slashing officer across face with boxcutter

Shelby police arrested a man accused of cutting an officer across the face at 1:34 a.m. Tuesday.

Police said an officer was helping with a warrant service. Reports said he was cut across the face with a boxcutter. The police officer's name is Michael Watson.

Rashon Archie, 26, is in the Cleveland County Jail with no bond.

He is charged with attempted first-degree murder, felony probation violation, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury, assault on a law enforcement officer, assaults on a government official, malicious conduct by prisoner, communicating threats.

Reporter Dave Faherty went by the home Wednesday afternoon. He spoke with Archie’s grandmother, who said she could hear noise outside when the incident happened.

She said her grandson would never intentionally hurt anyone, and that he suffers from a mental illness.

Reports said Archie would appear in front of a judge Wednesday.

Faherty will have more information on Eyewitness News starting at 5.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:18:18 -0500

Viral skeleton video sends powerful message

A new video from the "Ad Council" is really striking a chord on social media.  The video, which is part of "The Love Has No Labels" campaign features a giant screen positioned on a stage in front of a crowd. On the screen we see x-ray-style skeletons hugging, kissing and dancing.

Then, the "skeletons" move from behind the screen to reveal their physical forms. When they step out, we see everything from couples of different races, to a child with a disability, to same-sex families.

"While the vast majority of Americans consider themselves unprejudiced, many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see—whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality or disability," the Ad Council writes of the video and corresponding campaign.

"This may be a significant reason many people in the U.S. report they feel discriminated against," the statement continued. "Subconscious prejudice—called 'implicit bias'—has profound implications for how we view and interact with others who are different from us. It can hinder a person’s ability to find a job, secure a loan, rent an apartment, or get a fair trial, perpetuating disparities in American society.”

The video is set to the song, "Same Love" by Mary Lambert. Lambert is known for being a vocal advocate for equality.

According to the Ad Council, "The Love Has No Labels campaign challenges us to open our eyes to our bias and prejudice and work to stop it in ourselves, our friends, our families, and our colleagues."

Along with the video, the campaign features a bias quiz along with ways to help promote equality.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnDgZuGIhHs

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:17:06 -0500

Senior prank for the ages turns tables on the tradition

You normally hear of the bad senior pranks that involve damage or destruction, but seniors at one Kansas high school have turned the idea of the senior prank on its ear. 

North High School senior Emily Jones told her principal to hold an everyday bucket in the hallway of the school, The Wichita Eagle reported.  Originally, he was not going to have any part of it, but after prodding from a school secretary, principal Sherman Padgett reconsidered and  the payoff for changing his mind will stick with him forever. 

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He took his post, waiting for the worst. One senior passed by, dropping a piece of paper into the bucket. Another student repeated it, and then another until about 20 students silently dropped a note into the bucket. In the end, the "prank" was over and Padgett went back to his office, KWCH/CNN reported. 

That's when the question was answered and Padgett realized how he has affected his students' lives more than he could ever imagine. 

A sampling of what was written:

"You've made my first year experience in America one that I will always fondly remember."  (KWCH/CNN)

(You) "helped me get through my eating disorder and helped me get into therapy" (KWCH/CNN)

"Thank you for the shirt you gave me.  When I didn't have clothes on my back, you provided." (The Wichita Eagle)

Jones told KWCH/CNN that she wanted to do something nice for the principal who has been there since 2006, and came up with the "prank" with her mother. 

More students have been adding to the initial notes. Padgett told The Wichita Eagle he plans to keep them all, saying that it was better than a paycheck, according to KWCH/CNN.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:51:49 -0500

Get ready for PEEPS-flavored milk

If you've ever thought to yourself, "I sure wish someone would make milk taste like a chicken-shaped candy," then you're in luck. Prairie Farms will debut a PEEP-flavored milk for the Easter season. 

Labeling the dairy infusion “twice the Easter fun," Prairie Farms will offer "Chocolate Marshmallow," "Marshmallow" and "Easter Egg Nog" flavors.

While you can imagine what the "Chocolate" and "Marshmallow" varieties may taste like, the "Egg Nog" remains a bit of a mystery. Though, we do know it has "5 grams of protein and 15 percent of the daily value of calcium, so go ahead and indulge." 

According to the press release announcing the partnership, the companies predict the "tasty collaboration will bring Spring to life in the dairy department with twice the Easter fun."

They also anticipate the milk will "delight consumers of all ages."

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:50:20 -0500

Monroe airport back to normal after plane overruns runway

Operations at the Monroe airport ceased Wednesday morning for several hours after a plane went off the runway, officials said.

Officials said the pilot was attempting to land at the time. There were three passengers also in the plane at the time.

CHOPPER 9 IMAGES: Monroe airport closed after plane goes off runway

No injuries were reported in the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Officials said it was foggy at the time of the landing.

The incident happened at 9:53 a.m. on the Charlotte Highway end of the airport.

The airport reopened around 2:30 p.m.

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Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:37:20 -0500

AP Source: Greg Hardy to meet with NFL officials

(AP) Panthers defensive end and soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy will meet with NFL officials in New York on Wednesday to discuss his domestic violence case, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

The person spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no public announcement of the meeting has been made.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment.

The meeting means Hardy's lengthy legal saga could be coming to an end soon.

Hardy has been on the commissioner's exempt list since September.

He becomes a free agent March 10. While he's not expected to re-sign with Carolina, he could command millions on the market.

Hardy, 26, was convicted of assault on a female and communicating threats last summer, but charges were dismissed Feb. 9 during an appeal trial when his accuser couldn't be located to testify. Prosecutors say Hardy reached a civil suit agreement with the accuser.

The NFL has said it is investigating Hardy's case.

The league unsuccessfully petitioned to have evidence from Hardy's first trial unsealed. Without that evidence, it may be difficult for the league to suspend Hardy.

Hardy potentially faces up to a six-game suspension from the NFL for violating its domestic abuse policy even though the charges against him were dismissed.

Hardy is seeking immediate reinstatement from the NFL — before he hits the free agent market next week — after a federal judge cleared way for Adrian Peterson's return to the league. Like Peterson, Hardy spent the majority of last season on the commissioner's exempt list preventing him from playing football.

Hardy was Carolina's franchise player last season.

Despite being convicted last summer he was allowed to play in Carolina's first game before eventually being placed on the commissioner's exempt list when Roger Goodell began to toughen his stance on domestic violence offenders in the wake of the Ray Rice incident.

Still, Hardy collected $13.1 million last year from the Panthers as their franchise player. He had 15 sacks in 2013, tying a franchise record.

Hardy posted photographs from photographs on social media of New York on Tuesday, but did not mention a meeting with the NFL.

NOTES: The Panthers announced Tuesday they have re-signed defensive tackle Colin Cole to a one-year contract. Details on the contract were not available.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:27:12 -0500

‘Hot convict’ plans on being model, actor after prison stint

Jeremy Meeks may be behind bars for now, but according to him, his future is looking bright.

Meeks, whose handsome mug shot took the Internet by storm in 2014, has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison on weapons-related charges.

But Meeks is hoping to get out as early as November 2015, when combining time already served and good behavior, according to a jailhouse interview.

And Meeks has every reason to be on his best behavior. He already has an agent and is set to take advantage of his newfound fame.

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Meeks says he wants to try both modeling and acting, saying he would love to be on a show like, “Sons of Anarchy.”

The inmate is doing his part to stay in shape by working out and eating healthy.

When asked about the now-famous mug shot, Meeks said he wasn’t trying to look sexy. Instead, he was thinking about his family, especially his son.

Published: Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:20:55 -0500