Saturday, May 11, 2002

Tristate A.M. Report

Off-duty officer sued by man hit with truck

        A man hit by a truck driven by an off-duty Cincinnati police officer last month filed a lawsuit Friday, accusing the officer of violating his constitutional rights and causing a back injury that has left him unable to work.

        Gregory Orr was speeding on Interstate 74 early April 20 when an officer tried to pull him over. Mr. Orr did not stop, proceeding to a parking lot where he was spotted by Officer Joshua Phillips, who was off duty. The lawsuit alleges — and the police department has said — Officer Phillips, in his personal truck, got involved in the chase and hit Mr. Orr with his truck.

        Mr. Orr, of Dry Ridge, now has a herniated disc, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Robert Newman, but he is unable to get medical treatment because he cannot work. Before the accident, Mr. Orr installed drywall.

        Mr. Orr was charged with speeding, eluding and driving without a license. Officer Phillips was reassigned to desk duty while the department investigates.

        The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount, but says it's more than $200,000.

California lures zoo horticulture director

        Dave Ehrlinger, horticulture director at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens for 28 years, has been named horticulture director at Quail Botanical Gardens, Encinitas, Calif., effective May 20.

        Quail, which has the largest collection of bamboo plants in the United States, is recognized for its rare tropical and subtropical gardens.

        Mr. Ehrlinger, 54, says he has always been intrigued with tropical plants and, challenging as it was, “always tried to design exotic-looking landscapes around the zoo.”

        “It will be exciting to do really neat tropical plants outside in a more natural environment,” he said.

        He has directed the zoo's horticulture program since he went to work in Avondale.

        “I have become disenchanted with winters here. ... I'm fundamentally not a winter person,” although he was born in Michigan.

        But, Mr. Ehrlinger said, “Cincinnati has been a great place. ... I definitely will miss the zoo in Cincinnati.”

        His wife, Claire Ehrlinger, who heads the landscape horticultural technologies program at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, will join him in California.

Reds, Cards attract weekend blimp visit

        The Goodyear blimp will circle over downtown Cincinnati throughout the weekend.

        In the city to advertise during the weekend's games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Reds, the blimp stays at Lunken Airport at night.

        It arrived Thursday, the last day of a weeklong stay for the MetLife blimp. The Goodyear blimp heads next to Indianapolis for the Indy 500.

Storm drain report offers short-term fixes

        READING — The city hopes to share the results of its $5,000 storm drainage study with Sharonville and Evendale — two other communities hard hit by flash floods last July that killed three people and caused millions of dollars in damage.

        Reading experienced a 100-year flood because of the heavy rains, which overflowed the banks of Mill Creek.

        The study emphasized short-term remedial actions while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies pursue long-term solutions.

        Those actions include:

        • Cutting heavy brush and other growth along the banks of Mill Creek.

        • Excavating sanitary sewer overflow outlets.

        • Widening the channel just south of the Clark Street bridge.

        Study results were introduced at this week's council session.

Police will increase scrutiny on seat belts

        Cincinnati police warn they'll be stepping up seat-belt enforcement starting May 24.

        The extra patrols are part of Ohio's “What's Holding You Back?” campaign to increase seat-belt use. The Ohio State Highway Patrol and other departments across the state also are targeting seat-belt violators.

        Last year, more than 60 percent of children killed in traffic crashes in Ohio were not wearing seat belts, Chief Tom Streicher said.

        The extra patrols will continue through June 3.

Teen drivers warned during prom season

        MIAMI TOWNSHIP — Police, fire and emergency medical services departments will enact the eighth annual mock crash demonstration Tuesday geared for teen-age drivers and timed to prom season.

        The demonstration will take place at noon at Live Oaks Career Development Center, 5956 Buckwheat Road. It attempts to show possible results of drivers using excessive speed, drugs or alcohol.

        Two cars are placed next to each other, as if just involved in an accident, with mock victims needing medical assistance. Emergency vehicles are brought onto the scene, as well as an AirCare helicopter.

        Following the demonstration, the mother of a boy who was 17 when he was killed by a drunk driver in 1991 will speak.

Seniors in Loveland can win scholarships

        LOVELAND — High school students have until Friday to apply for two $1,000 scholarships from the Loveland Area Chamber of Commerce.

        Applicants must be graduating seniors who live in Loveland. All participating high schools should have applications in their guidance offices.

        Academics, community service and extracurricular activities will determine who receives the scholarships.

        For additional information, call the chamber office at 683-1544.

Hijack hoax started as prank phone call

        CLEVELAND — A northern Ohio man told the FBI he called a wrong number when he told another man he was on a plane that was being hijacked.

        The hoax Thursday started when a man in Lorain, about 40 miles west of Cleveland, answered his cell phone and the caller said his plane was being hijacked, said Lorain police Lt. Richard Resendez.

        The man called Lorain police, who notified the Federal Aviation Administration and FBI.

        Meanwhile, traffic controllers determined that no airliner was in trouble, the Plain Dealer reported Friday.

        The FBI was able to determine the origin of the call and Thursday night visited the caller.

        “We interviewed the individual who made the call but did not make an arrest,” said Bob Hawk, an FBI spokesman in Cleveland.

        The FBI and police declined to identify the caller, who told agents that he was playing a joke on a friend and apparently dialed the wrong number. Mr. Hawk said the matter would be turned over to the Justice Department.


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