Eyewitness News at 6, 2-8-13

7:36 PM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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Investigators today.. Using every piece of wreckage to figure out what happened Wednesday morning... in an accident that killed 4 people.

Hello Everyone.

I'm Frank Malloy.

And I'm Leah Johnson.

Our top story tonight... road repairs continue on 1-16... Where a fire from a burning tanker was so hot it incinerated part of the roadway.

as that work begins... so does the work of investigators... Trying to figure out what caused the accident that killed four people.

Tom George has more.

As crews investigate, they created their own sort of parking lot with all the cars involved in Wednesday's crash ... In addition to surveying the scene, they're hoping a combination of witnesses, car inspections, and crash data will create a better picture of what happened.

After losing time Thursday because of the heavy rains ... Investigators are back on job ... Trying to put together the pieces from Wednesday's fatal crashes....

< The on scene work and the vehicle inspections were not able to be conducted to the weather conditions in a heavy rain, but basically what's going on today is our specialized reconstruction team are inspecting the vehicles to determine the vehicle to vehicle relationship... >

They're doing that by keeping the vehicles in a lot next to the Georgia State Patrol post in Dublin...

< We've determined, and again, everything's still under investigation, but that we've determined, there's either nine or ten crashes that's happened as a result of the smoke or fog and there were several crashes that actually happened west of the tanker, so the tanker truck wreck actually happened in the middle of this long series of events. >

< This is all that's left on the tanker that exploded on Wednesday during the accident ... But no matter if a car was completely or just grazed in the accidents, all the cars were brought here for investigation... >

In total ... That were 27 all lined up ... A FedEx trailer involved in a fatality ... Several others cars where people made it out before their cars were damaged ... And then there was this ... The car an elderly couple from Dublin died in...

DeLoach says it seems fog and smoke may have played a role in the wrecks ... He says state Department of Transportation crews had been on their way to put up warnings before the crash ... But, he says it may be a while before all the answers come out.


< This is a joint investigation that's going to take months and months to piece everything together... There are witnesses we haven't even spoken to, so a crash of this magnitude could take anywhere from 6 to 8 months or a year.. >

Meanwhile, the investigation continues on the highway near Montrose... as Sgt. DeLoach said, rainy weather stopped them from going out yesterday...

But today, crews from the Department of Transportation and the Georgia State Patrol surveyed the scene to get a picture of how the accident happened ... as crews cleaned and paved the road.

The right lane of I-16 West was still blocked...and in the crash area...the right lane this morning was still charred.

Despite the work, traffic flowed smoothly.

A two-mile stretch of that right-hand lane will be closed at least through the weekend.

In other news tonight... Bibb schools superintendent Romain Dallemand... still insists that he intends to stay on as superintendent.

He said so when we asked him about a blog post...that reported he might be under consideration to head up Florida A&M University.

<I am committed to the students in this community, I am here to finish the work that I started and I am here to finish the term of my contract. I did not apply and will not apply for FAMU.>

Dallemand made that comment in between a string of meetings today.

Candace Adorka joins us with more.

The superintendent met with principals, assistant principals, directors and central office staff. He says he wanted to address reports that he committed the district to millions of dollars without the school board's knowledge.

<the meeting today is to share facts with school staff and administrators. There's been a lot of misinformation, a lot of misleading information spreading all over the place and I want for my staff members to know the truth and we're giving them the facts.>

The meetings were closed to the media, but Dallemand gave district employees these these documents that help outline the school district's relationship with the macon promise neighborhood initiative.

When I asked what he would be discussing in the meetings, Dallemand stressed these points

-- that Macon Promise Neighborhood is not a school district initiative-- Mercer University guides the initiative...

...and the school district is one of 32 partners.

-- As a partner, the district committed to 19-point-3 million dollars over the next decade.

-- Another 5-point-75 million will pay to lease a former school building where promise neighborhood plans to house programs.

Dallemand says the school board directed him and the school board president to enter that agreement. He says it's spelled out in a resolution the board approved on June 27th.

However, last week, school board member Susan Sipe testified in a superior court hearing that she didn't know about the lease agreement before it was signed.

The hearing was on a lawsuit where the district's former CFO is asking a judge to stop all payments in connection with the lease.

We're still waiting to hear ba

ck from the judge.

Thank you Candace.

A Bibb County man convicted of raping a nanny in North Macon home in 2008... will get a decision soon on whether he'll get a new trial.

Rudolph Valentino Smith was found guilty of five counts that included rape and kidnapping in May of 2011.

he was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences plus 20 additional years.

The Bibb County Sheriff's Office says Smith worked at the North Macon home... and asked to be let in to make a phone call... that's when they say he hit his victim.. threatened to kill her and raped her.

Austin Lewis was in the courtroom and has more on why Smith thinks he needs a new trial.

Frank, Leah... it all comes down to DNA.

That's what Smith's attorney...Rocky Adams says would make the difference in a new trial.

He asked for a continuance because he wasn't able to get the funding to bring in a D-N-A expert.

<Rocky Adams, Smith's Defense Attorney: Well Mr. Smith is uh naturally frustrated that he feels that some of these errors specifically the DNA evidence that was not presented at his previous trial harmed his defense>

A report by the Southern Center for Human Rights conducted two years ago... determined that Georgia's public defenders have huge caseloads that lead to "assembly-line justice."

And that those attorneys lacked the resources to investigate cases properly.

That's where things stand... We'll continue to follow the case, and keep you updated, Frank and Leah.

Thank you, Austin.

In other news tonight...Georgia Congressman Paul Broun would like to replace Georgia's senior senator Saxby Chambliss.

Earlier this month, Chambliss announced he will *not* seek re-election in 2014.

Today, 13WMAZ's Kenny Burgamy asked Broun if he supports a string of deep military spending cuts.. Known as sequestration.

< Rep. Paul Broun: "I want to see sequestration go in place because it's the first real cuts. Then we can plus up the military. I'm in the navy reserve today, I started my military service as a marine, I was a jet engine mechanic. So I know, particularly as a strict constitutionalist, that national defense, national security should be the major function of the federal government." >

Broun also said he's been working on spending cuts while in the U.S. House, but looks forward to the opportunity to continue that fight.

<Rep. Paul Broun : "As a U.S. senator, I would have a whole lot more ability to talk to America. It takes we the people across this nation demanding a different kind of governance and as a congressman, I've had that opportunity, as a senator I'll have more opportunity to do that. We've got to change Washington. We've got to change the environment.">

Paul Broun is a medical doctor by trade. He was first elected to Congress in July 2007.

<Rep. Paul Broun : "As a U.S. senator, I would have a whole lot more ability to talk to America. It takes we the people across this nation demanding a different kind of governance and as a congressman, I've had that opportunity, as a senator I'll have more opportunity to do that. We've got to change Washington. We've got to change the environment.">

Paul Broun is a medical doctor by trade. He was first elected to Congress in July 2007.

Hello everyone, welcome back.

Tonight...Fire investigators want to know what...or who...started a fire that

damaged a vacant house in the 1800 block of Third Street.

According to the Macon Bibb Fire Department, first responders got there just before five this morning.

Sergeant Ben Gleaton says...it's just seven blocks from the last fire...and that he seems to see a pattern.

He said this fire...like Monday's...is being investigated as arson.

If you have any information on any arson fire...you can call the Ga Arson Hotline 1- 800- 282- 5804.

Again that's 1- 800- 282- 5804.

Out of more than 100 certified Warner Robins police officers... One stood out as the best in 2012.

Lt. Lee VanOsdol earned the honor of officer of the year.

Lorra Lynch Jones talked with him about his rise to the top of the ranks.

An interesting fact about VanOsdol... He's a certified repel master.

That means he has special training to repel down the sides of buildings in crisis situations.

He says he's never had to do it... But he's ready should the occasion arise.

The "Big Bird Bash" is in no way affiliated with a tall, talking yellow bird.

Oh, no... Instead, think live music, and the Hummingbird Stage and Taproom.

Macon's premiere independent music festival will be held at Luther Williams field this year...

A bigger venue was in order for the Big Bird Bash, which has grown steadily since its inception three years ago.

<we have roughly a hundred fifty person capacity at the hummingbird. Last festival we had there, there were approximately 800 people through the door... Although not all of them were there at one time obviously. Due to popular demand, we decided to move the festival outside where we could have a larger audience... It should be 12 to 14 hours of live music that's got something for everybody. We're really looking forward to it.>

The Big Bird Bash will be held Saturday, March 2. For more information about the festival, visit 13WMAZ.com


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