Lawrence County family advocate killed in drunk driving crash


SOUTH WEBSTER, Ohio (WSAZ) – The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a drunk driving crash that took the life of a Lawrence County family advocate Saturday night.

According to a release from the OSHP Portsmouth Post, troopers received a report around 7:15 p.m. on Saturday of what appeared to be an intoxicated subject leaving the County Store in South Webster after causing a disturbance at the business.

When Ohio state troopers responded, they arrived to the scene of a fatal crash involving a black 2016 Kia Sedona on State Route 140 near Bloom Furnace.

Troopers say that the driver of the Sedona, Arnold Queen II, 42 of Wheelersburg, crossed the center line and hit a motorcycle occupied by Steven L. Cahal, 51, and Lorena Cahal, 50, both of South Point.ADVERTISEMENT

Lorena Cahal was pronounced dead at the scene. She was a family advocate at the Lawrence County Early Childhood Academy’s Sybene Campus in South Point.

Steven Cahal was flown to Cabell-Huntington Hospital.

OSHP says that Queen has been taken into custody and charged with operating a vehicle while impaired with additional charges pending.

Boater charged with operating while intoxicated in swimmer’s death

Updated Aug 26, 2020; Posted Aug 25, 2020 

Kalamazoo County Sheriff on Gull Lake
MLive File Photo. A Kalamazoo County sheriff boat on Gull Lake.Kalamazoo Gazette

GULL LAKE, MI — A man was charged with operating a boat while intoxicated causing death after police said he struck and killed a swimmer on Gull Lake over the Fourth of July weekend. 

Tyler Boyd, 37, of Grand Rapids, was arraigned Tuesday, Aug. 25, on a felony charge of operating a watercraft while intoxicated causing death in connection to the 18-year-old swimmer killed on Gull Lake in July, according to court documents.

Emergency responders were called to Gull Lake at 1:44 p.m. Sunday, July 5, in Kalamazoo County’s Ross Township, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. The victim killed was identified as Jack William Mitchell, 18, of Richland Township.

Police said Mitchell was swimming when the boat struck him. He was taken to shore for life-saving efforts but was pronounced dead from his injuries at the scene, police said.

Boyd’s bond was set at $30,000. He is expected back in court at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, for a probable cause conference. While awaiting his next court date, Boyd is prohibited from drinking alcohol or using drugs and cannot leave the state of Michigan.

Sturgis police chief expected to be charged with driving while intoxicated

Sturgis Police and Fire station
Longtime Sturgis Police Chief Geoffrey Smith is expected to face a charge of driving while intoxicated due to an alcohol-involved crash that happened earlier this August in St. Joseph County, Michigan. (MLive file photo)

Facebook ShareTwitter ShareBy Ryan Boldrey |

UPDATE: The Sturgis City Commission accepted the resignation of Police Chief Geoffrey Smith and approved a separation agreement with him during its Wednesday night meeting.

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, MI — Sturgis Police Chief Geoffrey Smith is expected to be in court in the near future due to an alcohol-involved crash that happened earlier this August.

According to St. Joseph County District Court records, a charge of driving while intoxicated was submitted to the prosecutor’s office for review for an incident that occurred Saturday, Aug. 15.

Smith had been scheduled for arraignment Aug. 27 in St. Joseph County but, due to potential conflicts of interest with the court and prosecutor’s office, a change of venue is occurring.

While it will still technically be a St. Joseph County case, the case will instead be prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office and Calhoun County District Judge Paul Beardslee will preside, Smith’s attorney Michael Hills told MLive Wednesday, Aug. 26.

The city of Sturgis issued a statement Sunday, Aug. 16 noting that Smith had been involved in a crash the day before while off duty and that he was being placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.

It is unclear if Smith remains on leave at this time.

Booking records showed that the chief arrived at the St. Joseph County Jail at around 2:15 a.m. Aug. 16 and that he was released a little more than five hours later. The St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department was the arresting agency.

According to the statement provided by the city, the police chief was transported to the emergency room at Sturgis Hospital and treated for minor injuries prior to being booked at the jail.

In a statement issued to MLive Wednesday, Hills stated that “Smith has served the City of Sturgis faithfully for 24 years, climbing through the ranks to become Director of Public Safety overseeing about 50 officers and staff.”

Hills said that in addition to his service as a public safety officer, Smith has been a coach, teacher, board member and volunteer.

“Geoff is human and did make a mistake,” Hills said. “He is not backing away from it, but addressing the issues as they present themselves, first cooperating completely with the police, second being candid with his employer and finally coordinating and complying with the court system as it now moves forward.”

Hills said the chief has been truly humbled by the outpouring of support he has received in the community.

The chief is expected to release his own statement later this evening, Hills said.

Suspicious man in neighborhood charged with driving while impaired, possession of drug paraphernalia

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – A resident of South Brunswick reported a suspicious occupied silver Lexus on Shelly Road near Benson Road around 1:40 this morning, Aug. 12.

Officer Matthew Hagood arrived to find a 36-year-old male from Denver, Pennsylvania, in the driver’s seat of the running Lexus. The person appeared to be under influence of something and was only partially clothed, according to information provided by the South Brunswick Police Department.

The man was placed under arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while impaired. At police headquarters, Detective Tim Hoover, a trained drug recognition expert, conducted and examination and confirmed the suspect was impaired. He was processed, issued several summonses, and released to a family member, according to reports.

Chief Raymond Hayducka praised the resident for being alert to the running vehicle.

“This driver should never have been on the road. His actions jeopardized everyone, especially those in that residential neighborhood. He was in no condition to be behind the wheel and with the help of a local resident we were able to safely get him off the road. It was our partnership with the community that prevented a tragedy early this morning,” Hayducka said in the statement.

It’s not just coronavirus: America repeatedly fails at public health

A line of people, many not wearing masks, waits to enter a Miami Beach restaurant on June 26. <span class="copyright">(Chandan Khanna / AFP/Getty Images)</span>
A line of people, many not wearing masks, waits to enter a Miami Beach restaurant on June 26. (Chandan Khanna / AFP/Getty Images)

As the coronavirus outbreak swept the country, President Trump for months promised high-tech solutions just over the horizon: thousands of new ventilators, miracle drugs and vaccines developed at “warp speed.”

He has shown decidedly less enthusiasm for simpler steps such as mask wearing and social distancing. That has frustrated public health officials, who are now pleading with Americans to make a few small changes in their behaviors to help control the widening pandemic.

But if the president’s disdain for masks may be extreme, his impulse to look for the latest and greatest medical intervention reflects a strong tradition in American healthcare that has long put a premium on new drugs, bigger medical systems and more technology, often at the expense of public health initiatives that other nations have shown to be more effective at lower cost.

“We are much more willing to put money toward treating something than preventing it,” said Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now heads the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It is a mindset that helps explain the nation’s more than $3.6-trillion annual healthcare tab, by far the highest in the world.

It also accounts for some of America’s struggles with the current pandemic, which is exploding across the country, threatening to claim tens of thousands of additional lives, even as it fades in Europe and other wealthy nations.

Similarly, the long-standing American resistance to public health measures hampers efforts to restrain diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses that are driving hundreds of billions of dollars of medical spending.

“Public health is a quintessential public action,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, which studies health systems in the U.S. and abroad. “It must be done by people working together on behalf of themselves and others. In a fiercely independent culture, that is very hard to undertake.”

America spends more than $237 billion a year on medical care for people with diabetes, for example, much of it to control a disease that can be prevented or managed with simple interventions like eating more healthful foods.

Just the tab for prescription drugs to control the disease topped $85 billion in 2017, according to research by the American Diabetes Assn.

By contrast, efforts by public health advocates, nutrition experts, pediatricians and others to strengthen dietary standards or create more incentives for healthful eating have run into persistent barriers, stymieing such initiatives for decades.

“There has long been this double standard when it comes to public health,” said John Auerbach, president of the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health. “If there is a new medicine, there is just an assumption that it will get paid for, no matter the cost. But every public health policy requires a cost-benefit analysis that must show it not only improves health but saves money.”

Even the structure of the American healthcare system tends to favor high-cost interventions such as surgery and treatment by specialists like endocrinologists, orthopedists and cardiologists, rather than primary-care physicians who traditionally helped patients maintain their health and prevent disease.

Nationally, the U.S. devotes on average only about 5% to 7% of total healthcare spending to primary care, even though there is growing evidence that places that have stronger primary care systems have healthier populations and lower overall healthcare costs.

Other wealthy nations invest up to twice as much on primary-care services and have substantially lower overall healthcare spending.

The U.S. spent more than $10,000 per person on healthcare in 2018, more than double what major European nations such as France, Britain and the Netherlands spend, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The roots of these imbalances run deep in American healthcare, dating back to efforts by physicians in the early 20th century to maintain control of medical care against a rising public health movement championed by government reformers.

As healthcare in America became big business, creating what the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 called a “medical industrial complex,” drugmakers, medical systems, dialysis companies and others dependent on high medical spending expanded their influence.

And while medical spending in the U.S. rocketed upward, wariness of government helped check any parallel expansion in public health.

“Americans have been much more comfortable allowing money to flow to the private sector rather than go to the public sector,” said Blumenthal of the Commonwealth Fund.

Since the 2008-09 recession, the Trust for America’s Public Health has estimated that nearly 60,000 state and local public health jobs have been lost as investment in public health flagged.

Meanwhile, even small efforts to tackle public health challenges like removing sodas and junk food from school vending machines have proved to be monumental tasks requiring years of advocacy.

Auerbach, who was Boston health commissioner before taking the helm at the Trust for America’s Health, called the push to limit smoking in restaurants in the 1990s “one of the most difficult fights I’ve been involved in in 30 years in public health.” Today, the reduction in smoking stands as one of the great public health success stories in the U.S.

Even victories have sometimes proved ephemeral, however.

Although the Obama administration in 2012 issued rules setting standards for less salt and more whole grains in school meals, the Trump administration has been working since 2017 to roll back the rules under pressure from the food industry.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Colin Schwartz, deputy director of federal affairs at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, which spent years pushing for the food standards. “The evidence is clear that strong standards reduce obesity and set kids up for better health long-term, but they are obviously not looking long-term.”

Today, there is growing consensus among experts and healthcare leaders that combating chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease — and controlling costs — will require even more robust public health interventions.

These include new efforts to tackle underlying causes of poor health, such as poverty, inadequate housing and education and poor childcare, areas where the U.S. has also under-invested over the years.

“We need to go upstream,” said George Halvorson, the former chief executive of Kaiser Permanente who now chairs First 5 California, an ambitious state effort to improve early childhood education and development.

Besser, the former acting CDC director, warned that the country’s inability to address these issues and build an adequate safety net is also now complicating the effort to control the coronavirus.

“We don’t have the social contract we need,” he noted. “It’s much harder to be successful in America because we don’t believe everyone deserves things such as health insurance, jobs that pay a living wage and sick leave. These things are not available to tens of millions of people of America. … and so, it’s harder for people to do the right thing.”