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9 flu-related deaths reported in North Carolina last week

Nine people died from flu-related illness in North Carolina last week, the smallest number for a reporting period in more than a month.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports all nine victims were 65 years of age and older. There have been no pediatric deaths since mid-November.

Death toll from flu in North Carolina exceeds 2013-14 total

For the 2014-2015 flu season, the death toll in North Carolina is now at 136.

Read more: Our special section on the flu

In addition, The Division of Public Health's weekly report also says reports of flu-like illness increased slightly last week following several weeks of decline.

Flu deaths in SC up to 54 as number of cases declines again

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Published: Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:21:12 -0500

Lawsuit in NC courts challenges 2016 photo ID voter mandate

Another lawsuit challenging election changes in North Carolina made by Republicans is focusing solely on a photo identification requirement to cast ballots in person beginning in 2016.

A trial judge scheduled arguments Friday in Wake County between attorneys for the state and voters who sued to challenge the photo ID mandate. The judge has been asked to either throw out or uphold the requirement.

Read our past coverage:

The voters and two groups argue the requirement violates the state constitution because it expands the qualification citizens must meet before they can vote. But state attorneys say citizens always have been required to establish their identities before receiving ballots.

Three federal lawsuits challenge photo ID and additional elements of the elections overhaul law. Those cases have been consolidated and set for trial this summer.

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Published: Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:39:08 -0500

Weekend Traffic Update

January 30: S. TryonWater Main Repair

The inbound lanes on S Tryon St  between General Dr. and Carowinds Blvd. will be closed Friday night January 30th from approximately 7pm to 7am Saturday morning due to a water main repair. Motorists will need to use John Price as the detour.  All outbound lanes will remain open.


February 1: Super Bowl Shuffle 4 Miler

The event begins on Sunday, February 1 at 9 a.m. on South Mint St. to Morhead St., Cedar St., W. Trade St., Stonewall St., McDowell St. and Morehead St.  Event organizers expect 500 participants.  Utilize I-277 to get around the route.


Published: Fri, 30 Jan 2015 04:48:06 -0500

Dan River water quality to be tested Friday

North Carolina environmental workers planned to test the water quality at the Dan River Friday, a year after Duke Energy's massive coal ash spill.

More than 40,000 tons of toxic ash leaked from a pipe in February 2014. The spill coated more than 70 miles of the river in waste.

Eyewitness news will have coverage on and on Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

Published: Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:10:20 -0500

CMPD investigates eighth homicide of 2015

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating a homicide after a man died Thursday night, according to a CMPD news release.

Andrew Thomas Dyles was found suffering from physical trauma in the 100 block of Wadsworth Place at about 5 p.m. Thursday, police said.

IMAGES: CMPD investigates eighth homicide of 2015

He died later in the evening at Carolinas Medical Center, police said.

This is CMPD's eighth homicide investigation of 2015.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:44:42 -0500

Deputies: Teen said he was going to school ‘strapped’

Deputies arrested a 17-year-old boy in Clover who they said posted on Facebook that he was going to bring a weapon to school.

Cody Ronan posted on his page that he was going to go to Clover High School “strapped.”

Police found out about it on Wednesday.

They said he was apparently upset about something someone had said about him.

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Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 21:02:01 -0500

Police: Boy reports being sexually abused at Harris YMCA

Police are conducting an investigation after a boy reported he was sexually abused inside a Southpark YMCA.

The 10-year-old was fondled inside the locker room at the Harris YMCA on Quail Hollow Road Wednesday, according to a police report.

Police said they have not made any arrests and they also haven't released a suspect’s description.

YMCA of Greater Charlotte officials said a parent told them about the incident and they reported it to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

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Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:45:51 -0500

City proposes changes to ethics policy

Changes have been proposed to Charlotte City Council’s ethics policy drafted in the wake of former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s arrest.

Cannon was arrested last year for accepting bribes in exchange for political favors.

SPECIAL SECTION: Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon heads to prison
The new policy adds an entire section called Gifts, defining what is acceptable and unacceptable for the mayor and council members to receive.
It says no official should accept a gift unless it meets one of several exceptions -- for example, if it’s from a family member or costs less than $50.
Tickets to events would be accepted only if the official is representing the city and where the city has a legitimate purpose in being represented at the event.
Cannon accepted $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and use of a luxury apartment from undercover agents between January 2013 and February 2014.
During February 2014, he accepted $20,000 in cash in the mayor's office.
Cannon started his 44-month prison sentence in November after pleading guilty.
Earlier this month, he was accepted into a drug treatment program at the federal prison in Morgantown, West Virginia.
If he completes the nine-month program, it could take a year off of his sentence.
Up until now, there haven't been any rules on gifts for the mayor or City Council members.
The new policy still has to be voted on and approved by the council.

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Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:17:10 -0500

Developer plans expansion for First Ward

New apartments are the first of many changes coming to uptown's first ward.

Developer Dan Levine plans to build 264 apartments on Brevard Street.

Levine is already building a new park behind UNC Charlotte's uptown campus.

A 300-room hotel will go next to the park.

Levine said it will create a new identity for the first ward.

Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:49:22 -0500

CMPD: 3 shot, gunman on the loose

Police are investigating two scenes in west Charlotte after three people were shot and they said the shooter is on the loose.

Detectives described it as a possible gun battle between three or more men, all in their 20s. They all knew each other, police said.

All three were shot at a home on Columbus Circle where police found two of the shooting victims.

One victim suffered life-threatening injuries and the other had potentially life-threatening injuries, MEDIC said.

About one block away, a third shooting victim ran to a store on Berryhill Road for help.

That person also sustained life-threatening injuries, officials said.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:15:38 -0500

Residents speculate snags in Google Fiber

It’s all about speed. 

That’s the reason people from City Hall to many of Charlotte’s neighborhoods are excited that Google has selected Charlotte as one of the next cities to get its hyper-speed Google Fiber Internet service.

But some are saying, “Not so fast.”

If installation of that fiber network goes like it did in Kansas City, some people may have second thoughts.

“It's like they just came and took over my property and I thought that was rude and wrong,” a resident of Kansas City told KMBC-TV after the race to install Google Fiber led to damaged sidewalks, landscaping and utility lines. 

Some homeowners filed formal complaints with the city.

That may not go so well for Charlotte neighborhoods like Dilworth.

“People have invested a lot in the way their yards and neighborhoods look,” said Alyssa Romine. 

She has lived in Dilworth for a little more than a year but said many of her neighbors would not put up with damage to their streets or property.

In a statement sent to Eyewitness News on Thursday, Google said in part: “We've learned a lot from our network builds in Kansas City and Austin and are constantly finding ways that we can minimize disruption along the way.”

The complaints don’t come as a surprise to a city staffer who prepared Charlotte’s pitch to Google.

“We've read the articles and visited Kansas City and saw the end result,” Phil Reiger, the city’s assistant director of transportation said what they saw in Kansas City convinced them that Google will deal with any problems they may encounter in Charlotte.

“We feel real confident that Google is prepared to do good work,” Reiger said.

Google does not have a date yet to start construction, but once they start, they hope to have all 6,000 miles of fiber optic cable installed within two years.

Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:36:39 -0500

9 Investigates: NC stalking laws leave victims at risk

Story highlights:

  • Woman, who says she was harassed by ex-boyfriend, says system doesn't always protect victims.
  • A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police detective said people who are convicted often recieve light sentences.
  • State representative will propose a domestic violence registry and strengthening existing laws.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Melanie Johnson said she felt hopeless.  For two years, she said she's been a virtual hostage, constantly harassed by a man she met online.
“The calls were relentless. He would call my cellphone," she said. “If I wouldn't answer, he'd hang up and dial right back.”
She said there were nearly 50 calls a day plus hundreds of texts, emails and hits on social media.

“He would make fake profiles,” Johnson said. “He would steal someone's picture and set up a profile and send me a message in my inbox.”
She changed her cell number, email address and even changed her contact information at work.  She also blocked all of his known email addresses.
The more she tried to end the relationship, the more she says her stalker escalated:

  • sending her a photo to let her know he'd been watching her from the bushes.
  • sending her a picture of a gun.
  • posting private photos of her on a porn site and linking it to her Facebook page.

Johnson added the ultimate betrayal came when her stalker took video that he had secretly recorded of them in an intimate setting and posted it on a porn site.  She said she felt embarrassed, humiliated and scared for her children.
She tried to get a restraining order to make it stop, but  she said her case was rejected multiple times.

RESOURCES: More information about stalking in North Carolina

Johnson said, in her opinion, the system is flawed and doesn't always protect victims.

“I found out that the laws pertaining to stalking and cyber stalking are very vague," Melanie Johnson said.

Determined to try to meet the laws' difficult criteria, she decided to investigate her own case.
“I knew no one would believe my story, unless I had proof," Johnson said.
She documented everything. She saved email alerts of his alleged attempts to crack her password, which she believes occurred more than 400 times.
She cross referenced fake profiles that she said were really his and she recorded their conversations.
“He has threatened over the phone that he would rape me, kill me and burn my house down with my dead body in it,” Johnson said.
Fearing for her life, she uprooted her three children and moved.
Finally, her case landed on the desk of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department detective Keith Way.

CLICK HERE to view this video on your phone

When she gave him the mountain of evidence that she had collected on her own, he validated it and then served the suspect with a restraining order.
He also filed four charges: two for harassing phone calls, one for stalking and one for cyberstalking. But even if he's found guilty,  Way says the punishment is minimal.
Way said that a lot of victims go through a chaotic period in their life with a stalker, only to see that person get a 60-day sentence, which will probably be suspended, then possibly probation and possibly a fine. 
Way said often, after leaving court, these individuals go right back to harassing their victims again.
Johnson said she is taking even more action. She posted her story and a petition on because she wants stricter laws and harsher punishments for stalking suspects. 

CLICK HERE to view Melanie Johnson's petition

She also said she wants a way for women and men to avoid potential stalkers in the form of a domestic violence registry so people are not completely vulnerable and can have tools to check someone's background before they even invest in one date.
State Rep. Rodney Moore said he has seen Johnson’s petition. He, too, wants a domestic violence offenders registry and has already drafted a bill that he said could be a model for legislation across the country.

MORE INFORMATION: President Barack Obama declares January 2015 National Stalking Awareness Month

Moore said people with three convictions would be compelled to register using the same process that sex offenders use.  He said their names would stay on the registry for 30 years.
Moore also promised to look at adding more teeth to stalking and cyberstalking laws.
Johnson said she's not entirely confident in the current system. She said she will keep pushing to make the process easier for other victims.
Johnson hopes the man in her case will be found guilty in court, and that he does not do this to anyone else.

CLICK HERE to see past stories from 9 Investigates

Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:00:00 -0500

Police: 6 JCSU students accused of hazing

Six members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. are accused of hazing a pledge at Johnson C. Smith University.
Police arrested Clifton Kyle Gregg, Edward Droshon Alexander, Nickalos Duran Hayden, Touangaheofa Langi and Patrick Joseph Philogene on Tuesday.
Police said they are looking for a sixth person, Carleton Richardson, in connection to the case.
Investigators said the 20-year-old student told police he was struck with an object numerous times while meeting with members of the fraternity on and off campus over the past two months.
Police were made aware of the hazing after the student went to the hospital and was treated for his severe injuries, according to the report.
Channel 9 reached out to the university following the arrests. 
A spokesperson said the university has suspended the organization from campus and released a statement that read in part: "Hazing is not aligned with the ideals and principles of higher education or Johnson C. Smith University. Therefore, it has no place on our campus, and the university has a zero tolerance for hazing in academic life, student life or athletics."
The university said the Sixth District of Omega Psi Phi has also suspended the Rho Chapter of the fraternity as the investigation continues.
Channel 9 reached out to the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. International headquarters, as well as the Sixth District for comment but did not hear back as of Thursday night.
A spokesperson with the university said the students will also face the university’s judicial process in addition to the misdemeanor charge.
The investigation is ongoing.

Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:58:41 -0500

Mother, teen son jump from second-story window to escape house fire

Fire investigators returned to a burned out shell that an Alexander County family once called their home.

The fire was so bad a mother and her teenage son had to jump out of a second-story window to escape.

The mother is in the hospital with a broken back.

Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty found out Thursday how the community is helping after the family lost everything in the fire.

Sherman Moretz showed Channel 9 the window his sister and her teenage son jumped from after their home caught fire.     

It was the family's cat that woke the teenager to the fire. He ran to get his mother, but realized the only way out was through this window.  

He was on the phone with 911 when he jumped.  

"I need help. I think my house is on fire. It's filling with smoke. We can't breathe and it's two-story. Please hurry, it is getting so hot," he told the dispatcher.

"OK, get everybody out of the house,” the dispatcher said.

"He couldn't even see the door behind him. He had to open the window so they could breath and at that point the only choice they had was to jump,” Moretz said.

Since the fire, a church youth group has cleaned a vacant mobile home for the family. Another church group is going to build a handicap ramp for the mother who broke two bones in her back during the fall.
The Catawba Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross is also providing clothing for the mother and son who escaped with only what they are wearing.  

The Red Cross said they have responded to 20 fires in January alone, helping 57 people in the four counties near Hickory.  

"As you can see, my family lost everything. It is hard to lose your whole life history -- gone. The Red Cross has been great. I couldn't thank them enough," Moretz said.

Fire investigators determined the fire was accidental, most likely starting near a wood stove the family used to heat the home. 

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CMPD: Speed, alcohol factors in wreck on Providence Road

CMPD: Man arrested in connection with fatal shooting at Citgo

New report puts Charlotte on richest cities list

Study: North Carolina ranked worst state for teachers in 2014

CMPD: Man turns self in after allegedly pepper-spraying dog


Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:47:30 -0500

Johnston reopens following ruptured gas line

Emergency crews repaired a ruptured gas line on Johnston Road Thursday afternoon near Clems Crossing Drive, fire officials said.

The northbound lanes in the area were shut down for about an hour.

A worker accidently cut the gas line, officials said.

An earlier serious accident shut down Providence Road and it reopened about 4 p.m.

Article: CMPD: Speed, alcohol factors in wreck on Providence Road

Watch Eyewitness News at 5 & 6 p.m. and return to for the latest developments.

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Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:10:58 -0500

Lincolnton police search for missing teen girl

Lincolnton police need the public’s help finding a 15-year-old girl who was reported missing.

Breanna Hoyle was last seen Jan. 22 at Lincolnton High School.

Hoyle is described as 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighing 115 pounds. She has blue eyes and brown hair.

She was last seen wearing a black jacket, a blue shirt, blue jeans and black boots.

Anyone with information on Hoyle’s whereabouts is urged to call Lincolnton police at 704-736-8900.

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CMPD: Speed, alcohol factors in wreck on Providence Road

CMPD: Man arrested in connection with fatal shooting at Citgo

New report puts Charlotte on richest cities list

Study: North Carolina ranked worst state for teachers in 2014

CMPD: Man turns self in after allegedly pepper-spraying dog


Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:45:56 -0500

Thieves strike historic black church in Gastonia

Thieves struck a major blow to one of the area's oldest black churches.

St. Paul Baptist Church is a landmark with members now dealing with a problem they never thought they would face.

"It really is awful," said Deacon Perry Gray. "Never in my wildest dreams."
Gray discovered the break-in Wednesday at the church, built in 1885 and the first church established for a black congregation in Gastonia.
"Who would take it upon themselves to come in here and do this at this church? It's beyond me," Gray said.
The thief kicked in the back door of the church.
The burglar took the microphones, most of the mic stands, piano keyboard, amps and a drum set.
The thieves also stole a minirefrigerator and the pastor's chair from his study
"I said, ‘Wow, they took the whole sound system,'" Gray said.
Nearly $15,000 worth of church property was stolen.
The church suffered some structural damage last summer so parishioners moved to another church for service, but their insurance claim was withheld. 
There is no money to replace the items that were taken.
Gray said it’s is a huge setback, but he refuses to be angry at the culprit.

"I forgive them already, and I just hope that they will do the right thing," he said.
Members had raised money hoping to reopen the historic church this year and now have to start a fundraiser to replace the stolen items.

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Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:24:23 -0500

This Pit-Bull-Dachshund mix looks exactly like you'd think

This is definitely not something you see every day -- the tiny, docile Dachshund has apparently mated with the big boss of the dog world, the Pit Bull. While not something many of us expected to lay our eyes on in this lifetime, it exists, and it is adorable.

"He is real!!" the Moultrie Colquitt County Humane Society posted on their Facebook page. "Pit Bull and Dachshund mix. If you are looking for a popular/unusual pet, then this is it."

Since posting photos and video (yes there's video) of Rami, the dog has quickly gone viral, and applications for adoption are apparently pouring in. There's been so much interest in the rare mix, that the shelter had to remind people that there were, in fact, other dogs that needed adopting.

"We appreciate all your interest in our sweet Rami," they wrote on the page. "Please remember there are lots of homeless animals in shelters [as] unique as Rami.”

Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:06:09 -0500

Watch: Protesters interrupt Muslim rally in Texas

What was supposed to be a rally at the Texas Capitol on Thursday promoting tolerance and inclusion for Muslims and their supporters was largely derailed by sustained screams from protesters loudly advocating for something quite apart from peace and love.

Texas Muslim Capitol Day was organized by Texas chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose members intended to raise awareness on issues, advocate on a number of bills and celebrate their right as Americans — and in one speaker’s case an eighth-generation Texan — to be part of the political process.

But not one of the 10 or so speakers at the hourlong event managed to finish a sentence without being heckled by a group of maybe two dozen that fanned out about 20 paces from the south steps of the statehouse. A patriotic song by the Houston Koran Academy didn’t even silence the screaming.

CAIR-TX spokeswoman Ruth Nasrullah had barely begun the program when a woman briefly commandeered the podium and attempted to claim the Capitol in the name of Jesus Christ. The woman, a native Michigander who now goes “wherever the Lord calls,” later said she was seized by “righteous anger” and felt she’d accomplished what she attempted to do Thursday morning.

“I want to inspire Americans against this and proclaim for Jesus Christ and not their god, Allah,” Christine Weick said.

Although the Texas House is in recess until next week, at least one elected official didn’t exactly put a welcome mat outside her office door for the Muslim activists. State Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, posted on Facebook that she had left an Israeli flag in her office “with instructions to staff to ask representative from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly renounce allegiance to America and our laws.”

That post prompted CAIR’s national government affairs manager to email General Counsel and House Ethics Advisor Frank Battle asking whether “White had violated any House rules in creating such an internal office policy that is selectively being enforced to discriminate against certain religious minorities trying to meet with her or her staff?”

Many a speaker at the podium said both their and the protesters’ presence was a celebration of a robust First Amendment. One, Wardah Khalid, who writes the Young American Muslim blog for the Houston Chronicle and for the Huffington Post, said it was time for Muslims to embrace their rights and craft their own narrative of who they are.

“We as Muslim Americans will no longer sit idle as others seek to define us and our beautiful faith,” Khalid said.

A similar event at the Capitol during the last session reportedly drew zero protesters, but Rev. Ronnie Lister of Houston, who spoke in favor of the CAIR activists, said he fully expected the sound and fury he heard and saw Tuesday.

Lister’s prepared remarks — delivered in an oratorical cadence very much reminiscent of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — argued that despite attendees’ differences, the event was a gathering of equals.

“It is very important that we concentrate on what Allah has sent us here to do today,” Lister said. “It is very important to understand that the world is changing. And when things change, people get scared and they get crazy. God is in you and me and even the hecklers over there. God is in everything but evil. Allah akbar!”

Later, Lister said people of differing faiths would do well to read the holy books of other religions as a way to promote tolerance and inclusion, but he didn’t see that happening anytime soon.

“This is an indication of the expansion of the freedom of America,” Lister said. “America is a melting pot and Muslims are Americans who pay their taxes and must be included.”

“This is nothing,” Lister said of the protesters. “Their anger and hate will not allow them to use their minds.”

Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:51:54 -0500

9 Investigates: NC mom fights against fatigued truckers after son's death

A North Carolina mom is literally pleading for a wakeup call for drivers who fall asleep at the wheel.

It's a mission she's dedicated her life to after her son was killed by a fatigued trucker.

In a 9 Investigation anchor Sarah Rosario takes a closer look at who pays the cost because of others negligence.

On Oct. 24, 2010, Jackie Novak's life changed forever. It was the day her 22-year-old son Chuck Novak and four others were killed in an accident on Interstate 26 in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Police said it was caused by a trucker who fell asleep at the wheel.

Novak cried as she recalled getting the news from troopers who came to her house.

"They said, ‘Ma'am there's been a terrible accident,’ and I waited for him to tell me what hospital my son was taken to."
Chuck Novack’s girlfriend Theresa Seaver, also known as Terry, died in that crash too.
They were driving back to Hendersonville from a weekend trip to Charlotte.  

Police said they were stopped for another wreck when truck driver Roumen Velkov plowed into the line of cars.

Velkov was charged with five counts of involuntary manslaughter, among other charges.   

"You never think it's going to be your family. You never think that. Everybody drives by trucks," Novack said.

In an effort to create change Novak joined the Truck Safety Coalition, which works to reduce truck-related crashes.

Last month she and other members went to Washington, D.C., to protest a proposal to let truckers drive for longer hours with fewer breaks.

To their disappointment, Congress approved the proposal, allowing truckers to drive 82 hours a week instead of 70. The law no longer requires truckers to get two nights sleep in a row before starting a work week.
"Some of these people have been fighting for more than 20 years to get changes made. If they had been successful, my son would still be here," Novak said.
Even U.S. Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx spoke against that proposal saying longer hours compromise highway safety.

National Transportation Security Board Chairman Christopher Hart compared fatigued driving to drunk driving, saying truckers run the risk of falling into what's known as a "micro-sleep."  
"If you're driving 70 miles per hour and you have a micro-sleep for only three seconds, you've driven a football field," Hart said.
According to AAA, 41 percent of Americans admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel.

In Charlotte, there have been more than 530 crashes involving fatigued drivers in the past three years.
But many in the trucking business say the previous regulations regarding truckers created an unnecessary burden to the industry, and to consumers who depend on their service.  
Jackie Novak disagrees.
"There's a reason they want less regulation, because they want to be able to do whatever they want. What's most profitable for them, but I don't see my son as collateral damage," said Novak.   

Now, with just memories of her son, Novak clings to his pictures, and things he valued.  She showed Channel 9 a photo album of moments they spent together, with friends and pictures of Chuck as a child.

Those pictures are all Novak has to show her grandson, who turned 2 just five days after his father died.  
Novak has a $1 million lawsuit pending against Velkov, his small trucking company and the shipper.

Velkov is set to get out of prison in March.  
"A lot of people talk to me about forgiveness, but I can't. The man who killed five people that night was delivering half a truck load of cookies; and there is nobody in this planet that needed a cookie so badly that my son's life was up for grabs," Novack said.
The rules allowing longer driving hours will be in place until Sept. 30, while the government studies the impact of the amount of trucks on congested roads.  

While nothing will bring back her son, Novak hopes her story will make truckers and everyone think before getting on the road tired.  

Channel 9 checked with the highway patrol and learned the number of crashes where fatigue was a factor has decreased statewide.

In 2012, there were 417 crashes, in 2013, 392, and just last year that number went down to 334.

Published: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:35:42 -0500