“Operation Hang-Up” catches many off guard
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that the New York State police issued 816 tickets for texting-while-driving violations over the Thanksgiving holiday. Approximately 330 of the tickets were issued as a direct result of “Operation Hang-Up,” an enhanced enforcement campaign that was conducted from November 23-27. The additional tickets were issued by state police conducting normal patrol operations. From January to June this year, a monthly average of 429 tickets were issued to motorists for using a handheld electronic device while driving. Since the new law was signed by Governor Cuomo in July, at least 1,000 tickets have been issued each month. The law makes using a handheld electronic device for activities such as texting while driving a primary traffic offense, giving law enforcement the power to stop motorists solely for engaging in this activity. Additionally, the penalty for using a handheld device while driving has been increased from two to three points. Barbara Fiala, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, said, “Operation Hang-Up is designed to send a clear message to drivers that New York State will not tolerate distracted driving that places other motorists in danger. Using a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle is illegal, and through future enforcement campaigns we will continue to make sure our roadways are safe for all New Yorkers.”
Clarkstown student shot with BB gun
Last week, a Clarkstown South High School track athlete was shot by a BB gun while he was running on Germonds Road around 3:15 p.m. He ran back to school and told his coach, who called the authorities. The runner was not seriously injured, but was taken to local Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern for treatment. The shooter, a West Nyack boy, who police say did not know the victim, is being charged with felony second-degree assault, and misdemeanors reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. Police say he has been released to the custody of his parents and will have to appear in Family Court.
Police investigate Haverstraw teen’s attack claim
Police are looking into a report regarding a 16-year-old girl’s claim that she was attacked last week in Haverstraw. The girl stated that a man with orange gloves attacked and dragged her down a hill around 6:45 a.m. last Tuesday. Police received a frightened call from the girl around four hours later. The girl did not appear to know where she was at the time of her call and suffered only minor injuries. Police are trying to figure out what happened between the time she claims she was accosted and the time she called police.
Bank executive in Congers sent to prison
A bank executive in Congers was sentenced to over three years in prison, followed by three years of probation and ordered to repay the $670,000 he stole to cover gambling losses. Shawn Reilly, while employed at a bank’s settlements group in Connecticut, made 84 fraudulent wire transfers, moving money into his own personal bank account. The money was then used to pay gambling debts the 34-year-old had accrued. An investigation revealed that Reilly would occasionally visit Las Vegas, losing over $10,000 at a time. In addition, he was also making daily wagers of up to $1,000 and playing in several $500 poker games a week. Reilly stated that his gambling began back when he was a student at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, which he attended on a baseball scholarship. Reilly has sought treatment for his gambling addiction and attends gamblers anonymous meetings.
Spring Valley woman lives through fire, cats not as lucky
A Spring Valley Woman is lucky to be alive after a Saturday night house fire at 38 Paikin Drive. Spring Valley firefighters responded to a call at 7:16 p.m. The fire is believed to have started on the first floor in a bedroom closet. It caused heavy damage to the bedroom and adjacent hallway. The woman had several cats in her home at the time of the fire. One cat escaped and several others were unfortunately lost in the fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Family gets money in police shooting death
The family of former Ramapo town heavy equipment operator, Emil Mann, who was shot and killed in an April 1, 2006 confrontation outside Ringwood State Park, has been awarded $2.1 million from Bergen County Court. Mann, 45, was a member of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation Tribe. He died nine days after his two gunshot wounds were inflicted. The jurors concluded that Chad Walder, the police officer who shot Mann, used unnecessary force that day. Walder tried to stop members of the tribe from illegally riding ATVs through the park when the conflict ensued. Another officer had her hair pulled during the incident. In 2009, Walder, now retired, was acquitted of criminal charges of reckless manslaughter.
“Eng-enezer” Scrooge tells Nanuet students there is no Saint Nicholas
Leatrice Anne Eng of Pearl River took a lot of heat when she told her second-grade class at George W. Miller Elementary School in Nanuet that Santa Clause was not real. She issued an apology for her words. Apparently, when her 7-year-old students informed her during a geography lesson that they knew all about the North Pole because of its portly red-dressed resident, Eng proceeded to tell the children that Santa Clause was not real but that it actually parents who placed presents under the tree each year. School officials have declined to comment on Eng’s comments.
USPS announces major cuts
The U.S. Postal service recently announced an estimated $3 billion in cutbacks that will end in the closing of nearly half of the 500 mail processing centers across the nation as early as next year, including one located in Monsey. Twelve other locations in New York will also be effected. The other facilities on the chopping block in New York are Amsterdam, two in Binghamton, Glen Falls, Plattsburg, Brooklyn, Flushing, Garden City, Newburgh, Buffalo, Melville and Bethpage. This would lengthen the distance mail travels from the post office to the processing center, effectively ending next-day delivering for nearby communities, in order to help cut the budget deficit. As of right now, over 40 percent of first-class mail is delivered in one day. In the last year, the postal service lost $5.1 billion. It has also called for reducing deliveries from six days a week to five.
Young child struck by car
A young boy was hit by a car on Route 306. The 9-year-old suffered a broken leg and a head injury when he and his brother were crossing the street to join their father. Orange County resident, 43-year-old Wendy Nodop, struck the young boy with her 2008 Honda shortly before 1 p.m. when there were a large number of pedestrians on the road due to Shabbat. The boy was treated by Hatzolah Ambulance medics and brought to Westchester Medical center. Police say the boy’s injuries are not life threatening. Police continue to investigate the situation and have not filed any charges against Nodop.
Metro-North beefs up winter defense
Metro-North Railroad is gearing up for the winter this year with bigger and better equipment to help combat the effects of snow and ice. Included in the new gear are three brand new Rolls Royce jet engines that they will use for snow removal. The replacement turbine jet engines produce 2,500 pounds of thrust and have an exhaust at 600 degrees Fahrenheit, which will vaporize snow. Five cold-air snow blowers, (up from the three used last year) and 150 new heaters will be used to melt the snow and ice around the switches and interlocking tracks. The most vulnerable line, the New Haven Line, which runs through Connecticut and Westchester, is using aging trains that are several decades old. New M-8 trains will be introduced to the line to help combat some problems it has seen in the past. Also in preparation for snow, the railroad changes the third-rail shoe on the train to one that has holes to prevent ice and snow buildup, which can block the contact with the rail. Last year, service had to be reduced for a month due to snow. Metro-North is hopeful that the new equipment will prevent such closures in the future.
Man crashes car through Indian Rock Plaza, hitting pedestrian
A car crashed in the Indian Rock Plaza shopping center off Route 59 last Friday at 6:10p.m., striking a 48-year-old Montebello man. The man, who suffered minor injuries to the head, face, and arms, was transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital by Ramapo Valley Ambulance. Melvin Jaquez, 30, of New York City, the man behind the wheel of the 2002 Ford Explorer, jumped the sidewalk in the plaza, struck the male victim and continued on into the storefront of Moonlight Pediatrics. He was uninjured and was issued a field sobriety test at the scene, which he passed. There were no injuries in the office, which was open at the time of the accident. No charges have been filed, however, the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Stony Point Seals set to dive into icy water for a good cause
The Stony Point Seals are preparing to plunge into the Hudson river to help raise money for five-year-old Brandon Hernandez, who was diagnosed with Noonan syndrome and was born with a heart defect called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Little Brandon was just three months old when he received a heart transplant, leaving him hospitalized for the first two years of his life. Brandon’s mother, Michele Padilla of West Haverstraw, in addition to being a single mom, is also raising two daughters who are 12 and 17. For those looking to participate, even those who do not wish to dive into the icy waters, are welcome to sponsor swimmers by purchasing raffle tickets and T-shirts. The Stony Point Seals are a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization and have been raising money to help local families with sick children for 13 years. The plunge for Brandon will be held on February 5 at the Grassy Point sea wall.
Haverstraw parents charged with daughter’s murder
Haverstraw Village parents charged with second-degree murder, Michael Aviles, 42, and Lissette Capellen, 22, are still on trial before Judge William K. Nelson. The 5-month-old baby girl died on the afternoon of January 16 at Westchester Medical Center from fractures to both sides of her skull and ribs. Her body was covered in bruises. Prosecutors are trying to prove that it was Aviles who killed the baby while Capellen stood by allowed it to happen. Both deny hitting the baby but state that other put the baby to bed that night and woke up around 1:00 a.m. to find the infant unresponsive. They both say they left for the Hospital at 1:30 a.m. but didn’t arrive at Nyack Hospital until 4:22 a.m. Evidence suggests Aviles had been drinking rum the evening before the baby died. Emergency-room nurses have testified that they immediately suspected child abuse when they noticed extensive bruising and injuries across the baby’s body.