Man Charged After Cyclist Fatally Struck Near Pittsboro

An Apex man has been charged with multiple offenses after a bicyclist was fatally struck near Pittsboro.

State Highway Patrol officials say troopers responded to the collision on NC 751 near Pittsboro just after 6:30 Friday morning.

Authorities say 36-year-old Jason Markley, of Cary, was travelling south on 751 when he attempted to make a left turn and was struck from behind by the pickup, which was being operated by 42-year-old Ramsey Even Capps.

Officials say Markley died at the scene.

Capps has been charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision and misdemeanor death by vehicle, according to a Monday afternoon release.

Capps is set to appear in court on December 7.

Two Armed Robberies At Rams Plaza This Week

Chapel Hill Police are investigating a pair of armed robberies that took place at Rams Plaza this week.

The first one happened on Monday, October 17, at 7:05 pm at the Better Sleep Store. Two suspects entered the business demanding money; one of them had a handgun and the other had a pair of brass knuckles. They assaulted one employee and stole nearly $1000 in cash, fleeing the scene in a small, dark-colored car. One suspect is described as a tall, skinny white male in a black shirt; the other is a heavy-set black male in a blue sweatshirt.

Then on Thursday, October 20, the Pizza Hut at Rams Plaza was robbed shortly before 10 pm. There were two robbers this time as well, both wearing masks, at least one of them brandishing a handgun; they stole more than 500 dollars.

Suspect descriptions do not match, so police are likely seeking two different pairs of robbers. The suspects in the Better Sleep Store robbery are described as a heavy-set black male and a tall, skinny white male, with a small dark-colored car; the suspects in the Pizza Hut robbery are both described as skinny black males, about 5’10” to 6′ tall, possibly driving a white Ford F-150.

If you have any information, please call Chapel Hill Police at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous, and you may be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

You can also leave tips for Crime Stoppers online at this link.

Cyclist Injured in Chapel Hill Hit and Run

Chapel Hill Police are asking the public for assistance in locating a suspect involved in a hit-and-run crash on Sunday.

Police say a bicyclist was traveling north on Hillsborough Street near Bolinwood Drive when the suspect tried to pass, striking the victim. Authorities say the suspect left the scene without stopping.

A witness told police the suspect vehicle was a light colored, small sport-utility vehicle. Officials say the suspect vehicle may have damage to the front right or right side of the vehicle.

The victim was transported to UNC Hospitals for treatment of their injuries.

If anyone has information about the incident, you are asked to call either the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous, and the caller may be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrest.

Fifth Rabies Case Confirmed in Orange County for 2016

The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health has confirmed the fifth case of rabies in Orange County this year.

The latest incident involved a bat, according to Orange County Animal Services, and originated when a bat was spotted inside the fireplace of a Mebane residence.

Officials say residents immediately left the house and call Animal Control. There were two dogs and a cat in the home at the time but all were up to date on vaccinations, according to a release. That vaccination history allows for the pets to receive a booster shot. Pets who are not up to date must either be destroyed or quarantined for a period of up to four months, according to state law.

Orange County had 10 positive cases of rabies recorded in 2015, which was down dramatically from 23 the year before.

Orange County Animal Services is hosting another low-cost rabies vaccination clinic from five o’clock until seven o’clock Thursday evening at the Eno River Farmers Market in Hillsborough.

For a full calendar of low-cost rabies clinics click here.

Safety Concerns with Pokemon Go Extends to Roadways

The new Pokemon Go app gained popularity in a matter of days across the country. Since the popularity has increased so quickly, officials are concerned for the safety of the players.

The interactive game guides users to various surrounding areas and has caused many to be so immersed in the game that they lose sight of where they are headed.

Director at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center David Harkey said this app has emphasized the need to be aware of your surroundings while playing the game.

“Put the phone away, take your eyes off the phone as you are crossing streets and as you are in the presence of motor vehicles,” Harkey said.

News stories across the country have reported accidents involving people playing the game while driving.

“The app will function at very low speeds and so we’ve seen cases of drivers actually trying to play the app while rolling down the roadway. We’ve seen cases of bicyclists actually trying to use the app while traveling down the road or on a trail,” Harkey said. “Anyway that you can imagine anyone using this app, I think they’re using it.”

The game attracts all age groups. Harkey said it is important for the parents of younger children with this app to discuss safety precautions while playing.

“They’re going to be even less cognizant of their surroundings at times and not have that same sense of awareness that maybe a teenager or college-aged student may have. So it’s very important to remember that,” Harkey said. “This is where we want to encourage parents as well to make sure they have that discussion with their children about the need to be aware of their surroundings and to be safe at all times.”

Harkey said it’s important to pay attention and know where you are and what’s around you while playing the game.

“We’ve seen stories and incidents of individuals being lured into maybe some unsafe places. Playing in numbers is one of the ways to insure your personal safety as well as pedestrian safety,” Harkey said. “The other thing to be aware of is if you are playing this late in the evening or at night, wear something that is brightly colored, carry a flashlight, make sure you are visible; that’s very important. I think most importantly, do not play this while you are driving or trying to ride a bicycle, I think that’s a bad idea all the way around.”

Orange County Officials Provide Safety Tips for Holiday Weekend

With July 4th on Monday many are planning to celebrate with cookouts and – possibly – their own firework shows, but Orange County Fire Marshal Jason Shepherd is urging people to be safe.

Shepherd says that July 4th weekend has more reported fires than any other time of the year.

There are a lot of reasons for that, Shepherd says, people are outside grilling, setting off fireworks. It creates more of an opportunity for things to happen around this particular time of year.

Cooking may not be at the top of most people’s minds when they think about fire prevention for July 4th weekend, but Shepherd lists cooking in his top two activities where residents need to take the necessary steps for safety.

Safety tips include: always grill outside, keep the grill at least 10 feet from the house, keep children and pets three feet away at all times, do not have any grease or fat built up on the grill, do not leave it unattended and leave your gas grill lid open when you are trying to light it.

Setting off fireworks is another activity many participate in over July 4th weekend and Shepherd’s number one recommendation for fire safety is going to one of the town-sanctioned shows.

Shepherd reminds Orange County residents that any fireworks brought in from another state that fly off the ground and through the air are illegal.

For the fireworks that are legal, like sparklers, Shepherd emphasizes that they burn at 1,200 degrees and account for 16 percent of all firework injuries.

He wants people to keep them out of reach of children and plant them in the ground instead, but not in a dry area.

Sheriff Charles Blackwood says law enforcement is concerned with alcohol and gun safety during the holiday weekend. He urges Orange County residents not to drink and drive, especially since it is a long weekend where people are celebrating for four days.

“First and foremost, alcohol and fireworks do not mix and neither does alcohol and driving. So we are stepping up patrols and there will be an increased number of law enforcement officers across the state,” Blackwood says.

Blackwood warns residents from shooting their guns into the air. Firing a round in the air is dangerous, he says. That round has to come down somewhere, with some type of velocity and it can cause some damage.

In light of his warnings about residents setting off fireworks and drinking, Blackwood understands it is a celebratory weekend and that residents will be setting off fireworks. He hopes residents will maintain a level of responsibility with their actions this weekend.

Listen below to the full interview with Blackwood:

Chapel Hill Police Searching for Missing Man

Chapel Hill Police are asking for assistance in locating 58-year-old Richard Michael Tobin.

Tobin is described as a 5′ 8″ white male weighing approximately 140 pounds. Officials say Tobin has gray hair and hazel eyes.

Authorities say he was last seen in the area of Laurel Ridge Apartments on or about May 30. Police say he is possibly operating a 1999 black Honday CRV with North Carolina license plate CEY-8875.

If you see Richard Tobin or have any information regarding his whereabouts, you are asked to contact Chapel Hill Police (919) 612-8240 or call 911.

“Unity In The Community” Joins, Heals

More than a dozen organizations are coming together to host an event called “Unity in the Community” this Saturday, April 16, from 11 am to 4 pm at Hargraves Community Center.

It’s free and everyone’s invited to enjoy food, music, dancing, a martial arts demonstration, and more.

The idea for Unity in the Community originated with St. Paul AME Church; last year’s event took place in the Rogers Road community, where the church is in the process of building a development called St. Paul Village. This year’s event, though, takes place in Chapel Hill’s Northside neighborhood – where Maleah Williams, just 14 months old, was shot and killed on Christmas Day. Organizers say one of the themes of this year’s event will be “healing.”

Along with St. Paul AME Church, co-organizers include the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association, EmPOWERment, Inc., Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, the Jackson Center, United Church of Chapel Hill, Piedmont Health Services, the Student Health Action Coalition, Faith Tabernacle Oasis of Love, Grape Arbor Development Corporation, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Partnership, the Chapel Hill Teen Center, Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute, and the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. (The Student Health Action Coalition will be providing free health screenings, including blood pressure and blood sugar checks.)

Rev. Thomas Nixon of St. Paul AME Church, Delores Bailey of EmPOWERment, Inc., and Adwoa Asare of Orange Habitat discussed “Unity in the Community” with Aaron Keck on WCHL.

86-Year-Old Drowns in Orange County Pond

Orange County authorities say that an 86-year-old man has drowned in the Bingham community.

A release from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office says that deputies responded to a pond in the vicinity of Highway 54 and Gold Mine Loop Road and found the victim, who authorities say had apparently drowned in the previous 24 hours.

Authorities were alerted by family members who said they last heard from the victim on Monday evening when he told them he was going fishing. The family then became concerned when they could not reach the man on Tuesday, according to authorities.

The release says a fishing rod and other tackle were located closed to the deceased.

An investigation is ongoing, but authorities say the Sheriff’s Office believes the death was caused by an accidental drowning.

Fire Closes Rosemary Street Tuesday Afternoon

Chapel Hill Fire crews responded to a report of an “explosion and vehicle fire” in the Wallace Parking Deck on East Rosemary Street on Tuesday.

Crews were called to the scene just after 2:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Officials say firefighters found one vehicle with fire in the engine compartment, and the fire was initially threatening other vehicles and an office located in the parking structure.

Authorities say a fire extinguisher was initially deployed and may have limited the spread of the fire.

The fire did not, ultimately, cause any damage to the structure or any other vehicles and no injuries were reported.

The 100 block of East Rosemary Street was block for approximately 30 minutes, according to officials.