TIME Drones

Kentucky Man Arrested for Shooting Down a Drone Over His Property

Drone with Camera
Getty Images

"Everyone I've spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing"

Kentucky police charged a man on Sunday for shooting down a drone that was flying over his home.

William H. Meredith, 47, told police in Hillview, Kentucky that his children alerted him to a camera-mounted drone hovering around the neighborhood. Meredith says he got his shotgun and waited for the drone to fly over his property before shooting, according to WDRB Louisville.

“Within a minute or so, here it came,” Meredith told WDRB. “It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky.”

Police arrested and charged Meredith with two felonies, first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. The owner reportedly told the police the drone was worth over $1800, and was being used to take pictures of a friend’s home.

FAA guidelines say drone pilots must receive permission from property owners pre-flight when flying over a residence — but a FAA spokesperson told local media that shooting at an unmanned aerial vehicle posed a bigger threat.

Meredith, however, said he had every right to take the law into his own hands. “Everyone I’ve spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing,” he said.

[WDRB]

TIME Kentucky

Rescuers Search for Kentucky Flood Victims as Hope Fades

Several people are missing

(FLAT GAP, Ky.)—They roam the banks of the swollen creek, looking for those who were lost when a flash flood ravaged this rural eastern Kentucky community. They battle swarming mosquitoes and snake-infested creeks, piles of rubble 10 feet tall and mud so thick it sucks the shoes off their feet.

For two days, rescue crews have trudged door-to-door across this rugged Appalachian terrain, painting orange x’s on each structure they search. Hope is fading for the families who are watching them work.

“You talk to them and they say, ‘Right there is where my house used to be,'” said Randall Mulkey, a firefighter from a nearby county who volunteered to help with the search.

He’s seen homes splintered into rubble, others split in half and cars strewn in places he never could have imagined. Tromping through the mud is exhausting, he said. It breaks his heart to see people’s belongings — clothes, toys, photographs — among the wreckage and know they lost everything they had.

Three are confirmed dead and another man is still missing. The fates of four more remain uncertain. Families reported them missing, but they may have escaped safety or could be stranded in their homes, without power or phone service, police say.

Kevin Johnson believes his 34-year-old son, Scott, is dead, but his body has not yet been found.

Scott Johnson was last seen wading through rushing floodwater with his 74-year-old grandmother on his back.

He had already guided his father, uncle and sister from the raging flood that inundated their cluster of trailers. He turned back one last time to save his grandmother, whom he called Nana, and a 13-year-old family friend.

“We told him, ‘You can’t make it,'” his father recalled. “He said, ‘I’m going to get her out of that trailer.”

Standing in a cemetery on a hill overlooking the creek that had swallowed his son, Kevin Johnson was so overcome with grief he sometimes struggled to speak. He had watched his son push the boy to safety in the branches of a catalpa tree and hoist his Nana onto his back, only to be swept away.

“Scott wouldn’t turn her loose, that’s why he died,” said Veronica Marcum, Scott Johnson’s sister. Her brother had been a musician. He went by the stage name Scott Free, started his own hip hop record label and released an album in 2013 called “Welcome to Hollerwood.” He wrote on his website that he tried in his music to capture the Appalachian spirit and the struggle to survive amid the grinding poverty and drug addiction that has long tormented his native state.

The grandmother he tried to save, Willa Mae Pennington, was found dead Tuesday among debris from the family’s shattered mobile homes, Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby confirmed.

Herman Eddie May Sr., 56, was also killed. His daughter, Amy Akers, said they lived next door to each other. When the water started to rise, he got in his car to search for a safe passage away. He reached the top of the hill and turned back to retrieve his daughter and two grandchildren. A neighbor begged him to stay on dry land. But he refused, Akers said.

“He always said he would die trying to protect his family, and that’s exactly what he did,” she said.

The car stalled in the rising water and May, a retired truck driver, got out. A neighbor threw him a rope, but a floating truck plowed into the car, he lost his grip and the water carried him away, Akers said. Neighbors pulled him from the water, but it was too late.

The body of a third victim, 22-year-old Richard Blair, was found Wednesday afternoon on a creek bank in a pile of tree debris downstream from the rubble of a broken mobile home, the coroner said.

The arduous search, destruction and death wore on rescuers.

As the water receded, a crew found a car upside down and partially submerged in the creek. Flatwoods Police Officer Justin Stevens, helping in the search, stood on top of the car as they called for the jaws of life to tear it open and see if anyone had perished inside. But the car’s owner arrived just in time, and told the crew it had floated there, unoccupied, from her home a mile away.

“Thanks for not being in it,” said Stevens said. “We really didn’t want to see that.”

Seven cadaver dogs were aiding in the search, which stretches more than 8 miles from the town of Flat Gap south to Staffordsville — an area with 500 homes and 1,200 residents about 120 miles east of Lexington, police said at a news conference. Authorities estimate more than 150 homes were destroyed.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency, giving local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in recovery efforts. Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen toured the destruction Wednesday and called it “gut wrenching.”

“I think all of us who are here and who have seen this in person recognize this as a truly devastating natural disaster,” Luallen said. “People have lost everything.”

Families returned to the ruins of their homes to try to save what little they could. Church groups and others passed out sandwiches and water, neighbors banded together to clear heavy debris and police said they hoped there still might be some happy endings.

Johnson County Deputy Sheriff Terry Tussey spotted a Chihuahua, alone and trembling, pacing a pile of debris on the other side of a creek.

“She was dancing like she wanted to come across the creek but couldn’t do it,” he recalled. He trudged through the muck to find a safe crossing. Then he coaxed the little dog to him and cradled it back to his car. He drove around the afternoon with the tan dog in his lap, looking for its owner.

A shelter was opened at the Paintsville recreation center, though many displaced residents turned to families and friends. Some who lost everything said they felt lucky to be alive.

Robin Cisco sifted through the remnants of her daughter’s trailer, digging her grandson’s clothes and toys from the mud and rubble. The family barely got away: Her daughter ran from the trailer with her 18-month-old son as the storm hit and water started rising.

“They got out and they’re OK, that’s all we were worried about,” Cisco said. “All this other stuff can be replaced.”

TIME Kentucky

2 Dead and 6 Missing as Deadly Flooding Hits Kentucky

Heavy rain has hampered rescue efforts

(FLAT GAP, Ky.) — Kevin Johnson last saw his son Scott wading through the rushing water with his 74-year-old grandmother on his back.

Scott Johnson had already saved his father, his uncle and sister as a flash flood ravaged the rural town of Flat Gap. He returned to their cluster of trailers for his grandmother and teenage nephew and started to carry them to higher ground. As the flood raged out of control, he wedged his nephew safely into a high tree before the water washed Johnson and the grandmother away.

The grandmother, Willa Mae Pennington, was found dead Tuesday among debris from the family’s shattered mobile homes, Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby confirmed. Scott Johnson, 34, is one of six people still unaccounted for after the raging Monday afternoon flood.

Rescue crews combing the hilly Appalachian terrain Tuesday were hampered by more heavy rains, swarming mosquitoes, soupy humidity and knee-deep mud.

“It just wears your legs out to walk,” said Gary McClure, the local emergency management director. “You walk from here to there in that mud and you’re ready to sit down. It just pulls you down.”

Authorities called off the search around 8 p.m. Tuesday, but resumed Wednesday morning after a convoy of National Guard vehicles and heavy equipment, including excavators and dump trucks, traveled down the road toward the hardest hit area.

“They will be going back over the same areas again and starting new searches that we haven’t gone over so far. Every inch of all this debris has not been searched through yet,” Frisby said Wednesday. “Just haven’t had time.”

On Tuesday, emergency personnel went door-to-door in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, searching for those who might be trapped in their homes, Kentucky State Police Trooper Steven Mounts said. Like Scott Johnson’s nephew, some were rescued from trees, Price said.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency to give local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in recovery efforts.

The search area stretches more than 8 miles, from the town of Flat Gap south to Staffordsville — an area with 500 homes and 1,200 residents about 120 miles east of Lexington, police told a news conference. Authorities estimate more than 150 homes were destroyed.

Hebert Hayden, 78, left home with his wife for a doctor’s appointment. While they were away, their mobile home was swept from its foundation and crashed nearby. They lost everything.

“All I can say is God was on our side,” he said. “If we would have been here, we would have drowned.”

The roads now are lined with empty foundations, where trailers or homes once stood. Cars are flipped upside down and trees uprooted. Fifteen people were treated at a local hospital and released.

Frisby identified the second known casualty as Herman Eddie May Sr., 65. May was driving alone in a sport-utility vehicle when floodwaters from the Patterson Creek started to sweep him away. He drowned after he got out and was swallowed by the rising water, Frisby said.

Doris Hardin watched the water rise from the window of her mobile home. Her lights flickered off then her neighbor banged on the door, shouting for her to flee. She and her neighbors had seconds to react. Hardin sprinted up a hill, as utility poles crashed down around her.

The water swept up Hardin’s trailer, her two cats still inside, and jammed it into a growing heap of mangled debris: other mobile homes, wrecked cars, snapped trees and downed power lines.

Hardin, now staying with her father, had still not found her cats Tuesday afternoon, and feared she never would.

“I don’t think anything else is going to be salvageable,” she said.

Authorities worried that the muddy, rushing creek, still swollen Tuesday afternoon, had not finished its destruction.

A strong thunderstorm was passing through the area Tuesday evening, dumping heavy rain and lashing the area with high winds.

Buddy Rogers, spokesman for Kentucky Emergency Management, said the ground is thoroughly saturated from the overnight rains and heavy storms of the past several weeks. More water will have nowhere to go but into roads, yards and homes, he suspects. Many of the same areas are likely to be underwater again. The water-logged ground also threatens to topple more power lines, trees and utility poles in high winds.

“Any more rain at all is going to be detrimental. It will hurt us,” said Bobby Moore, a Johnson County 911 dispatcher. Moore said the flood washed away a number of rural roads and left others clogged with fallen trees and debris, forcing rescuers to turn to all-terrain vehicles to reach homes and search for residents.

A helicopter hovered overhead to aid in the search, which included more than 100 rescuers from local departments, the state police, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Guard.

Authorities were trying to keep as many people off the roads and out of the area as possible. Rogers recommended that people who live in flood-prone areas find an alternative place to stay until the storms pass.

Homes there have no power or phone service, and many have been severely damaged by floodwaters. A shelter was opened at the Paintsville recreation center, though only a handful of people were there Tuesday afternoon. Most displaced residents were staying at hotels or with family, Moore said.

____

Associated Press writers Claire Galofaro and Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

TIME Kentucky

Kentucky Governor Orders Clerk to Issue Marriage Licenses or Quit Job

County Clerk Casey Davis (C), with wife Christy Davis (R), speak to the media before a meeting with Gov. Steve Beshear in Frankfort, Ky., on July 9, 2015.
Pablo Alcala—Lexington Herald Leader via AP County Clerk Casey Davis (C), with wife Christy Davis (R), speak to the media before a meeting with Gov. Steve Beshear in Frankfort, Ky., on July 9, 2015.

Casey Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

A county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons said Thursday that Kentucky’s governor had ordered him to do his job or quit.

Casey Davis, one of three clerks in the state who is not granting licenses, held a meeting with Gov. Steve Beshear after last month’s ruling that upheld equal right to marriage across the country.

However, Beshear insisted clerks must carry out their duties and said the majority were “complying with the law” despite personal beliefs.

“‘Issue marriage licenses or resign’ — those were the words,” Davis told reporters after the meeting…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

Read next: Kentucky Clerk Sued for Not Issuing Gay-Marriage Licenses

TIME faith

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Gets a Helping Hand From the Amish

noahs ark encounter park kentucky
Ark Encounter

Construction underway despite funding issues

An embattled ministry building a replica of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky is getting a boost, thanks to the Amish.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Amish communities in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania are helping Answers in Genesis—a non-profit Christian ministry that advocates creationism—build Ark Encounter, the multi-million dollar theme park that the ministry says will include a full-size replica of the Biblical ark.

The project, first proposed in 2010, experienced a setback late last year when Kentucky officials denied $18 million in tax incentives to the group. The state’s tourism board said the project had “evolved from a tourism attraction to an extension of AiG’s ministry” and that state incentives would violate the separation between church and state.

State officials cited the group’s hiring requirements, which mandated that future employees give a “salvation statement” and believe that God created the world. AiG sued the state, accusing it of discriminating against the group based on its religious views.

Still, construction is reportedly underway on the 510-foot-long ark even without the tax incentives with the help of a number of Amish workers, who are working on the ark’s wooden structure. AiG says any state incentives will go to future expansions of the park. It plans to open Ark Encounter in the summer of 2016.

TIME States

Kentucky Raises Minimum Wage for State Workers, Urges Businesses To Do the Same

Steve Beshear
Timothy D. Easley—AP Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear addresses the audience at the 50th annual Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast in Louisville, Ky., on July 19, 2015

The hike comes amid national calls for a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour

The hourly minimum wage for state workers in Kentucky is being raised from $7.25 to $10.10, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Monday.

The wage increase affects 510 state employees and will cost taxpayers $1.6 million. A third of the affected employees work in state nursing homes for military veterans, according to Beshear. Other wage changes include an increase of the hourly tipped minimum wage from $2.19 to $4.90. The policy will go into effect July 1.

Beshear took to Twitter to rigorously defend the new policy.

The increase for state employees sends a message to private business, says Beshear.

Beshear joins Democrat House Speaker Greg Stumbo and many of his party’s state representatives in his fight for higher minimum wages for Kentuckians. Rep. Stumbo has been advocating for legislation raising the minimum wage for all workers in Kentucky in recent legislative sessions. The bill has passed the Democratic controlled House but is facing opposition in the Republican senate. The hike comes amid national calls for a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.

The movement has seen success in recent months, with $15 minimum wages having been established in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The issue is also gaining the attention of 2016 presidential hopefuls; Hillary Clinton echoed wage activists in a speech delivered at a convention of low-wage workers in Detroit on Sunday, stating that she supports a $15 minimum wage.

TIME Crime

This Pizza Guy Was Stabbed and Carjacked But Still Delivered His Pizzas

Luckily he was delivering them to a hospital

A pizza delivery driver in Kentucky was stabbed in a carjacking on Monday while dropping some pizzas off at a local hospital, but still managed to complete his delivery before collapsing in the emergency room.

Josh Lewis was attacked as he got out of his SUV in front of Louisville’s Norton Hospital at about 2.45 p.m., local broadcaster WLKY reports. The 25-year-old college student worked at Spinelli’s Pizzeria and had picked up the pizzas a few minutes earlier.

“It’s surreal, I can’t believe it happened to him,” said Spinelli’s regional manager Willow Rouben, saying that Lewis was stabbed in the back while walking to the hospital with the pizzas after taking them out of his car. “Believe it or not, he got his pizzas delivered and collapsed in the ER.”

The assailant reportedly jumped into the vehicle and drove off. Lewis, a Detroit native, was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery on a collapsed lung.

“He was coherent,” Rouben said. “He’s just an amazing kid and we’re all praying for him.”

[WLKY]

TIME Sports

See the Best Hats From the Kentucky Derby

People turned out in style to watch the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky.

TIME Rand Paul

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TIME College Basketball

A Wisconsin-Duke Final Is Just Fine

Quinn Cook #2, Jahlil Okafor #15 and Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils acknowledge fans while walking off the court following their 81-61 win against the Michigan State Spartans during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lance King—Getty Images Quinn Cook #2, Jahlil Okafor #15 and Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils acknowledge fans while walking off the court following their 81-61 win against the Michigan State Spartans during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Without undefeated Kentucky, this year's title game won't be historic. But it's still loaded with intrigue

At the start of the 2014-15 college basketball season, 351 Division I teams had a chance to win the national championship. Going into this weekend, four teams remained: undefeated Kentucky and Wisconsin on one side of the bracket, Duke and Michigan State on the other. Let’s face it: Duke-Kentucky would have been a dandy final. Both programs have a national imprint. Dynastic Duke is the New York Yankees, or Dallas Cowboys, of college hoops. Kentucky is not only a blue blood program, but more recently it’s a factory of future NBA talent led by a divisive coach, master salesman John Calipari. The NCAA had already nullified two Final Four appearances of his prior teams, UMass and Memphis.

Imagine Calipari’s Cats just needing to get by the venerable Coach K, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, to complete the first perfect season in major men’s college basketball since 1976. The good vs. evil narrative, trite as it is, would write itself. The cunning Calipari, the man whose system of shuttling players to the NBA after a year of college is a supposed affront to higher education, on one side, against Coach K, molder of student-athletes at prestigious Duke. That match-up guaranteed a monster TV rating.

Well, it’s not happening. Duke held up its end, as the Blue Devils trounced Michigan State, 81-61. However, Wisconsin gutted out a thrilling 71-64 victory over Kentucky to squash the Wildcats’ dreams of perfection. Plus, the Calipari/Krzyzewski clash is hogwash. If anything, Krzyzewski has copycatted Calipari’s strategy of recruiting NBA-ready players who are only in college because NBA rules require that they spend a year in school before they’re drafted. Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers and Jabari Parker left Duke after just one year in 2011, 2012 and 2014, respectively; this year, Duke freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow are locks to be high first-round picks. Freshman guard Tyrus Jones could also go pro. So who’s one-and-done U here?

MORE: Here’s Your Final Four Drinking Game

According to the ol’ eye test, the Blue Devils were just too good for Michigan State on Saturday night. They should swarm Wisconsin too. In the first half against Kentucky, the Badgers needed a few crazy shots to go in to stay ahead. In the end, the skills of Wisconsin stars Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker—combined with some sloppy execution by Kentucky, which relied too much on guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison to create scoring chances, rather than give the ball to the big men—made the difference.

On Sunday, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said he got numerous texts from people reminding him that when the Team USA hockey team beat the Soviet Union to complete the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Olympics, the U.S. still had to defeat Finland in the gold medal game. It’s cute to compare Wisconsin’s win over Kentucky to the Miracle on Ice, or even to Duke’s upset of the undefeated UNLV team in the 1991 national semis, but both comparisons are off. That Soviet team was unbeatable, and on paper a bunch of American amateurs had no conceivable shot to win. That UNLV team was not only undefeated, but it crushed everyone all year and had the same nucleus as the team that won the national title in 1990. Kentucky had a few close calls this season, including one just last week against Notre Dame in the regional final. The Wildcats had a perfect season going, but they weren’t a perfect team. It’s not entirely stunning that they lost.

And Duke, I suspect, poses a bigger challenge than the Fins—relatively speaking. If the Badgers are to beat Duke on Monday night, they’ll have to pull off the same feat they did against the Wildcats: make tough shots against a bunch of future pros. That’s difficult to do for two straight games.

One observer’s prognosis: one-and-done U will win the title. Just not the one most people expected.

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