Monthly Archive for June, 2005

Couple Drive Off of Afton Mt.

When driving back and forth between Blacksburg and Charlottesville weekly for the past two years, I often wondered if anybody had ever driven clear off of the side of Afton Mountain, and whether it would be possible to survive it. Turns out, yes and yes.

As David Hendrick writes in today’s Progress, two people and their dog were pulling onto the scenic overlook up there when they struck the guardrail, flipped, and fell 200 feet down the side of the mountain, ass-over-teakettle. Rescue squads hauled the three back up with rope. Neither of the people were seriously injured, and the dog was “panting in the sun and strolling the scene as the pair were treated.”

UVa Cheating Scandal Redux

The 2001-2 UVa cheating scandal made headlines nationwide. One hundred and fifty eight students were accused of cheating on a paper for Professor Louis Bloomfield’s How Things work class, having been caught by his Copyfind software. When all was said and done, 48 students were found guilty and consequently expelled under UVa’s single-sanction honor code.

Well, hold on, here it comes again. Inside Higher Ed reports that there’s a new cheating scandal unfolding at the university:

An “alarmingly large fraction” of the first-year class of economics graduate students at the University of Virginia were involved in a cheating incident that came to light this month, according to the department chair.

Department officials said that some problem sets from textbooks used in introductory graduate economics courses have answer keys online. At least one student found answers for a course taken by all first-year students, and apparently shared the information with classmates. Though the solutions were apparently available, David Mills, chair of the economics department, said students should have “known it was off-limits,” but that they instead “used it without the professor being aware.”

As many as 30 students may be involved. The economics department has assembled a panel to investigate, since the honor committee doesn’t open investigations in the summer, and, alarmingly, isn’t even sure that they’ll turn the cases over to the honor committee.

(Via Drunk on Democracy)

Family: Police Covering Up Testimony

Earlier this month, the Daily Progress and WINA reported two different versions of the same story — in one, a police officer collided with two cars, while in another, two cars collided with her car.

Well, the mother of the 17-year-old girl driving one of those cars isn’t happy about this. (The girl, incidentally, had been driving for just four days when the incident took place. She’d gotten her car the previous day.) Writes John Yellig in today’s Progress:

In traffic court on Tuesday, Albemarle County General District Judge William Barkley dismissed a charge of failure to yield the right of way against Officer Caroline Morris after hearing testimony from her and the young driver and a summary of witness statements presented by traffic Officer Todd Lytton.

The judge might not have dismissed the charge had he heard directly from the witnesses, at least one of whom believed Morris was at fault in the May 31 collision, the girl’s mother, Dawn Davis, said.

The Daily Progress quoted witnesses in their story who supported the girl’s version of the story. Now the girl is going on trial in August for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, and the police are issuing subpoenas.

Judge: No Shotgun Sports in Nelson

Circuit Judge J. Michael Gamble (what’s with area judges named “J. Michael”?) ruled yesterday that the Nelson County BOS was not in violation of the state’s constitutional right to hunt when they refused to grant a special-use permit to Orion Estate for a clay-pigeon-shooting facility. Orion claimed that the constitutional right to hunt protected their right to maintain a practice shooting facility. Nelson claimed that shooting clay discs is not, in fact, hunting. Gamble sided with Nelson, writing: “Shooting sporting clays is not the pursuit of game. It is essentially shooting at an inanimate object.” The year-long case was one of more talked-about matters in Nelson in quite some time.

Braxton Williams has the story in today’s Progress.

Waynesboro Murder Ends in Suicide

Yesterday was a day of high drama for our neighbors to the west, after a Waynesboro man killed his in-laws, fled, holed himself up, and committed suicide as a tactical team closed in on him. The the News-Virginian, who followed the story throughout, reports that that Michael Lawson, aged 48, killed the grandfather and mother of his estranged wife, whose bodies were found Tuesday morning. Over fifty officers tried unsuccessfully to hunt down Lawson (described by friends as an Eric Rudolph-like survivalist) over the course of the day, only locating him at 1:30am when an acquaintance reported to police that Lawson had come by his house. Using K-9 units and thermal imaging equipment, he was finally tracked down. As a team closed in on him, just before daybreak, he shot himself in the head, killing himself.

The whole event is similar to the 2001 coal tower killings [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], with the notable exception that Craig Nordenson didn’t kill himself.