Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
OPIOID OVERDOSE DEATHS
North Carolina officials cite drop in opioid overdose deaths
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Health officials in North Carolina say the number of unintentional opioid-related overdose deaths among North Carolina residents has fallen for the first time in five years.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says unintentional opioid-related overdose deaths fell by 5% in 2018, compared to a 34% increase in deaths in 2017. The figures are consistent with the falling number of emergency department visits for opioid-related overdoses, which declined nearly 10% from 2017 to 2018.
The statistics were announced on Thursday by Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.
While the numbers have fallen for prescription opioids, the data shows most deaths and emergency department visits stem from illicit opioids.
BABY DIES-HOT CAR
1-year-old child dies in hot car in North Carolina
PINEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a baby has died after his mother left the 1-year-old in a hot car while she was at work.
News outlets report Pineville Police responded to a 911 call Thursday evening and found the 1-year-old boy in his car seat in a vehicle parked at a shopping center.
Responders tried life-saving measures, but the baby was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police say the child’s mother is an employee at a store in the center. WSOC-TV reports she told police she realized she’d left the baby in the car as she was leaving work.
Police told news outlets in a release Thursday that the child had been left in the car “for a prolonged period.”
Authorities are investigating. No charges have been filed.
CHRIS PAUL-GRANDFATHER’S DEATH
Man killed 17 years after slaying of NBA star’s grandfather
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say someone killed a man who had been convicted as a teenager in the 2002 death of NBA star Chris Paul’s grandfather.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports police say 31-year-old Dorrell Queshane Brayboy was found with stab wounds in his chest on Wednesday in a grocery store parking lot. Winston-Salem Police Lt. A.J. Santos says a search is underway for his assailant.
Brayboy was 15 when he and four other teenagers were charged in the death of 61-year-old Nathaniel Jones, who was found bound, gagged and beaten to death at his home. Brayboy served 12 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2005.
Prosecutors said Jones was killed the day after Paul signed a letter of intent to play at Wake Forest University.
NORTH CAROLINA COLONIAL SCIENCE
N. Carolina highway marker to honor New World scientist
MANTEO, N.C. (AP) – The U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic will unveil a North Carolina highway historical marker honoring the first known Jewish person to arrive in the New World in 1585.
Ambassador Stephen King will unveil the marker honoring Joachim Gans Friday at the Fort Raleigh Historic Site in Manteo. Gans was an expert metallurgist in Prague who headed the first science center in the New World. The center was located on what’s now the grounds of the historic site.
He initially came to England to help the country get more copper from its ore and do it more efficiently. When Sir Walter Raleigh sent 108 people to the New World in 1585, he included Gans, whose presence reassured investors skeptical about the commercial prospects in North America.
SMOKIES-FIRST BLACK NATURALIST
Smokies recognizes its first African American naturalist
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recognizing the contributions of its first African American naturalist.
Park Superintendent Cassius Cash on Thursday presented Joe Lee with a mounted ranger hat in honor of his contribution to the history of the National Park Service.
Cash said in a park news release that Lee’s service fifty years ago “broke employment barriers that once discouraged people of color from seeking employment in National Parks.”
Cash, who is African American, said Lee’s service paved a path for him and others.
Lee said he was “overwhelmed” by the recognition he received after reaching out to park staff to share his recollections.
The park recently begun a project to research the African American experience in southern Appalachia and share those stories.
Probes of e-cigarette giant Juul underway in Illinois, DC
WASHINGTON (AP) – E-cigarette giant Juul Labs is facing mounting scrutiny from state law enforcement officials.
The attorneys general in Illinois and the District of Columbia are investigating how the company’s vaping device became so popular with underage teens.
The company’s rapid rise to the top of the multi-billion dollar U.S. e-cigarette market has been accompanied by accusations from parents, politicians and public health advocates that Juul fueled a vaping craze among high schoolers. In addition to the ongoing inquiries in Illinois and the district, which had not been publicly disclosed before, four other state attorneys general are probing or suing Juul.
Juul’s top executives have disputed allegations that they’ve marketed their products to teens, declaring that they’ve taken unprecedented steps to combat underage use of its e-cigarettes.
ASSAULT CHARGE-CHILD PUNCHED
Man pleads guilty to punching girl, 11, at N. Carolina mall
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A 51-year-old white man who pleaded guilty to assaulting two young black girls will have to participate in a racial justice workshop and anger management counseling.
News outlets report David Steven Bell pleaded guilty Monday to two misdemeanor assault charges for striking an 11-year-old and pushing a 13-year-old. An additional assault charge was dismissed.
A viral video shows Bell pushing the 11-year-old girl, then punching her in the face at Asheville Mall in January. An incident report describes Bell 6-foot-5 (2 meters) and 250 pounds (113.4 kilograms).
Two 13-year-olds told authorities Bell also pushed them.
Bell’s attorney Andy Banzhoff said Bell felt threatened and regrets using physical force. Banzhoff did not say why Bell felt threatened. He also received 12-months’ unsupervised probation and a “60 day suspended sentence.”
It’s unclear what caused the altercation.
Carvana, Policygenius plan North Carolina investments, jobs
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Online companies that buy and sell used cars and broker insurance policies are expanding in North Carolina’s Piedmont, with plans to hire hundreds of people.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Thursday that car vendor Carvana will build a new inspection and reconditioning facility in Cabarrus County, creating more than 400 jobs. He also said Policygenius plans to create at least 377 jobs over several years as it locates a new technical and operations center in Durham County.
Both companies could get cash payments from the state – $5 million for New York-based Policygenius and $1.2 million for Arizona-based Carvana – if they meet job-creation and investment thresholds for the projects.
Cooper’s office says average salaries for the new positions will be over $72,000 at Policygenius and $38,000 for Carvana.