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Downriver

Southgate, Michigan 48195
The Voice of Downriver

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
■ North Zone Edition

www.taylorchevy.com

734-287-2600

Coast Guard: ‘All possible outcomes are still available’ in drawbridge accident investigation
By Alan Burdziak
The News-Herald

DETROIT — Authorities still are gathering evidence in the investigation into an accident Sunday at the Jefferson Avenue drawbridge over the Rouge River, Coast Guard Lt. Justin Westmiller said yesterday. “At this point, all possible outcomes are still available,” he said. A drawbridge operator has been suspended for allegedly being drunk on the job after the bridge was closed prematurely and slammed into a

passing freighter early Sunday morning. The bridge over the Rouge River at the Detroit-River Rouge city limits sustained heavy damage and will be closed indefinitely to vehicle and pedestrian traffic as the Army Corps of Engineers works to assess the damage, said Cindy Nocerini Dingell, deputy chief operating officer for the Wayne County Department of Public Services. No one was injured in the incident. A foreman took the operator, a 45-year-old woman, for drug and alcohol testing

and then sent her home. She will be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, Dingell said. The Coast Guard will lead the investigation and will work with the county and the Detroit Police Department. The toxicology screen report will be key to whether the operator will face any charges, Westmiller said. “This investigation is a little bit unique so we’re taking it slow and methodical,” Westmiller said. “As more information arises, we’ll be sure to release it.” Dingell also was cautious in

her comments. “Until we get the results of the test, it’s premature to say what will happen,” she said yesterday. The operator, a 17-year county employee, allegedly was intoxicated at about 2:15 a.m. when she lowered the bridge as a 670-foot freighter carrying 23,000 tons of iron ore was passing underneath. The Herbert C. Jackson, owned by Interlake Steamship, has minor damage, according to the Coast Guard. A top-to-bottom inspection
PLEASE SEE BRIDGE/2-A

Photo by Alan Burdziak

The Jefferson Avenue bridge over the Rouge River at the city limits of Detroit and River Rouge is closed indefinitely after it was heavily damaged when it hit a 670-foot freighter Sunday morning.
DOWNRIVER’S#1 CHEVY DEALER

Chilly weather doesn’t deter gardeners from plant swap
By Paul Rodman
The News-Herald

BEATS ALL DEALS
RODGERS CHEVROLET

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Photo by Joe Slezak

Firefighters salute before Brian Woehlke’s casket is removed from the hearse before his funeral Monday in Dearborn. See additional photos on Page 15-A.

Outpouring of respect, support shown at firefighter’s funeral
By Jackie Harrison-Martin
The News-Herald

SOUTHGATE — The skies might have been gray and overcast, but spirits were bright and sunny as on Allen Rd. at West Rd. gardeners kicked off the Woodhaven 2013 gardening season 1-734-676-9600 Saturday morning with a www.rodgerschevrolet.com visit to The News-Herald Chevy Runs Newspapers’ “Dig It!” Deep Spring Perennial Exchange. As usual, folks began showing up hours before the scheduled 9 a.m. starting time to get a head start on swapping plants. This was a family affair — children in wagons and family dogs on leashes prowled the parking lot at the newspaper’s offices at One Heritage Place for that perfect plant. The morning chill was eased by hot coffee and doughnuts courtesy of The News-Herald. Many said that the quality and variety of the plants this year were some of the best ever seen at an exchange. Wayne County master gardeners were on hand to answer questions and help folks identify plants. Business was brisk at the master gardener heirloom tomato sale at which more than 30 varieties of tomatoes were offered. New for sale this year were worm castings, organic soil amendments guaranteed to give plants a kick start. A handPLEASE SEE PLANTS/2-A

DEARBORN — Many people who knew Brian Woehlke, and an overwhelming number of those who did not, took time away from everything going on in their lives Monday to stand side-by-side to honor him. Hundreds packed his funeral service and lined the streets in salute of the 29-year-old father and husband who died last Wednesday battling a strip mall fire in Westland. They also were there in support of Jennifer Woehlke, Brian’s wife, and their 13-month-old daughter, Ava. Jennifer Woehlke is a secondgrade teacher at Hunter Elementary

School in the Gibraltar School District. District officials have pledged to support her and her daughter however possible. Just about every fire department in the Downriver area was represented in an elaborate funeral procession that took place after a service at the Church of the Divine Child in Dearborn. The procession came to an end at nearby St. Hedwig Cemetery, where Woehlke, who had only been with the Wayne-Westland Fire Department for 10 months, was laid to rest. Several fire chiefs expressed their thoughts after paying their respects. Eleven firefighters from Brownstown Township, including

Fire Chief Jeff Drouillard, were in attendance. Drouillard said what people saw Monday was the true spirit of firefighters, who are a brotherhood and support one another. He said it was especially important to stand together with a fallen firefighter who was local. “This was pretty somber,” Drouillard said. “There are a lot of traditional things firefighters do that were put in place.” Drouillard said there were bagpipers playing, as they do in a full firefighter funeral service, and firefighters saluted at the proper time when the hearse came out of the church.
PLEASE SEE FUNERAL/2-A

Wednesday’s Weather
HIGH: 81˚ LOW: 53˚ Morning shower, warmer and spotty clouds
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