Charlottesville Breaking News

Ravens Roost: Rock-climbing death deemed accidental

What may be Virginia's most beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway overlook was also the scene of one of its most tragic accidents, the June 15 rock-climbing death of Alabama resident Jonathan "Sully" Sullivan. The 20-year-old's fatal fall, under investigation for nearly three months, has finally been ruled accidental, according to the Park Ranger leading the investigation.

"We do not believe there was any intentional cause of death," says Chief Ranger Steve Stinnett, who oversees the Parkway for the National Park Service. "A mistake was made in the way the equipment was configured."

Perhaps that's not too surprising that foul play was a prime consideration, given the recent spate of homicides along the Parkway.

Barely a mile up the road on a glorious spring evening last year, Christina Floyd and Tim Davis were enjoying the sunset at Rock Point Overlook when Ralph Leon Jackson blasted them with a shotgun, sending Davis over the edge. The 27-year-old WNRN DJ died in the hospital a few days later.

A mile from there, In that same south-of-Humpback Rocks area, ...

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Kathryn's law: Harrington supports campus cop demotion

The days of campus police leading murder and rape investigations are coming to an end if the parents of slain Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington have anything to say about it.

On November 16, the Virginia Crime Commission will hear testimony from the Harringtons and other victims in support of HB2490, also known as Kathryn's Law, which would require campus police departments to hand over such serious criminal investigations to local law enforcement agencies.

"I don't anticipate a fight," says Morgan's mother Gil Harrington, who visited the John Paul Jones Arena on Thursday, September 9 to speak with media about the proposed law. "It just makes sense."

The mother of the young woman whose case inspired the bill, Susan Russell, has also expressed hope that this year lawmakers will approve the measure. (It was passed over last year by the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee, which recommended it for review by the Crime Commission.)

Having called it "a bill for victims," Russell says her daughter, Kathryn Russell, was allegedly raped in an off-campus apartment, and the alleged assailant, a fellow UVA student, was never prosecuted or punished in any way by the school.

Russell has publicly criticized UVA for its handling of her daughter's case, and she's not the only one. Liz Seccuro ...

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9/11 reflections: 3,000 dead and freedom too

We lost the World Trade Center. We lost 3,000 people. Black people, white people, Asian people, Middle Eastern people. People we didn't even think were at risk.

My girlfriend called me to say that a plane had crashed into the Trade Center. "That's happened before at the Empire State Building," I replied. "It'll be fine."

It was another half hour before I turned on a TV and saw it was a passenger jet, not the crop duster I was expecting. I'm a lawyer, and I was just about to run out the door to court when my partner attorney told me a second jet hit the other tower, and in a split second it became crystal clear that it wasn't an accident.

I was still wrestling with the news as I ran in to court and sat down on the attorney bench listening to the cops in front of me talking about the Pentagon. I corrected them saying, "No, it wasn't the Pentagon; it was the World Trade Center." One of them turned around and said, "It was the Pentagon and the World Trade Center!"

My disbelief was growing by the second– maybe the biggest part of it being, "Why are we still sitting in here doing traffic tickets and whatnot like the world is still normal?" As I waited for my case to be called, I kept running back and forth into the clerk's office where they had a TV set up, and I saw the first big chunk collapse.

I finished my case and raced back to the office to turn on the TV again, and by the time I got there, the first tower had entirely coll...

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Long road

July 15, 2011

Charles & Josephine Rausch to Turner & Christine Lisle, 854 Locust Avenue, $580,000, Charlottesville 

Gordon & Margaret Stewart to John Robert Patteson, 1308 Hilltop Road, $592,000, Charlottesville

Kevin & Carolyn Schuyler to Keith Sherman, 1312 Hilltop Road, $870,000, Charlottesville 

William S. Alcott Revocable Trust to Kelly Short, 628 Davis Avenue, $248,000, Charlottesville 

Edward Lamb & Pamela Norris to Louis & Tomesah Harrison, 1509 Still Meadow Cove, $474,000, Albemarle 

Thomas Jennings, Jr. to Lloyd & Anne Widener, 2671 Cardinal Ridge Road, $415,000, Albemarle 

Cartus Financial Corporation to Timothy & Courtney Starr, 6252 Bargamin Branch Road,...

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Mall kiosk surfaces, British Corner invasion, and is the Mall okay?

The journey of the Downtown Mall's iconic kiosk continues. Three years ago, the City had it removed from the Mall with plans to demolish it. But after the Hook wrote about its demise, some folks showed an interest in saving the old structure. So the City put it up for auction. In the end, three bids were submitted, and Keswick resident Richard Hewitt, who said he had always admired the Mall artifact, walked away with it for $2,011.

"I'm happy it found a good home," he told the Hook. Three years later, however, the kiosk needs to move again. As some citizens may have recently noticed, Hewitt has it listed for sale on for $4,000.

"I bought it to rescue it from destruction," says Hewitt, "but we're moving, and there's no room for it."

Built in the early 1990s as a newsstand by SNL Financial founder Reid Nagle, the solid wood-and-copper structure, designed and constructed by Gaston & Wyatt, features electrical hook-ups, heat, and a working clock. It reportedly cost nearly $20,000 to build, but Nagle ended up donating it to the city. The kiosk has also seen service as a gift shop, a brochure spot, and a flower shop, and was proposed as a site for a bar and eatery before it was removed from the Mall.

Asked about the price...

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Editor's Note
4Better Or Worse