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Coroner’s Report: Amber Evans’ death ruled likely suicide

614now Staff

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The Franklin County Coroner’s autopsy of community activist Amber Evans revealed toxic levels of over-the-counter drugs in her system when she drowned in the Scioto River.

According to The Dispatch, the official cause of death of the 28-year-old, who was reported missing January 28, is listed as drowning on the coroner’s report. However, information collected from her cellphone indicated she intended to kill herself.

Toxic levels of diphenhydramine and acetaminophen—ingredients in OTC cold and sleep medications—were in her system when she died. On the day of her disappearance, security footage showed Evans leaving a local store where she bought cold medicine and a Snickers bar.

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Evans’ body was recovered from the Scioto River by Columbus police detectives and dive teams on March 23. Prior, her car was found on the Scioto Mile with her purse in the the trunk. Her cell phone was discovered in the same area the next day.

The Dispatch reports she had a dispute with her boyfriend the day of her disappearance, though police claim they were never made aware of any history of domestic violence between the couple.

She would’ve been 29 on May 31.

Evans was a graduate of The Ohio State University and Kent State University. She served as executive director of the Juvenile Justice Coalition in Columbus, and was a leading voice in the struggle for justice in the community.

Our thoughts are with her friends and family during this challenging time.

Below is information for suicide hotlines, courtesy of The Dispatch.

The Franklin County Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-221-5445; the Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-294-3300; or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255/TALK (or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish speakers). To reach someone at Ohio’s 24/7 Crisis Text Line, send 4HOPE to 741741.

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Closings

COSI to delay reopening due to COVID-19 concerns

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COSI will not reopen today as hoped.

After making plans at the end of June to reopen this week, COSI has made the difficult, yet cautious, decision to delay welcoming guests back in its doors.

On Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine declared Franklin County to be approaching Alert Level 4—the highest level alert—of the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System for COVID-19 response. Currently, Franklin County is the only Ohio county approaching Alert Level 4, and COSI has taken Gov. DeWine’s declaration very seriously.

You can read a statement provided by COSI below:

“After careful consideration of the current COVID-19 situation in Franklin County, COSI has made the difficult decision to delay its planned reopening. COSI has undertaken this action out of concern for the health and safety of its Members, Guests, and Team. The Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System currently ranks Franklin County as an Alert Level 3, indicating a very high exposure and spread of coronavirus, and the State of Ohio has announced that Franklin County is currently approaching Alert Level 4. COSI will continue to monitor the situation along with state and local health officials.”  

Statement from COSI on Wednesday


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Coronavirus

DeWine announces guidelines for Ohio schools to return this fall

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During a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced guidelines “backed by science” that Ohio public schools will need to follow upon reopening in the fall.

Key points from the press conference include:

  • vigilantly assessing for symptoms
  • washing and sanitizing hands to prevent spread
  • thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing school environment to limit spread on shared surfaces
  • practicing social distancing
  • a face-covering policy.

“The risks of being in school outweigh the risks of not being in there,” said Dr. Chris Peter, the president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, also citing that some kids were missing pediatric appointments due to not attending school.

On Tuesday, Columbus City Schools Superintendent and CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon and the Reopening Task Force outlined a safety recommendation plan for Columbus schools, which includes:

  • early childhood students using a blended model based on each child’s individual needs
  • grades K-8 attending school using a blended in-person/online learning model
  • and grades 9-12 attending school remotely full-time from home for at least the first two quarters of the school year.

DeWine mentioned that there was a strong consensus among teachers, principals, and the public around Ohio that kids “need to get back in a building” to learn.

DeWine and state officials talked with dozens of teachers, superintendents, school officials, and medical experts when putting together the document for Ohio school reopening guidance.

“We have an obligation, all of us, to educate our children and keep them safe,” DeWine said.

At the time of the press conference, the webpage featuring the guidance for reopening schools had been hacked. You can find the state’s resources on COVID-19 here.

DeWine mentioned that the recommendation was that students in third grade and up should wear a face mask, with a strong recommendation for those in sixth grade and up.

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Ginther signs executive order requiring masks in public

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On Thursday afternoon, the City of Columbus held a virtual press conference, in which Mayor Andrew J. Ginther signed an executive order that requires residents to wear masks in public starting tomorrow.

Key points of the conference include:

  • Young people under the age of six and those trying to communicate with someone hearing impaired will NOT be required to wear masks.
  • Places like stores, businesses, and outdoor crowds will require a mask, but people will not be cited by the Columbus police for not wearing one.
  • Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts led off the press conference discussing three simple things people can do to slow the spread of COVID-19: Avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing in public; wash your hands with soap and water and use hand sanitizer when those aren’t readily available; and wear a mask.

“In the last few weeks, we’ve gotten growing data that supports how masks are very effective in reducing the spread of the virus within the community,” Roberts said.

Ginther, Roberts, Alex Fischer–President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership–and Chris Suel–Director of My Brothers Keeper Village–were all in attendance to give the address.

Roberts mentioned that she would be making a recommendation to reduce bar capacity by 50 percent and decrease hours of operation. Restaurants and bars won’t be cited if they choose not to follow this recommendation.

Since June 10, Columbus Public Health has significantly ramped up testing, with over 2,800 tests between then and now; 1,500 tests have been administered outside of the CPH system, including increased tests of asymptomatic and people with mild symptoms.

A silver lining has been that Columbus hasn’t seen an increase in hospitalizations, only cases. Roberts mentioned that, currently, 11 percent of cases require hospitalization, with only 20 percent of those requiring treatment in the ICU.

“More testing alone can’t explain why we’re seeing these increasing numbers in our community,” Roberts said.

Ginther made mention of the city’s Masks Equal Kindness Campaign, which has been making strong recommendations toward Columbus residents to wear masks.

“I know we’re fatigued, we’re tired, we’re stressed, and in some cases overwhelmed...but this is an opportunity for this incredible community...to take personal responsibility and do their part to protect the safety and health of our neighbors.”

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther at a press conference on Thursday


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