GREENSBURG, Ind. (WISH) – A Greensburg man has a warning for gun owners after the loss of his stepson to a deadly gun accident in 2014.
“I feel like I owe it to people to try to make a difference in this, gun safety. So this is my first attempt,” said 36-year-old Jason Forshee, in an interview from a conference room at the Plainfield prison.
Forshee is currently serving time in the medium security Plainfield Correctional Facility after the death of his 13-year-old stepson Craig Roberts in March of 2014.
During our interview in late September, he’d been in prison only 29 days.
Court documents show Forshee told police he was getting ready to clean a rifle at his Greensburg home when he left it on the coffee table momentarily. He told them he’d taken out the magazine, but he hadn’t realized there was a bullet in the chamber.
It was at that moment, police say, Forshee’s younger child picked up the gun and accidentally shot his older brother. Craig Roberts, 13, died at the hospital.
Forshee was out of jail until he pleaded guilty in August of 2015 to a charge of “dangerous control of a child” or “permitting a child to possess a firearm.”
A Decatur County judge chose to sentence him to three and a half years in prison.
Forshee says he doesn’t want to discuss the specifics of what happened that night until he can talk about it with Craig’s dad, but he says it’s his mission to talk about gun safety.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to talk about it,” he added. “I’m responsible for hurting my family.”
“No matter how safe you think you’re being — what precautions you take. I mean, my situation took 10 seconds. Ten seconds and I was about 13 feet away, and the community of Greensburg has been robbed of someone that I think was going to do great things,” said Forshee.
Forshee adds that he hasn’t forgiven himself for the death of his stepson.
“That’s my burden to bear,” he said.
Forshee says he considered Craig his son. Craig had been in his life since he was just three years old, when he met Craig’s mom Amy. Amy and Jason later married and had two younger children. They remain married today. They’ve started a Facebook page in honor of Craig, called Random Acts of Kindness for Craig, encouraging others to share kindness in memory of the teen.
Forshee describes Craig as a teen who loved archery and was incredibly smart.
“He made straight A’s, but I’d never seen him bring home homework. It always baffled me. I think the sky was the limit,” he said of Craig.
“He was just… perfect,” he said slowly, looking down.
Forshee says he hopes to get out a message.
“I truly feel that the only gun safety is not having a gun. I think that’s for the professionals.”
But for those who do own guns, he said, “Maybe there are holes in your routine. It’s very easy to make a mistake that will change your life forever.”
“I had guns to keep my family safe. I failed,” said Forshee.
“Limit the curiosity of the gun to the children. Limit the visual. Don’t talk about it,” said Forshee. “You can’t be too safe. I thought I was, and I lost somebody very dear to me.”Police departments work to encourage gun safety
It’s a message echoed by police departments across central Indiana. Many departments give away free gun locks and offer gun safety classes to citizens.
Many communities in central Indiana also partner with Project ChildSafe, a program that promotes gun safety on a national level. The organization has released a new video explaining how to speak to your children about gun safety. Click here to watch.
In Decatur County, where Craig Roberts was shot and killed accidentally, the sheriff’s department partners with Project ChildSafe to hand out gun locks at the fair and other events.
In Marion County, the sheriff’s office has renewed its push to give away free gun locks.
The department has partnered with public libraries to give away the gun locks for the past year and a half.
Since the program started, they’ve given away nearly 6,000 gun locks. Deputies also have them in their squad cars to give to anyone who asks.
24-Hour News 8 rode along as a sergeant with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office replenished the gun lock supply at libraries in Marion County.
“They [guns] are a danger if you’re not trained properly,” said Marion County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Anthony Rotan. “Be smart with it. It’s not a toy. Lock it up when you’re not using it, and keep it away from children.”
“They’re curious. They’re kids. Kids don’t know,” said Rotan.
At the Martindale-Brightwood Library in Indianapolis, employees say they’ve given away more than 500 gun locks since the program with the sheriff’s office began.
“The community has been really receptive,” said library employee Rhonda Oliver. “We’ve run out several times. We think it’s a great project the sheriff’s department is doing here. We want to make sure our families are safe.”
The Marion County Public Health Department’s Violence Prevention Program also provides free trigger locks for Marion County residents. They’ll fit most guns. Click here or call 221-3538 for more information.
According to the National Safety Council’s latest data, unintentional firearms-related deaths are at historically low levels. Their data shows the number of unintentional firearms-related deaths in children 14 years and under has decreased by 66 percent in the past two decades.
According to the most recent data from the CDC, there were 33,636 firearm deaths in the United States in 2013. Five hundred and five of those were unintentional firearm-related deaths.
In 2013, the CDC reports there were 84,258 firearm-related injuries that did not result in death. Of those, 16,864 were unintentional firearm-related injuries.
GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) – A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that sexual texts are considered the new normal for young people. Local law enforcement say a growing number are pre-teens.
Greenwood police say they’re getting more calls from the middle school about girls being exploited after sending nude photos. Police say the danger with kids having smart phones is, they’re making adult choices that have adult consequences. But, they don’t have adult reasoning abilities.
It starts with what seems to be a simple text.
“They have that mentality it’s just not going to happen to me. My boyfriend would never do this to me or my girlfriend would never do this to me. They love me. We’ll stay together. He’s the one,” said Kortney Burrello of the Greenwood Police Department.
Message sent, and you know how the rest goes. They break up, but it’s too late.
Burrello is also a community officer for Greenwood Schools. She says sexting is a growing problem, and the age group is getting younger too. Burrello worked with a middle school student after she sent a sexually explicit text.
“They were together. They broke up. He then distributed it. From that school it went to another school. Then that photo got distributed,” explained Burrello.
But the problem of increased sexting isn’t just isolated to Greenwood. The Zionsville Police Department discovered a child pornography website exploiting kids from all over the state and country. Many of the pictures on the site were originally sent to a trusted boyfriend or girlfriend.
“What we try to encourage people to understand is the magnitude of hitting that send button. It’s like the email concept. You always want to proof read your email and put a lot of thought in to it before you hit send. Because, you know that ultimately there’s consequences to that,” said Sgt. Adrian Martin of the Zionsville Police Department.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics study, the more a student texts, the greater the chance they are sexting. The research concludes that students who text more than 100 times or more a day, are more likely to receive or send inappropriate messages. 20 percent of kids with text capable cell phones reported receiving a sext, the study found.
“It is a massive problem from all ages-especially smaller kids who have access to smart phones who don’t understand the magnitude or consequence of their action when taking these photographs or passing on vital information,” said Martin.
At the Boys and Girls Club of Zionsville, they start teaching kids as young as five the importance of being a responsible cyber citizen.
“It’s everywhere; on cell phones, mobile devices. They see their parents doing it and they want to be on there too. So, it’s important for us to let them know early on, that there are risk associated with it and to look out for those risk,” said Glenn Sanford, Director of The Boys and Girls Club.
Through interaction with the kids, computer activities and lessons from instructors, kids are learning about the risks associated with inappropriate use of cell phones and the Internet.
“If you talk to people you don’t know, they might get information about you. You don’t want them to have and they’ll leak it on the Internet,” said Boys and Girls Club member Drew Ege.
Organizers say they have different ways to help keep kids safe.
“We do different kinds of things that help us learn about what to do and what not to do on the Internet, and to help keep us safe,” said Boys and Girls Club member David Peeler.
Burrello has this message to add to their message, “You do not want to do this. You don’t want this information out there. You don’t want your pictures out there on these sites.”
Burrello says sexting is more than just a mistake, it can be criminal. Sending a sexually explicit text could mean child pornography charges. Those convicted would have to register as a sex offender.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) – Technology is constantly evolving and changing the way we do things. It’s also changing how parents keep their children safe.
Jolene Headley’s 4-year-old son, Cole, is her everything.
“He means the world to me,” she said. “He’s the most important thing in my life.”
Headley and her husband makes sure Cole knows what to do if he ever finds himself in a dangerous situation.
“We’ve done scenarios where a stranger comes up and wants Cole to go with him somewhere. Or what if a stranger actually comes and picks him up and takes off with him? What he should do. What he should say,” Headley said.
Now, Headley is also turning to her smartphone for security. The Bloomington mother recently downloaded the FBI Child ID mobile app.
“It’s good because it has all of the vital information, and you can upload the photos of your child so that if they would happen to go missing then you’d have those right there handy, ready to hand over to the police,” she said.
Capt. Joe Qualters with the Bloomington Police Department said it’s a modern take to something police agencies have done for years.
“That seems to simply replace what many police department did for years in the form of Identikits,” he said.
Headley said she and her husband have a tangible Identikit for Cole, but she prefers to also have the information stored digitally and at her fingertips in case something happens.
“I think it’s definitely a useful tool, mainly because almost everyone has their phone with them all of the time,” she said.
Cell phones now allow parents to see where their kids are and what they’re doing. The mobile application MamaBear Family Security calls itself the “ultimate parenting app.” It allows parents to see their child’s location, keep an eye on their social media accounts, and even know when their teenage driver is speeding on the roadways.
“With conversations with other parents, part of the discussion was, ‘Wow! I’m spending a lot of time trying to make sure my kids are safe on social media,’ and we were working on some location technology and decided to bundle in some of these features that would provide parents a little bit of peace of mind in the digital space that their children are in every day,” MamaBear co-founder Roby Spoto said.
Spoto said MamaBear was recently updated to allow parents to monitor their child’s text messages.
“Parents can set a bucket of words that they want to know about. So instead of monitoring absolutely everything, parent have the chance to say, ‘These are the list of words I want to know about. Tell me when they are being said or said to my family,’” Spoto said.
MamaBear is a free install on iOS and Android. For a premium upgrade of about $5 per month, you can get additional services including a location history for the past seven days.
Click here to see a list of 13 apps aimed at keeping your family safe. Some of the apps are free to download but may require a fee for certain features.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When it comes to keeping your family safe inside your own home, one of the most important things you can do is to check for fire hazards. As we transition into winter, this is the time of year those checks need to be done.
Aleatha Henderson is the Director of Public Education for the Indianapolis Fire Department.
“Last year, unfortunately we had probably one of our worst years for fatalities,” said Henderson. “We had over 18 fatalities and most of those were adults.”
Lives lost right here in central Indiana that Henderson says may have been saved if some preventative safety checks had been done. She says now is the time of year to do them.
“It’s really important to go around your home and just check things out, and just get ready for the colder months,” Henderson said.
Henderson says checking heating systems in particular is very important. Making sure you have your fireplace and chimney checked and ready for use, is just as important as having your furnace maintained. Is the filter clean? Is the area around it clear of combustibles?
“If you use space heaters, (check) that they’re in good condition,” says Henderson. “Make sure that you have one that has an automatic shutoff valve, so in case it gets tipped over, it will shut off.”
In the kitchen, there are any number of things to think about, especially if there are children in the home. Discarded cleaning supplies should be placed in a bin with a lid that can be closed.
“Kids will come, and just by accident, may come and just see something in the trash can that looks like it might be something that’s edible,” says Henderson.
And then there’s the stove.
“If you’re cooking, and you’re in a hurry, you could accidentally hit it (the stove), says Henderson. “A child, a small child could see the handle and could actually pull it down.”
And if a small fire does happen on your stove, here’s the right way to handle it.
“A lot of times they want to take salt or they want to take the flour and throw some flour on it,” says Henderson. “But if you have a grease fire, the thing you want to do is just to cover it with a lid and to smother it.”
And then call 911 right away.
“Most of the fires that occur, especially the fatal fires – they’re preventable,” says Henderson. “(Make) sure you properly discard smoking materials, making sure you pay attention when you’re cooking.”
And in addition to paying extra attention to the things that you might normally do without thinking, the single most important thing you can do for your family this winter is make sure you have a working smoke detector. You should also make sure you practice for an emergency.
“Most people neglect to have a plan,” says Henderson. “They always want to assume that if the worst happens, I’m going to know what to do, or my kids will know to get out. But the fact is that if you don’t practice, when the emergency happens, you’ll panic.
Director Henderson says a good rule of thumb is to have at least three feet of clear space around the stove and space heaters.
She also says to keep in mind if you are storing fuel for the winter, it needs to be kept in a garage a safe distance away from any combustibles. Do not leave it outside.
For more tips on how to winterize your home and how to make sure your home is fireproof, click here.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Carbon monoxide is a gas that you cannot see, taste or smell. That’s why it’s so important to have a CO detector in your home.
24-Hour News 8’s Drew Blair went to the Wayne Township Fire Department’s headquarters Thursday morning to learn more about CO detectors from Captain Mike Pruitt during Operation Safety.
Below are some important notes for every family to know:
- Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide alarm. As with smoke alarms, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas,
- Keep them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
- Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms, and vice versa.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month.
- Replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – If you learned how to perform CPR on someone 20 years ago, chances are you aren’t doing it right anymore.
As part of Operation Safety, experts demonstrated live on Daybreak the current recommended way to do CPR. Experts say the focus now is chest compression, in an effort to act as the person’s heart.
If there are multiple people around who know CPR, experts recommend people take two-minute shifts. It’s better for the patient.
Injuries to the rib cage can happen during CPR, experts said on Daybreak. Although it’s not the intention to injure the patient, it’s sometimes a consequence of performing CPR.Click here for info on CPR certification classes, and look for CPR Fridays. Groups wanting a compression-only CPR demonstration can email email@example.com
See more from the demonstration in the video above.
Experts also demonstrated proper technique for the Heimlich maneuver. Watch in this video:
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Operation Safety is all about preparation, practice and prevention.
Oct. 5 kicked off National Fire Prevention Week and preparing your home for a fire could be your most important, life-saving tool.
24-Hour News 8’s Drew Blair went to the Wayne Township Fire Department’s headquarters Thursday morning to figure out what smoke alarms work best. Captain Mike Pruitt provided some important details for every family to know about.
Captain Pruitt said:
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.
- Test your smoke alarms every month.
- When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
- Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years
Click play in the video for Pruitt’s full interview. In the video below Pruitt answered some questions about smoke alarm safety.
FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) – When it comes to fire safety, having smoke detectors may not be enough to keep your family safe. Experts say it’s just as important to have an escape plan.
This is why the Fishers Fire Department works with elementary students. WISH-TV got a look at how firefighter’s show and tell kids what to do.
Firefighters have been doing this training for a decade. And it’s become even more important they say because more keep moving into the area.
“You don’t know for sure what type of fire safety education the kids have had in other school districts,” Fishers Fire Department Captain John Mehling said.
Firefighter’s focus on an escape plan, a procedure they say all families need to have.
Firefighters say start with the floorplan and map out how to get out of each room two different ways, whether it be a door or a window.
They also suggest establishing a meeting place that’s away from the house. Although firefighters say this is important, not all parents involve their children.
“We have a plan that my wife and I have discussed but we have not necessarily shared it with our daughter,” Fishers resident Greg Susenmichel said.
“We try do that every year, just talk to them, what do we do if there’s a fire and where do we meet,” Fishers resident Dawn Michal said.
Firefighters say parents need to not only talk about a plan with their children, but practice as well. They say do it monthly with younger kids, and the older they get, do it a few times a year.
Also, get creative. Try hitting the alarm in the middle of the night and see how they react.
“Doing this as a family, practicing it makes it easy so that when the emergency happens, they don’t have to think and wonder what they should do, they can react,” Mehling said.
It’s more than making a plan. Captain John Mehling told us how to execute it.
“You want to get as low as you can so that you’re out of the smoke because the good air is going to be down and the bad air is going to be up,” Mehling said.
Staying low isn’t the only thing you need to know. Mehling said be careful about which way out you take.
Feel the top, middle and bottom of the door, because it may not be the best way out.
“When there’s heat coming from the other side that doesn’t allow you to get out the door, or where the smoke is so thick and it’s coming down to the floor, then you don’t want to go out that way,” Mehling said.
While the drill might seem childish, firefighters say it’s not. By doing something as simple as this, they say you could save your family’s lives.
“We live that mindset that it’s never going to happen to me, but it happens to someone, and we want you to be prepared for if it’s you that it happens to,” Mehling said.
Firefighters said another crucial element is teaching kids how to open a window. There may be a fear of them falling out, but firefighters say if your child doesn’t know how to open the window, they may not know how to get out.
GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — The Greenfield Fire Department is looking for a way to expand a program aimed at keeping elderly people in the city safe.
The program allows first responders to get inside a home faster if the homeowner can’t open the door on their own. The department is cutting response time by using a simple box, called a Knox Box.
“If we have them [Knox Boxes], we’ll go install them on their door, and lock their keys in them,” said Greenfield Fire Chief James Roberts.
Each box hangs person’s front door, with house keys locked inside. In case of an emergency, crews will be able to unlock the box with a master key. The crews can then take the house keys out of the box and use them to quickly get inside the home.
24-Hour News 8 went along with Chief Roberts to install a Knox Box on Charles Gambrel’s apartment. Gambrel is a widower who lives alone in Greenfield.
“I think I’m in perfect health, but jeez, who knows? Something could happen in the next hour,” said Gambrel.
If something did happen, Gambrel wants to know help can get inside quickly.
“My apartment is somewhat secluded and it’s difficult to find,” said Gambrel.
That’s just another reason he says it’s important his keys are easy to find, stored in the box on his front door. Dispatchers have a database with the information for each Knox Box location. If an emergency call comes from that address, dispatchers will tell emergency crews to have the master key ready.
“We know going there, we have our key out and ready. We go in and unlock this box, get their door key out and open [the door] up. It gives them peace of mind that we can get in,” said Roberts.
Crews can get inside the home without knocking down the door. It saves money on future repairs, but most importantly it saves time.
“Every second counts,” said Roberts.
The keys are at easy access for crews with the master key, but nearly impossible for anyone else to open.
“That key box is like a safe. It is very very heavy, it’s hard to access. You could take a hammer, sledge hammer, beat it — you’re not going to get it opened up, ” said Roberts. “It’s virtually impossible to destruct that box and get that key out of it.”
Copies of the master key are inside little vaults in Greenfield ambulances and fire trucks. Crews need a code to open them up. If the master key is ever outside of the vault, a strobe light flashes inside the truck. The light is a reminder for first responders to put the key back in the vault. Chief Roberts said it’s another precaution so the keys don’t end up in the wrong hands.
“It is done very well. It’s very well made, so they can feel secure only we [emergency crews] are going to have access to their residence,” said Roberts.
Gambrel hopes his Knox Box never needs to be opened, but he is thankful it’s there.
“This makes me feel more safe and secure and at ease,” said Gambrel.
The Greenfield Fire Department told 24-Hour News 8 no taxpayer dollars were used to start the program. It was paid for with grant money. The program was so successful, there’s now a waiting list of people who would like the Knox Boxes.
“Ideally we’d be able to outfit every house that asked, for whoever needed it,” said Roberts. “It’d be great if we got more donations to be able to go buy more.”
If you live in Greenfield and you’re able to pay for your own box, you can contact the fire department and get one for about $200.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — From watching out for your kids to taking care of your parents, the world of safety features can be overwhelming. That’s why Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health is making it very easy. There’s a store there offering top safety tools at affordable prices. Several people even call it Riley’s best kept secret.
The Riley Safety Store is not-for-profit. It offers products at discount prices and provides free in-person education to go along with every single purchase.
“We want them to choose what’s right for them but not oversell them on anything,” said Cara Fast, Safety Store manager.
Fast has worked at the Safety Store at Riley Hospital for Children since its inception.
“Questions are free. Advice is free,” said Fast.
She and the staff can show people the latest recommended products to keep families safe and before customers leave they will know exactly how each product is used.
Alane Helmer is a new mom of a 9-month-old and has become a regular shopper of the safety store. “I think it’s helpful too because if I were to go to a local big box store, I’m just going to pick items willy-nilly and hope that they work,” said Helmer.
Situated in the Riley outpatient clinic, the safety store opened nearly 11 years ago. At the time, it was one of the only of its kind in the country.
New dads and moms can make this a one-stop-shop to baby-proof a home.
“I’m getting a sleep sack today because as my baby is getting older, we need a bigger sleep sack,” said Helmer.
Elizabeth Wettrick has been bringing her daughter Joey, a Riley kid, to the Safety Store since it opened. Joey has a neurological disorder and Elizabeth says this store was life changing for them.
“I couldn’t buy, and neither could a lot of the other families buy, this stuff at a retail store,” said Wettrick.
The store sells items at cost plus any incurred shipping charges.
“When I was seven, I went to get a bicycle helmet and some elbow pads too,” said 18-year-old Joey Wettrick.
Today, bike helmets go for $6.75.
The Centers for Disease Control says accidental death is the leading cause of death among children, which is why Fast won’t hesitate to show you everything for a “safety starter baby shower gift” to cabinet locks. There are even door and window alarms that keep intruders out and children in.
“It’s kind of a dual product that people don’t really think about,” said Cara.
It’s a life-saving gadget that only costs $5.75.
“They are so nice, and if you need something special, they’ll go and get it for you,” said Wettrick.
Since the safety store is run as not-for-profit, there’s no incentive to push sales on people. Everything has been vetted and tested by the experts.
“Come down and see us. We’ll be glad to help you with a car seat, with a bike helmet, anything we can help you with and provide them to you at low cost,” said Fast.
The store is open to anyone. Shoppers do not need to be patients at Riley to take advantage of the products and low prices.
The store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If those hours are inconvenient, the Safety Store also sells online. Just visit the Riley Safety Store website.