Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

Read about former Tenino police chief to file defamation suit against city …

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports former Tenino Police Chief John Hutchings, who was fired earlier this year, is planning to file a defamation lawsuit against the city for $850,000.

News reporter Andy Hobbs writes the claim is based on comments made by Tenino Mayor Bret Brodersen about Hutchings’ termination in March.

Initially Brodersen said he wanted to keep the change in police chiefs low key, but then because of mounting criticism on social media decided to share the background publicly.

In a lengthy news release at the end of March, Brodersen described a conflict between the number of hours Hutchings reported working compared with the number of hours he was authorized to work, given he was receiving retirement benefits. He also reported Hutchings added a paid reserve police officer, not approved and in violation of city statute that prohibits payment.

Chief John Hutchings was terminated on March 25 after almost two years with the city.

Read about it here

News brief: Freeway wreck, fire sends Centralia man to hospital

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Updated at 4:31 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Centralia motorist was injured when his car ran off Interstate 5, traveled down an embankment and caught fire last night in Cowlitz County.

Troopers called about 7:20 p.m. to the scene approximately four miles north of Woodland closed the southbound lanes so Life Flight could land, according to responders.

The Washington State Patrol reports Ronald E. Hickey, 55, was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. His condition this afternoon was listed as critical, in the Legacy Oregon Burn Center, according to a hospital spokesperson.

His 2005 Buick LaSalle was totaled.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, according to the state patrol.

News brief: Ony family of three injured on highway in Mason County

Friday, July 24th, 2015

U.S. 101 was closed for about three hours this afternoon for a collision investigation. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An Onalaska family was hospitalized after a car pulled in front of their sport utility vehicle on U.S. Highway 101 three miles north of Shelton today.

Troopers called at 12:05 to the scene report the roadway was fully blocked for approximately three hours.

The driver of the car, a 20-year-old woman from Issaquah, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Christopher Moore, 47, was traveling northbound in a 2013 Ford Expedition pulling a flatbed trailer when the car from a side road pulled into his lane to go south on the highway, and they collided, according to the state patrol.

The trailer broke free and hit a southbound log truck, the investigating trooper reports.

Moore was transported to Mason General Hospital where he was treated and has been released, the state patrol reports.

His passengers, Gretchen Moore, 44, and Logan Moore, 11, were reportedly taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

The cause of the wreck is under investigation.

News brief: Motorcyclists hurt in Morton, Pe Ell

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 64-year-old Glenoma resident was injured last night when he wrecked his motorcycle on state Route 7 in Morton.

Troopers responding to the approximately 10:10 p.m. call found that Martin E. Sprinkle had been traveling southbound when he lost control in the gravel on the right shoulder. The 1993 Harley Davidson FLSTC came to rest in the southbound lane, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Sprinkle had been wearing a helmet, according to the state patrol. The wreck is blamed on inattention.

The investigating trooper reports he was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle,

Sprinkle is listed in serious condition in the intensive care unit this morning, a hospital spokesperson said.

Earlier in the day, a motorcyclist was hurt in a collision just west of Pe Ell.

Firefighters and medics were called at 12:05 p.m. to state Route 6 in or near the construction area at McCormick Road, according to Lewis County Fire District 11.

“I’m not certain if he got hit, but I think he got hit by a car,” Fire Chief Michael Krafczyk said this morning.

The chief said he wasn’t at the scene and had not yet been briefed on the incident.

The patient was transported to Pe Ell School where a helicopter met responders, and flew him to Harborview, according to Krafczyk.

News brief: Child airlifted after scooter and vehicle collide in Centralia

Monday, July 20th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A child was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after he was struck by a vehicle in an apartment complex parking lot in Centralia yesterday evening, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Firefighters and medics called at 7:10 p.m. to the 2600 block of Cooks Hill Road report the 6-year-old boy was conscious and talking, but suspected of having internal injuries.

He was taken by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital and then flown by helicopter to Seattle, according to Fire Capt. Terry Ternan.

The youngster was riding on a small three wheeled stand-up type scooter and lost control, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Police this morning are reporting they concluded the boy traveled in between two parked cars and out into the lot just as a vehicle was driving by.

Police say the child ran into the vehicle and fell down. The understood his injuries to be minor, according to a summary of the incident from the department.

Read about charges filed in prison death of Centralia man …

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Everett) Herald reports the inmate accused of stomping a Centralia man to death inside a mental health unit at the prison in Monroe in May has been charged with aggravated murder.


Gordon “Casey” Powell Jr.

Gordon C. Powell Jr., 45, died May 18. He was serving a five year sentence for breaking through the glass door of distillery on North Tower Avenue and stealing liquor, and later tussling with a police officer last fall.

News reporter Diana Hefley writes that Benjamin Cory Price, 35, allegedly confessed to the attack, saying he’s been training as a government assassin since the age of 4.

“He called Powell a “Satan buddy.” He also said Powell used telepathy to tell him that if he assaulted him, Price would finally get to talk to police and a lawyer,” Hefley wrote.

Read more about it here

News brief: Bridge over Cowlitz River struck by big rig

Thursday, July 16th, 2015
2015.0716.bridgedamage.colitzbridge damage

Damage on truss of Cowlitz River Bridge. / Courtesy photo by Department of Transportation

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The right lane of southbound Interstate 5 and the on-ramp at the Cowlitz River Bridge south of Toledo are closed for bridge inspection this morning.

Earlier this morning, a semi-truck hit a portion of the steel truss that supports the bridge over the Cowlitz River, according to the state Department of Transportation.

WSDOT bridge inspectors are one the scene, at milepost 59, assessing the damage.

Drivers should use caution and expect delays. There is no estimate for reopening the lane or the ramp, according to a spokesperson for the state agency.

News brief: Judge’s mistake not serious enough to overturn molestation conviction

Monday, July 13th, 2015


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Washington State Supreme Court has upheld a first-degree child molestation conviction related to an October 2011 incident at a Napavine residence, agreeing that a local judge misstated to jurors the meaning of reasonable doubt, but concluding the error did not lower the state’s burden of proof or affect the outcome of the trial.

Chadwick L. Kalebaugh was convicted in Lewis County Superior Court in connection with touching a 6-year-old girl as she slept on a love seat in the living room during the night that followed a child’s birthday party at the home.

At trial, Judge Richard Brosey in preliminary remarks advised prospective jurors the defendant was presumed innocent, and that prosecutors had the burden of proving each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the findings.

The judge then instructed that a “reasonable doubt” is a doubt for which a reason can be given, rather than the correct jury instruction that a “reasonable doubt” is a doubt for which a reason exists, according to the Supreme Court. However, at the end of the case, jurors were given the proper legal instruction on reasonable doubt.

Kalebaugh had lost his argument to the Court of Appeals, because an objection had not been made at trial, but the higher court chose to review it.

Seven of the justices signed the majority opinion, and two of them concurred with the outcome, but not every aspect of the analysis. The opinion was filed on Thursday.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh argued the case for the state, and Olympia lawyer Manek Mistry represented Kalebaugh.

Watch the oral arguments to the  Washington State Supreme Court on TVW, here

News brief: Semi truck and car at collide at Morton

Friday, July 10th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Randle woman’s passenger car was more or less T-boned by a semi truck when she pulled out of Morton onto U.S. Highway 12 today.

Troopers called just before 3:30 p.m. found Karla Johnson, 50, from Randle, had stopped at the intersection on state Route 7, and was attempting to head east but for whatever reason pulled in front of a westbound Freightliner tractor-trailer.

She was lucky, according to Trooper Justin Schaffer.

“The truck ran over the front side of the car, instead of into the passenger (compartment),” Schaffer said. “She had just a minor knee injury.”

Her 2002 Oldsmobile Alero was totaled, according to the Washington State Patrol. The semi had some front end damage and snapped an oil line, Schaffer said.

Both were towed from the scene.

The truck driver, Ciaran Cobb, 25, from Yakima, was unhurt, according to the state patrol.

Johnson was transported to Morton General Hospital. She was cited for failure to yield, Schaffer said.

News brief: No conclusion on cause of Oxford Avenue house fire

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Riverside Fire Authority announced this morning their investigation into the fire that destroyed a two-story house in north Centralia five days ago is inconclusive.


Oxford Avenue, July 3, 2015

The cause of the fire is classified as undetermined, according to Riverside’s Public Information Officer Scott Weinert.

Weinert indicates the area of origin was found to be the front porch of the residence.

The fire may have consumed any evidence which could have pointed to a cause, according to Weinert, but the label of undetermined allows for leaving the investigation open in case new information is discovered.

One full-time occupant was displaced by the evening blaze on the 1500 block of Oxford Avenue, according to the fire chief.

Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald today said the fire didn’t appear to be intentionally set, so he and his people are not looking into it.

For background, read “Fire tears through Centralia house” from Friday July 3, 2015, here

News brief: Mystery incident takes fire truck out of service

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A fire engine from Lewis County Fire District 6 sustained a considerable amount of damage while assisting another fire department on Sunday and its driver suffered what was described as a minor injury.

District 6 issued a news release yesterday about the incident, offering almost no details. Fire Chief Tim Kinder indicated he wouldn’t say more about it until after the information is compiled for the insurance company.

Crews were trying to locate a reported grass fire that bordered the TransAlta mine, according to Kinder.

The driver was checked out at the hospital and then subsequently released, according to the news release. The incident remains under investigation.

District 6 protects rural areas surrounding Chehalis.

Multiple agencies responded Sunday afternoon to a fire involving grass, brush and an exposed coal seam on property at TransAlta Mine’s South Field.

News brief: Early morning blaze destroys house near Toledo

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A fire that broke out this morning at a vacant home for sale north of Toledo is under investigation.

Members of four departments responded to the approximately 5:30 a.m. call to the 300 block of Howe Road, off Spencer Road, according to Lewis County Fire District 2.

“The fire was through the roof when I got here, it was obviously an empty house, so it was pretty much a defensive attack,” District 2 Fire Chief Dave Germain said.

Germain said the residence, which he estimated at perhaps 1,600 square feet, is mostly destroyed. A roof remains over the back two bedrooms, he said.

Germain, a longtime Toledo resident who is retired after 27 years with the Tacoma Fire Department, took on the position as part time chief of District 2 last Wednesday.

There are no other residences nearby, he said. A fire investigator was on the scene this morning.

“It certainly would appear to be questionable, with no electricity and there’s nobody living in the home,” Germain said.

News brief: Brush, grass and timber ignite outside Oakville

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Courtesy photo by Grays Harbor Fire District 1


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters from local districts as well as the state Department of Natural Resources responded to a wildfire near Oakville this afternoon.

DNR personnel were called to help about 1:30 p.m. to the Oak Meadow Fire, near South Bank Road where fire was smoldering and creeping in grass, brush and timber, according to DNR.

Local firefighters had been called less than 10 minutes earlier when a resident looked out her window and saw a small storage building on fire, according to Grays Harbor County Fire District 1.

Public Information Officer Shawn Burdett said three close-by homes were saved, nobody was injured and all the animals were safe, but the outbuilding was destroyed. A horse trailer and a second outbuilding were damaged, according to Burdett.

DNR’s dispatchers were notified just before 7:30 p.m. the approximately four-acre fire was fully contained and 60 percent “mopped up.” Activities at the scene were still ongoing.

Update: Burdett says the cause is undetermined.


Courtesy photo by Grays Harbor Fire District 1


News brief: Centralia coal field scene of wildfire

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Smoke observed from a logging road on the North Fork side of the TransAlta Fire. / Courtesy photo by Rhonda Volk

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Smoke spotted from the air drew firefighters yesterday afternoon to a wildfire burning grass, brush and an exposed coal seam on property owned by TransAlta.

It was at the Centralia coal mine’s South Field, according to Riverside Fire Authority Chief Mike Kytta.

The forested unimproved property is protected by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The fire was reported to DNR about 3:30 p.m. and Riverside responding about 4:10 p.m. learned it was already being fought by personnel from Lewis County Fire Districts 6, 5 and 1, along with DNR,  from the North Fork Road area, according to the fire chief.

Kytta said upon their arrival with a brush truck, water tender and command unit, they found a DNR helicopter  had the fire contained already. They left the mop up work for DNR and mine personnel, he said.

Further details were not yet available from DNR and calls to TransAlta were not returned as of this evening.

DNR reported it turned it back over to the landowner last night.

News brief: Lone hiker hoisted from wilderness, lost and dehydrated

Monday, July 6th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An experienced hiker who accidentally walked six hours in the wrong direction was rescued this morning near Lily Lake Basin close to White Pass.

The 55-year-old Kennewick resident left the Goat Rocks Wilderness area on Saturday for an expected 24-hour roundtrip along the Pacific Crest Trail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

He was well-prepared with the right gear, shelter and food, but became dehydrated because he ran out of water, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

He used his cell phone to call family, who called the sheriff’s office for help last night, according to Brown.

The sheriff’s office coordinated a search and rescue effort that began at 6 o’clock this morning, including members with horses, ATVs and on foot, according to Brown.

The hiker was located at 10:45 a.m. and hoisted to safety by the King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, Brown said.

The 55 year old was suffering from dehydration and other injuries and had been unable to give clear directions to the SAR coordinator, Brown said.

He was found about three to five miles from the Clear Lost Trail off of U.S. Highway 12; and was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment, according to Brown.

News brief: Eyebrows singed by mortar

Monday, July 6th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It’s too soon breathe any sigh of relief that the Fourth of July holiday has come and gone with no major trauma from fireworks, according to one fire chief.

“Now, we’ll start to see over the next few days what will happen,” Lewis County Fire District 6 Chief Tim Kinder said. “There are people still lighting off fireworks.”

The period for legal discharge of fireworks ended at 11 p.m. yesterday, and won’t return again until next summer, except for a few hours on New Year’s Eve.

Also, the fire danger because of the exceedingly dry vegetation didn’t magically vanish. At least 10 large wildfires were burning around the state as of yesterday.

“Everybody needs to remember the burn restrictions,” Lewis County Fire District 8 Chief Duran McDaniel said this morning.

The Salkum area had a relatively mild weekend, fire response-wise, although it certainly was noisy, McDaniel said.

For Kinder, whose department protects the greater Chehalis area, his crews had a very long weekend, with numerous calls.

“We did a lot of mutual-aid stuff,” Kinder said.

District 6 crews assisted Riverside Fire Authority with a Centralia area barn fire on Thursday, with a house fire on Friday, and responded with the Napavine area department for a garage fire on Sunday, according to Kinder.

They dealt with some small grass fires, with four calls in total on Saturday and four more on Sunday, he said.

And on Saturday night, they tended to one victim injured when a mortar exploded prematurely, inside its tube, according to Kinder.

Crews called about 10:30 p.m. to the 500 block of Highway 603 west of Chehalis found the 51-year-old man had been standing next to it, Kinder said.

It singed his eyebrows, and caused an abrasion on his upper chest, he said. The man’s wife took him to the hospital, the chief said.

But, the longtime firefighter said, his expectation is now folks will find leftover fireworks, and sometimes light them off to see if they still are any good.

“I always pay attention to the three or four days after the Fourth,” he said. “It’s not over.”

News brief: Centralia man arrested after attempt to rob north end market

Monday, July 6th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An attempted robbery at a Centralia convenience store yesterday evening failed when the would-be thief realized the clerk was not alone.

Police called about 6:15 p.m. to the Pearl Street Market on the 2300 block of North Pearl Street were told the man opened up a knife and demanded money.

The 28-year-old clerk went running backwards screaming for her boss and the startled subject fled, according to the Centralia Police Department.

The owner had been in the back of the store, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said.

Officers were told the individual ran towards Carson Street so one patrol car parked on a wooden bridge near Carson, while other law enforcement officers surrounded a large area, Reichert said.

Centralia police dog Lobo began a track and it wasn’t long before the dog pulled the suspect from the bushes some 50 feet from the patrol car, he said.

Jason M. Keele, 46, from Centralia, was arrested for attempted robbery, according to police. He was taken to be checked for the dog bite and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Reichert.

“We probably had the guy in custody within an hour,” he said. “Probably less than an hour, and we’re thankful for the assistance from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol.”

News brief: House fire in Curtis caught early

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Boistfort Valley home caught fire late yesterday afternoon, but a neighbor alerting the resident to smoke and the resident putting a garden hose on it kept it from spreading.

Firefighters called just before 5 p.m. to the one-story house on the 100 block of Moon Hill Road found damage beneath an enclosed porch built onto the back of the house, according to Lewis County Fire District 13.

“So it looks like it started on the outside of the residence,” Fire Chief Gwen Turner said. “Not sure what combusted, but something combusted on the outside.”

Turner said smoke got into the interior, but the room itself never caught fire. She suspected the room would have to be completely re-done.

“It’s a very good thing they were home,” she said.

Ten firefighters responded.

Firefighters find smoldering rags in downtown Chehalis bar

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It turned out to be a neatly folded stack of recently laundered towels on a shelf.

That could have burned up a popular Chehalis night spot, if not for the fact that someone smelled something not quite right before the business closed.

It was about midnight last night when someone from Sabra’s Place walked around the corner to the Chehalis Fire Station and said there was a strange odor inside the restaurant.

The crew went into the building on the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue and looked around. The air conditioner was checked, the area was searched and finally, the source was located, Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said

It was coming from a stack of towels in a cabinet, McCarty said. They were just slightly smoking.

Fire Investigator Derrick Paul related to McCarty that he took them outside, laid them out and found heavy charring in the middle.

“So, they were actually spontaneously combusting,” McCarty said.

Paul asked if they’d been used previously to clean up anything oily or chemicals. He was told yes, but they’d been washed since, he was told.

Most people know that oily rags left laying around can ignite, but firefighters know that even after they are laundered, they are still risky, according to McCarty. They should be stored in something metal with a lid on it, he said.

“In this case, luckily they smelled something,” he said. “Otherwise, we’d have had a big fire.”

Read about Winlock’s police chief’s next move in ‘retirement’ …

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter


Terry Williams

The (Longview) Daily News reports that longtime Winlock Police Chief Terry Williams has taken a job with a private company that provides monitoring for at-home detention.

Williams, 57, who retired yesterday, told Daily News reporter Brooks Johnson he disagrees with the city’s recent decision to close the department and contract for outside law enforcement services, from the city of Toledo.

Johnson writes Williams’ law enforcement career began in 1979.

Read more about it here

News brief: Local firefighting teams join Wenatchee crews

Monday, June 29th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two firefighters from the Napavine area fire department are among those who headed east overnight to assist with the wildfire at Wenatchee.

Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue sent them on a brush truck.

The blaze, named the Sleepy Hollow Fire, began around 2:30 p.m. yesterday, grew to 300 acres by 9 o’clock last night and by this morning had grown to 3,000 acres, destroying multiple structures, according to authorities.

At least one group of three firefighters from South Thurston County deployed to the fire as well. Tina Vanderhoof, administrative chief for Thurston County Fire District 12 in Tenino said the group included one from Tenino, the chief of Thurston County Fire District 16 in Gibson Valley and one other person.

The State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray was activated to coordinate state assistance.

The Wenatchee World reported this evening 28 homes have burned and the fast-moving fire sent out embers that ignited commercial buildings.

An estimated 200 firefighters were rotating on and off today, according to news reporter Dee Riggs.

Read more about the fire here. shared raw video

Centralia: Suspect in armed robbery at large

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A male was robbed at gunpoint inside a vehicle by a person with him yesterday evening, leading to a short police pursuit that began in the area of Harrison Avenue and Johnson Road in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Officers responding at 6:53 p.m. to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue, just west of Interstate 5, report the suspect took money from the victim.

The suspect is described only as a person known to the victim.

Police located the vehicle, which refused to yield, according to a brief summary of the incident from the department.

The pursuit was terminated by police for public safety
concerns, according to police.

Centralia officers have positively identified the suspect, and recovered the vehicle in Olympia, according to the summary.

Further details were not readily available. The investigation continues, according to police.