Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Pe Ell house fire cause not yet known

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
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Fire started in the garage on South Third Street in Pe Ell / Courtesy photo

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The cause of the fire that erupted in a Pe Ell house early yesterday morning remains under investigation.

Crews from three fire departments responded to the approximately 1 a.m. call to the 500 block of South Third Street.

Fire Investigator Jay Birley said the owner said he had heard a small explosion that drew his attention to the attached garage, but when he opened the man door to the garage, he saw a lot of fire, so he shut the door.

He grabbed his cell phone and his dog, got out and called 911, Birley said. He was also able to move his travel trailer and vehicle away from the home so they didn’t catch fire, he said. He was uninjured.

“I think he’s in his 80s and his dog is like 18 years old,” Birley said.

Closing that door helped slow the fire from spreading somewhat, but what wasn’t damaged by fire was damaged by water, Birley said.

The resident will be able to stay temporarily in his trailer, according to Birley.
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For background, read “News brief: Pe Ell home burns” from Monday June 26, 2017, here

News brief: Lewis County man dead after wreck in Eastern Oregon

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
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Volkswagen Jetta at scene of deadly crash. / Courtesy photo by Oregon State Police

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Oregon State Police report they are continuing to investigate a single-vehicle collision in which a Centralia man died and his passenger was seriously injured.

It happened on Saturday afternoon in Baker County in Eastern Oregon.

Troopers and emergency personnel responded about 3:37 p.m. to the crash on Highway 245 near milepost 11 in Hereford, according to OSP.

Preliminary investigation revealed a 2001 Volkswagen Jetta was traveling northbound when it drifted out of its lane, crossed the oncoming lane and continued off the roadway, where it struck a tree, according to a press release issued yesterday. The driver, Luis A. Barrera Mendez, age 29, of Centralia, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The passenger, Octavio Castro Valdez, 25, of Centralia was transported by Life Flight to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise for treatment of his serious injuries, according to OSP.

Assisting were Baker County Sheriff’s Office, Baker City Fire Department, Blue Mountain Ambulance and Oregon Department of Transportation.

OSP indicates further information will be released as it becomes available.

News brief: Golden anniversary for Civil Service civil servant

Monday, June 26th, 2017
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Gerald Grill, left, accepts the recognition from Lewis County Commissioners Edna Fund, Bobby Jackson and Gary Stamper

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Adna resident Jerry Grill was honored today for serving 50 years as the secretary-examiner for the Lewis County Civil Service Commission.

Grill, 77, was recognized with a certificate of appreciation at the start of the Lewis County Board of County Commissioners weekly business meeting held in the historic courthouse in Chehalis.

The three-member commission oversees the examination process for hiring and promotions of employees at the sheriff’s office – other than the sheriff and his appointees – and sometimes for appeals of personnel actions.

Grill said the civil service commission system was created in Washington state by initiative in the 1960s.

Grill retired as fire chief of Lewis County Fire District 12 in 1997 after 36 years of service there.

He was accompanied this morning by his wife Luanne Grill. The couple celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary yesterday.

News brief: Pe Ell home burns

Monday, June 26th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A house in Pe Ell is a total loss after it caught fire during the night.

Personnel from three fire departments responded after the approximately 1 a.m. call to the blaze on Third Street, according to Lewis County Fire District 11.

Chief Michael Krafczyk said everyone got out okay.

The fire appeared to have started in the garage but is under investigation, according to the chief.

News brief: Morton resident killed when motorcycle crashes

Monday, June 26th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 53-year-old motorcyclist died last night when his bike wrecked about a mile north of Morton.

Troopers called at 7 p.m. to state Route 7 determined the motorcycle was traveling southbound when it left the road to the right and struck the guardrail, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Dead is Kris G. Bailey, 53, of Morton, according to the state patrol. He had been wearing a helmet.

His 2013 Yamaha XVS1300 was impounded.

The scene was cleared about 9:15 p.m., according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

News brief: Equipment fire doused at Ony mill site

Friday, June 23rd, 2017
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Firefighters point their hoses at front end loader. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 1

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Crews called to a fire at the old Alexander Lumber Mill in Onalaska last night found a front-end loader burning.

The machine operator had been putting sawdust into a large hopper and said he felt heat on his backside, turned around to look and saw flames, according to Lewis County Fire District 1.

Assistant Fire Chief Rhonda Volk said they were joined by a tender from Lewis County Fire District 5.

The call came about 8:10 p.m. to state Route 508, just west of town. The new business at the site works around the clock, Volk said.

The fire was extinguished. The front end loader is a total loss, but nobody was hurt, Volk said.

Volk said they have an idea of what may have caused it, but a fire investigator was looking into it.

Read about state settles prison death of Centralia man for $1.5 million …

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The (Everett) Herald reports a federal lawsuit ended last week with a $1.5 million settlement paid by the state to the estate of former Centralia resident Gordon C. Powell Jr. who was beaten to death while incarcerated at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

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Gordon “Casey” Powell Jr.

News reporter Eric Stevik writes the suit delved into questions about the oversight and custody classification of Benjamin Cory Price, a convicted killer whose delusional thoughts concerned both corrections officers and mental health workers.

Powell, 45, was serving a five year sentence, for second-degree burglary and third-degree assault following incidents in in Centralia in October 2014 and died the following May.

Both men were being held in the prison’s Special Offender Unit, which was opened in 1981 to provide a facility to treat and house the many seriously mentally ill inmates.

Read more about it here, “State settles prison death lawsuit for $1.5 million” from The (Everett) Herald on Sunday June 18, 2017
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For background, read “Prisoner accused of beating to death fellow inmate, a local man” from Wednesday May 20 2015, here

Read about Oakville resident missing after river accident …

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Peninsula Daily News reports an Oakville man rescued his girlfriend and perhaps others before he vanished beneath the surface of the Duckabush River near Brinnon in Jefferson County.

News reporter Cydney McFarland writes that the body of 34-year-old Jesse Cruz has not been recovered since the events of late Saturday afternoon.

Read more about it here, “Drowned Oakville man saved at least one person before going under, fire chief says” from Peninsula Daily News on Wednesday June 21, 2017

News brief: Appeal of coroner’s inquest case continues in federal court

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Oral arguments will be heard in September before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle in the case of former Toledo elementary school principal Ron Reynolds who contended the Lewis County coroner had no legal basis for  conducting an inquest into the 1998 death of his then-wife, a former state trooper.

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Ron Reynolds

His lawyer called the 2011 proceedings scandalous, leading to severe harm to his client’s reputation and employability.

Reynolds’ and his son Jonathan Reynolds were named by the inquest jury as responsible for the death, which the panel concluded was homicide.

Reynolds lost the federal lawsuit against Coroner Warren McLeod and the county when a federal judge granted a summary judgment two years ago. Reynolds appealed.

McLeod said this morning he plans to attend the 9 a.m. Sept. 1 session, which will be heard by a three-member panel of judges.

Ronda Reynolds, 33, was found with a bullet in her head and covered by a turned-on electric blanket on the floor of a closet in the Toledo home she shared with her husband of less than a year and his three sons.
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For background, read “Lawsuit regarding Ronda Reynolds’ inquest moves to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals” from Friday May 8, 2015, here

News brief: Nobody found inside after search through house fire rubble

Friday, June 16th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – No victims were found after a search was conducted through the remains of a house that burned yesterday in Centralia.

The vacant single-story house at the end of Alexander Street was fully engulfed in flames when a crew arrived following a 4:19 a.m. call yesterday reporting a tree on fire, according to authorities.

The roof collapsed making access to the interior impossible, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Fire Chief Mike Kytta indicated yesterday afternoon that once the fire was brought under control, an excavator was brought in to remove debris to facilitate extinguishing the remaining fire.

They accessed the building to search for any victims and found none, according to Kytta. Centralia police have said officers frequently discovered unauthorized individuals inside the house.

The cause of the fire is classified as undetermined and the investigation remains open, according to Kytta.
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For background, read “News brief: Vacant Centralia house burns” from Thursday June 15, 2017, here

News brief: Vacant Centralia house burns

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
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Smoke rises from the 1400 block of Alexander Street. / Courtesy photo by Joseph Bonomi

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Centralia police and firefighters responded to a call early this morning to a fire at a vacant single-story house frequented by unauthorized inhabitants.

It was found fully involved in flames and its roof eventually caved into its basement, according to the Centralia Police Department.

The home on the 1400 block of Alexander Street has been boarded up for some time, police Sgt. Kurt Reichert said.

Reichert said it’s a location where patrol officers have frequently found individuals staying there or trying to stay there. It has no electrical service, according to Reichert.

The fire department was not able to get inside and investigators likely won’t be able to either for quite awhile because of the remaining heat, Reichert said.

He said he understood a bull dozer would be brought in and that after materials are moved away, the basement will need to be pumped.

News brief: Mineral Fire Department audit shows fuel misappropriation

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has forwarded a case to prosecutors of second-degree theft in connection with a volunteer firefighter’s alleged misuse of a gas card.

Brady J. Mounce was a volunteer with Lewis County Fire District 9 in Mineral and allegedly used a district card for just over $1,500 in personal use between 2013 and 2014, according to the sheriff’s office.

Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said this morning said a report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office came back early last week and showed Mounce misappropriated more than $5,000 worth of fuel from the district.

Some it occurred in the Morton area and some in Eatonville, according to Breen. Similar charges have been filed in Pierce County, Breen said.

Mounce, 23, of Mineral has not been arrested and a charging decision will be made by the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Breen said the audit overall showed $20,300 worth of fuel misappropriated from the district but it couldn’t be determined who was responsible. He didn’t note the time period involved.

News brief: Cedar Creek escapees captured in Capitol Forest

Monday, June 12th, 2017
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One of two missing inmates is arrested on Sunday afternoon. / Courtesy photo by state Department of Corrections

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two escapees from Cedar Creek Corrections Center near Littlerock were apprehended yesterday afternoon without incident about six miles north of the facility.

Richard Harvell, 30, and Sage Bear, 26, were arrested together about 3:50 p.m., according to the state Department of Corrections.

They were found in the Capitol Forest, according to DOC.

Both men are pending transfer to a state prison facility and medical treatment for minor injuries sustained while escaping, authorities stated yesterday afternoon.

DOC said early yesterday morning the pair left about 9:40 p.m. on Saturday from the minimum custody institution at 12200 Bordeaux Road west of Littlerock.

Harvell was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm out of Snohomish County and began serving a 44-month sentence on March 15. Bear was convicted of first-degree manslaughter out of King County in January 2009 and had been scheduled for release in  July of next year.

DOC offered thanks to the many individuals who provided tips to the phone lines.
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For background, read “Law enforcement searches for prison escapees from Cedar Creek” from Sunday June 11, 2017, here

Law enforcement searches for prison escapees from Cedar Creek

Sunday, June 11th, 2017
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Richard Harvell, 30, and Sage Bear, 26, escaped last night

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Two inmates have escaped from the minimum custody Cedar Creek Corrections Center near Littlerock, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Law enforcement and DOC are searching for Richard Harvell, 30, and Sage Bear, 26, who escaped about 9:40 p.m. yesterday, according to a statement from DOC posted on its Facebook page and Twitter account at about 3:30 a.m. today.

Authorities advise anyone who sees either man not to approach them, but to call 911 or call Cedar Creek Corrections Center at 360-359-4100.

Harvell was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm out of Snohomish County and began serving his 44-month sentence on March 15, 2017. His expected release date had been tentatively set for March 19, 2019.

Bear was convicted of first-degree manslaughter out of King County and began serving his 130-month sentence on January 27, 2009. His expected release date had been tentatively set for July 9, 2018.

Correctional employees initiated inmate recount of the entire facility and escape procedures at approximately 10 p.m., according to the statement. The facility notified local law enforcement and activated inmate recovery teams.

Cedar Creek houses approximately 480 male inmates at the facility at 12200 Bordeaux Road west of Littlerock.

Centralia resident dies in shootout with Vancouver police

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Authorities have identified the Vancouver bank robbery suspect who died after exchanging gunfire with police as 50-year-old David W. Hamilton of Centralia.

Hamilton died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.

At approximately 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday, officers responded to a robbery of the IQ Credit Union in which a rifle-carrying, ski mask-wearing subject ran into the bank, robbed it of an undisclosed amount of money and then fled, according to the Vancouver Police Department.

The individual was seen getting into a white vehicle and responding officers then spotted the subject getting into a second vehicle and driving away, according to police. A pursuit ensued, a PIT maneuver was conducted on the fleeing vehicle and shots were exchanged between the suspect and officers, according to police.

No officers were injured, but three officers were put on leave, according to the Vancouver Police Department. An investigation was initiated by the Regional Major Crimes Team.

News brief: Chehalis piano tuner loses workshop to fire

Thursday, June 8th, 2017
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Shop building reignites hours after fire department leaves. / Courtesy photo by Tayler Williams

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The shop building used by a rural Chehalis man who refurbishes and tunes pianos is a total loss after a noontime fire was extinguished and then reignited yesterday evening.

Lewis County Fire District 6 Chief Tim Kinder said it was about 6:45 p.m. when a neighbor called and reported the structure was fully involved in flames.

Firefighters from District 6 and three other departments had spent about an hour and a half earlier in the day putting out a fire in the same building at the 300 block of Logan Hill Road. That ended with main structure still intact, according to the fire district.

Kinder said they knocked the second fire down within about 15 minutes but stayed on scene until after 9 p.m. moving materials to make sure there were no hots spots remaining.

He said the building held pianos on one side and the actual shop on the other side. He estimated the loss of building and contents at about $30,000.

The second fire spread to the adjacent carport and threatened the house, he said. The cause is under investigation.

News brief: Garage catches fire in Chehalis

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017
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Shop building on Logan Hill Road. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 6

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – There was heavy damage from flames and smoke but the main structure of a garage south of Chehalis was saved after a fire broke out today.

Firefighters called just before noon to the 300 block of Logan Hill Road were told no one was inside the building, according to Lewis County Fire District 6.

The fire was contained to the garage and nobody was hurt, according to Firefighter DJ Hammer.

A building inspector was requested to check the shop building for structural integrity, according to Hammer. The cause is being investigated.

News brief: Indecent liberties conviction brings prison time for Centralia man

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 49-year-old Centralia man was sentenced today to 20 months in prison for indecent liberties in a case in which a young woman said he molested her while she was sleeping in his fifth-wheel trailer while she was withdrawing from heroin.

Keith D. Keene pleaded guilty on May 10 to the felony offense, but made an Alford plea, in which he admitted no wrongdoing.

He appeared in Lewis County Superior Court this morning before Judge Andrew Toynbee, with his lawyer Don Blair.

Keene was charged earlier this year in the case detectives began investigating last July following a tip from an inmate at the Lewis County Jail who said they knew of multiple women sexually assaulted by Keene.

The original charges included the cases of two other women in their 20s who told of similar instances, but those charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal, according to Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm.

The victim in the case in which Keene was convicted was 19 years old in November 2015 and told police he had offered her to use his bed and when she she woke up to Keene pressing himself against her, she immediately got up and went outside. She said it happened just before she went to rehab.

The judge gave Keene credit for 32 days of time already served and imposed three years of supervision after his release.
•••

For background, read “Centralian accused of taking advantage of multiple younger women” from Saturday February 11, 2017, here

News brief: Chehalis K-Mart parking lot death was suicide

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Authorities say the woman whose body was found inside a car at K-Mart’s parking lot this weekend died of suicide.

Twenty-five-year-old Jennifer E. Zamora was from Centralia, according to the Lewis County Coroner’s Office.

Chehalis police began investigating following an approximately 10 a.m. call on Sunday to the 1200 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue about a person deceased inside a 2001 Kia Rio in a parking space at the far south side of the lot.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod indicated this morning Zamora died of a gunshot wound to her head. Police said a shotgun was located with her.

Chehalis Police Department Sgt. Gwen Carrell said it appears it happened sometime during the night, but police are still tying up loose ends in the case.

Six deaths this year in Lewis County have been ruled suicide, as of two weeks ago.

Chehalis: Victim pulls knife on alleged thief

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 19-year-old Chehalis resident is jailed after a fight in which he reportedly tried to take a man’s backpack and got stabbed in the shin in return, early this morning alongside Interstate 5 in Chehalis.

Police say the two are acquaintances who had been camping near the state Route 6 bridge.

Officers responded to an approximately 4:50 a.m. call of a physical altercation near the freeway onramp at the Main Street-state Route 6 interchange, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Police department spokesperson Linda Bailey says officers learned the 19-year-old demanded and then forcibly attempted to take the backpack. He allegedly struck the 41-year-old Curtis man in the face, causing a laceration.

That’s when the 41-year-old victim stabbed the teen in the leg with a folding knife, according to Bailey.

Both were taken to the hospital, treated for non-life threatening injuries and then released, according to police.

However, Jose M. Almanza,19, of Chehalis, was arrested for second-degree robbery and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Bailey.

Claim: Meet-up associated with dating website leads to rape in Toledo

Monday, June 5th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 37-year-old Toledo man is jailed after a woman who was contacted by him on a social media dating website told law enforcement that he lured her to his residence, assaulted her, dragged her into a bedroom and then raped her.

Deputies responded on Saturday to the report from a 41-year-old woman who had sought medical attention, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy Dusty Breen said that after investigating, deputies arrested Benjamin J. Breitenbach for second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment.

Breen said the two communicated on the site Plenty of Fish and the occurrence took place on Saturday afternoon at the 200 block of Kangas Road in Toledo.

Breitenbach was booked into the Lewis County Jail. He is tentatively scheduled to be brought before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.

News brief: Missing Rochester woman found wrecked off U.S. Highway 12

Monday, May 29th, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 70-year-old Rochester woman reported missing last week was located yesterday afternoon down a 30-foot embankment where her car had wrecked and hit two trees along U.S. Highway 12 about two miles north of Oakville.

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Sharon L. Leaming

Sharon L. Leaming was injured and airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers called to the scene at 1:30 p.m. report Leaming’s Chevrolet Lumina was totaled.

Leaming had been traveling eastbound and suffered a medical event causing her to drive off the shoulder, according to the state patrol.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office took a missing person report on Thursday and learned Leaming had left home Tuesday morning for North Cove and headed home later in the day but never arrived. Her cell phone was “pinged”  on Thursday to a location near Oakville but a search was unsuccessful, according to the sheriff’s office.

News brief: Victim in car fire was a Kelso man

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Coroner’s Office today revealed today the man found dead inside a burned car a little more than two weeks ago in Chehalis is a 48-year-old Kelso resident.

Robert A. Mansker was found deceased after the flames were extinguished on a 1992 Honda Accord parked off the 1900 block of Northeast Kresky Avenue early on the morning of May 6, according to authorities.

The cause and manner of Mansker’s death won’t be determined until the completion of further investigation and studies, according to Coroner Warren McLeod
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For background, read “News brief: Chehalis car fire death still unresolved” from Monday May 15, 2017, here