Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Covert operations may be rolling your way

Monday, January 27th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Law enforcement officers this week will be riding school buses to watch for law breakers who endanger children by passing buses when they are not supposed to.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office announced this morning the project in which it will work with the Washington State Patrol and two un-named school districts.

The emphasis on stop paddle violators will include an officer observing traffic and then radioing out to other officers who can pull over and cite offending motorists, according to the sheriff’s office.

The fine for passing a school bus when its red stop sign paddle is flipped out and activated is $394.

Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown indicated they’re keeping under wraps which districts are involved, as a way to motivate motorists everywhere in the county to be more cautious.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield said his office has a zero tolerance policy regarding the important issue that protects youngsters.

“There is no more important responsibility society has than to keep our children safe,” Mansfield stated in a news release.

News brief: Ultralight makes crash landing at Chehalis airport

Saturday, January 25th, 2014


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An ultralight aircraft crashed at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport this afternoon with no serious injuries to the pilot.

Chehalis Firefighter Kevin Reynolds said the man took off and came down to land right away because something wasn’t right, and it didn’t end well.

“He walked away from it with minor cuts and bruises,” Reynolds said. “He’ll probably be sore tomorrow.”

Members of the Chehalis Fire Department called about 3:15 p.m. to the scene just west of Interstate 5 bandaged up the pilot’s hand and helped him roll the ultralight off the runway, according to Reynolds.

He was wearing safety gear and didn’t go the hospital, he said.

It was a two-seater, fixed wing machine whose home airport was elsewhere, but Reynolds wasn’t sure where.

Police report the 70-year-old man from Rainier, Ore. was flying a 2008 Aero and the Federal Aviation Administration would be investigating.

Read about former Great Wolf Lodge lifeguard admits sex with 14-year-old girl …

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports the 19-year-old former lifeguard at the Great Wolf Lodge has pleaded guilty following a deal in which prosecutors agreed to dismiss a more serious charge in exchange for his plea in connection with a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old guest last spring.

Alex Eduardo Salazar admitted to having sex with a person more than four years younger than him and was convicted of rape of a child in the third degree on Thursday, according to news reporter Jeremy Pawloski.

The Centralia-area resident was arrested last May 14 at Rochester High School where he was a senior following the incident the night before when he and the girl left after his shift ended at the family oriented destination resort in Grand Mound.

Pawloski reports as part of the deal, prosecutors and Salazar’s lawyer have agreed to recommend he serve between 12 and 14 months when he is sentenced in March.

Read about it here


See Revised Code of Washington: Rape of a child in the third degree.

News brief: Fatal Vader crash was accidental, coroner says

Friday, January 24th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 70-year-old man who was killed in a car wreck on Tuesday morning in Vader died from his injuries, a death that is ruled accidental following an autopsy.

Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod said that still doesn’t explain why Richard T. Brunaugh missed a stop sign and slammed into a concrete wall across from the south end of Winlock-Vader Road.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office which investigated the wreck said his vehicle was traveling southbound at a high rate of speed and crossed state Route 506 for unknown reasons.

Brunaugh died upon impact and was ejected, according to authorities. He’s from Cottage Grove, Ore.

His cocker spaniel that was traveling with him survived initially, but with severe spinal injuries. The Lewis County Animal Shelter was planning to euthanize the dog on Wednesday after consultation between a local veterinarian and Brunaugh’s former wife who previously co-owned the pet.

McLeod said the pathologist will be conducting further studies to see if there were any contributing factors that led to the accident.

News brief: Chehalis man’s truck involved in two-vehicle collision in Grays Harbor County

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Chehalis truck driver was uninjured but his semi was towed after a passenger vehicle ran into it this morning on Highway 101 in Grays Harbor County.

Troopers called just after 8 a.m. to milepost 77 near Cosmopolis report a Chevrolet Blazer driven by a 35-year-old Aberdeen woman was totaled after she lost control on a curve, struck a concrete barrier and then collided with the side of the tractor trailer.

Kimberly A. Fleury was injured and transported to the hospital, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Karl R. Schaffer, 55, of Chehalis, was unhurt, but his rig sustained what the state patrol described as reportable damage.

The roadway was fully blocked for about 35 minutes, according to the state patrol.

Read about man accused of threatening to kill Thurston deputy …

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a 45-year-old man is jailed for an alleged threat to kill a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy he believed wrongly shot his friend dead 14 months ago in Littlerock.

News reporter Jeremy Pawloski writes that when Michael Kruegel was arrested at his Mima Road trailer home on Tuesday, he had in his possession guns, as well as photos of the deputy, the deputy’s personal vehicle and the deputy’s girlfriend.

The Nov. 2, 2012 shooting of Keith Miles, 26, was found to be justified, as the un-named deputy believed Miles was about to strike a deputy in the head with a pool cue, according to Pawloski.

Kruegel yesterday was ordered held on $100,000 bail, according to The Olympian.

Read more here

News brief: Passenger car injures man inside Chehalis bistro

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A car drove through the front of a restaurant in Chehalis yesterday evening injuring a customer inside.

“There was a guy that was eating dinner on the other side of the wall,” Chehalis Fire Department Firefighter Kevin Reynolds said. “So the car bumped him and he went to the hospital.”

Responders called about 5 p.m. to the South Pacific Bistro on Southwest 13th Street found a car-shaped hole in the front of the building, Reynolds said.

It’s nose pushed the one table over, he said.

It appeared that the driver thought his vehicle was in reverse, but it was in drive when he hit the gas, according to Reynolds.

The cafe is owned by the same couple whose home just up the street has been struck twice by other vehicles, Reynolds said.

Three years ago, a wayward Twin Transit bus plowed through their fence and yard before striking a corner of their split level home.

A year later, a pickup truck drove through the fence into the driveway, where it shoved a parked vehicle several feet through the closed garage doors at the other end of the house.

Reynolds said the victim from yesterday’s incident suffered a knee injury.

News brief: Memorial fund established for Toledo man Alex Oberg

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A donation account has been set up for the family of Toledo resident Alex Oberg, the 63-year-old who lost his life falling trees last week.

Diane Wallace, the longtime business manager of Lewis County Fire District 2, said the numerous phone calls and inquiries about what might be done prompted her to visit Timberland Bank on Friday.

“When something like that happens, such a tragedy, so sudden, in your small town, it helps for people who want to help,” Wallace said. “They just want to do something.”

And, it will help with any expenses that arise with the loss of the long time community member, according to Wallace.

Oberg was working alone on Thursday cutting timber for a property owner on the 200 block of Maw Road when a tree fell on him. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said he was employing a “domino” tree falling technique in which saw cuts had been made to multiple trees.

As expected, the Lewis County coroner concluded it was an accident. Oberg died from multiple internal injuries due to blunt impact to his head and chest, Coroner Warren McLeod said on Saturday.

Donations can be made to the “Alex Oberg Memorial Fund” at any Timberland Bank branch, or may be mailed to Timberland Bank, PO Box 245, Toledo, Wash., 98591.

Rochester cold case homicide warms up

Friday, January 17th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

New information has surfaced in the unsolved death of a 37-year-old Thurston County woman whose nude body was discovered alongside a Rochester road seven years ago, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Karen L. Bodine died of homicidal violence and it is believed she may have fallen victim because of her association with people in the drug sub-culture, according to the sheriff’s office.

She was found the morning of Jan. 22, 2007 at a gravel pit adjacent to Littlerock Road Southwest.

While early on, it appeared there were people with knowledge about Bodine’s death, the trail quickly went cold, sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said in a news release this morning.

Recently however, new information has come up that leads investigators to think the trail is once again hot, according to Elwin.

All aspect of the evidence are being reviewed, and interviews will be re-conducted.

“(D)etectives continue to work this case and hope the passage of time will help those with knowledge of this horrendous crime come forward,” Elwin stated.

Anyone with information about her death, as well as the days leading up to it, is asked to call the sheriff’s office.

Detective Cameron Simper can be reached by phone at 360-754-3343 or by email at TCSO Investigative Services can be reached by email at or through Facebook. Tipsters can also contact Olympia-Thurston County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or at

Read about former Montesano police chief arrested for shoplifting liquor …

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A one-time finalist for the position of chief of police in Chehalis has been arrested for allegedly spiriting 51 bottles of liquor out of a Safeway store stuffed inside his pants and jacket.

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports Ray Sowers, 50, pleaded not guilty to second-degree theft on Friday in Pierce County Superior Court.

Sowers resigned as police chief from Montesano in 2010 after an investigation found he spent thousands of dollars of public money on personal purchases, according to news reporter Brionna Friedrich.

He interviewed for the top cop job in the Lewis County seat in late 2006.

Read about it here

News brief: “Juicy” storm moving in

Friday, January 10th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Heavy snow on mountain highways and windy conditions are expected tomorrow in the east end while a flood watch has been expanded to include Lewis County.

“This storm is looking a little more juicy today than yesterday,” forecasters at the National Weather Service say.

Up to a foot of snow is likely in the Cascade Mountains, with another foot likely tomorrow night, according to the weather service.

The winter storm warning was issued just after 10 a.m. today.

A flood watch issued about an hour later is in effect from late tonight through tomorrow night, to include portions of Western Washington such as Lewis, Grays Harbor, Clallam and Jefferson counties.

A period of heavy rainfall may cause rapid rising on more flood prone rivers, according to forecasters.

The storm managed to pick up some moisture from the tropics.

A wind advisory has also been put into place for the swath of Western Washington that is the Interstate 5 corridor, with gusts up to 45 mph tonight that could cause tree limbs to fall and isolated power outages, according to the weather service.


Monitor the changing conditions by clicking on the links always on the right-hand sidebar of the page, “Weather alerts, forecasts” and also “River levels”

News brief: Still no suspects in Littlerock arson

Friday, January 10th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Investigators are hoping some of the possibly stolen pieces from Alden’s Taxidermy will turn up so they can solve the arson fire that destroyed the Littlerock business early last month.

A person-of-interest identified by the victim has been interviewed and eliminated as a suspect, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives continue to look for a motive, Lt. Greg Elwin said in a news release yesterday afternoon.

After the nighttime blaze on Palermo Southwest, various taxidermy items that should have been present could not be found leading to suspicions of theft.

Elwin says detectives are working with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a database of all the taxidermy, which should be helpful if some or all of the property is discovered in the future.

More interviews are planned, there are no suspects, according to Elwin.

A reward fund of $10,000 has been set up by friends and family of Alden Johnson, for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Additionally, Crime Stoppers of Olympia / Thurston County will pay up to $1,000 for tips for the same information with the same results, according to the news release.

Crime Stoppers can be reached by calling 1-800-222-8477 or at

For background, read “Investigators: Littlerock business was intentionally burned” from Thursday December 12, 2013, here

News brief: Fifty-nine-year-old died in the car he lived in

Friday, January 10th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The man found dead inside a vehicle at Centralia’s Jack-in-the Box earlier this week died from basically a heart attack, the Lewis County coroner said this morning.

He was 59 years old.

Centralia police called to the parking lot at Jack-in-the-Box on the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue  on Wednesday night learned that the four-door passenger car had been parked there for a couple of days.

Coroner Warren McLeod said he can’t say when the man passed, but believed he had been dead no more than two days.

The official cause is coronary artery disease, McLeod said.

Richard Borego lived in his car, McLeod said.

He has family in Bellingham who said he chose to live that way, according to McLeod.

“He was not homeless in the normal sense,” McLeod said. “He took very good care of himself.”

Borego was found in his backseat, very natural, very peaceful, as though he had been taking a nap, according to authorities.

News brief: Body discovered in car outside Centralia business

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia police were called to the parking lot at Jack-in-the-Box last night where an individual was found dead inside a vehicle.

Officers responding about 10:40 p.m. to the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue learned the four-door passenger car had been parked there for a couple of days, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Foul play is not suspected, but police are investigating, according to Sgt. Stacy Denham.

The deceased is described only as a male; police know who he is, Denham said.

“There were no signs of a struggle, and he appeared to have just been taking a nap and passed,” Denham said.

An autopsy is expected.

News brief: Lewis County deputy arrested for DUI

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Updated at 11:52 a.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Another Lewis County sheriff’s deputy has been arrested for driving under the influence.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield in a news release this morning says he is extremely embarrassed and disappointed.

Deputy Christopher P. Fulton, 31, of Napavine, was off duty when he was stopped by a trooper just before 1 a.m. on Saturday on Interstate 5 near Centralia’s Mellen Street interchange, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Fulton was driving his own vehicle and was arrested for DUI but not booked into jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

Mansfield said in the news release he does not know why his deputy was not jailed, but he has placed him on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.

In September, an 11-year-veteran of the the sheriff’s office was stopped by a trooper when he attempted to drive through the closed area of a collision scene just off Interstate 5 south of Chehalis and arrested for driving drunk.

Deputy Jeffrey S. Humphrey was also put on leave, and after an internal investigation, Mansfield imposed a two-week unpaid suspension and Humphrey was removed from his position as a detective.

“I will not tolerate this type of performance from my employees either on or off duty,” Mansfield stated about the latest arrest. “After my internal investigation is complete, I will provide a full account of the incident to the people we serve.”

Fulton is scheduled to go before a judge today in Lewis County District Court.

Driving under the influence is gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and or a $5,000 fine.

Read about confrontation at Westport Winery draws law enforcement …

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Courtesy photo by Rickie Lehto

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The (Aberdeen) Daily World reports an investigation is underway in connection with an incident in which a Rochester man tangled with the owner of the Westport Winery, beginning possibly with his son urinating behind the building and ending with a pistol drawn.

News reporter Brionna Friedrich writes Derek Johnson of Rochester, his son, Drew Johnson of Tumwater, and the son’s girlfriend Rickie Lehto stopped at the winery after clam digging on Sunday afternoon; that deputies were called by its owners, one of whom displayed a firearm.

Kim Roberts in a prepared statement claimed they were trespassers who tried to run Blain Roberts over prompting the former Spokane County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy to raise his firearm in self defense, but none of the parties wanted to pursue charges, according to Friedrich.

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Read about it here

Truck plunges into Winlock stream, minus driver

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

A Ford pickup rolled through a pedestrian fence along Byham Road and came to rest in Wallers Creek.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

WINLOCK – If a truck falls in the trees and no one sees it, does it make a sound?

Yes it does.

“We all heard a crash and didn’t know what it was, so we went back to what we were doing,” Winlock resident Jennifer Brown said.

On the other side of Byham Road and beyond Wallers Creek, Bonnie Givens heard a noise she described as a boom and wondered if something hit her shed.

Moments later, a firefighter and deputy were knocking on her door, asking if they could cut through her backyard to look in the creek.

It was about 2:40 p.m. and responders found a red Ford F250 on its top, in the water, below an approximately 30 foot eroded bank, according to Winlock Police Department Chief Terry Williams. It was unoccupied.

“They said no one was in it, I felt so good finding that out,” Givens said.

At about the same time, Brown’s neighbor came to tell her that her truck had left her driveway, crossed Byham Road, plowed through a chain link fence and fallen.

It happened about 100 yards west of the Tennessee Road Bridge at the very northeast corner of town.

Williams said once a tow truck is able to recover the vehicle, he will be able to figure out if it slipped out of park, or what happened.

News brief: Motorist injured near Pe Ell

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Updated at 10:22 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 24-year-old Chehalis area man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after a single-vehicle wreck on state Route 6 last night.

Troopers and aid responded about 9:20 p.m. to the scene roughly two miles east of Pe Ell.

“When our guys got there, the truck was on its top in the ditch and they had to use the Jaws of Life (to extricate him),” Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk said.

According to the Washington State Patrol, Tyler V. Clark was headed east and moved into the oncoming lane attempting to pass another vehicle when he lost control of his Toyota Tacoma pickup. Clark’s pickup rolled and landed on the north side of the highway, according to the state patrol.

Because of the weather, medics with the fire department and AMR had to transport him to the Tumwater airport to meet a helicopter to fly him to the Seattle hospital, according to Krafczyk.

The truck was totaled. The injuries were extensive enough to warrant an airlift, Krafczyk said.

The investigating trooper blamed the wreck on speed and reports it may have involved alcohol or drugs.

Just a week ago, speed was blamed for a collision that killed two young people on Big Hanaford Road north of Centralia. Jonathan W. Parker, a 20-year-old from Centralia, lost control of his car and slid into the path of a dump truck. His 18-year-old passenger, Tiara F. Kalebaugh from Pe Ell died with him.

Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Jason Hicks this past week cited a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which found that excessive speed remains a leading cause of preventable traffic deaths.

According to Hicks, about one-third of such fatalities nationwide are linked to speeding. In Washington state during 2012, of the 437 people who died in traffic, 159 of the deaths included speed as a contributing factor.