Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

News brief: Car, semi wreck on U.S. Highway 12 near Mayfield Lake

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Updated at 10:12 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two people were hospitalized after a car and big rig tangled on U.S. Highway 12 just east of Mayfield Lake yesterday afternoon leaving the roadway blocked for several hours.

Troopers called at 4 p.m. to the scene reported both vehicles were eastbound and when the car slowed for a left hand turn, a 2004 Peterbilt hauling two trailer tried to swerve around it.

The truck struck the right rear corner of the car, went into the ditch and rolled onto its side spilling the lumber it was hauling, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Both vehicles were totaled.

The driver of a 1996 Mercury Mystique, Kenneth Rittgarn, 69, of Randle, was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, as was one of his two passengers, Jessica M. Parker, 59, of Glenoma, according to the state patrol.

The truck driver, Johnny L. Persinger, 46, of Prosser, was reportedly uninjured.

The highway was closed with a detour in place until about 7 p.m., according to the state Department of Transportation.

A second passenger in the car declined treatment. The collision was blamed on the truck driver’s inattention.

CORRECTION: This news items has been updated to correctly reflect which man was driving which vehicle. The state patrol initially incorrectly identified Rittgarn as the the truck driver and reported Persinger was behind the wheel of the car.

News brief: Centralia College criminal justice professor to speak on international police training experiences

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Longtime Centralia College Criminal Justice Program instructor Greg Gilbertson is scheduled to share a synopsis of his experiences during 25 months as an international police trainer in Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow as part of the college’s Lyceum Series.

Professor Gilbertson worked writing curriculum for the Baghdad Police College and served as deputy director of the United Kingdom’s Basrah Training College in 2005 and 2006 then later served as a senior mentor and NATO liaison to the Afghan National Police Academy, according to Centralia College.

The lecture is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. at Centralia College.

News brief: Two Oakville drivers collide on U.S. Highway 12

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two passenger vehicles were totaled and a 54-year-old woman hospitalized after a 16-year-old driver pulled into traffic on U.S. Highway 12 at Anderson Road this morning.

Aid and troopers were called at 8 a.m. to the scene near the Thurston-Grays Harbor County line.

Jung A. Blake was eastbound on the highway in her SUV before it was struck by a Dylan Gleason-Wheeler, 16, according to the Washington State Patrol. Both are from Oakville.

Gleason-Wheeler was leaving a stop sign to turn west and pulled in front of her, according to the state patrol.

Blake was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital with unspecified injuries. She was treated and has been released. The teen was reportedly unhurt.

News brief: Man survives vehicle plunge off Brooklyn Road

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 41-year-old Chehalis man was uninjured after he drove his car off an 800-foot embankment overnight off Brooklyn Road several miles west of Oakville.

It wasn’t clear to responders if the man was out of the vehicle before it landed at the bottom of the canyon.

Aid and deputies were called about 5:40 a.m. to the scene, on the 400 block of Brooklyn Road, including firefighters from Oakville and Centralia’s Riverside Fire Authority.

“There was a concern initially if his girlfriend was in the vehicle, he wasn’t quite sure,” Grays Harbor  County Sheriff’s Department Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate said this morning. It turned out she was elsewhere.

“It does appear alcohol was a factor,” he said.

The roadway runs between Garrard Creek Road and the town of Brooklyn in Pacific County.

Grays Harbor County Fire District 1 Chief Buck Graham said the man had walked about three miles to the nearest house to get help.

“The story we finally ended up getting, we think it occurred around midnight,” Graham said. “We think he got out before it went to the bottom, that he bailed. We’re not really sure.”

News brief: Three hurt when 14-year-old rolls vehicle off Interstate 5 south of Chehalis

Monday, October 1st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 14-year-old Portland girl who was allegedly driving drunk wrecked a van on Interstate 5 south of Chehalis early yesterday.

Aid and troopers called just after 3:30 a.m. to the scene near the U.S. Highway 12 and Avery Road interchange said three occupants of the vehicle were injured.

The registered owner, a 51-year-old Portland man, was a passenger in the 2006 Dodge Caravan, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The state patrol doesn’t know why an unlicensed teenager was driving with the adult in the van.

The vehicle was northbound, traveled off the roadway to the right and landed on it top, according to the state patrol.

The 14-year-old, Paris Roach, and a 16-year-old passenger, Kaliea Miller, both from Portland, were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with bumps, bruises and scrapes, state patrol spokesperson Trooper Will Finn said.

Miller is a runaway, according to Finn.

The owner of the van, Stephan Hardy, 51, of Portland, suffered a laceration to his forehead but declined aid, according to the state patrol.

Finn said Hardy was dropped off at a nearby exit at a service station or a restaurant where he could get services or call for a ride.

Finn  said they do know the girls and the man are not family to each other. The situation is still under investigation, Finn  said.

News brief: Details on death near Longmire still scarce

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office has made a tentative identification of the woman whose body was found  below a lookout in the southern part of Mount Rainier National Park and is in touch with that woman’s family.

Coroner Warren McLeod said he’s determined the cause and manner of death but won’t reveal it until he knows for sure who the woman is.

“The extensive injuries are making it difficult,” McLeod said today.

Park officials located the body on Monday at the base of a cliff below Ricksecker Point, a dramatic lookout between Longmire and Paradise. Rangers had been investigating a vehicle parked for several days at the lookout and found identification which they linked to a missing person report.

The injuries are consistent with a fall from a great height, according to park spokesperson Patti Wold.

McLeod said he is hoping to use dental records or finger prints to make a positive identification by the end of the week.

The death is being investigated by park service law enforcement.


For background, read “News brief: Body found at base of cliff near Longmire” from Tuesday September 25, 2012 at 5:27 p.m., here


News brief: South Point timber fire in Gifford Pinchot holding to 90 acres

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Favorable weather has helped slow the forest fire south of Packwood which has remained at about 90 acres since Saturday, officials reported this morning.


Courtesy photo by Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Cowlitz Valley Ranger District fire personnel continue to monitor the situation, with reconnaissance flights as conditions allow, according to Gifford Pinchot National Forest spokesperson Ken Sandusky.

It’s been burning on a ridge called South Point about 10 miles south of U.S. Highway 12 for an unknown length of time, probably sparked by lightning earlier this month, officials have said.

Ranger and fire staff will be on hand tomorrow evening to answer questions from area residents about the fire. The public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Packwood Fire Hall at 12953 U.S. Highway 12.


For For background, read “South Point timber fire in Gifford Pinchot growing” from Friday September 21, 2012 at 11:09 a.m., here

News brief: Single vehicle wreck on state Route 6 sends one to hospital

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012


By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 33-year-old driver from Raymond was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle today after his pickup truck ran into a stand of trees along state Route 6 east of Pe Ell.

Troopers called at 2:10 p.m. to the scene about eight miles east of Pe Ell reported Travis K. Settlemyre was westbound at a curve to the left when he drove off the right side of the road and collided with some trees.

The 1994 Ford F250 pickup came to rest on its passenger side, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Settlemyre was injured; his truck was totaled, according to the state patrol.

The cause of the wreck is under investigation.

Update Wednesday September 26, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.:  Settlemyre is listed in satisfactory condition this morning.

News brief: Body found at base of cliff near Longmire

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A body found below a lookout in the southern part of Mount Rainier National Park is as yet unidentified but authorities suspect it may be linked to a missing person report from an undisclosed area.

A search initiated yesterday morning with ground crews and a helicopter located the body at the base of a cliff below Ricksecker Point, a dramatic lookout between Longmire and Paradise, according to a park spokesperson.

Rangers had been investigating a vehicle parked for several days at the lookout and found identification inside it which they linked to a missing person report, spokesperson Patti Wold said today. Wold wouldn’t say where that person was missing from.

She said the incident is under investigation by park service law enforcement.

The body was removed by helicopter and delivered to the Lewis County Coroner’s Office who said today identification is still pending.

The injuries are consistent with a fall from a great height, according to Wold.

Ricksecker Point has no snow this time of year, according to Wold.

“You wouldn’t really start a hike there, it’s a place you’d stop to take in the view,” she said.

One dead after semi crash near Packwood

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Updated at 8:54 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A truck driver from Longview is dead after his big rig slid on its side through a guard rail off U.S. Highway 12 near Packwood, went over an embankment and landed on its top.

Troopers called about 3:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon reported it happened about eight miles east of Packwood near milepost 139, at the cut off to state Route 123.

The 1989 Peterbilt hauling a trailer of wood chips was traveling west bound and downhill when the driver lost control, failed to negotiate a left hand curve and wrecked, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The driver is identified as James V. Dorsett, 38, of Longview.

The cause is under investigation.

“The only thing we can assume is the brakes failing,” Trooper Jason Hicks said, speculating the driver “rode” the brakes coming off White Pass causing them to heat up and then weren’t there for him when he needed them.

The roadway was dry, he said.

The back half of the trailer broke off and shot all the way down the 200 foot hill almost to state Route 123, Hicks said. The cab got hung up in the trees, he said.

Dorsett was not wearing a seatbelt, but the truck sustained significant damage to its top, according to Hicks.

Read about one-time car thief contributes to scientific research in Littlerock …

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Seattle Times published a story about national attention coming to prisons here such as Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Littlerock where inmates are working as research assistants raising endangered frogs for scientists.

Associated Press reporter Phuong Le writes about the partnerships with workers who have unlimited time on their hands “making substantive contributions to science.”

Read more here

News brief: Peaceful drug raid pulled off in Chehalis

Friday, September 21st, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A SWAT team helped serve a search warrant this morning at a Chehalis residence following an ongoing drug investigation.

As many as a dozen officers converged on the home on Southwest First Street near Market Boulevard just after 9 o’clock, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

“It went down without incident,” police detective Sgt. Brian Hickey said.

Arrested for delivery of a controlled substance was Richard E. Engel, 22, who lives at the home, Hickey said. Also arrested was Lonzo W. Lawson II, 32, he said. A woman who was present was detained but then released, he said.

Officers spent about two and a half hours searching the home and found an as-yet unspecified amount and type of drugs, according to Hickey.

Hickey said they have primarily been seeing heroin from the investigation.

News brief: Eat pancakes, help crime fighters

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Retired Lewis County Sheriff Bill Logan, current Sheriff Steve Mansfield and Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg will be among the guest servers of breakfast at Applebee’s in Chehalis on Saturday morning to raise money for Crime Stoppers of Lewis County.

Crime Stoppers, which has served Lewis County since 1995, is a partnership effort between the media, police and the community to help reduce crime locally, according to a news release from the non-profit organization.

They are calling it a “flapjack fundraiser”. The event runs from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m.

Tickets can be purchased for $10 at the door that morning or ahead of time at numerous locations.

Applebee’s is at 1670 NW Louisiana Ave. in Chehalis.

Get tickets ahead of time at Sterling Bank offices in Chehalis, Centralia, and Morton; Book ’n’ Brush in Chehalis; the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office; Centralia Police Department; and Rose’s Furniture in Centralia.

News brief: Religious discrimination lawsuit against Lewis County dismissed by judge

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The lawsuit filed by a former Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center employee who contended he was fired because of his religion has been dismissed by the court.

A summary judgement was issued today by the judge in the case of Geoff Nelson of Rochester.

Nelson and his attorney said he was ordered not to bring a Bible to work, “harassed” for being Christian and treated differently repeatedly because of his beliefs.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Today’s decision means, in lay person’s terms, the court decided Nelson had no basis to sue the county, according to Lewis County RIsk Manager Paulette Young.

Nelson has 30 days in which to appeal, if he chooses.

For background, read “Christianity at work: Rochester man seeks $3 million in suit against Lewis County” from Friday April 6, 2012, here

Read about wild fires off U.S. Highway 12 around White Pass …

Monday, September 17th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports a wildfire east of White Pass doubled in size on Saturday growing to about 1,300 acres and in some places burned down to U.S. Highway 12.

The fire is east of Rimrock Lake, which is about eight miles from the top of the pass.

The Packwood area fire department was called about two fires on the Lewis County side of the pass on Friday but said they were far enough from the highway they needed to be handled by the Forest Service.

“They had quite a few lightening strikes,” Lewis County Fire District 10 Chief Lonnie Goble said this morning.

The fires reported across canyons off mileposts 145 and 147 should be out by now, he said.

Read more here

Read about man captured for 2004 Centralia beer bottle attack found new life in Mabton …

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Yakima Herald-Republic writes about what 38-year-old Refugio Jose Vazquez-Tellez has been doing the past eight years since he went on the lam after allegedly fleeing a Centralia apartment where he broke a beer bottle over  man’s head and slashed and stabbed him with it.

Vazquez-Tellez was captured in Mabton where he had been living under the alias Manuel Vasquez-Escalante  since 2004 and established a new life, job and family, according to the Centralia Police Department.

He was featured on America’s Most Wanted in 2009 and earlier this month Mabton police followed up on a tip that led to his arrest, according to Centralia police.

He was brought before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court last Monday where bail was set at $75,000 for the first-degree assault charge.

Authorities believe the fight at a South Pearl Street apartment on June 26, 2004 was related to Vazquez-Tellez and another man getting “ratted out” over a stolen bicycle.

Vazquez-Tellez pleaded not guilty on Thursday and a trial date was set for the week of Oct. 29, according to news reporter Ross Courtney.

Read more here.

News brief: Suspect in Tenino hitchhiker beating captured after police pursuit

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 23-year-old man wanted in the beating and robbery of a hitchhiker in Tenino last month was arrested early this morning after a police chase that began in Centralia and ended in Tenino.

Centralia police say an officer attempted to contact the driver of a stolen vehicle in north Centralia at about 12:30 a.m. The vehicle fled north on Interstate 5 at speeds of up to 110 mph and then out Highway 99, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was stopped when a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy ended the chase by intentionally colliding with it and spun it out, Centralia police Sgt. Carl Buster said.

Tony L. League, 23, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and warrants as well as for the Aug. 22 incident in which a hitchhiker was punched and ordered at gunpoint to empty his pockets, according to police.

Centralia police list League as a Tenino resident. Tenino police have said he resides in Olympia.

Tenino police are still seeking a second man, Andrew B. Miller, 20, of Yelm, in connection with the robbery.


For background, read “News brief: Hitchhiker robbed, beaten in Tenino” from Monday August 27, 2012, here

News brief: Maurin murder trial will feature more than 100 witnesses

Friday, September 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The trial for Ricky Allen Riffe in the 1985 kidnapping and fatal shooting of Ed and Wilhelmina Maurin of Ethel is going to take at least two weeks and possibly three, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Attorneys and the defendant went in front of a judge yesterday briefly to review the status of the case and reschedule the trial.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said he has in excess of 100 witnesses, some from out of state.

Riffe, 53, was arrested in July at his home in Alaska in the old case.

Prosecutors believe the former Lewis County man and his brother abducted the elderly couple and forced them to withdraw money from their bank in Chehalis before shooting them and dumping their bodies near Adna.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey will preside.

Halstead has turned over more than 12,000 pages of discovery to the defense and asked Brosey yesterday to remind Seattle-based attorney John Crowley the rules for sharing evidence apply to both sides.

Halstead noted media reports in which Crowley said he spoke with a witness who could help his client’s case.

Crowley only replied the timely turning over of documents and such applies to witnesses one intends to call upon during trial.

The defense attorney said the trial was moved from October to the week of November 5 because there is so much material for him to wade through.

Outside the courtroom, he said he’s found more good news for his client as he’s studied the materials

“One thing I didn’t know is there’s a witness who confessed, or a suspect who confessed,” Crowley said. “In a handwritten note to his wife.”

Riffe has pleaded not guilty. His younger  brother John Gregory Riffe died earlier this summer of ill health before charges were filed.

Wilhelmina Maurin, also known as “Minnie”, was 83, her husband was 81 years old.

For background, read “Maurin homicide: Riffe pleads not guilty, his attorney hints at proof” from Thursday August 23, 2012, here

News brief: Bridge bump causes five mile back-up on I-5 south of Chehalis

Friday, September 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two vehicles were damaged but nobody was hurt when a log truck’s too-tall load hit the Chamber of Commerce Way overpass above Interstate 5 in Chehalis about 1:30 p.m. today.

It happened in the northbound lanes and the pilot car sustained an estimated $1,000 damage from falling debris, according to the Washington State Patrol. A southbound van struck debris in the road and was damaged as well, according to the state patrol.

The damage was to the bridge was minimal enough the overpass stayed open, but one lane of the freeway was closed for bridge inspectors.

The northbound lanes on the freeway were backed up almost five miles as late as 5:30 p.m.

The driver, Darren M. Lumbert, 47, of Chehalis, was expected to be cited for over-height load, according to the investigating trooper.

The state Department of Transportation indicates motorists should expect delays until as late as 8 p.m.

Read about man captured after chase through Toledo given 20 years for Olympia murder …

Friday, September 7th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 20-year-old man whose capture followed a wild police pursuit through south Lewis County in March was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison for an Olympia stabbing death.

The Olympian reports Dwight M. Bradsbery pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and related offenses in connection with a drug-fueled knife attack of 29-year-old Nathaniel Ollis, a soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Bradsbery, who has been described as transient and living in Olympia, and Trey Nicholas Jones, 20, were arrested March 11 after a three-county police chase that included  fireworks, full pop cans other items being tossed from their stolen car. They were taken into custody on Interstate 5 near Kelso.

Jones, who grew up in the Winlock area, faces a pending charge of rendering criminal assistance, according to Olympian news reporter Jeremy Pawloski. He reportedly told police he  “masterminded” the cleanup at the Lilly Road apartment where the soldier died because he was the smartest one.

Read “Transient gets 20 years in disabled soldier’s death” from The Olympian on Thursday September 6, 2012, here

Morton firefighters mobilized to White Salmon wildfire

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A crew from Morton’s fire department were en route this evening to join firefighters battling a wildfire near White Salmon in Klickitat County.

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste authorized the mobilization of state firefighting resources to assist with the blaze that began this afternoon and has grown to an estimated 1,300 acres and is threatening approximately 50 residences.

Read more about the fire here.

News brief: Brush fires extinguished in Winlock, Grand Mound

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Four fire departments responded to a three-acre brush fire just north of Winlock today.

Firefighters called just before 1 p.m. to a logging area about a mile west of the 2700 block of Highway 603 noted the blaze appeared to have been sparked by a piece of logging equipment.

The fire was limited to brush and slash – the remains of a logging operation, according to a spokesperson for Lewis County Fire District 5.

Personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources responded as well, according to Fire Lt. Laura Hanson. She said crews will remain on the scene to take care of hot spots.

Yesterday at about the same time, a grass and brush fire broke out in Grand Mound off of Nutmeg Street.

The fire threatened a barn and spread to about 50 feet by 50 feet before it was extinguished, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority Lt. Eric Smith.