Archive for the ‘News briefs’ Category

Read about feds won’t challenge Washington marijuana law…

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The feds announced this morning essentially they won’t get involved in newly legalized recreational marijuana for adults in Washington as long as the state is appropriately strict in regulating it.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but voters in November passed Initiative 502 that allows for persons over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

The U.S. Department of Justice today announced an update to its federal marijuana enforcement policy. Jenny A. Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, shared a statement.

“Based on assurances that Washington and Colorado will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department has informed the governors of both states that it is deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time.” reports federal authorities will however step in under certain conditions such as selling to minors, illegally using firearms in its cultivation or retail sale, growing it on federal lands or if evidence arises money from it is going to criminal enterprises or its being shipped out of state.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office reminds members of the public it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, federal lands including national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses. Individuals that do so will be subject to federal penalties.

Read more here

News brief: Tanker truck overturns on I-5 at Grand Mound

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Interstate 5 near the exit 88 interchange. / Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A tanker truck carrying lubricating oil wrecked this morning on northbound Interstate 5 at Grand Mound.

Troopers and aid called just before 8 o’clock found the truck laying on its side on the shoulder; the driver sustained only minor injuries, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

Nothing spilled, the tank was not compromised, according to responders.

One lane will be blocked for an extended period of time as the tank is pumped, according to the Washington State Patrol

News brief: Bridge work starts at I-5 near Wal-Mart exit

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Drivers on Interstate 5 and Chamber of Commerce Way in Chehalis will notice changes to their trips beginning today as work to replace a damaged bridge girder gets underway.

During construction, motorists will encounter single-lane closures between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and at least four overnight full closures of northbound I-5 and the bridge will take place, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The $682,000 project comes after three over-height loads on trucks struck the Chamber Way overpass during the previous year, according to a news release from DOT.

Later this summer, neither pedestrians nor wide loads will be able to cross the bridge for roughly six weeks. Construction is expected to be complete this fall.

Get updates and details about the project here.

News brief: New fire breaks out in Goat Rocks Wilderness

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities are keeping a eye on a forest fire in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, smoke from which has been visible in the Randle and Packwood areas.

It’s estimated to be less than 10 acres, burning in extremely steep and rugged terrain, according to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Dubbed the Coal Creek Mountain Fire, the blaze was started by a lightening strike and discovered on Wednesday, according to forest spokesperson Sharon Steriti.

There are no road or trail closures at this time.

Helicopters from the Conrad Lake Fire – also in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, but on the east side of the mountains in the Wenatchee National Forest – were initially used to suppress the latest wildfire, Steriti said.

“With all the fire activity around the country, we understand our communities’ concerns and will continue to keep the public informed on this and future fires,” Garth Smelser, a deputy forest supervisor, stated in a news release yesterday evening.” As always, our number one priority remains the safety of our firefighters and public”

The Conrad Lake Fire just eight miles south of Rimrock Lake began on Aug. 9 from lightening and has burned nearly 1,000 acres.

Meanwhile, some of the local firefighters dispatched Wednesday to assist fighting a forest fire near Leavenworth are on their way home.

“Our guys are on their way back,” Thurston County Fire District 12’s Tina Vanderhoof said this morning. “I guess they got rain last night.”

Morton founder of missing children organization wins appeal on felony conviction

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Morton woman’s conviction for insurance fraud has been reversed by the Washington State Supreme Court.

In its seven to two decision filed today, the high court told Lewis County Superior Court to dismiss Jennifer M. Mau’s felony conviction.

Mau, then 30, and her boyfriend David Eden, then 47, were found guilty in September 2010 of making a false insurance claim involving a U-Haul trailer they said leaked and damaged their belongings during a move from Centralia to Morton three years earlier.

Her attorney argued her list of losses was not made under a contract of insurance. Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud agreed, writing prosecutors failed to prove the existence of any contract of insurance.

Mau, a student of criminal justice, operates a private organization which looks for missing children, called Search and Seek. Her most high profile case was in the summer of 2010 when volunteers she led eventually found the body of missing 16-year-old Morton boy Austin King with the help of a Portland psychic.

She shared a prepared statement today on the outcome of her case.

“The Supreme Court has reaffirmed what I have said all along; I have always maintained my innocence,.” Mau wrote. “Now I can put this behind me and live my life.”

Mau had purchased optional cargo insurance, but was then told it did not cover water damage and Republic Western Insurance – a subsidiary of U-Haul – opened a general liability claim on her behalf, according to the 16-page filing made today.

The claims administrator found her list totaling approximately $16,000 suspicious and the claim was denied.

Mau testified at trial it was her understanding it was a preliminary list of items that potentially could have been damaged.

Justices Steven C. Gonzalez and Debra L. Stephens dissented.


Read the decision here

News brief: Passenger seriously hurt in hit and run wreck in Chehalis

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Updated at 1:10 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Deputies are looking for the driver of a Sport Utility Vehicle who fled on foot from the scene of a serious injury accident last night in Chehalis.

Firefighters and police called about 7:15 p.m. to the intersection of Bishop and Maurin roads found an eastbound Chevrolet Tahoe had run a red light and struck the side of a southbound Nissan Altima.

Responders had to use the Jaws of Life on the smaller car to extricate the passenger.

“She was the one we Life Flighted from Chehalis Middle School,” Lewis County Fire District 6 Firefighter Mike Goodwillie said. “(Her injuries) were serious enough, we wanted the helicopter as close as possible.”

The 24-year-old woman from Tacoma was going to be flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but was taken instead to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, according to responders.

The car’s driver, a 19-year-old woman from Chehalis, was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with less serious injuries, according to Goodwillie.

Troopers, deputies and police from Chehalis and Centralia searched the area and later located a passenger from the SUV, a 21-year-old man from Kent.

He was taken into custody by Chehalis police for a warrants and cited for  third-degree theft in connection with an iPhone stolen from Radio Shack at the Twin City Town Center which occurred just before 7:10 p.m.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Rob Snaza said the SUV’s driver is believed to be a 20-year-old Tacoma man who was driving with a suspended license.

News brief: Off-duty Centralia police officer runs stop sign, causes wreck

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

A crowd gathers as law enforcement officer investigate a two-vehicle wreck at Summa Street and South Tower Avenue in Centralia. / Courtesy photo by Kelli Taylor

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 16-year-old boy was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital after a two-vehicle collision yesterday evening when an off-duty police officer ran a stop sign in a south Centralia neighborhood.

Police and aid called just before 7 p.m. found Angie Humphrey’s 2004 Acura Sport Utility Vehicle had been westbound on Summa Street and T-boned a southbound Honda-type car with four occupants at South Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Humphrey, 43, works for the Centralia Police Department, but was with her 13-year-old daughter on their way to the fair.

She said the sun blinded her after she crossed the railroad tracks and she took her foot off the accelerator, but “then all the sudden there was the Honda.”

Riverside Fire Authority said they saw five possible patients, four of whom declined to go to the hospital.

Centralia police Sgt. Stacy Denham called it a fairly minor-injury collision, considering the way it happened, and said one youngster had shoulder pain and was transported. His name was not released.

Denham said two individuals from the car left before police arrived. He described the car as totaled.

Humphrey was ticketed for failing to stop at a stop sign and openly admitted it was her fault, Denham said. There were no indications of high speed or gross negligence, he said.

The car’s driver, an 18-year-old from Chehalis, was ticketed for not having a valid license, he said.

Humphrey said she felt horrid.

“I got a ticket just like anybody else would, it was my fault,” she said. “I’m not perfect. It is what it is.”

News brief: Chehalis resident hurt in duck-caused multiple vehicle collision

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Chehalis man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after four passenger vehicles wrecked when traffic slowed to avoid running over two ducks on Interstate 5 south of Tumwater this afternoon.

Leo E. Morrison’s Toyota Corolla was totaled, as was a Chevrolet Suburban, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Troopers called about 3:15 p.m. to the southbound lanes near Israel Road report the only other injury was a 66-year-old passenger in a BMW, who was not hospitalized.

Morrison, 46, was first transported to Providence St. Peter and then flown to the Seattle hospital, according to the state patrol.

The investigating trooper points to driver inattention as the cause, but has not issued any citations yet, according to the state patrol. The ducks did not survive.

Read about Olympia sex offender charged with new offense involving Centralia girl …

Friday, August 16th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a 29-year-old Olympia man recently released from prison where he served part of a one-year sentence for voyeurism is now charged with having sexual relations with a 14-year-old Centralia Middle School girl.

Curtis Rudolph Jr., required to register as a level three sex offender, violated his probation when his ankle monitoring bracelet’s GPS device showed he had been to Fort Borst Park in Centralia; he is prohibited from being at parks where children congregate, according to news reporter Jeremy Pawloski.

Read more here

News brief: Rochester resident stabbed in Olympia

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 32-year-old Rochester man was stabbed in downtown Olympia early this morning.

Police responded about 3 a.m. to the 300 block of Fourth Avenue where the man was found; he had been stabbed in the chest, according to the Olympia Police Department.

No suspects have been identified, and the motive remains unclear, according to a news release.

The victim, whose name was not released, was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital where he is expected to recover, according to police. The investigation is continuing.

News brief: Deputies seeking AWOL inmate

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help finding a man who didn’t return to jail from a one-day furlough.


Kevon L. Tracy

Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown indicated yesterday in a news release that Kevon L. Tracy, 41, of Chehalis, is supposed to be in custody in connection with an attempted first-degree malicious mischief. There are also pending charges of violation of a protection order, according to Brown.

Deputies have been to several locations in Lewis County looking for him, according to Brown.

He is described as a white male who is 5-feet 10-inches tall, weighing 175 pounds with blue eyes and grayish-brown hair with a receding hairline.

Brown asks anyone with information on his whereabouts to call 360-748-9286 or Lewis County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-748 6422.

News brief: Man, son escape burning house east of Napavine

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters are on the scene of an overnight blaze that left a Napavine area family without a home.

Nobody was injured, but the residence on Koontz Road near Coulson Road – and its contents – are a total loss, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

“It’s all the way on the ground, it’s just terrible,” Chief Eric Linn said this morning.

Crews called about 2:10 a.m. arrived to find roughly 75 percent of the structure burning, Linn said. The owner and his son were asleep, but had awakened and got themselves out, he said.

It was an older single-story house with a fairly recent addition of a garage and upstairs “bonus” room, Linn said. The fire appears to have begun in the new end of the structure, and seems to have been burning undetected for some time, he said.

Portions of the firefight were delayed while responders waited for workers to shut off the power to the building, while exploding ammunition increased the challenge, according to the chief.

“We couldn’t be really super aggressive, because it was just too dangerous,” Linn said.

Members of fire departments from Winlock, Toledo and rural Chehalis hauled in water by trucks, since the area has no fire hydrants, he said.

The Red Cross has been to the scene already to assist the residents.

Linn said this morning they are sifting through smoldering remains in an attempt to find the cause. He hasn’t yet determined a dollar amount for the loss, he said.

“It will be in excess of $100,000, as it was a relatively nice house,” he said.

News brief: New child safety program unveiled at the fair

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Crime Stoppers of Lewis County will be available at the Southwest Washington Fair this week to help parents out by creating special laminated identification cards for youngsters.

A photograph, thumbprint and basic information will be put on the card, with one copy for the child to carry and a duplicate to put away in a safe place in the event it is ever needed, according to the organization.

Crime Stoppers will not retain any of the data from the cards, according to a news release.

The program being launched tomorrow is called “My ID Club” and is sponsored by Community Health Plans of Washington and supported by Valley View Health Centers, according to the news release.

The cards can be obtained between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. starting tomorrow through the last day of the fair at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office booth on the south fairway.

For more information, check My ID Club, here

News brief: Police: Put the phone down and drive

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Even though their zero tolerance, month-long emphasis on catching motorists using cell phones while driving has ended, Centralia police plan to continue aggressively watching for violators, according to Centralia Police Department Chief Bob Berg.

The fine is $124, the other potential consequence whether ticketed or not is a car crash, according to Berg.

“Almost one third of the fatal traffic collisions in Washington State since 2007 occurred because one of the individuals involved was a distracted driver,” Berg stated in a news release.

While not all wrecks related to inattention can be blamed on texting or talking on a cell phone, studies show phone use behind the wheel causes an “impairment” that can be likened to driving while intoxicated, according to Berg.

“The problem is real in escalating in terms of safety on the roadway,” the police chief stated when the emphasis began. “Education alone has not curbed the problems of texting and cell phone use while driving.”

Centralia officers issued 131 citations between July 10 and Aug. 10, compared with 52 of the tickets in the previous five months.

Texting while driving (RCW 46.61.668) is illegal in Washington as is having a cell phone to your ear and talking while driving (RCW 46.61.667). The prohibition, in effect since 2007, became a primary offense last year.

Berg notes those who have been ticketed may qualify for Centralia Municipal Court Traffic School, which can help keep the citation from appearing on the individual’s driving record and being reported to their insurance carrier.

News brief: Four from Tenino hospitalized after rollover near Doty

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Updated at 12:08 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Responders had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate one of the occupants after a car carrying a family of four that wrecked along state Route 6 west of Chehalis yesterday.

Crews from Lewis County Fire Districts 16, 11 and 13 responded to the 12:15 p.m. rollover crash near River Road, about three miles east of Doty, according to authorities.

Injured were driver Kevin D. Beigh, 37, Sarah I. Beigh, 37, Mason T. Beigh, 4, and Alexandria L. Beigh, 15, all from Tenino, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Sarah Beigh is a senior deputy prosecutor with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Lewis County Fire District 11 Chief Michael Krafczyk said the adult passenger was trapped in the car.

The 1998 Nissan Maxima was traveling eastbound when for whatever reason it left the roadway to the right, struck an embankment, rolled and came to rest on its top, according to the state patrol.

Krafczyk said ambulances from Pe Ell and AMR transported all four to Providence Centralia Hospital. The car was described as totaled.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said he talked with Beigh last night and she’s sore and bruised but will be fine. A spokesperson for the hospital said the adult patients were treated and released. No information was made available about the children.

All were wearing seat belts, according to the investigating trooper. The state patrol blamed inattention on the part of the driver.  He was cited for wheels off the roadway, according to the state patrol.

News brief: Tacoma man rescued from river near Rochester

Monday, August 12th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 63-year-old Tacoma man escaped with only mild hypothermia after a kayaking accident last night near Rochester.

It happened just prior to 10 p.m. on the Black River about a mile north of Rochester.

He and his 60-year-old companion, both from Tacoma, got a late start getting on the river near Littlerock and it was dark when his kayak became tangled in a fallen tree, knocking him into the water, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority.

“The male was only able to hold onto the female’s kayak and was in water too deep to stand,” Chief Robert Scott said in a news release. “The male quickly began to weaken due to the effects of the water.”

A dozen firefighters responded to the cell phone call to 911, but it still took 50 minutes to locate the couple, according to Scott. They used a signal from the cell phone, air horns, sirens and communication exchanges with the 911 personnel to pinpoint the couple’s exact location. Scott said they were on a part of the river bordered by several hundred yards of thick underbrush and no direct access to the water.

Crews administered treatment for hypothermia and brought the male off the river in rescue basket, according to Scott. His companion was able to walk out with responders, he said.

Scott said the pair were wearing life vests. He used the incident as a reminder that it’s wise to carry a flashlight, cell phone, and extra clothing on such outings.

News brief: Centralia resident wakes to house fire

Monday, August 12th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Firefighters are on the scene of an overnight blaze that significantly damaged a house on the 2800 block of Russell Road in Centralia.

Crews called just after 3:15 a.m. found flames coming out the left and rear sides of the one story single family home and smoke rolling out from the attic space, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

A resident who said he was awakened by smoke detector escaped through a window, Fire Capt. Greg Schwartz said.

Not long after they arrived, one firefighter was struck by a patio roof at the back of the house fell down, Schwartz said.

“I think he was knocked to the ground, but not injured,” Schwartz said.

Riverside Fire Authority was joined by members of the Chehalis Fire Department as well as West Thurston Regional Fire Thurston Authority out of Rochester, he said.

They finished up by about 6:30 a.m. but are now looking for the cause of the fire, according to Schwartz.

Schwartz said the resident, an adult male, was treated by paramedics from AMR, so he didn’t have further information about his condition.

News brief: Outdoor fire danger alert

Friday, August 9th, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A red flag warning has been issued for fire weather because of expected lightening tonight through mid-morning on Sunday.

Scattered thunderstorms are expected to develop in the Cascades possibly spreading west into the Southwest Interior Lowlands, according to the National Weather Service.

With the increasingly dry weather, outdoor burning restrictions have been put into place in Lewis County and other areas.

Last week, the state Department of Natural Resources decided to ban campfires on all forestland and other property it protects. Yesterday, additional restrictions were implemented on lands managed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Those are places such as the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery, the Swofford Pond area and the east end of Riffe Lake.

In those wildlife sensitive areas, smoking is now restricted to inside enclosed vehicles and target shooting is now prohibited except at WDFD shooting ranges, according to the state agency.

Also prohibited is operating a motor vehicle off developed roads, according to spokesperson Craig Bartlett.


For background, read “News brief: Beware of seemingly innocent activities with high fire danger” from Saturday August 3, 2013, here