Archive for February, 2011

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 28th, 2011

CHICK HOUSE BURNS

• Firefighters were called this morning to a structure fire in Rochester that burned a small outbuilding where chicks were being raised. The 7 a.m. call took personnel from West Thurston Regional Fire Authority to 201st Avenue Southwest and Ashbrook, according to Battalion Chief Jacob Yake. The chicks inside perished, he said. He didn’t say how many. The cause was not released.

COLLISION

• Centralia police arrested a man on Saturday evening at Harrison Avenue and N Street following a vehicle accident. Officers concluded Jovanny Montenegro Perez, 20, of Centralia, was under the influence of alcohol and booked him into the Lewis County Jail for two counts of vehicular assault. Perez was not charged, pending further investigation.

ASSAULTS

• Centralia police on Friday afternoon were looking for Joshua D. C. Rhoades, a 30-year-old they suspect in a road rage incident that included racial slurs and an assault near Bryden Avenue and Mount Vista Road. Police note the Centralia man is a member of the LVL gang who was last seen driving a dark colored SUV.

• Chehalis police were called Friday evening to an assault on an officer from a detainee at the Lewis County Juvenile Justice Center. Further details were not readily available.

• Police were called about 2 a.m. on Saturday to an individual outside a bar on the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue about a misdemeanor assault. Further details were not readily available.

AUTO THEFT

• A Toledo woman called 911 after seeing somebody drive off in her 1999 Honda Civic about 4:45 p.m. on Saturday from a parking lot at Lucky Shot Archery on the 400 block of Coal Creek Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The car has a license plate of 100 YFB.

OTHER

• Chehalis police were called to the 300 block of Southwest Ninth Street just before 9 a.m. on Saturday where an individual known to the resident had kicked in the door. A male was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail. Further details were not readily available.

BUSINESS BURGLARY

• Crime Stoppers of Lewis County is looking for information on a Jan. 8 break-in at Famous Footwear at the Centralia Outlets in which somebody caused several thousand dollars damage and stole a black safe with a digital keypad. The amount of cash inside was not disclosed. Crime Stoppers asks that anyone with information call 1-800-748-6422.

Family wakes up to fire this morning in Toledo home

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A father and his two teenage sons escaped an overnight house fire in Toledo which virtually destroyed a two-story home.

Volunteers from five departments answered the 4:11 a.m. call to Blakeley Lane, about three miles east of town, according to Lewis County Fire District 2 Chief Grant Wiltbank.

The two boys were sleeping downstairs where the fire is suspected to have begun, Wiltbank said.

“From what I understand, one of them smelled smoke and raised the alarm,” he said.

The father had to get out through a second-story sliding window, he said.

No injuries were reported.

The house was probably about 75 percent involved when crews arrived and even though it was knocked down rather quickly, it took until almost 9 o’clock this morning to chase down and root out fire in various spots above the wood ceiling, Wiltbank said.

Wiltbank, who was at his regular job out of town until this morning, was quick to offer high praise for Assistant Chief Mike Dorothy, who was incident commander, and the 25 personnel who responded.

He said he just couldn’t be more impressed with the caliber of people – volunteers – who answer these calls.

“Everybody did an extraordinarily good job, particularly working in sub-freezing conditions for several hours …” he said. “My hat goes off to all of them.”

The last of the District 2 firefighters didn’t finish up and leave the station until 11:30 a.m., he said.

The cause is being investigated, but appears to be accidental, appearing to have originated in an area on the ground floor near the stairway, several feet from a wood stove, Wiltbank said.

Trial for Chehalis shooting death of Sara Whitson to begin Monday

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Chehalis National Guardsman who said he accidentally shot his girlfriend while cleaning a gun is set to go to trial next week in Lewis County Superior Court.

Jesse P. Karr, now 31, is charged with first-degree manslaughter in the September 2009 death of Sara M. Whitson.

The trial begins Monday and attorneys estimate it could last up to five days.

Police and aid responded about 4 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2009 to a report of an accidental shooting on the 1700 block of South Market Boulevard at the Chehalis apartment the two shared.

Whitson was on the floor in the main bedroom with a small towel covering her abdomen and appeared unresponsive, according to charging documents.

Karr had been shot in the pinky; he told police he went to clear a round and when he let go of the slide, the gun went off in his hand, charging documents say. She was reportedly about five feet away.

Karr, who had just returned from Iraq about a month earlier, told officers he had offered to clean Whitson’s .22 caliber Walther Smith and Wesson pistol, and she told him it was loaded.

A Chehalis police detective learned the following morning Whitson had died during emergency surgery, of a gunshot to her abdomen, according to charging documents.

Centralia defense attorney Don McConnell is representing Karr. Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes is handling the case.

Charges were filed a year ago. Karr has pleaded not guilty.

First-degree manslaughter means recklessly causing the death of another. The offense has a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Because the case involves McConnell – the newly elected prosecutor’s former law partner – Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer arranged for Hayes to communicate about the case not with him, but with Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher, according to documents filed in early January.

News brief: Man crawls away from overnight wreck in ravine near Mossyrock

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 22-year-old Silver Creek man survived an overnight crash in which his pickup truck traveled down an embankment striking several trees and came to rest in a creek bed, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Daniel R. McKechnie crawled out of the vehicle and walked to a friend’s house to get help, responders said.

Lewis County Fire District 3 Chief Matt Hadaller estimated the truck landed about 50 yards off state Route 122.

McKechnie was taken to Morton General Hospital with cuts to his hands and head, the state patrol reported.

“Yeah, he was a lucky guy,” Hadaller said this morning.

Troopers were called about 2:35 a.m. to the scene west of Mossyrock near Lake Road.

The 1995 Ford pickup was described as totaled. Hadaller said he didn’t notice any water in the creek, calling it a ravine where the vehicle landed.

The investigating trooper blamed driving too fast on a curve and indicated McKechnie was to be cited for driving under the influence. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and said he was ejected from the truck, according to responders.

Read about road rage shooting ends in conviction …

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a 22-year-old Olympia man was found guilty yesterday in an October road rage incident in which multiple shots were fired at a pickup truck driven by a 58-year-old man from Ethel.

Donald Palmer of Ethel, and his passenger, Margaret Eldridge of Elma, reported the incident happened about 9 p.m. on Oct. 31.

It began on state Route 101 in Mason County and ended near the Black Lake Boulevard exit in west Thurston County, according to the Washington State Patrol.

News reporter Jeremy Pawloski notes that Reed C. Boysen, 22, was convicted yesterday in Thurston County Superior Court of two counts of second-degree assault and one count of drive by shooting.

Read Pawloski’s news story here

Guest column: Proposed coroner’s inquest should deeply worry Lewis County citizens

Friday, February 25th, 2011

By Royce Ferguson
Attorney at Law

It has been reported that recently-elected Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod wants to shed light on the manner of Ronda Reynolds’ death by having all the facts presented by impartial people, so the manner of her death may finally be decided by reasonable jurors (who, Mr. McLeod apparently believes, cannot be found among Lewis County residents). Recall that the former coroner refused to change Ronda’s death certificate from suicide, despite a  Lewis County jury verdict which declared that the death was not suicide.

To this end, Coroner McLeod has announced that he’s appointed Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel as his deputy coroner, to convene six jurors in Clark County, to hear evidence selected and presented by Lewis County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney J. David Fine.

Unfortunately, rather than Lewis County citizens being comforted, the proposed inquest should deeply worry them (and will also cost them an estimated $50,000).

How can it fairly be said that the proposed inquest, conducted outside the scrutiny of Lewis County citizens, will be fair and impartial? Or that it will instill confidence in the conduct of Lewis  County officials?

While I am the attorney representing Barbara Thompson in her legal quest for the truth in this case, the facts speak for themselves.

The court record is clear that Lewis County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Fine has battled Thompson in court for years, and that he has fought all her attempts to present any evidence of homicide to any court or any jury.

I am not saying or suggesting that Mr. Fine is doing anything unlawful or unethical, as court ethical rules do not govern coroner inquests. Yet, common sense and impartiality should govern both, particularly when searching for truth.

Below are some of the instances where Mr. Fine was fighting Thompson in court, and thus, fighting any notion of homicide and fighting to keep any evidence of murder from ever being presented to a jury:

July 14, 2008: See former Coroner Wilson’s written response to Thompson’s brief for judicial review, signed by attorneys John Justice and J. David Fine, both as attorneys for Wilson.

Sept. 19, 2008: See hearing transcript before Judge Richard Hicks wherein both attorneys Justice and Fine appear for Wilson, and Justice introduces Mr. Fine as “co-counsel” and then Fine actively argues against Thompson’s case.

Dec. 16, 2008: See written motion filed solely by Mr. Fine as attorney for Wilson to start an emergency appeal to stop Thompson’s case.

Jan. 9, 2009: See Judge Hicks’ ruling on the motion denying the emergency appeal, wherein the judge states in part, “The coroner, represented by Mr. Fine of the prosecuting attorney’s office, after this court denied their motion to dismiss based essentially on jurisdiction grounds, has now asked for certification (to set up an emergency appeal to stop Barb’s case) . . . ”  Judge Hicks denied the request for emergency appeal.

May 15, 2009: See the transcript of hearing before Judge Hicks on Wilson’s request, presented and argued by Mr. Fine, that former Coroner Wilson be excused from the upcoming Lewis County jury trial on judicial review. (It should be noted that Mr. Wilson could have easily presented all the evidence he wanted in Lewis County, but elected to not do so, probably after consulting with his attorney. It may be fairly argued that Mr. Wilson’s lawyers were trying to obtain a court order to relieve him from  having to appear before the Lewis County jury to listen to all the evidence, even if he didn’t want to present his own).

Sept. 29, 2009: Mr. Wilson was deposed and his testimony taken under oath. While Mr. Justice is noted as Wilson’s attorney, Mr. Fine is noted as the attorney “for the county” (even though Lewis County was not and is not a party to the court proceedings).

Can the citizens of Lewis County rest assured that the secluded coroner’s inquest, as presently proposed, will be impartial when a county official – who for years has actively resisted even the suggestion of homicide – is advising, controlling and presenting the selected evidence?

While Mr. Fine may have been acting zealously within the law in defending former Coroner Wilson in court, should not Coroner McLeod reconsider by whom evidence will be controlled, filtered, selected, considered and presented at his short inquest?

There are genuine concerns about Coroner McLeod’s claim that he wants to shed light on Ronda’s death. I have discussed one.

Another concern is the evidence or lack of evidence that will be purposely presented or omitted in the four days presently allotted for the inquest.

•••

Royce Ferguson, an Everett lawyer, represents Ronda Reynolds’ mother in the civil case Barbara Thompson v. Terry L. Wilson, Lewis County Coroner, which was filed Aug. 18, 2006 in Lewis County Superior Court and resulted in the Nov. 2009 judicial review heard by a jury in Lewis County. The outcome is currently being appealed.

Fire burns through dog’s tether, setting it free from overnight blaze

Friday, February 25th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A heat lamp for a dog might have been what sparked an overnight fire in an outbuilding in Napavine overnight, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

Firefighters called just before 3 a.m. to Caporale Lane southeast of town found the metal-roofed structure fully engulfed in flames, Firefighter Brad Bozarth said this morning.

The blaze damaged several motorcycles, ATVs and two pickup trucks, Bozarth said.

A Golden Retriever-type dog tied up inside escaped with no apparent injuries, he said.

“The fire burned through the rope before it burned the dog, so the dog got free,” Bozarth said.

Phyllis Zion said the dog is one the family adopted several months ago after neighbors moved and left it behind. “Ginger” has been tied up all her life and has just been learning to enjoy “the country life” with their black Labrador, she said.

It was scary, Zion said, waking up to dogs barking and an orange glow outside.

Her son discovered Ginger running around, dragging her rope behind her, she said.

“Yeah, we lost a lot of stuff, but we’re just glad she’s okay,” Zion said this morning.

Seven firefighters from District 5 were on the scene until about 4:30 a.m. Bozarth said they planned to return today to work on determining the cause.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, February 25th, 2011

STOLEN CAR

• A Chehalis police officer alerted to a stolen vehicle through their automatic license plate reader device in the Wal-Mart parking lot last night arrested a 28-year-old Kelso resident. The officer got a “hit” on the 1990 Honda Accord and waited until its driver returned to the car around 11:40 p.m., according to Chehalis police. The automobile had been reported stolen from Kelso. Terry S. Dunivin was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of methamphetamine, according to Deputy Chief Randy Kaut.

STOLEN GUN

• Chehalis police were called yesterday evening about the theft of a .22 rifle from a home on the 700 block of Southwest Chehalis Avenue. There was no indication of forced entry and the gun had been taken sometime since the weekend, according to police.

STOLEN STEREO

• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning of a car prowl at the 1200 block of Lum Road. The stereo and some paperwork were taken, according to the Centralia Police Department.

COLLISIONS AND NEAR MISS

• Two semi-trucks tangled up on Harrison Avenue near the Skookumchuck bridge in Centralia yesterday but there no injuries, according to Riverside Fire Authority. One of them had to be towed, Fire Capt. Erik Olson said.

• Firefighters were called to a chain reaction collision on Interstate 5 north of Harrison Avenue about 8 p.m. last night in which a half dozen vehicles were involved, according to Riverside Fire Authority. No one was injured, Fire Capt. Erik Olson said.

• A 20-year-old Winlock man was jailed after he slid through a stop sign nearly colliding with a sheriff’s deputy in Winlock on Wednesday night. The detective was traveling  north on North Military Road in a marked patrol car about 8 p.m. and slowed to prevent a collision with a vehicle traveling fast eastbound on Anterim Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle missed the detective’s driver’s side door by about four feet and then accelerated away after the detective activated his lights, Chief Criminal Deputy Stacy Brown said. The fleeing vehicle finally stopped about three miles away at Tory Lynn Drive, Brown said. A struggle ensued and Colton W. Stevens, 20, was taken into custody, she said. He was intoxicated, and booked into the Lewis County Jail for attempting to elude, resisting arrest and reckless driving, according to Brown.

CHIMNEY FIRE

• Lewis County Fire District 15 was called about 6 p.m. last night to a chimney fire at a home on state Route 505 near Morton Road in Winlock. Firefighters were able to “steam it out” from inside the house and prevent it from spreading, according to Firefighter Patrick Jacobson.

News brief: Randle man pleads not guilty to murder

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
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Erik R. Massa waits after his court appearance to talk with his attorney.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Randle taxidermist Erik R. Massa pleaded not guilty today to second-degree murder in the apparent beating death of a 58-year-old welder from Federal Way.

Massa, 43, was in Lewis County Superior Court this morning for the brief hearing. He remains free on $25,000 bail.

Massa was charged two and a half weeks ago in the March 14 death of Guy W. LaFontaine.

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Guy LaFontaine

LaFontaine died with two broken eye sockets and other blunt force injuries to his torso and extremities. Detectives found a broken shotgun with blood on it in an empty silo next to Massa’s shop, according to charging documents.

The two men are related by marriage.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher this morning told the judge Massa and his wife are going through a “bitter divorce” and asked the judge to remind him he’s prohibited from having contact with potential witnesses in the case.

Massa’s attorney, Chris Baum, asked Judge Richard Brosey if his client’s conditions of release could be changed, so he would be free to leave Lewis County to visit his children in Pierce County and for church in Longview. Brosey said yes.

The trial was scheduled for the week of Sept. 19

Both attorneys said they expected it would last five days.
•••

Read background on the case, here

Read Randle man who died over the weekend was witness in murder case” here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

ARMED AND “RAMBLING” MAN TALKED OUT OF HOSPITAL BATHROOM

• Law enforcement officers from four agencies were drawn to Morton General Hospital yesterday after an intoxicated man in a restroom there made a phone call to a friend rambling about being armed and “testing himself and others”, according to police. Morton Police Chief Dan Mortensen said the man was locked in a stall, the officers talked him out and he was taken into custody without further incident. He was armed with what Mortensen described as a 14-inch bayonette-type knife. It happened about 3:30 p.m. Tim Cournyer, an executive at the medical facility, said the incident was not disruptive, and probably hardly noticed by those inside the hospital. John D. Tulley, a Morton resident, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of a dangerous weapon and interfering with a health care facility, according to Mortensen. Both offenses are gross misdemeanors, he said.

VEHICLE PROWLER FLEES

• Centralia police were called to the 1100 block of West Main Street after a vehicle prowl about 6:20 a.m. today. A neighbor heard the window breaking and spotted a subject in the vehicle, but the subject had run away before police arrived, according to the Centralia Police Department.

EXPENSIVE WATCH STOLEN

• A watch with a platinum band valued at more than $1,500 was reported stolen yesterday from the 700 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia.

Onalaskan offers mixed pleas in teen’s alcohol poisoning death

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Onalaskan James W. Taylor yesterday admitted providing alcohol to minors but didn’t admit to failing to summon assistance for 15-year-old Nickolas Barnes who died of alcohol poisoning after an underage party at Taylor’s home in Sept. 2009.

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Nickolas Barnes

Taylor, 29, was in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis yesterday morning following a plea agreement in the case.

He was initially charged with second-degree manslaughter, but pleaded guilty instead to second-degree assault, pursuant to a doctrine referred to as “In re Barr”.

Judge Richard Brosey put it this way, as he questioned Taylor about the guilty plea:

“The evidence does not establish assault second, rather it establishes manslaughter second, but you’re pleading to it to escape the stigma of pleading guilty to manslaughter, right?”

“Yes,” Taylor replied.

The guilty pleas end a case that began after the Onalaska High School sophomore died on Sept. 21, 2009, with a blood alcohol level of .32.

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James W. Taylor

Prosecutors alleged Nickolas and another teenage boy downed more than 11 shots of vodka, Nickolas passed out in the front yard and Taylor told the teenagers to “let him sleep it off.”

“Even tho the defendant knew he was out there in the yard, he did absolutely nothing to assist him and let him lay out there in the elements,” until he was urged by someone else to take him to the hospital, newly elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer recited in court yesterday.

Taylor, a father of four according to his lawyer, wasn’t charged until this past September, and has been free on $10,000 bail.

Taylor yesterday also made a so-called Alford plea to failing to summon assistance, pleading guilty but not admitting guilt.

He also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of furnishing liquor to minors.

The arrangement means Taylor faces a sentence between three and nine months in jail, as opposed to as long as 27 months if he had been convicted on the original charges.

Nickolas’s family called it a bitter day, and were especially disheartened that instead of being locked up immediately, Taylor was allowed to go home after the hearing, and return on May 11 to be sentenced.

None of the court proceedings can change the facts of the tragedy, Nickolas’s grandmother Susan Patterson suggested.

“It’s still the same thing,” Patterson said. “Two families are destroyed because nobody decided to call 911.”

“But at least something’s going to happen,” she said.

Meyer said afterward the agreement brings closure and “gets it done”.

“There were proof issues,” Meyer said. “This was a way we could get a definite result.”

•••

CORRECTION: This news story was corrected on Wednesday April 27, 2011 to reflect the correct name of James W. Taylor.

•••

Read background on the case “Remembering Nickolas Barnes” from Thursday Sept. 23, 2010 here

Morning snow and ice leads to minor spinouts

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
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Responders removed the windshield of a Chevrolet Aveo to extricate the driver after a wreck yesterday morning on state Route 505 in Winlock. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 15

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Troopers responded to a small flurry of minor spinouts on snow and ice yesterday morning in western Lewis County and two more this morning, but no serious collisions, according to the Washington State Patrol.

“(Drivers) seem to realize that you’re not going to get anywhere fast today,” State Patrol Sgt. Ted DeHart said.

One vehicle on state Route 505 in Winlock hit a large landscaping rock and rolled over about 8:30 a.m. yesterday, but didn’t result in serious injuries, according to responders.

In the east end, there is compact snow and ice on the roads, but very little traffic, State Patrol Sgt. Jason Ashley said this morning.

Snow showers are expected to continue this morning with localized accumulations of up to two inches possible, according to the National Weather Service. Up to six inches could fall in the Cascade Mountain, forecasters say.

The snow level is at sea level.

Ashley’s suggestion for today: “If people don’t have to go anywhere, they should just stay home.”

Randle man who died over the weekend was witness in murder case

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 62-year-old man who died Saturday night on U.S. Highway 12 near Packwood was one of the witnesses in the recently filed murder case against Randle taxidermist Erik Massa.

Donald G. Diemert was dead at the scene of a wreck in which his Pontiac Grand Am struck a guard rail and then crossed the highway and ran into a rock wall.

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Donald G. Diemert

Troopers said it was a slow speed crash, not serious enough it should have killed him. His dog traveling with him survived unhurt.

The investigation at the scene ruled out any mechanical failure, according to Washington State Patrol Sgt. Jason Ashley. Troopers are leaning towards some kind of medical issue or something like falling asleep at the wheel, Ashley said.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said Diemert was one of several witnesses and they’ll just figure out how to prosecute the case without him.

Meyer declined to say what testimony Diemert would have offered. He is one of seven people listed in court documents as having given witness statements to detectives.

“Now we’re just looking to keep that story as complete as possible,” Meyer said yesterday.

Massa was charged two and a half weeks ago with second-degree murder for the March 14 death of Guy W. LaFontaine, 58, of Federal Way.

LaFontaine died with two broken eye sockets and other blunt force injuries to his torso and extremities. Detectives found a broken shotgun with blood on it in an empty silo next to Massa’s shop, according to charging documents.

Massa, 43, is free on $25,000 bail and expected in court tomorrow for his arraignment.

Diemert was a retired Boeing worker who was involved in the Back Country Horsemen and formerly an avid boater when he lived in Federal Way, according one of his ex-wives. He moved to the Randle-Packwood area in 1996, Linda Diemert said.

He did contract work such as plowing driveways in the winter and haying in the summer, she said.

The Army veteran who served in Germany and Vietnam was hospitalized for several months after breaking his back and neck in a fall off a barn he was building in the summer of 2009.

He was paralyzed about two months and only got out of the hospital and returned home early last year, according to Linda Diemert.

A neighbor and fellow Vietnam veteran called him a tough old buzzard. The roof accident seemed like a big wake up call to Diemert, Bill Serrahn said in an email message.

“It was pretty amazing how he fought his way back from that,” Serrahn wrote.

Serrahn wrote that Diemert was happy when he saw him last week. He’d been working on his place, met a woman he liked from Yakima and, he had plans.

“The Gods gave him a bonus round of an extra year and a half, but I guess it was time to go,” Serrahn wrote.

Diemert’s dog is being cared for temporarily by his neighbor and ex-wife Lona Westby.

He is survived by two daughters Debra Ann Benfer, 34, of Covington; Bonnie Lynn Taylor, 33, of San Diego; and a sister Charlotte Fuller in Arizona.

Linda Diemert said his burial will be at Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn, though some of his ashes will be scattered at two of his favorite places; the Cowlitz River and Blake Island in Puget Sound.

Instead of flowers, his family is suggesting donations to the Humane Society.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

VEHICLE SLIDES OFF ROAD INTO TREE

• A driver and her young child were hospitalized early this morning after a single-vehicle accident on Jackson Highway near Rush Road, according to Lewis County Fire District 5. She lost control in the snow and her vehicle traveled some 15 to 20 feet down an embankment and came to rest against a tree, according to Fire Firefighter Brad Bozarth. The injuries to the woman and girl, who is about 4 years old, did not require advanced life support transport, according to Bozarth.

ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING SUSPECT FOUND IN CENTRALIA

• The 29-year-old man wanted for allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend several times and dragging her out of her Rochester home on Monday night was arrested last night when he was stopped in Centralia for a traffic violation. Juan E. Mejia, of Centralia, was handed over to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office after an officer pulled him over about 9:40 p.m. near G and West Seventh streets in Centralia, according to police. He was first cited for third-degree driving on a suspended license, according to the Centralia Police Department. Mejia was being sought on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary.

DUMPSTER ARSON SOLVED, POLICE SAY

• Centralia police jailed a man yesterday for a dumpster fire they believe he set a year or so ago near the Rent-A-Center off Borst Avenue. Charles A. Riggs, age and hometown not readily available, was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree arson, according to police.

TEEN SPITS AT POLICE OFFICER

• A 17-year-old Chehalis boy was arrested for third-degree assault after he allegedly spit on a Chehalis police officer trying to bring him into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center last night. Officers called about 6 p.m. to the home on Southwest Chehalis Avenue because the teenager was out of control arrested him for three counts of misdemeanor assault, according to the Chehalis Police Department. At the detention center he tried to run away and then spit on the officer, leading to a fourth offense, according to Deputy Chief Randy Kaut.

DRUGS

• Centralia police found a 20-year-old Doty resident in possession of methamphetamine when they arrested her last night on a Centralia Municipal Court warrant. Bobbi J. Brooks was booked into the Lewis County Jail for both issues after contact with an officer just before midnight on the 200 block of North Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

News brief: Afternoon fire damages rural Chehalis home

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The cause of a house fire this afternoon off state Route 508 south of Chehalis is not yet determined but appears to have started next to a fireplace.

Lewis County Fire District 5 was joined by firefighters from District 6, District 1 and the Chehalis Fire Department to answer a call about 3:30 p.m. near Guerrier Road, according to District 5 Lt. Laura Hanson.

Hanson said nobody was home at the time but a passerby saw smoke and called 911.

Three pet cats were found safe, she said.

Firefighter Brad Bozarth said the man who lives there arrived and let them know he had cats. After the fire was knocked down, firefighters searched the house and found them hiding under a bed in a back bedroom, Bozarth said.

“They seemed fine, healthy, but scared,” he said.

The home is on the 700 block of state Route 508, about three miles east on Interstate 5.

Hanson said the damage was limited to roughly 20 percent of the house. She said both floors of the one and a half story home were affected with heavy damage to one side but not the other.

District 5 Chief Eric Linn attributed the “save” to the call from the passerby as well as the quick response from available units.

News brief: Onalaskan to plead guilty in teen alcohol poisoning case

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The 29-year-old man charged in the alcohol-poisoning death of Onalaska teenager Nickolas Barnes is scheduled to plead guilty tomorrow.

James W. Taylor was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 2009 death of the 15-year-old, but is expected to plead guilty to second-degree assault, as well as furnishing liquor to minors and failing to summon assistance, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

Elected prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said Taylor faces a possible sentence of somewhere between three and nine months in jail. The father of four could have been sent to prison for as long as 27 months if convicted on the original charges, prosecutors said when they first filed the case last October.

The Onalaska High School sophomore died on Sept. 21, 2009, after playing drinking games with vodka at an underage party in Taylor’s Onalaska home, according to charging documents.

Charging documents say after Nickolas and a 16-year-old boy downed more than 11 shots of vodka, Nickolas passed out in the front yard, where his friends removed his clothes and wrote on his body with a black marker.

Prosecutors alleged Taylor told the teenagers to “let him sleep it off.”

Newly elected Prosecutor Meyer said today he didn’t think, but wasn’t certain, any of the eight other teenagers at the party were charged with failing to summon assistance.

Taylor is set to appear before Judge Richard Brosey tomorrow morning in Lewis County Superior Court in Chehalis.

•••

Read background on the case “Remembering Nickolas Barnes” from Thursday Sept. 23, 2010 here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

CENTRALIA MAN SOUGHT FOR ASSAULT AND KIDNAP ATTEMPT

• Law enforcement officers are looking for a 29-year-old man who allegedly barged into his ex-girlfriend’s Rochester home, beat her up and dragged her out of the house by her hair last night. The 24-year-old woman escaped as he was walking her away from her home, and she fled to her mother’s house, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. Juan Epifanio Mejia, 29, of Centralia, is wanted on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary, sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said today. Elwin said it happened between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at the 7500 block of 191st Avenue Southwest. The pair were reportedly arguing about their relationship when Mejia “went crazy” punching the woman in the face several times, Elwin said. He didn’t know where Mejia was taking her, but said the couple was stopped briefly outside by a passing deputy who saw they were holding hands, and was told by Mejia “everything’s okay”. Then Mejia fled, Elwin said. That was about 10 p.m., according to Elwin. Her neighbors called 911 about midnight to report her missing and she was contacted at her mother’s house, he said.

HOMELESS MAN ACCUSED OF ASSAULTING OFFICER

• Centralia police used their Taser on a 57-year-old homeless man who reportedly threatened to assault and then charged an officer early yesterday morning near Harrison Avenue and Interstate 5. David R. Anderson was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree assault after the approximately 3:20 a.m. incident. Further details were not readily available.

MAN FLEES DEPUTY ON STOLEN MOTORCYCLE

• A stolen motorcycle was recovered and a 37-year-old Glenoma man arrested after a chase in the Randle area on Saturday afternoon, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy tried to stop a 2003 Suzuki Volusia Intruder traveling 65 mph in a 35 mph zone about 2:30 p.m. but the driver fled into a residence on the 800 block of Cline Road, according to Chief Deputy Stacy Brown. Jake N. Dunaway, 37, was subsequently contacted there and then booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle, driving without a license and other offenses, Brown said.

MAN HIT BY VEHICLE IN CHEHALIS

• Police and aid were called about 6 p.m. on Friday by a man who said he’d been hit by a car near Safeway on South Market Boulevard in Chehalis and hurt his leg. The driver reportedly took the man home about six blocks away and then left, according to police. The man was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital to be evaluated.

DRUGS

• A pair of Marysville teenagers were arrested in Centralia just before 3 o’clock this morning and one of them was booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of Ecstacy, according to police. Jordan T. Godsey, 19, was jailed and Chloe A. Kaehukaiopuaena, 19, was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Centralia Police Department. Kaehukaiopuaena was released after the contact with an officer near the northbound onramp from Harrison Avenue onto Interstate 5, according to police.

VEHICLE PROWLS

• Sometime between 11 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday somebody prowled a car in a driveway on the 100 block of Dieckman Road in Adna, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A neighbor’s Honda car was broken into the during the same time period, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown reported this morning. From that car, an estimated $350 of CDs were taken, according to Brown.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police were called just before 3 a.m. today about the rear window of a vehicle being smashed out at the 600 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia.

HONDA STOLEN FROM WINLOCK FOUND STRIPPED OF WHEELS IN PORTLAND

• Lewis County detectives are looking for information about a white 1993 Honda stolen from Winlock car lot on the 400 block of Hart Road on Jan. 22 and then found on Jan. 31 in Portland missing its wheels and tires. The loss is estimated at more than $2,000. Anyone with information is asked to call Lewis County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-748-6422.

News brief: District 6 fire chief steps down

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Bud Goodwillie today said he resigned two weeks ago from the rural Chehalis fire district he became chief of three and a half years ago.

Goodwillie offered no details on the reason for his departure.

Lewis County Fire District 6 operates with one full time employee, the chief. He was paid $72,000 a year.

The district has a volunteer assistant chief, 35 to 40 other volunteers and several part-time paramedics, firefighters and EMTs, according to Goodwillie.

He said his understanding was longtime volunteer Steve Lux is acting as interim chief.

“I wish the best for that fire department, it has good potential,” Goodwillie said this afternoon.

Goodwillie, 55, left his position as a captain with Centralia’s Lewis County Fire District 12 to take the chief job in August 2007. He said he’s looking at “different areas to venture into.”

District 6 is one of four local fire agencies exploring the idea of creating a “super” fire department along the I-5 corridor in the northern half of Lewis County.

Calls to two of the district’s three fire commissioners to ask about the change weren’t immediately returned today.

Update Wednesday Feb. 23, 2011 at 8:30 a.m.: Greg Pulver, chair of the board of fire commissioners, sent a news release about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night saying Goodwillie resigned and Lux will serve as interim chief while the district seeks a replacement.

About the news: We’re not fancy, but do have some cool new stuff

Monday, February 21st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Greetings readers.

I’ve added a couple more features to help make Lewis County Sirens an even more useful place to bookmark if you like to be on top of the news.

“Latest earthquakes” is a link I use to initially get the most current information when the ground shakes and “Registered sex offender search” is a resource for anyone who wants to stay informed in that regard.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network’s website offers a colored square on a map within moments of tremblers; red for within the past two hours, blue for the previous two days and yellow for the prior two weeks.

Clicking on a square will show you the magnitude, time, location and depth, details that at first are preliminary but get updated by scientists at the seismic laboratory at the University of Washington.

If you check there regularly, you’ll see fairly frequent small earthquakes occur in the area south of Mossyrock.

If you look now, you’ll see there was another “micro” earthquake just before 2 p.m. Saturday in between Morton and the volcano in what they call the St. Helen’s seismic zone. Remember, last Monday seismologists were saying that 4.3 quake and the aftershocks were in a zone with crustal faults that just happened to be close – about six miles northwest – to Mount St. Helens, but were not under the mountain.

Oh look. Just before 6:30 p.m. on Saturday a micro earthquake was recorded less than a mile from the volcano. Hmm. Time to check what the U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash. says about this. It was 2.0 and less than a mile deep, according to the seismic network.

Anyhow, if you feel the earth move, checking that site is a good next move.

Uh, also please think about calling or emailing me right away if it’s more than micro, as I may not have felt it.

Another resource I added under “Other useful web links” on the right hand side of Lewis County Sirens is the offender search, in which you can look at counties around the state, including Lewis, Thurston, Cowlitz and Grays Harbor.

To look up registered sex offenders living within a specified radius from your home, work or school, click on your county. There, you can also find safety tips and other information, as well as register to receive email alerts if a new offender registers with an address near you.

There’s a place to search by name as well as another place labeled “view all offenders” in a county. Keep in mind, those who have never gotten in trouble with the law aren’t going to be required to register, so you won’t see them there. And I’m not sure as I haven’t explored it thoroughly, but you may not find level one registered sex offenders listed.

Both those links are newly added to Lewis County Sirens’ home page, where you can also find links to monitor river levels and weather conditions to get an early heads up when storms threaten, find out who’s in jail and see summaries of court cases, as well as check in with free-to-read newspapers surrounding Lewis County.

Also sort of new on Lewis County Sirens is a Facebook link, so you can go to our Facebook group page and add LC Sirens as your friend.

Lots of you already know this, but if you “friend” the page – with that little square brown “join” button – then whenever I post a news item, my headline and an excerpt will pop up on your Facebook home page news feed.

If you don’t already belong to Facebook, well, you have to join first.

Not so new, but still important is the “donate” button on Lewis County Sirens.

If you like what you’ve been reading here since last June, and think an independent local news site is a valuable resource, consider helping support Lewis County Sirens.

When I launched this news site, a former executive editor who was very enthusiastic about the idea suggested to me such local news sites could probably only be sustainable by tapping into multiple revenue streams.

And I think he is right about that.

It’s super easy to contribute. Just click on the yellow button and it will take you to PayPal, a secure site to send money through.

If giving money electronically makes you uncomfortable, Lewis County Sirens’ mailing address can be found on the right sidebar under “Contact us at Lewis County Sirens”.

I remain dedicated to maybe not having the fanciest news site, but bringing readers news daily and when it happens of crime, police, fire and courts in greater Lewis County.

For example, it was Lewis County Sirens on Christmas morning that brought you news that two buildings were burning in downtown Toledo, and then shared photographs and details of the devastating blaze through the holiday weekend.

It was Lewis County Sirens that brought you ongoing updates about rivers rising throughout a weekend in mid-December and another in mid-January.

And it was here last month that you could follow the trial of a Rochester drug dealer and the details of threats, assaults and eventually a fatal shooting that came after his mobile home was robbed of pounds of methamphetamine.

The tale of Robert Maddaus Jr. wound through Centralia, Onalaska, Olympia and even into the trailer home of former Chehalis resident Robbie Russell whose own frequent encounters with the law are enough for a book.

Those are just some of the stories told first and most comprehensively here as they unfolded.

Lewis County Sirens’ readership continues to grow.

Last month, Lewis County Sirens tallied more than 83,000 page views. Local people who appreciate a reliable source for quality local journalism and want to keep current with what’s going on in their community.

Please consider a donation, or even a monthly contribution, to keep Lewis County Sirens here for you.

I’ve said this before, but you can also contribute to Lewis County Sirens’ success in other ways: If you come across a story here you like, share it with friends by sending them a link; if you know someone you think could benefit from advertising to a wide audience, let them know about a super affordable advertising opportunity.

As always, if you have a news tip, don’t hesitate to contact me.

And keep on reading.

Your news reporter,
Sharyn L. Decker
sharyn.decker@lewiscountysirens.com
360-748-4981 and 206-546-3638

Breaking news: Low-speed crash should not have killed Randle man on Highway 12, patrol says

Monday, February 21st, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Randle man who died when his car  hit a rock wall along U.S. Highway 12 near Packwood on Saturday has been identified as 62-year-old Donald G. Diemert.

The Washington State Patrol initially reported his age was 63.

Troopers called just before 11 p.m. Saturday reported Diemert was heading westbound when his car struck a guard rail along the right shoulder and then traveled back across three lanes to run head-on into the rock wall on the opposite side of the highway.

It happened about six miles east of Packwood near the state Route 123 cutoff.

A black Labrador dog in the car with Diemert survived the wreck, according to the Washington State Patrol.

State Patrol Sgt. Jason Ashley said it was not a high speed collision and they’ve order an autopsy as they investigate the cause.

“The dynamics didn’t really show he should have succumbed,” Ashley said. “We’re not really sure what happened.”

The passenger compartment wasn’t compromised, although there was some front end damage to the 1994 Pontiac Grand Am, according to Ashley.

It may have been a medical issue, he said. It’s unknown if drugs or alcohol were involved, according to the state patrol.

Diemert was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt.

Read about skiers rescued after spending night at White Pass …

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports a pair of Seattle men were found in good condition following an overnight search at the White Pass ski area.

News reporter Phil Ferolito writes a search helicopter from King County spotted a fire the skiers built a fire to stay warm.

Read Ferolito’s story here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

CHEATING DEATH ON INTERSTATE 5

• Chehalis firefighters recommended a 34-year-old motorcyclist buy some lottery tickets today after a wreck on Interstate 5 in which the man was tossed over the center barrier into the oncoming lanes and survived. Aid and troopers were called about 5:45 p.m. yesterday to the area near the West Street overpass after Juan Santana Alvarez, of Auburn, lost control of his Suzuki and was ejected. He said he was northbound on a curve when the wind pushed him into the inside jersey barrier and he traveled along it briefly, according to responders. Alvarez was thrown over the divider into the southbound lanes but jumped back over and came to rest on the inside shoulder of the northbound lanes, according to the Washington State Patrol. A trooper described him with a broken leg and internal injuries. Chehalis Fire Capt. Rob Gebhart said he was conscious, talking and fairly upbeat, for having nearly just been run over by semi-trucks. He was wearing a leather jacket and a helmet, but it seemed like the motorcycle might have been new to him, Gebhart said. Alvarez was taken by ambulance to Providence Centralia Hospital. His condition this morning was unavailable. The 19997 Suzuki VZ800V was totaled; it landed in the northbound lanes, the patrol reported. “He definitely cheated death last night,” Gebhart said. “He was in pretty good shape for what happened.”

THREE ARRESTED FOLLOWING CENTRALIA FIGHT

• Centralia police are investigating a fight and felony assault from yesterday on the 1100 block of South Tower Avenue. Few details were released, but police report they arrested three Centralia men after the 5:30 p.m. call, two for instigating a fight and one on a warrant. Nicholas E. George, 22, was booked into the Lewis County Jail on an unspecified warrant. Tomas L. Delong, 19, and Kevin J. Delong, 20, were arrested for disorderly conduct for starting it, according to the Centralia Police Department. They were not jailed.

DRUGS

• Two Centralia men were jailed yesterday morning for possession of methamphetamine after they were caught vandalizing property with graffiti at the skate park on the 700 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, according to police. Tristan L. House, 21, and Justin T. Booth, 19, were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 31-year-old Centralia man was arrested early Saturday morning for possession of methamphetamine after contact with an officer on the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue. Jonathan R. Young was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 36-year-old Toledo resident was booked into the Lewis County jail early Saturday for possession of methamphetamine and a felony warrant. Brian K. Roe was arrested after contact with an officer about 12:25 a.m. at the 400 block of North Oak Street in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police were called yesterday afternoon to a motel on the 1300 block of Belmont Street after a customer checked out and left drugs behind, according to the Centralia Police Department.

THEFTS BY TEENS

• Police called Friday afternoon to the 600 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia concluded a male juvenile had stolen a tip jar on the window of an espresso stand. The amount taken was not reported. Police referred the case involving the unnamed teenager for a possible charge of second-degree theft.

• Centralia police arrested a juvenile male Friday afternoon for four counts of second-degree theft for allegedly stealing a relative’s credit card and using it to purchase video games on the internet. The unnamed teenager was booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, according to police.

CAR PROWLS

• Centralia police took a report about 11 a.m. yesterday of a vehicle prowl on the 300 block of South Diamond Street. The vehicle’s registration was the only item stolen, according to police.

• An 18-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for vehicle prowl about 2 a.m. on Saturday at the 200 block of South Diamond Street. Nathaniel D. Cline was arrested and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A wallet containing a credit card was taken in a car prowl reported to police on Friday morning on the 700 block of M Street in Centralia.

News brief: Randle resident killed in Highway 12 wreck

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 63-year-old Randle man died last night when his car hit a rock wall head-on along U.S. Highway 12 east of Packwood.

Troopers called just before 11 p.m. report the man was heading westbound when his car struck a guard rail along the right shoulder and then traveled back across the lanes to run into the rock wall on the opposite side of the highway.

The 1994 Pontiac Grand Am was described as totaled. It happened near milepost 139, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The driver’s name has not been released, pending notification of his family. He was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt.

The cause remains under investigation, according to the state patrol.