Archive for November, 2013

The ladies at the office and the gift of life

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – She’s a mother of six, grandmother to six and great grandmother to three more.

She bowls in a league, and belongs to the Southwest Washington Fair Association’s booster club.

For Thanksgiving, she gives thanks for her family, friends and co-workers.

Kathryn Estep, 69, born and raised in Chehalis works part time at a call center with a group of women who saved her life.

“A co-worker said Kathryn dropped a pen,” Paramedic Steve Busz said. “I guess Kathryn was slumped in her chair.”

Her heart had stopped pumping, according to Busz.

Lyla Spears, the supervisor at Service Bureau then on Bishop Road, recalled what she and her co-workers did next after one of them sitting near Estep, Donna Lavigne, hollered out, “She needs help.”

Spears said she came out from the back room, took one look at Estep and knew right away what was going on; she’d witnessed her sister take her last breath not long before.

Spears checked her pulse and helped move Estep out of the chair onto the floor, she said.

“Jennifer’s the one who gave chest compressions the whole time, Charlene did mouth to mouth,” she said.

Carmen Lyon called 911 and stayed on the phone with them, while Rhoda Mendoza waited outside to flag down the ambulance, she recounted.

“Everybody just fell together, like we knew what we were doing,” Spears said.

What happened in August is something Estep has only heard about from others.

“I went to work that day and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital,” she said.

Estep said apparently the condition that struck her is something that runs in her family, but her doctor has said her heart is fine now. She got back to work in October, and began bowling again earlier this month.

“I had no idea Jennifer knew the CPR like she did,” Estep said. “But they all did. I’m so grateful, words can’t express. They’re all angels.”

Paramedic Busz sees the events of that day as something that others could learn from, and easily mean more lives being saved.

“Everything that happened that day was perfect,” he said.

The lesson, for Busz, is something the American Heart Association calls the chain of survival, five steps that can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to cardiac arrest.

Overall, only 8 percent of cardiac arrest patients survive, according to AHA statistics.

“It’s not something we get to see all that often,” he said.

But effective Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation provided immediately can triple a person’s chances for survival, Busz said.

What’s important for non-medics to know, is a good portion of what needs to be done can be implemented even before emergency responders arrive, Busz says.

The first is immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and calling 911 and the second is right away starting CPR with the emphasis on chest compressions, according to Busz.

“All of the links in Kathryn’s case were met that day, as you can see, it proved itself to work,” he said.

Busz and Firefighter-EMT Greg Folwell work for Lewis County Fire District 6, protecting the rural areas surrounding Chehalis and a population of about 8,000.

When they arrived at mid-morning that day to Service Bureau’s office, the pair took over CPR, put Estep on a heart monitor, defibrillated her and administered other interventions. Medics from AMR joined them.

They got a pulse back on Estep before she was even transported, he said. She was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital and then transferred to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia where she stayed for a week.

The third link in AHA’s chain of life is the “shock” which in Estep’s case was done by the medics, but which can also be handled when workplaces have on site Automated External Defibrillators, according to Busz. He’d like to see more of them out there, he said.

The fourth step is effective advanced life support by professionals like the medics and the final step is the post cardiac arrest care provided at a hospital.

Busz said its his understanding Estep is doing phenomenally well.

Busz said they’d like to increase the 8 percent survival rate to 15 percent, to 25 percent or more and it seems possible, if only more folks reacted the way the six women did that day at Service Bureau’s office.

The message he wants to share with Estep’s story is, saving lives of those whose hearts stop begins with ordinary people.

“Sixty percent of everything that can be done to increase the odds of survival can be done prior to us getting there,” he said.

The other message: Take CPR training, Busz says.

“Call your fire department, if they don’t do it, they know someone who does,” he said.

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Kathryn Estep is surrounded by co-workers and two of the medics who helped get her heart restarted after a sudden cardiac arrest.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

CENTRALIA PUB CRAWL

• Two people were arrested for allegedly breaking a wooden gate behind the Hub Tavern on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia just before 2 o’clock this morning, four others were arrested for warrants and / or driving with suspended license last night and one person booked into jail for driving under the influence of marijuana. An officer at about 12:45 .m. spotted a vehicle making a wide turn into oncoming traffic near the 900 block of Harrison Avenue and arrested Jonathan P. Church, 20, of Onalaska, for DUI, according to the Centralia Police Department. When his vehicle was impounded and searched, a mason jar of suspected marijuana was found, leading to his arrest also for possession with intent to deliver, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert.

BANK CARD THEFT

• A 24-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night for allegedly going into the locker room at Thorbecke’s FitLife Center on the 2000 block of Borst Avenue in Centralia and stealing credit cards from a wallet. Police say David L. Davenport ended up with a bloody nose from his encounter with the victim. Davenport was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• Christopher T. Morrison, 20, Centralia, was ordered held on $50,000 bail yesterday following his Tuesday arrest and charges filed in connection with an incident in October involving his 18-year-old girlfriend of one week. According to the lawyers and charging documents, it happened when the two who attend Centralia College were at his Centralia home doing homework. Lewis County Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke said the victim is mobile but suffers from a birth condition leaving her with limited use of her right side and is described by a detective as mentally delayed. Defense attorney Bob Schroeter described his client as having learning disabilities that prevented him from finishing high school. Charging documents allege Morrison engaged in sex with her while she was screaming for him to stop and holding her down by her “strong side.” The charge is second-degree rape, by forcible compulsion and/or because the victim was incapable of consent by reason of a physical or mental disability. Morrison denied it was rape.

• The 50-year-old Hoquiam man who was accused of committing perjury by the defense attorney during Ricky A. Riffe’s kidnapping and murder trial in connection with a plea deal he got in exchange for his testimony was sentenced yesterday to 20 days in jail. Erwin B. Bartlett testified last month that Riffe confessed his crime while the two were in the medical unit of the Lewis County Jail earlier this year. While he denied on the witness stand he got consideration from prosecutors, the jury learned he was told if he testified truthfully about what Riffe told him, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead would recommend a 30-day sentence for Bartlett’s failed attempt to smuggle prescription medication into the jail. The maximum for the offense was 12 months. Yesterday afternoon in front of Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey, Bartlett’s lawyer David Arcuri said his client held up his end of the bargain. At issue was the drug offense, there was no talk of any perjury charge. Arcuri also said because Bartlett is on disability and doesn’t have a job, he wouldn’t qualify for work release, and that if he was given more than 20 days, he would lose his medical and social security benefits. Brosey sentenced him to 20 days, told him to report to the jail to serve his time by Dec. 10 – after Riffe would be transferred to prison – and not to bring any drugs with him.

WRECKS

• Two people were hospitalized after a single-vehicle collision at North Military and Koontz roads about 8 p.m. yesterday and two others were transported following a wreck about an hour earlier at Nelson Road and Highway 603, according to responders. Further details were not readily available.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as responses for violation of protections order, misdemeanor theft … and more.

News brief: Reducing roadway fatalities

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
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The Washington Traffic Safety Commission offers downloadable, printable designated driver gift cards for the holidays.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Looking for an inexpensive but possibly priceless present to give this year?

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has designated driver gift cards available, to give to someone you’d rather not see among the 49 (average) collision fatalities between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in Washington.

Driving under the influence is still the leading cause of death on the roadways and the cards are part of a campaign to reach zero traffic deaths and serious injuries from wrecks by the year 2030, according to the WSTC.

Just go to the WTSC website to print, then clip, fold and fill out the card offering your services as the sober driver on a given night. It’s the gift of a ride home that tells a loved one you’d rather they celebrate the season in style, not in jail or dead.

The Olympia-based organization coordinates traffic safety efforts in various ways, including assisting the Lewis County DUI Traffic Safety Task Force which organizes and supports putting extra law enforcement officers on patrol beginning today in search of intoxicated motorists.

Through Jan. 1, expect to see participants locally such as police departments in Centralia, Chehalis, Morton, Toledo, Winlock and  the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The WSTC offers the following advice so members of the public can help as well.

• Call 911 if you see a suspected intoxicated driver on the roads.

• If you drink, smoke marijuana or take other drugs, don’t drive.

• If hosting a party, make a plan with sober designated drivers to get your guests home safely or arrange for them to stay put.

Talk with your children and make sure they know to call you instead of ever getting into a car with someone who has been drinking.

• For anonymous, confidential assistance by phone, the Washington Recovery Help Line number is 1-866-789-1511.

• For further resources and ideas on keeping family and friends safe during the coming holidays, check the Target Zero website.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

DOMESTIC INCIDENT

• Officers called about 8:30 p.m. yesterday to the 900 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia found a male whose had was cut from trying to take a knife from his girlfriend and arrested both for violating anti-harassment orders which were in place against each other, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police say Donald K. Gould, 56, was also booked for misdemeanor assault because he got angry and struck her in the head. Toni J. Lovato, 48, was cited and released, according to police.

INJURY ASSAULT

• Chehalis police were called about 1 p.m. yesterday to Green Hill School regarding an assault that sent  a 16-year-old student-inmate to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The suspect is a 20-year-old resident at the state juvenile incarceration facility on Southwest 11th Street, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case is still under investigation, according to police.

SEXUAL ASSAULT

• A 20-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for second-degree rape yesterday following an ongoing investigation by the Centralia Police Department. Christopher T. Morrison was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

AUTO PART CUT FROM VEHICLE

• Centralia police were contacted yesterday by an individual who said the catalytic converter was stolen from their vehicle while at church Sunday on the 1100 block of West First Street.

IDENTITY THEFT

• An unknown person reportedly used the name and social security number belonging to a 15-year-old to obtain work in Puyallup, according to a report made to police from the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia yesterday.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants; responses for alarms, collisions, shopping cart in Wal-Mart parking lot striking a vehicle, chicken running loose near a parking lot, barking dogs … and more.

Read about Toledo child neglect case leads to suit against DSHS …

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Kirotv.com reports a lawsuit has been filed against the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services on behalf of two Lewis County girls claiming the agency failed to stop years of abuse and neglect by their mother despite repeated warnings.

News reporter Kevin McCarty writes DSHS received two dozen reports over a period of six or seven years but allowed the children to stay with their mother Theresa Hutton at the rural property where she took in dozens of dogs, cats and horses.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2007 after a highly contagious disease prompted authorities to euthanize more than 40 dogs, and the eldest child at age 12 was found so malnourished she weighed only 60 pounds that the girls were removed from the Toledo area home to an aunt and uncle’s care.

The mother was convicted in 2009 of second-degree criminal mistreatment and sentenced to four years in prison.

Read about it here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

MAN SHOOTING UP HOUSE DRAWS POLICE

• Deputies were called about 3:40 p.m. yesterday to a residence on the 400 block of Blanchard Road outside Centralia where a 47-year-old resident had allegedly fired several shots inside the home including at a television and a mirror as well as allegedly struck his fiancee in the face leaving bruises. Darrin Corson was taken into custody and booked into the Lewis County Jail for reckless endangerment and fourth-degree assault, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Rob Snaza said he didn’t know what Corson was upset about but that he had been drinking.

ALLEGED BREAK-IN PLAN THWARTED BY SWAT TEAM

• A 21-year-old soldier and his wife from Lacey were intercepted by a SWAT team as they exited Interstate 5 suspected to be on their way to an planned burglary of a home in rural Chehalis Friday afternoon. According to authorities, the individual asked to be their getaway driver was a confidential informant working with a detective at the Centralia Police Department, who told the detective of the plan earlier this month. Their target was a house on the 200 block of Hewitt Road east of town, believed to have cash and other valuables and owned by a former employer of the wife, according to charging documents. Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rob Snaza said it was about 4 p.m. when law enforcement stopped their car at the intersection of Maurin and Rush roads. Jason R. Stephens, 21, Catherine E. Stephens, 21, Lacey, were booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged yesterday with attempted residential burglary. Their car was to be subjected to a search, Snaza said this morning, presumably to look for the gloves they said they brought to avoid leaving finger prints and the 9 mm handgun they may have brought along. They each were allowed to be released from jail on $5,000 unsecured bonds.

OTHER THEFT

• Someone stole an $8,000 40 hp Briggs and Stratton motor from a fertilizer trailer off the end of Coleman Road outside Toledo, according to a report made yesterday to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It disappeared from the piece of farm equipment sometime in the previous two weeks, the sheriff’s office was told.

• Police were called about 4:30 p.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Centralia College Boulevard about an iPad and a debit card theft. Someone attempted to use the card minutes after stealing it but were unsuccessful, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A deputy took a report yesterday of more than $5,000 worth of items such as light fixtures, carpets and window trim removed from a bank-owned vacant home on the 1200 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Ethel. It occurred sometime since November of last year, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A couple in their early 40s were arrested for misdemeanor theft yesterday evening at the 200 block of North Railroad Avenue in Centralia after they allegedly jumped onto an Amtrak train without paying for tickets. Raul Marques, 42, from Alaska, and Kristi M. Servanty, 42, from Seattle, were booked into the Lewis County Jail after contact with an officer about 7:15 p.m., according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• Centralia police arrested a 21-year-old individual overnight for having hallucinogenic mushrooms. Kessler E. Mooney-Gregonis, from California, was booked into the Lewis County Jail after officers were called about 2 a.m. to a motel on 700 block of Harrison Avenue to remove some individuals, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespassing, responses for suspicious circumstances, fraudulent charges on a bank card, shoplifting and other misdemeanor theft, someone throwing a rock at a vehicle following an argument … and more.

News brief: Residence heavily damaged by fire south of Tumwater

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
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Firefighters battle a blaze at a single-wide mobile home

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

West Thurston Regional firefighters called about 9 a.m. today to a burning home north of Littlerock found flames rolling out the front door and most of the windows but the three occupants safely outside.

Damage to the single-wide mobile home on the 7700 block of Prine Drive off Littlerock Road was extensive, according to Fire Chief Robert Scott.

Twenty members of four departments responded, including the Tumwater Fire Department as it was just south of their jurisdiction, Scott said.

Crews remain at the scene this morning investigating the cause, he said.

The residents were referred to the Red Cross for assistance, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. Scott said he was waiting to hear if two cats there turned up.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Updated at 7:03 p.m.

TV TAKEN FROM CENTRALIA BUSINESS

• An officer was called about noon yesterday to a business on the 1400 block of Gold Street in Centralia where someone had pried open the back door and stolen a flat screen television. The investigation is ongoing, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BREAK-IN IN ADNA

• A deputy was called to a burglary at the 300 block of Penning Road on Friday evening in which someone stole more than $8,000 worth of jewelry from a home. The 63-year-old resident said it happened sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Among the missing items are gold and pearl rings, watches and bracelets, according to the sheriff’s office.

THEFT AT CHEHALIS HOME

• Chehalis police were called on Saturday morning about a $1,300 custom-made acoustic guitar stolen from a home on Southwest William Avenue. An officer was given a suspect’s name, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

STOLEN CHECK ARREST

• A 37-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested on Saturday for forgery and second-degree theft in connection with checks taken from the 100 block of Bear Cat Court outside Chehalis and written for more than $6,000 between July and October, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. April L. Busby was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

CREDIT CARD THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 7:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a wallet stolen sometime during the day and a missing credit card which was subsequently used in connection with the 1300 block of Lum Road.

FOOTWEAR LIFTED

• Centralia police were called about 5 p.m. on Friday to the 100 block of West High Street where they were told five subjects stole shoes from a business and jumped into a car that fled north on Interstate 5. Police got a license plate for the silver Dodge Charger and are following up, according to the Centralia Police Department.

BAD BILL

• Centralia police were called just after 7 p.m. yesterday about a counterfeit $100 bill being passed at a business on the 100 block of High Street.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Someone stole a backpack from a vehicle at Ellsbury and Mellen streets in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Saturday morning.

DRUGS
• A 28-year-old Centralia man was arrested for a warrant and possession of cocaine after contact with a police officer about 11 p.m. on Saturday at the 400 block of East Main Street in Centralia. Raul Gonzalez-Gomez was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police were called just before 9 a.m. yesterday to the 600 block of West Pear Street in Centralia where someone had broken out the window of a home. It didn’t appear anyone went inside, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 15-year-old boy was arrested for third-degree malicious mischief after newly painted gang-type graffiti was discovered on Friday morning on a wall near the bus stop and public restroom at the 500 block of North Market Boulevard in Chehalis. The subject was contacted at the bus stop and found to have paint cans in a backpack, according to the Chehalis Police Department. He was cited and released and the case forwarded to prosecutors for further action, according to police.

FIRE WINLOCK

• Nobody was hurt and the damage was minor when a chimney fire ignited south of Winlock on Saturday morning. Firefighters called about 7:30 a.m. to the 100 block of Wepsala Road extinguished the fire in the unattached shop building, according to Lewis County Fire District 15. Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson said it appeared to have been caused by a failure in the chimney.

FIRE MORTON

• The cause of a Morton house fire that killed several pets last week remains unknown, according to Fire Investigator Jay Birley. Birley said the resident of the single-story home on the 600 block of Division Street left for work about 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday and around noontime, a passerby reported smoke coming from the eaves. The blaze began in the living room and left smoke damage throughout the house, but it was as though it may have smoldered awhile before it took off, Birley said. The woman and her two daughters had just moved in to the remodeled residence about two weeks earlier, he said. Five cats and dogs lost their lives, according to Birley.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• A 28-year-old Glenoma man was arrested over the weekend for an incident at a Morton tavern two weeks earlier in which he allegedly lifted another patron into the air upside down and slammed him head first onto the wooden floor. “He literally piles drives him head first into the floor,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge today recounting what he said he watched on the Bucksnort Pub’s security video. William K. Bloomstrom was arrested at his home on Friday for the Nov. 9 occurrence. He is charged in Lewis County Superior Court with second-degree assault of Donovan Griffin. Morton police said at the time the 23-year-old victim, also from Glenoma, sustained a concussion and was treated at Morton General Hospital. When police met up with Bloomstrom to arrest him, he told them he’d already spoken to the victim who didn’t want to press charges and also that he had offered to pay the medical bills. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail but made bail of $25,000 before his appearance before a judge today.

COLLISIONS

• A 22-year-old Winlock man was injured when a car driven by a 20-year-old Napavine woman skidded on a slick road and wrecked yesterday morning on state Route 6 near Curtis Hill Road. Troopers called about 8:15 a.m. found the Chevrolet Cavalier had hit the ditch and came to rest blocking the westbound lane, according to the Washington State Patrol. James L. Nelson was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital and Brittany D. Compton was cited for speeds too fast for conditions, according to the state patrol. A 3-year-old child who was restrained was uninjured, according to the investigating trooper. The car was towed.

• A 30-year-old Chehalis woman was reportedly uninjured when she lost control of her vehicle about 9 a.m. yesterday on the 300 block of Bunker Creek Road in Adna. The 2004 Isuzu Rodeo was southbound when it hit some ice, then the ditch and rolled onto its top, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, driving with suspended license, domestic misdemeanor assault, violation of protection order, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, dispute, collisons; complaints of male urinating on the side of a building at bar closing time, noisy neighbors … and more.

Maurin murder trial: Final judgement to be handed down early next month

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The sentencing for the man convicted in the 1985 abduction, robbery and murders of Ethel residents Ed and Minnie Maurin has been scheduled for the week after next.

Ricky A. Riffe, 55, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. A jury in Lewis County Superior Court found him guilty as charged early this week.

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Ricky A. Riffe

The resident of King Salmon, Alaska has been held in the Lewis County Jail on $5 million bail since his arrest in July of last year.

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said yesterday he is in the process of looking at the details of the laws from 1985 to calculate the standard sentencing range for Riffe’s case. However, since the jury found there were so-called aggravating factors –  vulnerable victims, deliberate cruelty and egregious lack of remorse – the judge will be free to give Riffe more than the top of the standard range.

Meyer said he already knows what he will recommend.

Ed, 81, and Minnie, 83, Maurin were found dead of shotgun wounds on a logging road near Adna on Christmas Eve morning in 1985, five days after they withdrew $8,500 in cash from their Chehalis bank and vanished.

Riffe and his brother John Gregory Riffe became suspects in the early 1990s. The younger brother died last year before he could be charged.

Riffe was convicted on Monday as the principal or an accomplice with one count of burglary, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of first-degree murder.

The former Mossyrock man still faces charges filed earlier this year alleging that in the mid-1980s, he raped and molested his then-9-year-old step-daughter. The allegations were first investigated in 1986 but no charges were filed until this past February.

Meyer has said new information came up during the Maurin investigation.

Riffe’s attorney called it a ploy to smear his client as he faced murder charges. The attorneys disagree as to whether the statute of limitations has passed.

That trial is scheduled for the week of Feb. 18.

Riffe’s sentencing for the Maurin case is set for 1 p.m. on Dec. 3 in Lewis County Superior Court.
•••

For background, read “”Attorneys dispute statute of limitations rules on surprise child sex charge for Maurin double murder defendant” Saturday February 23, 2013, here

Lewis County coroner at dead end locating family of deceased veteran

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Authorities are turning to the public for help to find the relatives of a Centralia man who died last month

Robert Aita, 63, passed away at Providence Centralia Hospital on Oct. 3 of natural causes, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

Among his office’s responsibilities is notifying next-of-kin but so far, they have found none, according to McLeod.

“Everyone we have spoken to during our follow-up investigations who knew the decedent stated he never spoke of any family,” McLeod said in a news release.

The coroner indicates he’d rather not have someone read about the death of a loved one in the news media, but after conducting various unsuccessful searches, felt it was prudent.

Aita lived in Centralia with his girlfriend who also recently passed away, and a law enforcement database search turned up only his deceased wife Cynthia Aita, according to McLeod.

Some possibilities arose by looking at Facebook, including a Robert Aita Jr. but so far subjects contacted in Pennsylvania and Florida said he wasn’t their relation, according to the coroner.

Aita is a U.S. Army veteran, and if no family is located to claim his remains, he would be covered for burial under the Operation At Ease program established by the coroner’s office in 2011.

McLeod says they are developing information Aita may have come from Chicago and  was the son of a pediatrician. He’s learned the father and son founded a youth camp in East Troy, Wisconsin and is pursuing that lead.

McLeod asks anyone who may have known him who has any information regarding possible relatives of Aita to contact his office at 360-740-1376.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

THEFT OF FIREARM

• A Ruger semiautomatic 22 pistol was reported stolen yesterday, from a vehicle left for detailing at a business on the 2500 block of North National Avenue in Chehalis. The gun disappeared sometime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. one day late last month but the victim did not report it sooner because it occurred at his workplace, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 36-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of heroin after contact with an officer about noon yesterday at the 1000 block of Yakima Street in Centralia. Sebastian J. Haller was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Someone threw oil on a vehicle and slashed its tires at the 500 block of South Silver Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.

• An officer took a report of graffiti painted on the window of a business yesterday morning at the 500 block of West Main Street in Centralia.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, misdemeanor theft, hit and run, dispute … and more.

News brief: Huge transformer catches fire at Chehalis Power Plant, again

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Updated at 10:33 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A fire broke out this morning at the power plant in the Chehalis Industrial Park, drawing numerous 911 calls from passersby on Interstate 5 and four fire departments.

A transformer exploded, sending flames some 150 feet into the sky, according to according to Lewis County Fire District 6.

Burning at the natural gas-fueled facility on the 1800 block of Bishop Road was one of three 25-foot tall transformers, according to Firefighter-Paramedic Steven Busz.

Nobody was injured.

The sprinkler system contained the blaze even before the one employee on scene shut the power off, Busz said.

It is a very large sprinkler system installed after the last fire there, he said.

The plant was built in 2003 and has been owned and operated since 2008 by the Portland-based PacifiCorp.

A company spokesperson said investigators are looking into it, but it sounds similar to a situation in early 2011 in which a transformer malfunction caused a fire as well.

“The system notifications and alerts worked as they were supposed to,” PacifiCorp spokesperson Tom Gauntt said.

Busz said the metal transformers are filled with a type of mineral oil which conducts the electricity. He wasn’t sure how extensive the damage was to the equipment.

About a dozen firefighters answered the 5:30 a.m. call from Chehalis, Centralia and Napavine, he said.

District 6 was on the scene until about 8 a.m. ensuring the sprinkler system had cooled the transformer to make sure it was out.

The new sprinkler system is so large, crews didn’t put any of their own water on the fire, according to Budsz.

After the January 2011 fire, partial generation was restored at the plant within days and normal operations resumed within less than a month, according to PacifiCorp.

News brief: Medics holding out boots for donations

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Local paramedics will hold a fill the boot event this weekend in Winlock and Napavine to raise money to help send kids with muscular dystrophy to camp.

Lewis County Medic One Paramedic Delaney Hornby says folks will find them on Saturday at the IGA store in Winlock from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

During the same hours on Sunday, they can be found at the Love’s truck stop off Interstate 5 exit 72.

The fundraiser is being conducted by Lewis County Professional Paramedics IAFF Local 4863. Hornby is president of the group.