Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Read about pursuit of stolen Jeep ends in Lewis County …

Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 12:33 am

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a 29-year-old Chehalis man was arrested following a high speed chase down Interstate 5 into Lewis County last night after a suspected stolen Jeep was spotted in Rochester.

News reporter Alex Krell writes it began around 6:15 p.m. when a resident south of Tumwater reported he answered a knock on his door, a man beat him up, took the keys to his vehicle and drove away with it.

Michael Hilton, 29, was booked into the Thurston County Jail for robbery, assault and eluding, according to the sheriff’s office.

Read more here

Watch interview with victim on King5.com

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm

UNRULY ARRESTEE

• A traffic stop about 2:30 a.m. yesterday of a suspected intoxicated driver on Alder Street in Centralia led to a trip to the hospital for a 29-year-old Centralia man who reportedly tried to break out a patrol car window and got hurt in the process, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Lewis County sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said Eugene S. McFall was making threats to the deputy, trying to escape the patrol car and banging his head on the cage in the back. McFall was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital to be treated and then booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree malicious mischief – for causing the patrol car to be taken out of service so the blood could be cleaned up – as well as for intimidating a public servant, according to Aust. The case will be referred for a DUI charge and other offenses, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

DRUGS AND WARRANT

• A 29-year-old Centralia man was arrested about 10:30 p.m. yesterday for unlawful possession of prescription drugs, after contact with an officer at West Walnut and South Cedar streets in Centralia. Jamie L. McCarty was booked into the Lewis County Jail,  according to the Centralia Police Department. During the same contact, Christopher J. McCarty, 27, also of Centralia, reportedly lied to officers and was booked for a warrant from the state Department of Corrections, according to police.

MISSING TOOLS

• Chehalis police responded to a report of a burglary to a shed just after 3 p.m. on Monday at the 600 block of Lafayette Street. Missing was a tool box and tools for welding, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Police were called abut 10:30 p.m. on Monday regarding repeated car prowls at the 300 block of Northwest Florida Street in Chehalis. Among the items missing from an unlocked vehicle were change, sunglasses and work clothes, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ASSAULT

• Chehalis police were contacted about 8:30 p.m. on Monday about an alleged sexual assault earlier the same day at a residence in Chehalis. Officer Linda Bailey said a young woman spoke of indecent liberties being taken by a male and the case remains under investigation.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, December 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

SHERIFF: HOMELESS MAN PUSHES WAY INTO CHEHALIS-AREA HOME

• Deputies were called to a home south of Chehalis yesterday evening after a resident answered a knock on his door and was confronted by a man who asked to use the phone and then came inside, shoving the resident. The 27-year-old resident was able to push the man back outside and call 911, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened about 5:20 p.m. on the 100 block of Vermillion Road near Spiffy’s restaurant, Cmdr. Steve Aust said. Deputies located 40-year-old David S. Ball in the area and a search of his backpack turned up suspected methamphetamine, according to Aust. Two vehicles in the area had been prowled so Ball – a transient – was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for multiple offenses, including misdemeanor assault, according to Aust. Aust said the suspect said he needed to use the phone because of a medical issue, but deputies aren’t sure if that was just a ruse to get inside.

CHEHALIS RESTAURANT BURGLARIZED

• Police were called about 9 a.m. today to a Chehalis restaurant where someone had forced their way inside overnight and made off with cash and possibly alcohol. Some bottles of liquor had been moved around at Plaza Jalisco on Maryland Avenue as though they were planning on taking them, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

KNIFE FAILS DURING PANHANDLER TIFF

• Centralia police responded about 10 p.m. yesterday when a fight broke out where three transients were arguing about who had the right to beg for money at a freeway off ramp panhandling spot. A 33-year-old Kelso man allegedly tried to stab a 23-year-old Kelso man but the blade somehow bent instead and the man was unharmed, according to the Centralia Police Department. The tussle at Harrison Avenue near Belmont ended with two of them arrested, according to police. Joshua R. Roberts, 33, was booked into the Lewis County Jail for unlawful display of a weapon and fighting in public, according to Sgt. Brian Warren. Justin B. Bedortha, 23, was cited for fighting and then released, according to police.

CENTRALIA BURGLARY

• Someone stole two laptop computers and an Xbox game console from a home on the 2700 block of Russell Road in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 10 p.m. yesterday.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Someone broke out a vehicle window and stole computer speakers and a phone jack on the 200 block of Southwest 13th Street in Chehalis, according to a report made to police just after 10 a.m. yesterday.

• A deputy was called to the 100 block of Bunker Creek Road in Adna on Friday where someone had broke a window out of a vehicle and stole a flashlight and an iPod, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

BURGLARIES IN CENTRALIA

• A 27-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night for allegedly breaking into a family member’s home and stealing a television. Police called about 8:30 p.m. to the 900 block of H Street subsequently arrested Bradley W. Hart, and booked him into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department

• A resident of the 600 block of Nick Road in Centralia returned home yesterday after being away for several weeks and discovered a television missing. Police have a person of interest in the case,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Police were called about 10:15 a.m. yesterday to an apartment on the 700 block of H Street in Centralia where someone had stolen checks and a Playstation. They may have gotten in through an unlocked door, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police responded to a fenced car lot on the 500 block of East Summa Street yesterday morning where someone had broken in and stolen a vehicle, driving it through the fence. The car was subsequently located in Tenino,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 17-year-old boy was arrested for a warrant and for possession of methamphetamine after contact with police about 10:30 p.m. on Friday at the 600 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia. He was booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, according to the Centralia Police Department.

MAN DOWN

• Lewis County Fire District 5 was called about 1:40 p.m. yesterday regarding an unconscious man lying in the roadway on Harmon Road near Napavine. Fire Lt. Laura Hanson said in a news release that aid crews began CPR and transported the patient to Providence Centralia Hospital. The subject, believed to be in his 60s, was subsequently transferred to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympian, according to Hanson. Further information was not readily available.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

News brief: 48 Hours Mystery on Ronda Reynolds’ case to air again

Friday, December 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The documentary featuring the coroner’s inquest into the controversial death in Toledo of former trooper Ronda Reynolds will air once again on national television tomorrow night.

pc.ronda Copying_2

Ronda Reynolds

48 Hours Mystery, CBS’s true crime series, first aired the case in April.

Reynolds, 33, died with a bullet in her head in the home she shared with husband of less than a year, Ron Reynolds and his sons. She was found dead on the floor of a small walk-in closet, covered up by a turned-on electric blanket the morning of Dec. 16, 1998.

Her death was labeled by then-Coroner Terry Wilson and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office as a suicide, but her unconvinced mother Barbara Thompson battled for more than a decade for a more thorough investigation of what she believed was more likely murder.

A five-member inquest jury last year was unanimous in its conclusions of homicide and named Ron and Jonathan Reynolds as responsible.

Ron and Jonathan Reynolds maintain the death was a suicide and they were not involved. They were not charged with any crime.

The piece, dubbed “Mystery on Twin Peaks Drive” will show at 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
•••

Read an interview with 48 Hours’ interviewer Peter Van Sant for his take on the case, here

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

News brief: Centralia slaughterhouse stabbing case set for guilty plea

Friday, December 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Sabino Gomez-Barriga is scheduled to make a guilty plea in the case in which he is accused of stabbing a co-worker in the throat at a Centralia wholesale meat business early last month.

2012.1115.Sabino.Gomez.Barriga.small_2

Sabino Gomez-Barriga

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke confirmed a plea agreement has been tentatively reached but wouldn’t discuss the details until the deal is completed in front of a judge.

“We think we’ve resolved the case,” O’Rourke said today.

Gomez-Barriga, 35, was arrested on Nov. 7 after a fight at the Five Star Beef Company on Airport Road.

Prosecutors said 21-year-old Jorge Juarez punched Gomez-Barriga, who responded by jabbing Juarez with the blunt end of a meat hook and then sticking him in the neck with a boning knife.

Gomez-Barriga was charged with first-degree assault.

Juarez, a Centralia resident, was in grave condition initially, and underwent “pretty intense” surgery, but has improved immensely, according to O’Rourke.

“The latest update I have, he’s made a full recovery,” he said.

Gomez-Barriga, who lives in downtown Chehalis, remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $250,000 bail.

A court hearing is set for next Thursday afternoon, with time set aside for Gomez-Barriga to change his plea and be sentenced.
•••

For background, read “Centralia slaughterhouse fight involved meathook and boning knife” from Friday November 9, 2012, here

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Annie’s Market in Napavine remains shut down after fire

Friday, December 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm
2012.1220.annies.market

Plastic pop bottles in the rear of the grocery melted during the fire, but it was put out before causing exterior damage.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

NAPAVINE – It will be a least three weeks before Annie’s Market in Napavine reopens following last week’s fire.

The inventory has all been removed from the grocery store and yellow tape still blocks the entrance.

Janet Stowe, whose family has owned the Napavine Shopping Center for more than three decades, said they are waiting for the various insurance companies involved to figure out what to do.

“And with the holidays, it’s just gotten delayed,” Stowe said today.

From the outside, the 1970s era strip mall off Washington Street looks unscathed.

The destruction from the fire itself was contained to the area around Annie’s front counter and cash register, but the smoke and heat damage was extensive, according to Lewis County Fire District 5’s Lt. Laura Hanson.

Hanson said the intensity of the heat was such that two-liter pop bottles at the back of the store started to melt and their tops tipped toward the flames.

The adjacent Napavine Laundromat reopened the following day, but Sahara Pizza at the far end of the commercial structure remains shut down.

It seems they drew smoke through their ventilation system, Stowe said.

Also untouched were two separate buildings in the shopping center, Ace Hardware to the east and the storage business in the back.

The fire broke out about 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 10, just 30 minutes before closing time.

Two customers arriving told the clerk they thought there was smoke under counter, Stowe said.

Stowe said she was just exiting the Laundromat when the clerk walked out the front door of the grocery.

“I ran to my car to get my fire extinguisher but by the time I turned around, I could see flames a good two feet over the counter,” she said.

Stowe said she was grateful the fire started during business hours, and on a night when the mostly volunteer fire department was gathered at the station for a meeting.

“I would like to say how phenomenal that fire department was in getting there so quickly, and getting the fire out with minimal water damage,” she said.

Nobody was injured and the preliminary cause, as told to Stowe by the fire investigator, appeared to be accidental and electrical.

The best case scenario for the two businesses to serve customers again is in three weeks, maybe four, she said.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, December 21, 2012 at 10:52 am

MARIJUANA ODOR LEADS TO SEARCH WARRANT, ARREST

• A traffic stop near the Centralia Outlets yesterday evening and the scent of fresh marijuana coming from a Mercedes Benz led to the arrest of a 20-year-old Tacoma man with several thousand dollars in cash on his person and a loaded .45 caliber pistol in his car, according to the Centralia Police Department. A search of the car didn’t yield any marijuana, except for some residue, but officers also found what was described as paraphernalia – scales and unused baggies, according to police. Because of Jeremiah L. Williams’ criminal history, he was booked into the Lewis County Jail for felon in possession of a firearm, Officer John Panco said this morning. Panco said he couldn’t speculate as to what the combination of the money, a loaded gun and drug residue meant, but further investigation might turn up information about what the driver was up to. The incident began just before 7 p.m. when an officer observed the car nearly getting hit by another vehicle as it sped out of the mall parking lot onto Lum Road, according to Panco. Williams’ suspended license led to his detainment and the marijuana smell, along with all the cash, led to a search warrant for his vehicle, according to Panco. Officer Panco took the opportunity to remind the public that any amount of marijuana in the possession of a person younger than 21 is a crime as is driving under the influence of marijuana or smoking it in public, although there was no indication Williams was smoking it.

SHERIFF: MAN CUTS CHILD WITH BUTTER KNIFE

• A 25-year-old Chehalis area man was arrested yesterday for allegedly disciplining his 4-year-old daughter by cutting her on the leg with a butter knife. Frank G. Fulmer Jr. was taken into custody yesterday after an ongoing investigation of the incident that was reported late last month by Child Protective Services, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the girl had accidentally hurt a playmate and Fulmer was disciplining her for that. Fulmer was booked into the Lewis County Jail for third-degree child assault.

GUNS IN HOME LEAD TO ARREST

• A 41-year-old Silver Creek man was arrested yesterday for unlawful possession of a firearm when detectives confiscated two rifles from his home during an investigation of another situation, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Steven M. Ledoux was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

MISSING MEDS

• Centralia police took a report about 3:50 p.m. yesterday regarding the theft of a backpack containing prescription medication from an unlocked car parked at the 900 block of Ellsbury Street.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

News brief: Lewis County luring conviction reversed by appeals court

Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

An appeals court yesterday tossed out a rural Chehalis man’s conviction for luring saying it wasn’t a crime when he rode his bicycle past a child and stated, “Do you want some candy? I’ve got some at my house.”

The incident occurred in January 2011 near the Doty General Store when Russell D. Homan made the comment to a 9-year-old boy headed in the same direction, according to the opinion.

Homan continued on his Superman BMX child’s bicycle without slowing, stopping or looking back, according to C.C. Bridgewater, author of the opinion.

Homan was convicted by a judge in Lewis County Superior Court the summer before last of luring, a class C felony, and sentenced to 120 days.

His lawyer argued in appeal that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction and the majority of the appeals court judges agreed, although noted his statement was probably ill-advised.

Washington Court of Appeals Division II yesterday reversed and remanded for dismissal with prejudice.

One member of the three-judge panel dissented, saying Homan was a stranger who attempted to lure a child to his house with candy.

For more, see State of Washington, respondent v. Russell David Homan, appellant: 42529-7

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

MOTEL MELEE

• A 32-year-old man was arrested yesterday evening at a Centralia motel after he allegedly attempted to bite and hit police officers who detained him, according to police. Officers responded about 7:45 p.m. to Ferryman ‘s Inn on the 1000 block of Eckerson Road where a guest had reportedly offered drugs to other guests there, according to the Centralia Police Department. Suspected methamphetamine as well as glass pipe were found in his pocket, Sgt. Kurt Reichert said. Palwinder Singh is facing a possible charge of attempting to destroy evidence – and more – as he tried to step on the pipe, Reichert said. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for two counts of third-degree assault and possession of meth, according to police.

VEHICLE SLIDES INTO CENTRALIA CREEK

• A 16-year-old boy apparently escaped injury when his vehicle ended up in a creek early this morning along the 800 block of North Gold Street in Centralia. The unoccupied vehicle was discovered about 2:30 a.m. and the teen found about a block away trying to get help to remove it, according to the Centralia Police Department. He was cited for driving with a suspended license and then released to his parents, according to police.

MEN IN BLACK

• Chehalis police were called to a home on Southwest Snively Avenue about 2 p.m. yesterday when a mother reported her children called her to say three young men dressed in black pounded on the door and tried the door handle before taking off in a small gray van. Responding officers weren’t able to locate anyone, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Definitely foul play, but still no identity for skeletal remains found near Morton

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the skeletal remains of a woman found near Morton last year were dumped there.

The remains were found on April 7, 2011 by a motorist who pulled off U.S. Highway 12 to take a break, about 100 yards up a logging road.

2011.1018.sketch.morton.remains

Unidentified female

Who she is and how she died remains a mystery.

But the sheriff’s office says they believe foul play was involved.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said yesterday detectives are taking a further look at the case in light of the confessions early this month of self-professed serial killer Israel Keyes who claims he killed four people in Washington state.

“We’re definitely taking a look at all our cases to see if his M.O. matches any of ours,” Brown said.

The checking is not based in any specific request from the FBI, she said.

The sheriff’s office has been tight-lipped about details of the Morton case, in hopes that withholding information from the public will better help them solve it.

A forensic anthropologist at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office believes the remains belong to a woman who was 20 to 35 years old when she died, small in stature and possibly of mixed ethnicity.

A sketch made by studying the facial bones offers a clue to what she may have looked like. The artist’s rendering was released to the news media in October of last year, but it generated no leads on her identity, according to Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod.

Dental records and DNA from the deceased have been entered into databases with no matches found.

Examination by the specialist failed to come up with the cause of death.

“Having only bones to examine, she’s exhausted, at this point, all means to figure out the cause and manner of death,” McLeod said yesterday.

McLeod, whose office has the responsibility – among others – of figuring out who she is, is hoping re-releasing the sketch will turn up someone who recognizes her.

“Not knowing who it is puts us at a real disadvantage,” he said.

Another aspect of the case still under wraps is how long the forensic anthropologist estimates the woman had been dead before her remains were found.

“We’re not releasing that yet because that’s something only the killer, or the person who dumped her, would know,” Chief Civil Deputy Brown said.

Anyone with any information about this female or the case is asked to call the coroner’s office at 360-740-1376, Lewis County sheriff’s detective Dan Riordan at 360-740-2765 or Lewis County Crime Stoppers – if the person wishes to remain anonymous –  at 1-800-748-6422.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Read about Thurston court assistant charged with growing marijuana …

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Olympian reports a Thurston County Superior Court  judicial assistant is charged with manufacture of marijuana after a sheriff’s deputy reported finding more than two dozen plants growing at her home.

Debbie Requa, 60, is the assistant to judges Lisa Sutton and James Dixon, according to news reporter Jeremy Pawloski.

Because it is a conflict case, Lewis County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Attorney Brad Meagher was appointed a special deputy to prosecute the case. Meagher filed charges on Friday.

Requa has been summons to appear for arraignment in Thurston County Superior Court for arraignment on Jan. 2.

Read more here

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

DRIVING DANGEROUS

• A 26-year-old Rochester man was arrested for driving drunk after getting his truck stuck on railroad tracks in Centralia overnight. Justin D. McNeal was contacted about 3 a.m. near East Main Street and Railroad Avenue,  according to the Centralia Police Department. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• A 30-year-old Kelso driver was arrested after an officer stopped him for traveling the wrong direction on a one-way street about 2:20 a.m. this morning in Centralia. Daniel K. Stoneking was booked into the Lewis County Jail for driving under the influence of alcohol after he was contacted on South Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• Centralia police assisting officers with the state Department of Corrections visited a residence on the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue about 10:30 a.m. yesterday and arrested three people for outstanding warrants, one of which was allegedly in possession of methamphetamine. Booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of meth was Steve Ingle Jr., 32, as well as Janice M. Lester, 50, and Nicodya A. Maddux, 24, all Centralia residents, according to police.

• A 43-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of cocaine after police and DOC officers visited a residence on the 2500 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia yesterday, according to police. Sergio Castro-Gutierrez was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ALLEGED SEXUAL ABUSE

• Chehalis police arrested a 31-year-old Vancouver, Wash. man yesterday following an investigation in which an 8-year-old girl recently reported sexual abuse by a relative occurring four years ago. Sgt. Brian Hickey said the alleged incident happened while he was watching her. Police traveled to Vancouver to arrest Joshua R. Wittler for first-degree rape of a child, according to Hickey. Wittler was interviewed and denied it, Hickey said. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

News brief: Two seriously injured on Lewis County roads

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Updated at 5:32 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Icy roads contributed to numerous collisions yesterday around Lewis County including two serious wrecks that sent local residents to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

A 16-year-old Chehalis boy was transported to the Seattle hospital after a vehicle in which he was a passenger ran into a tree on the 100 block of Brockway Road west of Chehalis. Responders called just before 1 p.m. found five teenagers and a Jeep Cherokee that was totaled, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s office.

The 16-year-old – who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt – had head and neck injuries, according to the sheriff’s office. Two girls, ages 13 and 15, had minor injuries and a 17-year-old boy was reportedly uninjured, the sheriff’s office reported. All are from Chehalis.

The 16-year-old driver, a Seattle resident, was also uninjured, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. He was taken to the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center for a warrant, driving on a suspended license, taking a motor vehicle without permission and for giving a deputy a false name, according to Brown.

Earlier in the morning, a 31-year-old Toledo woman was flown to Harborview with a broken pelvis after her car slid into a telephone pole on the 700 block of Jackson Highway South near Toledo, according to the sheriff’s office. Her 4-year-old passenger sustained a cut on the forehead and was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Brown. The car was destroyed in the approximately 8:40 a.m. crash, according to Brown.

Two other accidents attended to by deputies left drivers with no injuries but their vehicles with major damage, according to the sheriff’s office. The first was around 8:15 a.m. on the 200 block of Ingalls Road west of Centralia in which an SUV slid into a ditch onto it side, according to Brown.

At about 8:30 p.m., a deputy responded to a car that ran into a fence on the 300 block of Jackson Highway South, according to Brown.

And finally at about 11 p.m., a 17-year-old Centralia girl driving a pickup truck slid into a ditch and a telephone box on the 4700 block of Galvin Road in Centralia, according to the sheriff’s office. Her truck was described as totaled and her family took her to the hospital, Brown said.

East Lewis County where the residents have seen more snow fared better.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Darin Foster, supervisor of the Morton detachment,  said he didn’t investigate a single collision yesterday.

This morning he found compact snow along U.S. Highway 12 farther east toward White Pass and mostly slush around the Morton area, he said.

“We’ve got  lot of skiers going up to White Pass,” Foster said. “We had 24 inches in 24 hours.”

Foster credited the Department of Transportation with doing a good job of keeping the highway cleared, but advised motorists to be cautious.

“Obviously, drive for conditions, slow down and be prepared to slow down,” he said.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Marijuana exchange gone bad

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Centralia man robbed over the weekend of marijuana he offered on Craigslist to “qualifying medical patients” tells police a story of grabbing the pistol that was used to strike him in the face as he sat in the backseat of the suspects’ car.

He said he fought them both to escape, jumping out of the car and landing in a puddle on East Van Buren Street, in a south Centralia residential neighborhood, according to charging documents.

Joshua Z. Smith, 28, told police he produced his own handgun from a shoulder holster and, because he feared the suspects would shoot at him, fired approximately four rounds striking the back of the vehicle before it sped away, according to charging documents.

Two teenage suspects from Tacoma went before a judge yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court. The pair were arrested later on Saturday for the robbery after a trooper followed their car into a Ross store parking lot in Lacey.

Their vehicle reportedly had several bullet holes in the right rear quarter panel.

Nobody was shot and police recovered four or five shell casings from the scene of Saturday’s events.

It’s not legal to sell marijuana under the newly enacted recreational use law, nor is it legal to sell it under the existing medical marijuana laws.

Centralia police this weekend weren’t focused on the sale, or exchange, of the drug, but on the armed robbery. Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Kjell Warner who is handling the case said he didn’t have any information about whether Smith is facing any potential charges.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do with him at this point,” Warner said yesterday afternoon.

The teens, who are apparently cousins, are both students in the Tacoma area.

Yahdriel E. Jones, 18, is enrolled at Tacoma Community College, where is earning his GED, defense attorney Bob Schroeter told the judge as he argued for lower bail yesterday afternoon.

Howard E. Ross 19, is in his fourth quarter at Clover Park Technical School, Schroeter said.

Ross has two prior convictions for first-degree robbery, from 2009 when he was a teenager, according to Warner.

“He paid his debt to society in 2009,” Schroeter told the judge. “He made a mistake, a terrible mistake.”

Judge James Lawler increased Ross’s bail from $150,000 as it was set over the weekend to $500,000 at the prosecutor’s request. Bail was set at $300,000 for Jones.

The two young men are each charged with first-degree robbery, along with a special allegation they were armed with a firearm.

Ross’s mother was in court yesterday, prepared to sign the unsecured bond Schroeter requested.

Charging documents and police offer other details as follows:

Smith said he placed the ad online on Craigslist that he had “extra quality meds” up for donation. He listed the price at $125 per ounce.

Two males drove down from Tacoma to buy the marijuana from him and parked their white Hyundai Elantra on the street in front of his house.

He got in their car.

“The two suspects asked Smith how much weed he had, and Smith showed them what he brought out,” Warner writes. “The front seat passenger produced a large semi-automatic pistol and told Smith to give him all the weed.”

Smith hesitated.

That’s when he was hit in the face with the end of the gun.

Warner said police searched the car and recovered the weed, the gun and the cell phone the suspects allegedly took from Smith.

Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald didn’t have any information on Saturday if Smith was a qualified medical marijuana user or someone’s designated provider.

Arraignments for Jones and Ross will take place on Thursday.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Updated

BREAK-IN AT TRANSALTA

• Someone stole a truck from TransAlta and drove it through a chain link fence there where they made off with four welding leads early yesterday morning, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The $12,000 Ford F350 pickup missing from the power plant off the Big Hanaford Road outside Centralia was subsequently located in an elementary school parking lot in Tacoma, according to the sheriff’s office.

WIRES CUT FROM EQUIPMENT

• A deputy was called about 2 o’clock this morning to Lakeside Industries on the 2000 block of Johnson Road in Centralia after intruders cut heavy gauge wire from a machine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The night watchman had seen two people wearing dark clothing running away, according to the sheriff’s office.

BUSINESS THEFT

• Centralia police took a report yesterday about the theft of cash deposits last month from a business on the 500 block of Harrision Avenue. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

OFFICE THEFT

• Chehalis police were called about 9 a.m. yesterday about an overnight burglary to a locked office building on Main Street near Market Boulevard. Missing were two laptop computers and a briefcase, but the intruder left the cash, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

RESIDENTIAL THEFT

• A deputy was called about 2:45 p.m. yesterday about a burglarized shop building on the 2700 block of Sandra Avenue in Centralia. Numerous items were stolen, including tools and fishing poles, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

POSSIBLE MISSING GUNS

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday about the possible theft of firearms from a storage unit at the 1500 block of North National Avenue. The case is under investigation.

FRAUD

• Centralia police took a report yesterday from a woman who said her credit card was used twice following the theft of her purse from a Centralia tavern on Friday morning. The loss is about $260, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE MISSING

• Chehalis police were called about 5:45 p.m. yesterday by a woman who said she was at the Lewis County Mall with her ex-boyfriend and he took her vehicle. An officer was notified this morning by Centralia police they located the vehicle, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

THEFT OF DRUGS

• An officer was called just after 3 p.m. yesterday to the 1000 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia regarding stolen medication.

DRUGS

• Justin R. Smith, 25, of Centralia, was arrested early yesterday for three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Tyson J. Anderson, 22, of Centralia, was arrested yesterday for possession of a controlled substance, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DISAGREEMENT LEADS TO ARREST

• A 42-year-old Winlock woman who allegedly damaged a china hutch and bit her estranged husband in the pinky finger was allegedly intoxicated when she was subsequently found in her truck which was stuck in a ditch. It happened around 1 a.m. on Saturday in Winlock and Bambi Jo L. Smith was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. She faces multiple misdemeanor charges.

• Morton police reported yesterday an officer was called to a dispute on Friday afternoon at the 200 block of Main Avenue where the officer warned the parties to settle their differences in a more peaceful manner.

• A Morton officer responding to a dispute just before 3 a.m. on Thursday at the 800 block of Overlook Drive advised those involved to go to bed and sober up, according to the Morton Police Department.

• An officer responding to a complaint of harassment last Tuesday at the 100 block of Main Avenue in Morton advised the parties not to worry about if their neighbors watched them or not while they moved out.

FAKE NAME GETS ARRESTEE IN TROUBLE

• Chehalis police over the weekend concluded a man they arrested earlier this month  for disorderly conduct and malicious mischief in the Wal-Mart parking lot gave police a false name. The man arrested on Dec. 5 after a fight broke out said he was Michael P. Arrants, 23, of Vancouver, Wash., however fingerprints showed he really was 29-year-old Matthew Arrants, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The real Arrants faces potential charges of forgery and identity theft, according to police.

PEDESTRIAN STRUCK IN WAL-MART PARKING LOT

• Chehalis police were called to Wal-Mart about 4:50 p.m. yesterday by a woman who said she was hit by a vehicle. She reported pain to her foot and declined to go to the hospital. No arrest was made. Further details were unavailable.

SCHOOL BUS SLIDES INTO POWER POLE

• Firefighters were called abut 7:20 a.m. yesterday to the end of Martin Road in Glenoma when a school bus turning around slid on the soft shoulder and became wedged against a power pole. A transformer blew and the driver kept all the children on the bus until responders could determine there was no danger from the electric lines, according to White Pass School District Superintendent Rebecca Miner. They were late to school but there were no injuries, according to Miner.

PASSENGER VEHICLE SLIDES INTO RIVER

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports an SUV with two occupants slid off a road and into the Chehalis River last night west of Chehalis. A deputy responded about 11 p.m. to the area near the 100 block of Twin Oaks Road learned the 55-year-old Chehalis man and 41-year-old man from West Linn, Ore. were out of the vehicle and taken to a nearby home, according to the sheriff’s office.

2012.1217.twinoaksvehicleriver.trim_2

Chehalis River off Twin Oaks Road. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

News brief: Fire breaks out in Onalaska home, woman taken to hospital

Monday, December 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm
2012.1217ony.alphawayfire_2

Firefighters attack flames at an Alpha Way home today. / Courtesy photo by David Jackson, Lewis County Fire District 1

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A large appliance that is unrecognizable after a residential fire in Onalaska today is to blame for burns sustained by the 58-year-old resident.

“The woman tried to push it out the back door, she ended up burning her hands, we had to take her to the hospital,” Lewis County Fire District 1 Chief Mark Conner said.

Firefighters were called just after 12 p.m. to the 200 block of Alpha Way, off Beck Road north of Middle Fork Road when the appliance caught fire.

The single-wide mobile home had been added onto multiple times giving the flames numerous places to move, into the walls and into the ceiling, according to Conner.

He described the structural damage as about 15 percent of the home, and somehow next to no damage to its contents.

“It took a while of digging around to get it all out,” he said.

The mystery appliance was situated in between the living room and the kitchen, and vented outside through a wall, he said.

The woman was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital. Conner didn’t have an update about her condition.

District 1 was joined by neighboring departments from rural Chehalis and Napavine and wrapped up about 2:30 p.m., he said.

A fire investigator is looking into the cause, according to Conner.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, December 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm
2012.1216.carpostoffice_2

At the 100 block of Smith Road in Packwood, after the bars close. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

DRIVER CRASHES THROUGH POST OFFICE IN PACKWOOD

• A 52-year-old man was arrested after he drove his car into the Packwood Post Office yesterday morning, at just about 2 a.m. The 1999 Ford Crown Victoria was found “buried into the wall” with the front end completely inside the mail lobby, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. There was minor damage to the car and the driver was not injured, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. The Packwood resident, David R. Morgan, was arrested and booked for driving under the influence, according to Brown.

WHY, GOOD MORNING OFFICER

• A 23-year-old Chehalis man was arrested yesterday morning after an officer woke him up as he sat behind the wheel of his vehicle with the engine running and stopped in the middle of the road at Southwest Third Street and McFadden Avenue in Chehalis. It was just after 8 a.m. when an officer contacted Michael D. Kelly, according to police. A bottle of alcohol was seen laying on the back seat, Officer Linda Bailey said. “The long and the short of it is he was booked for being in physical control (of a vehicle under the influence),” Bailey said.

WHIFF OF MARIJUANA LEADS TO DUI ARREST

• An 18-year-old motorist was arrested for driving under the influence following a traffic stop in which a deputy smelled marijuana at about 10 p.m. on Friday on state Route 505 near Toledo. Michael R. Raphael, of Castle Rock, was taken to the hospital for a blood draw and then booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The case will be referred for a possible charge of possession of marijuana by someone under 21, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

MAN VERSUS WINDOW AT BAR

• Chehalis police were called to Garbe’s Tavern about 1:15 a.m. on Sunday to a report a male “head butted” a window there. The 32-year-old Chehalis man who reportedly sustained minor cuts from the broken glass told an officer he had been punched by someone and said he hit the window to get police there, according to the Chehalis Police Department. No witnesses to that assault could be found, according to police. Carey R. Cosgrove was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for disorderly conduct and third-degree malicious mischief, according to police. The cost to fix the window at the business on the 300 block of Northwest Chehalis Avenue will be as much as $700, Officer Linda Bailey said.

POLICE DOG SEARCHES FOR SUSPECT

• Centralia police called about 3:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl on South Iron Street eventually arrested a 24-year-old suspect after he repeatedly was seen running and hiding in the area. Panther W. Risling, a Centralia resident, was captured by police dog Kayo in the area of the 300 block of Centralia College Boulevard, according to Officer Brian Warren. He was checked out at the hospital for a dog bite and then booked into the Lewis County Jail for an outstanding warrant and possession of methamphetamine, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CLERK GETS BACK STOLEN GOODS

• Chehalis police were called to the Twin City Town Center regarding a shoplifting incident at Hickory Farms at about 5:15 p.m. on Saturday in which the clerk went next door to the Dollar Store and took the merchandise back from the suspect. It was a $17 Hickory Farms box, according to Officer Linda Bailey. “She grabbed it from him, told him she was taking it back from him because he stole and she was going to call police,” Bailey said. Officers arriving to the 1400 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue did not find the subject, according to police.

NATIVITY SCENE MINUS ONE PLASTIC STATUE

• A plastic statue of Joseph vanished from a nativity scene in a yard on the 100 block of Southeast Westside Drive in Chehalis, according to a report made to police on Saturday morning. It’s an ongoing problem, police were told by the victim who checked the neighborhood and did not find Mary’s husband. Joseph’s address is however taped to the bottom of the statue so if he turns up, he can be returned, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

JEWELRY, MEDS, CASH SWIPED

• A deputy was called about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday regarding a residential burglary on the 500 block of Spencer Road near Toledo. Among the valuables stolen were a safe, prescription medications, a hand-held law enforcement style radio, and jewelry, including a “mother’s ring” with two diamonds, an opal and an emerald, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A woman arrived home about 6 p.m. on Friday to find her residence on the 100 block of Kennicott Road in Chehalis burglarized. It happened sometime after 8:30 a.m., according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Among the missing items are a man’s wedding band, other gold jewelry, pain medication and $62 cash, according to the sheriff’s office.

• A deputy took a report on Friday about a theft that occurred earlier this month at a home on the 600 block of Peters Road in Randle. Missing is a ring and cash and there is a suspect, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police took a report of vehicle prowl on Friday from Southeast Maple Drive. Among the missing items were sunglasses, an iPod and CDs, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Chehalis police were called to Southwest Fifth Street on Friday afternoon  regarding spray painted graffiti on at least one garage.

TEEN TALKED TO BY POLICE ABOUT MENTION OF KILLING ON FACEBOOK

• A 17-year-old W.F. West High School student was contacted by police last night and expelled in an emergency action after someone became alarmed about statements he allegedly made on his Facebook page online. Chehalis officers stood by at the school on Southwest 16th Street this morning to make sure everything went smoothly but the boy wasn’t at school and there were no direct threats, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Officer Linda Bailey said the comments in question were: “Everyone will die in a week so lets murder everyone before the earth does, whoohoo.” The boy said he made the statement in jest, according to Bailey. No arrest was made.

ROLLOVER WRECK PINS DRIVER, TOSSES OTHER OCCUPANTS

• Four young men were ejected when a Toyota pickup left the roadway and rolled two to three times coming to rest on its side and pinning the driver early Saturday morning near Winlock, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened about 12:40 a.m. on the 300 block of South Military Road. The driver, Baletin Castanada-Gonzales, 22, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he was treated in the emergency room and discharged later on Saturday, according to a hospital spokesperson. A 19-year-old and a 17-year-old were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital with cuts to their hands and arms while a 16-year-old was unhurt, according to the sheriff’s office. They are all Winlock residents. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the driver was cited for wheels off the roadway, no insurance and driving without a license. Brown said the 19-year-old admitted he’s been drinking and was cited for that. The truck was destroyed, according to Brown.

2012.1216.carpostoffice.inside_2

The mail lobby of the Packwood Post Office. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

News brief: Four injured in Rochester head-on crash

Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm
2012.1216.silvercar.t.rochester

Courtesy photo by WSP

Updated at 7:58 p.m. and on Monday December 17, 2012 at 2:55 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A head-on collision on U.S. Highway 12 at Denmark Street in Rochester this afternoon sent four adults to area hospitals.

A man and a woman in the victim car sustained serious injuries, according to responders. Angela M. Saxon, 40, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and Eric W. Saxon, 41, was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. Both are from Rochester, according to the Washington State Patrol.

A man and a woman in a van with less serious injuries were taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Fire Lt. Eric Smith.

Washington State Patrol spokesperson Trooper Guy Gill said the van crossed the centerline and hit the car. It happened about 3 p.m.

J. Vidal Dominguez Mireles, 54, was driving a 1993 GMC van eastbound when he went into the oncoming lane to avoid stopped traffic, according to the state patrol.  His passenger was Rita S. Dominguez, 54, of Warden, according to the state patrol.

Both the van and the 2008 Dodge Avenger were described as totaled.

Smith said Rochester-area firefighters were joined by firefighters from Oakville and Centralia because of the number of patients and prolonged extrication work with the Jaws of Life.

Trooper Gill said Eric Saxon was transported to Harborview Medical Center. A news release from the state patrol said he was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, and the fire lieutenant at the scene said he was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital.

The state patrol blames speed and inattention on the part of Dominguez Mireles.

The roadway was blocked with a detour in place until about 6:45 p.m., according to the state Department of Transportation.

Update at 2:55 p.m. on Monday December 17, 2012:  Angela M. Saxon was listed in critical condition at mid-day today at Harborview, according to a hospital spokesperson. Eric Saxon was listed in good condition this morning at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

Rita S. Dominguez was still at Providence Centralia Hospital this morning in fair condition. J. Vidal Dominguez Mireles was treated at Providence Centralia and then transferred to another unspecified hospital.

2012.1216.whitevan.t.rochester

Courtesy photo by WSP

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

PARTY BROKEN UP BY POLICE

• Nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 20 were arrested early yesterday morning when police were called just after 3 a.m. about a dispute at an underage drinking party on the 500 block of North Iron Street in Centralia. The subjects from Centralia, Tumwater, Lacey and Olympia were arrested for minor in possession of alcohol and then released, according to the Centralia Police Department. All but two of them were 18 or older, according to police.  A 23-year-old Olympia man was booked for an outstanding warrant, according to police.

STOLEN HONDA CAR

• Centralia police took a report about 4:25 a.m. yesterday about a 1987 Honda car stolen from the 300 block of Noel Avenue.

FRAUD

• Centralia police were called about 11:40 p.m. yesterday to the 700 block of West Pine Street regarding the theft of a debit card that was subsequently used in the Olympia area. Officers have suspect information and are investigating, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police took a report of a vehicle prowl yesterday from the 1300 block of Kayu Lane where a Clarion stereo and Alpine subwoofer were taken overnight. There was no sign of forced entry, according to the Centralia Police Department.

TOW TRUCK DRIVER CHEATED

• A local tow company called 911 about 6 a.m. today after they responded to help a motorist who had run out of gas on Interstate 5 and the motorist fled the scene without paying for the services, according to the Centralia Police Department. The suspect was driving a black Toyota Scion with Montana plates and was last seen traveling southbound from Centralia, according to police. The loss is $100, according to police.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA

• A 27-year-old Centralia man was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana about 9:15 p.m. on Friday after contact with an officer at East Main and North Diamond streets in Centralia. Dalton N. Thompson was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Centralia drug deal leads to robbery, gunfire

Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm
2012.1215.vanburenrobberypatrol

Centralia police are diagraming the scene on Van Buren Street after several gunshots were fired following the robbery of a man’s marijuana today.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – An advertisement on Craigslist by a Centralia man of medical marijuana for sale led to an armed robbery and then several shots being fired in front of his house before the suspects fled.

Two suspects were subsequently arrested in Lacey.

Police called about 12:40 p.m. today to the 200 block of East Van Buren Street learned the 28-year-old Centralia man placed an online ad indicating he had some “extra quality meds” up for donation for medical marijuana patients, according to Centralia police. He listed the price as $125 per ounce, according to police.

When the buyers arrived to Van Buren Street, the seller got in their car and was ordered at gunpoint to hand over the marijuana, according to police. A short struggle ensued, he was struck in the side of the face with a handgun but then escaped their white Hyundai, according to police.

The 28-year-old man then fired several shots at the fleeing vehicle, striking it numerous times, according to police.

The man’s injuries are described as minor; his name has not been released.

Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said the victim claims to be a medical marijuana provider and it is illegal to sell it to anyone, but that’s not the focus of the investigation tonight.

Two teenagers from Tacoma were taken into custody in a parking lot off Pacific Avenue in Lacey after their car was spotted by a trooper this afternoon, according to Officer John Panco. The car was impounded and will be searched on Monday, Fitzgerald said.

Booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree robbery were Yahdriel E. Jones, 18, and Howard E. Ross 19, according to the Centralia Police Department.

 

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Breaking news: Shots fired, individual robbed in Centralia neighborhood

Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm
2012.1215.vanburenrobbery_2

Centralia police set evidence markers out on Van Buren Avenue following a robbery.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – Police are investigating a robbery in a south Centralia neighborhood that neighbors say included multiple gunshots.

The victim suffered a minor injury, not from being shot but from being hit, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Officers were called about 12:40 p.m. today to the 200 block of East Van Buren Street, just off South Gold.

Detectives are at the scene, where multiple yellow evidence markers have been placed on the street.

Around-the-corner neighbor Jay Jones was decorating his Christmas tree with his girlfriend when he heard multiple gunshots.

The first couple were distinct, but the “pops” that followed came so fast he couldn’t count them, Jones said.

Police Sgt. Kurt Reichert said further details would be released when an officer is available.

More to come.

Printer friendly version of the post below Printer friendly version of the post below

Glenoma families lose mudslide lawsuit against timber company

Friday, December 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm
2012.1214.hurleyyard.glenoma.trimmed_2

The Hurley’s green barn has been cleaned up and the brown barn has been torn down, but the ravine remains on their property since the 2009 mudslides. / Courtesy photo

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The jury in the Glenoma mudslides case returned a verdict this morning in favor of Menasha Forest Products.

The attorney representing 11 families whose properties were inundated with mud, trees, boulders and debris during a January 2009 storm says they may appeal.

“It’s too early to know, but it’s certainly something we’re considering,” Seattle-based lawyer David Bricklin said.

The decision by 12 men and women was reached in less than three hours following an approximately six-week long trial in Lewis County Superior Court. Specifically, they found Menasha was not negligent in its actions.

Bricklin, representing the plaintiffs, contended it was Menasha’s clear cutting of a steep unstable slope above Glenoma that caused the destruction to a number of properties. Menasha’s lawyers said it was erosion from a storm that brought an unprecedented amount of water.

Bessie Hurley, who with her husband Jerome Hurley was part of the lawsuit, said she’s deeply disappointed.

“What is most upsetting about it isn’t the money,” she said. “It’s that the logging company had it confirmed to them they can do whatever they want with no consequences.”

Bessie Hurley, 59, and her family experienced multiple slides on their five acres that day, one of which left a ravine 10 feet deep and as much as 30 feet wide across their yard.

They haven’t been able to afford the bull dozing work or new top soil needed to restore their property, she said. A barn that was undercut had to be torn down, she said.

The worst part though was the fear, the fear they were going to die, she said.

She spoke of hearing what sounded like a freight train before daybreak on Jan. 7, 2009, and going outside with flashlights to explore what had occurred. Four more slides came through before they called 911 and were told, if they couldn’t get out, then rescuers wouldn’t be able reach them.

She describes walls of debris with boulders the size of Volkswagens roiling down as though in a washing machine.

The property at the far end of Martin Road has been in her family since 1964. She said she’s afraid to live there, but can’t imagine anyone who would buy the place.

She and her husband are retired, and take care of an 18-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy who is bedridden.

“I have to tell you, I feel like that logging company raped us that day, and now they did it again,” Bessie Hurley said.

Another one of the plaintiffs, the only one who doesn’t live on Martin Road, considers himself one of the luckier ones. The mud and silt only ran under his house, across his grass and ruined his nature trail and about five cords of split and stacked maple, he said.

Disappointed isn’t a strong enough word for Mike Wood.

“It’s just another case of large corporate greed,” Wood said. “They made the profit, we suffered the destruction, and they don’t have to answer for it.”

Menasha was purchased in 2007 by The Campbell Group based in Portland.

Neither they not their attorney could be reached for comment today.

Olympia attorney Robert Wright filed the lawsuit in November 2010, and took it to trial with Bricklin.

Still pending, is another mudslide suit filed by Wright, involving Manke Timber Co. and five individuals who lived on Bear Mountain Road.

Also, seven of the original plaintiffs – from around the Lunch Creek area – will see their case go to trial in April of next year in Lewis County Superior Court.

Bricklin said he didn’t think the verdict today necessarily means much for the Lunch Creek case, even though all 12 jurors agreed when only 10 were needed for a decision.

The defendant in that case is Port Blakely, and it also involves a clear cut, he said.

“The negligence claims in the Lunch Creek suit are very different,” Bricklin said. “Different different rules, different facts and different landscaping.”
•••

For background, read “Lawsuit: Glenoma families fault logging practices for 2009 mudslide damage” from Thursday December 13, 2012, here