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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm
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•••

SENIOR CITIZEN JAILED FOR METH

• A 77-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for both possession and delivery of methamphetamine yesterday afternoon at the 2000 block of Cooks Hill Road in Centralia. Nelson R. Berquist was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

FRAUD

• Centralia police were called about 4:30 p.m. yesterday regarding fraudulent activity on a credit card in connection with a location on the 1300 block of Lum Road.

FREEWAY TRAFFIC IMPACTED

• Two lanes of southbound Interstate were closed near Napavine after a vehicle hauling an oversized load struck the Koontz Road overpass just before noon today. Additionally, Koontz Road at the bridge was shut down, according to the state Department of Transportation. Engineers will inspect the structure and determine if repairs are needed before it reopens to traffic, according to DOT. Drivers were advised to use alternate routes and plan for extended delays through the area.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence; responses for shoplifting, hit and run, graffiti on a fence … and more.

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News brief: Driver hits freeway divider, passes away

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Responders were called for a cardiac arrest involving a motorist whose car came to rest along the center barrier on Interstate 5 in Napavine yesterday evening.

Troopers called at 7:53 p.m. determined the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo entered the northbound lanes at Rush Road, and crossed two lanes of traffic, continuing down along the concrete barrier until it came to a stop, according to the Washington State Patrol.

No other vehicles were hit.

The state patrol indicated the 68-year-old man from Enumclaw died from a possible medical event. Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue described the call as for a cardiac arrest.

Kenneth W. Smith’s next-of-kin was notified and his car impounded, according to the state patrol.

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Toledo lottery theft convict gets reprieve

Monday, December 7, 2015 at 7:46 pm
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Katrina M. Bowen waits for her hearing to start, to find out what her revised sentence will be.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Winlock mother whose sentence for stealing thousands of dollars from her employer was deemed by an appeals court to be too harsh got it cut in half today.

Katrina M. Bowen was back in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon, in front of the same judge who gave her four years for the crime, twice what prosecutors recommended at the time.

The victims, the owners of the Flying K store and gas station in Toledo, Gordon and Tonya Lovell, attended the hearing as well.

Gordon Lovell told the judge they are still in business, but almost decided to call it quits last year because of the financial devastation.

“It’s been two years, and I still owe back taxes and still haven’t been able to pay some of my creditors,” he said.

The court previously concluded Bowen owed them $137,000 in restitution.

Bowen worked for the couple for eight or nine years, but they only collected data from the two years before the theft was discovered and they fired her, he said.

“For those two years, she was stealing from us every single day that she worked,” Lovell said.

Bowen, then 37, admitted to the police chief to pocketing money from beer sales and to helping herself to as many as 500 $5 lottery scratch tickets each shift during the previous six months. She said she was keeping track of them in her head, and then admitted she had a gambling problem.

She pleaded guilty in January of last year to first-degree theft with an aggravating factor that it was a major economic offense, meaning the judge would be free to hand down an exceptionally long sentence.

In its opinion issued in September, the Washington State Court of Appeals said Judge Richard Brosey abused his discretion, and four years was clearly excessive.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg recommended 24 months at her first sentencing, and recommended the same today.

Defense attorney Don Blair the first time asked that she get 90 days, the top of the standard sentencing range for a person with no criminal history.

Blair reminded the judge he’d previously argued his client only stole around $20,000.

He didn’t specify today what he thought her new sentence should be, but offered the court a listing of Bowen’s accomplishments.

While incarcerated, she has completed a two-year business technical degree, participated in an A.A. 12-step program, and taken courses in parenting, nonviolent relations and stress management, he said.

She works in the prison kitchen and also on a crew that works outside the institution four days a week, according to Blair.

“Katrina realizes she has a gambling problem and was in treatment up until the time she went in,” Blair said.

Judge Brosey said those were commendable steps, but don’t help the victims.

He pointed out that he believed before, and still does, that the problem with this type of theft is it can drive a small business entirely out of business.

The judge also said he felt the Court of Appeals focused too much on the lottery ticket theft and not the rest of it, because the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office didn’t make it clear enough.

“This was bigger than lottery tickets,” Brosey said.

He agreed with a 24-month sentence.

“That should result in her being released, with credit for time served and with good time, immediately, if not sooner,” Brosey said..

Bowen has been ordered to make payments of $25 per month for her financial legal obligations, including restitution.

The Lovells said they haven’t seen any of it yet, and estimate it will take her more than 400 years to pay off what she owes.

•••
For background, read “Appeals court says Toledo lottery theft sentence is too long” from Wednesday September 30, 2015, here

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, December 7, 2015 at 4:39 pm
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•••

ON THE ROAD, OFF THE ROAD

• It was a medical issue that caused an elderly woman leaving the gas pumps at the 600 block of Harrison Avenue to accelerate and crash into the back end of a taco bus late Friday afternoon, according to the Centralia Police Department. The impact was great enough the driver’s air bags deployed and the bus was knocked sideways, according to the Centralia Police Department. There was damage both inside and outside the bus, but the person inside was not hurt, according to police. The driver, in her 80s, was transported to the hospital, police said.

• Police were called about 6:10 p.m. on Friday after a train struck a vehicle near Northwest Prindle and Front streets in Chehalis. Aid was not needed because nobody was injured, according to authorities. Further details were not readily available.

• A 12-year-old boy was hospitalized with a possible concussion after an incident inside a school bus in which his head was struck on a part of the bus. Police called about 11:45 a.m. on Friday were investigating the case as a fourth-degree assault, according to the Centralia Police Department. It occurred between the middle school and high school in Centralia, according to police.

THEFT, THEFT, THEFT

• Centralia police contacted a 30-year-old Tacoma resident yesterday in connection with alleged trafficking of stolen property. Ryan A. Nayran was booked into the Lewis County Jail in the case associated with the 1000 block of South Tower Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called just after 6 o’clock this morning by a female who reported someone used her debit card in an attempt to make purchases of more than $600 on Northwest Louisiana Avenue.

• A ring was reported stolen from the 800 block of Eshom Road in Centralia on Friday, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AUTO THEFT

• A truck reported stolen in Chehalis turned up abandoned in a parking lot on the 1800 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia on Saturday, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Police were called about 9:30 a.m. yesterday about a nail gun stolen from the trunk of a vehicle at the 1300 block of Rose Street in Centralia.

• Chehalis police were called Friday night to the 400 block of Southwest McFadden Avenue in Chehalis regarding a vehicle prowl.

ALLEGATION INVESTIGATED

• Chehalis police were called about 8:35 p.m. on Friday about possible sexual misconduct involving a teenage girl. A possible incident from a couple of months ago is being investigated, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND FROM MORTON

• Officers responded to a complaint of a suspicious person at the 200 block of Westlake Avenue in Morton at about 2 o’clock last Thursday morning.  The reporting party thought they heard a loud noise in the room next door, according to police.  After officers contacted the individual next door, it was determined that they had just shut the door too hard. The officer cleared the area.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, trespassing, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, misdemeanor assault, attempt to elude, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, disorderly persons, hit and run, civil issue, harassment, runaway juvenile, suspected panhandling, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, vehicle into ditch off county road … and more.

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News brief: Thousands of dollars worth of stolen vehicle parts recovered for Toledo business

Monday, December 7, 2015 at 10:54 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 44-year-old Kelso man is facing possible theft charges after allegedly stealing as much as $30,000 worth of truck equipment and classic car parts belonging to his Toledo-area employer and selling some of them on the eBay auction site.

An investigation began last month, the day after the suspect and another employee were fired when some missing parts were found in one of their vehicles, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

The business on the 100 block of Mulford Road primarily rebuilds semi trucks, according to sheriff’s Cmdr. Dusty Breen.

The sheriff’s office special enforcement team was assigned the case last week and on Saturday contacted the suspect in the Kelso area, Breen said. Most of the missing property was recovered, he said.

Deputies believe the thefts began in April and at this point, the second employee doesn’t appear to be involved, according to Breen.

The case is being forwarded to prosecutors for possible charges of first-degree theft and trafficking in stolen property, Breen said.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, December 4, 2015 at 1:02 pm
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•••

REPEAT AUTO THEFT

• Chehalis police were called just before 9 p.m. yesterday by a 40-year-old woman who said her 1995 Dodge Ram pickup truck had been stolen. A department spokesperson said that according to the officer’s written report, the woman said it happened between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and she had been out looking for it and found it, but couldn’t get it started. The report says she went to get help and when she returned, it had been stolen again, spokesperson Linda Bailey said. It’s not clear where it was taken from in either instance, but it’s description has been entered into a law enforcement database for stolen vehicles, according to Bailey. The license plate reads C75070D, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

WARRANT, GUN AND DRUGS

• A 29-year-old Centralia man picked up on a warrant yesterday was also found in possession of a suspected stolen rifle and drugs, according to the Centralia Police Department. Francisco T. Lamas was contacted about 11:25 a.m. at the 700 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia and then booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

WARRANT AND DRUGS

• A 47-year-old man walking along the 1700 block of state Route 508 in Onalaska at about 4:20 p.m. yesterday turned out to have a warrant and when he was searched, a small baggie with suspected methamphetamine turned up, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Steve W. Tower, described as transient, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

DRUGS

• A 26-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after contact with an officer about 9:30 p.m. yesterday at the 100 block of North Tower Avenue. Tristan House booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

ON THE ROAD

• A 24-year-old Centralia man sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries yesterday morning when the vehicle in which he was a passenger collided with a tree on South Street near Woodland Avenue in Centralia. Firefighters responding at 9:20 a.m. learned the driver of the sport utility vehicle had left the scene, according to Riverside Fire Authority. The patient was extricated and transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the fire department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, harassment, shoplifting, collision on city street, suspicious circumstances … and more.

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News brief: Three hurt and one arrested following freeway wreck

Friday, December 4, 2015 at 9:06 am

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 36-year-old motorist is jailed after he allegedly tried to fight multiple individuals at the scene of a serious two vehicle collision on Interstate 5 south of Chehalis yesterday morning.

Casey M. Specht, 36, from Puyallup, was behind the wheel of a 2012 Chrysler 300 that rear-ended Ford F350 pickup, knocking the truck off the shoulder and into a tree, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Both vehicles were totaled. The freeway was closed so a LifeFlight helicopter could pickup the most seriously injured patient, according to the state patrol.

It happened about 7:10 a.m. in the southbound lanes near the exit 68 interchange.

Trooper Brian Ashley said even a semi truck driver and other passerby’s who stopped to help were threatened. Specht reportedly assaulted a trooper and was Tased so he could be taken into custody, according to Ashley.

They believe alcohol was involved, and the cause was speeding, according to the state patrol

Specht, who was reportedly uninjured, was arrested for third-degree assault, fourth-degree assault and three counts of vehicular assault.

Ashley said one of the victims appeared to have a major back injury and another a broken arm.

One of the two truck passengers, William A. Boley, 27, from Elma, was flown to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, in Vancouver.

The other passenger, Jason McMeekin, 30, from Elma, and the driver, Jaymee J. McMeekin, 60, of Aberdeen, were both transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the investigating trooper.

The two vehicles were impounded and Specht was booked into the Lewis County Jail.

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm
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•••

Updated at 2:31 p.m.

THEFT CENTRALIA

• Centralia police were called just before noon yesterday to a business at the 1100 block of View Avenue where a tip jar had been stolen. A suspect was observed on security video taking the money, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police yesterday arrested a suspect in connection with a wallet lost and then picked up the day before at a convenience store on the 400 block of West Main Street. Victor A.L. Whalen, 49, from Centralia, was was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree theft, according to the Centralia Police Department. Whalen was identified while officers were at a residence looking for other people, according to police.

THEFT CHEHALIS

• Chehalis police were called just before 11 p.m. yesterday when a male reported a missing bank card and money removed from his account.

DRUGS

• A 36-year-old Toledo man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after being contacted by an officer about 11:25 p.m. yesterday at the 700 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia. Joshua Williams was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 8:20 a.m. yesterday to W.F. West High School in Chehalis regarding a student who allegedly was in possession of marijuana. The case was forwarded to prosecutors for charging, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Someone slashed three tires on a vehicle parked at the 700 block of North Pearl Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday.

ON THE ROAD

• Police and aid responded about 4:10 p.m. yesterday after a driver suffering a medical issue struck several parked cars and did significant damage to a porch on a home on the 800 block of Southwest Chehalis Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Aid and troopers responded to a collision about 7:15 a.m. today on southbound Interstate 5 near milepost 68. Further information was not readily available.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, protection order violation, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, hit and run, reckless driver, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances … and more.

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Accidentally shooting girlfriend brings criminal charge for Centralia teen

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm
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Austin C. Courtright, in red, consults with his lawyer during his bail hearing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – It may have been an accident, but it was also negligent so a charge of third-degree assault was filed against the Centralia resident whose pistol in his pocket discharged, striking his girlfriend in the leg, according to prosecutors.

Austin C. Courtright, 18, was arrested on Monday and brought before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Judge Nelson Hunt set his bail at $25,000.

Centralia police learned of the incident very early on Monday morning when they were summoned to an Olympia hospital for the 21-year-old gunshot victim.

According to authorities, it happened in Centralia, but the victim and Courtright chose Providence St. Peter Hospital, hoping to avoid arrest for warrants.

Charging documents relate that they were in the basement of a house on First Street in Centralia, with at least two other people.

Kristina Bailey was sitting on Courtright’s lap, legs straddled and facing him, when the gun went off, hitting her in her inner right thigh, according to statements given to police.

Courtright said his hand was on the gun when it fired, but he thought it was unloaded because he had removed the bullets from the clip, according to the statements.

The group took her to someone else’s house and then to the hospital.

Police recovered the bullet, which fell out of her pants while they were in the car, according to court documents. Centralia detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald described the weapon as a small caliber handgun.

Bailey was treated and released from the hospital the same day.

Courtright told police he didn’t know what happened to the gun or other bullets, but thought maybe they fell out of his pocket between the house and the car, court documents relate. It hadn’t been located as of yesterday.

Courtright was also charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

He’s not allowed to possess firearms because of a felony conviction earlier this year for first-degree malicious mischief and juvenile convictions for second-degree escape and fourth-degree assault domestic violence, according to Deputy Prosecutor Sheila Weirth.

“The defendant said he knew he should not have the gun, but was afraid of being victimized by gang members who used to be his friends,” Weirth wrote in charging documents.

He also has a juvenile conviction from 2012 for second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Prosecutors asked for much higher bail, citing a community safety risk, but defense attorney Joely O’Rourke asked for her client to be released as his mother, who was in the courtroom, was willing to co-sign a signature bond.

There was a hold on him from JRA, the state Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, and he wanted to take care of that issue, O’Rourke said.

“It looks like he’s going to be serving about four months,” she said.

Judge Hunt said no, he didn’t want to take a chance on some other state agency taking the defendant away, and Lewis County not getting him back.

The offenses Courtright is charged with are class C felonies, with maximum penalties of five years in prison.
•••

For background, read “Police: Handgun in Centralia teen’s pocket accidentally fired, wounding girlfriend” from Monday November 30, 2015, here

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News brief: Questions remain about Centralia mom who drowned near Vader

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 6:36 pm

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Lewis County Coroner’s Office has completed its investigation into the death of the 33-year-old Centralia woman whose body was found in the Cowlitz River in October and confirmed she drowned, but they don’t know why.

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Elizabeth A. Pham

Coroner Warren McLeod is listing the manner of death for Elizabeth Pham as undetermined, he said today.

The married mother of three had been missing for 17 days when a pair of fisherman found her about two miles downriver from where she had last been seen.

She was last seen sitting beneath the overpass at exit 59 staring into the Cowlitz River on Oct. 10, and described as behaving unusual and confused by at least one person who saw her that day. Her car was discovered nearby on the freeway, unlocked with the keys in it.

Her makeup bag was turned into police the next day, having been discovered by a fisherman near the fork in the Cowlitz and Toutle Rivers.

McLeod said: “We just don’t know; no one saw her go into the water.”

A spokesperson for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said today their case is not yet closed, but there were no signs of foul play.

The sheriff’s office has said Pham may have been suffering from from postpartum depression following the birth of her third child.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Coroner confirms body is missing mom” from Thursday October 29, 2015, here

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Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm
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•••

KNIFE THREAT IN ALLEY LEADS TO ARREST

• A 35-year-old man who allegedly pulled out a hunting-type knife with a 10- to 12-inch blade during an argument with three individuals in an alley way yesterday in Centralia was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail. Officers called about 10:30 a.m. to the area off the 500 block of North Tower Avenue were told he made threats to kill them, according to the Centralia Police Department. Officer Buddy Croy said he didn’t know exactly what was said, but the disagreement had to do with someone not liking the way somebody talked to each other. “At some point, someone was able to get it out of his hand, and that stopped everything,” Croy said. The suspect walked off but was located, according to Croy. Nobody was injured, he said. Jesse O. Martin, from Sedro Woolley, was arrested for attempted first-degree assault and felony harassment.

STOLEN CREDIT CARD LOCATED ON ARRESTEE

• A suspected shoplifter at the 500 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia yesterday was found in possession of a stolen credit card and methamphetamine, according to the Centralia Police Department. The suspect gave an arriving officer someone else’s name instead of his own, according to police. Daryl P. McCrory, 25, of Oakville, was arrested following the approximately 11 a.m. contact, according to police. The officer figured out it was the wrong name based on previous contacts. McCrory was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree theft, identity theft and possession of methamphetamine.

STOLEN WALLETS

• Centralia police called about 11:15 a.m. yesterday by a male who noticed his wallet was no longer in his pocket located security video at a convenience store that showed it fell out and someone else picked it up. The images from the business on the 400 block of West Main Street show the male handed it to another male inside the store who was observed rummaging through the wallet and taking items, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called to a restaurant on the 1500 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue about 10 p.m. yesterday after an employee discovered her wallet was missing out of her purse.

VANDALISM

• A shopper at the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue contacted police about 3:15 a.m. today after finding two tires on his sport utility vehicle had been slashed, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for drugs, warrants, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, failure to transfer vehicle title, operating motor vehicle with required interlock device; responses for alarm, dispute, hit and run, civil problems, collision on city street, suspicious circumstances … and more.

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News brief: Unoccupied Centralia residence burns

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm
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Centralia’s North Tower Avenue is closed as firefighters extinguish a residential structure fire. / Courtesy photo by David Haladay

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The cause of a fire that heavily damaged a vacant Centralia house yesterday afternoon is under investigation.

Nobody was hurt but the 900 block of North Tower Avenue was closed for an extended time due to fire fighting operations, according to Riverside Fire Authority.

Crews responding to the 2:10 p.m. call found heavy flames from the back of the single-story home, according to the fire department.

Members of the Chehalis Fire Department assisted, to stop the fire from spreading to neighboring residences.

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News brief: Fire chief’s former colleagues donate Jaws of Life to Chehalis

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 8:52 pm
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The Chehalis Fire Department’s new Jaws of Life are like these pictured.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Chehalis Fire Department has received a set of Jaws of Life tools from a fire department in San Matteo County.

Fire Chief Ken Cardinale said he got a call a couple of weeks ago, offering the equipment. He picked them up in California and delivered them to his fire station on Thanksgiving.

Cardinale said the donation saved the city about $65,000.

Cardinale spent 29 years with the Palo Alto Fire Department before coming to work in Chehalis in May. He reached out to some of his counterparts in California after taking the new job, he said.

“I had sent out emails and said, we have limited budgets,” he said. “(And said) if you have any useable equipment, let me know.”

A new set of Jaws – the hydraulic tools to help extricate patients from wrecked vehicles – can run as much as $100,000, he said.

The Chehalis Fire Department has one set and now they have a backup set, Cardinale said.

Once they get their new fire engine in June, which they plan to station at the Chehalis Airport, they can keep a set on that truck, he said.