Posts Tagged ‘By Sharyn L. Decker’

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, August 11th, 2014



• An Elma man who left his tent trailer on the side of Interstate 5 with a flat tire returned the following morning to find it had vanished, but followed drag marks for roughly 10 miles to a driveway in Winlock. The tent trailer was recovered, and deputies who spoke with individuals at the 100 block of Lane Drive have a suspect, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The incident from Saturday remains under investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.


• A 38-year-old Centralia man was arrested for misdemeanor assault after throwing mashed potatoes on another customer at the 600 block of West Main Street in Centralia yesterday afternoon. Officers responded about 4:50 p.m. and booked Mitchell L. Galster, into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police called to Kentucky Fried Chicken for a disorderly person, found Galster had walked outside, and then was  confronted by a male coming through the drive through who got out of his vehicle, according to police. Officer Patty Finch said Galster reportedly flung the food onto the male and his vehicle. The officer noted Galster smelled highly of alcohol, Finch said.


• Centralia police took a report about 11 a.m. yesterday in which an individual at the 1900 block of Van Wormer Street said someone cut his fence and allowed his cows to escape.


• Morton police took a report on Saturday from an individual who said his 1998 Subaru Legacy vanished sometime after midnight while he camped at Gust Backstrom Park. The loss is estimated at $5,000, according to the Morton Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called to the 2100 block of North National Avenue on Friday morning regarding the theft of various items from vendors during the night.


• Morton police were called about 2:40 a.m. on Friday to Gust Backstrom Park where a camper had chased what they thought were two teenagers going through their coolers. Nothing was missing, according to the Morton Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called about 2 o’clock this morning regarding a car prowl on Northeast Washington Avenue.

• Chehalis police were called to Southwest Lewis Street early Saturday morning regarding a car prowl.


• A 64-year-old Packwood man was hospitalized after a single-vehicle wreck on U.S. Highway 12 today four miles east of Randle. Troopers called about 2:50 p.m. found Larry M. Henricksen was traveling eastbound when his Ford F350 pickup left the road to the right and rolled onto its top. The vehicle was totaled and impounded, according to the Washington State Patrol. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the state patrol reports. Henricksen was transported to Morton General Hospital.

• A 73-year-old Seattle woman was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle yesterday after the sport utility vehicle she was driving was hit by an oncoming car on state Route 123 about 10 miles east of Packwood. The Toyota Highlander spun around and went down an embankment, according to the Washington State Patrol. Her 84-year-old passenger, Dee J. McGonigle, also from Seattle, was injured and taken to Morton General Hospital, according to the state patrol. Troopers called about 1:20 p.m. to milepost three concluded a Honda Civic driven northbound by a 26-year-old Renton resident crossed over the centerline and hit the SUV in the driver’s side front end, according to the state patrol. The Renton man, Andrew J. Wilkerson, was also transported to the Morton Hospital, the investigating trooper reports. Both vehicles were described as totaled.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, disputes, bark fires, possible fraud, eggs thrown, loud nighttime music from a bar, collisions on city streets,  … and more.

One hundred individuals fighting wildfire in northwest Lewis County

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Updated at 1:28 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The forest fire west of Centralia is 10 percent contained this morning, but covers an area of 40 acres that began about three miles past the end of Teague Road yesterday.

Riverside Fire Authority’s public information officer reports this morning 100 people from Lewis, Pacific and Cowlitz counties are on the scene.

There is no threat to any structures currently, according to Capt. Scott Weinert.

Crews from the Centralia area fire department were called about 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon when a slash pile was discovered burning in a clear cut area off a logging road.

The speed at which the flames spread and in that type of landscape is something not often seen by Centralia firefighters, according to Chief Mike Kytta.

“It’s uncharacteristic for our area,” he said. “In my experience over the last 30 years, this is the third one.”

Personnel from the the state Department of Natural Resources were called in at the beginning, and arrived within about about a half hour, Kytta said.

The fire department described the terrain as rough, with 40-year-old timber on property owned by the state Department of Natural Resources. The area is a mix, with land owned also by three private timber companies in the vicinity, Kytta said.

The initial response included Kytta, Assistant Chief Mack, 12 firefighters and seven pieces of equipment.

“(Chief Mack) was seeing fire devils come through, where wind gets everything spinning like a tornado,” Kytta said. “Flames would shoot 60 feet up a tree in a matter of moments.”

The fire is some distance away from any homes, he said, indicating perhaps a half mile would have been the closest.

Kytta said the fire last night spread in a 360-degree pattern out from the point of origin, with flames pushing to the west.

The scene was turned over to DNR last night and Riverside crews assisted until dark.

Three loads of retardant were dropped from the air last night and helicopters will be used today, according to Weinert.

The National Weather Service this morning issued a red flag warning for dangerous fire weather, for nearly all of Western Washington. Thunder and lightening are predicted for tonight. Temperatures today in Centralia are forecast to be in the mid 90s.

The fire prompted a type three state mobilization.

DNR brought in additional resources this morning and set up a base of operations at Centralia High School. They are expecting to be on the fire through Saturday, according to Weinert.

Members of Riverside Fire Authority today are on standby, and ready to protect any structures or be available for any emergency medical services, according to Kytta.

The concerns today are two-fold, the chief said.

The “fuel package” is very dry, because of the stretch of hot weather and the area could get lightening tonight and the conditions that would bring, he said.

“You’ll have the wind pick up and that can cause spotting and spreading of the fire,” he said.

DNR today banned all outdoor burning on DNR protected lands, including campfires and offered a message to those who ignore them: Those who start or spread fires are subject to civil and criminal penalties.

Crane Street fire outside Tenino under control

Monday, August 11th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A wild fire that started about two miles southeast of Tenino yesterday afternoon was contained last night but personnel from the  state Department of Natural Resources are at the fire station this morning and likely will be utilizing one of the school buildings as a base to support further work on that parcel and also on another fire that flared up yesterday evening.

Thurston County Fire District 12 was called about 3:11 p.m. to unimproved property at the 17200 block of Crane Street Southeast, on Bluemauer Hill for a brush fire reported to be about five feet by five feet, according to District 12 Battalion Chief Jim Fowler .

“Within just a few minutes, it was a 10-acre fire,” Fowler said this morning.

Members of nine other fire departments joined them, to work on extinguishing grass, brush, trees and other vegetation, he said.

By about 7:30 p.m., an eight-foot wide path was bulldozed around it, he said.

A shack and two vehicles on the 40-acre parcel burned, according to Fowler.

Crews arrived from as far away as Napavine to protect homes as close as 300 feet away, he said.

Fowler said the property previously belonged to a timber company, and he believes it now belongs to a man who uses it for outdoor parties, one of which began Friday night and went into Saturday night, he said.

The scene was turned over to DNR about 8 p.m.

Fowler said it grew to about 13 acres. A spokesperson from DNR last night described at around 20 acres.

Members of Tenino’s District 12 are assisting DNR with mopup there this morning, he said.

“Then of course there’s the threat of lightning over the next couple of days, so I think they’re going to stay,” Fowler said of DNR.

DNR is working a second fire that began last night about a mile to the east of the Crane Street fire, off Johnson Creek Road Southeast, at a gravel pit on timberland owner by Weyerhaeuser, according to Fowler.

A 10-person DNR hand crew is out there this morning “limbing” trees, he said. Fowler this morning said he understood that fire covered about six acres. It’s an area where there are no homes and can’t be accessed by trucks, he said.

Fowler has a DNR level three incident management team with him this morning at the fire station, and noted he understood the wildfire in Shelton that also began yesterday afternoon is pretty much out.

Timber ignites near clear-cut area west of Centralia

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Smoke from Teague Road fire viewed from Albany Street in Rochester. / Courtesy photo by Deb Meyers

Updated at 7:44 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Three large wildfires ignited this afternoon in Southwest Washington, all about the same time including west of Centralia and near Tenino, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

A fire off Teague Road in north Lewis County was reported to Riverside Fire Department about 3:10 p.m.

A spokesperson for DNR said it is burning in 40-year-old timber and threatening structures. Janet Pearce said she didn’t know if that meant homes or outbuildings.

The state agency has air resources on that fire, Pearce said.

Near Crane Road in Tenino, a brush fire has covered about 20 acres and also is threatening structures, according to Pearce. One structure and two vehicles had been lost before 7:30 p.m., according to a tweet from DNR

A third fire in Shelton is threatening the Simpson Lumber Mill, Pearce said about 7 o’clock this evening.

Riverside Fire Authority which protects Centralia and its surrounding area tweeted the brush fire began about three miles past the end of Teague Road in a clear-cut area and as of 6 p.m. had grown to 25 acres.

Ryan Weaver of Napavine said he and a friend went to visit a buddy on Deep Creek Road in Adna and as they were leaving, smelled smoke.

They took the logging road that goes to Teague Road and about halfway there, found a slash pile burning, Weaver said. Roughly two acres around it were on fire and spreading fast, so they called 911, he said.

Weaver said a plane was circling overhead and they warned a man who was out shooting a gun there was fire.

Riverside Fire Authority Firefighter-paramedic Chris Layton said there was no way to know this early how or why a slash pile was burning during the burn ban.

RFA’s public information officer notes fire managers are asking the public to stay clear of the area, as traffic is creating problems in the area on logging roads.

DNR tweeted at about 7:18 p.m. that 10 acres in grass and brush were burning in the Johnson Creek are of south Thurston County.

More information to come.

Meanwhile, follow comments, photos and updates from readers on Lewis County Sirens Facebook page.


A burning slash pile is discovered off a logging road beyond Teague Road about 3 p.m. today. / Courtesy photo by Ryan Weaver


On the run: Lewis County deputies seeking three in connection with large-scale fuel theft

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The man arrested when deputies found a variety of items at a property in Doty linking him to the theft of about $6,000 in fuel from a Silver Creek gas station has disappeared, and it seems he’s not who he said he was.


John Lewis, aka Jason A. Lewis

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a nighttime incident captured on surveillance cameras at the Texaco when they searched property at the 100 block of Elk Creek Road in Doty late last month. They turned up a half dozen plug-in access keypads used to override gasoline pumps, plus a canopied pickup truck with darkened windows which held two large fuel tanks, a portable pump and a nozzle.

A man identified as Jason A. Lewis, 47, was found near a recreational vehicle parked inside a barn and tried to run, but was detained and subsequently charged with  first-degree theft, first-degree trafficking in stolen property and possession of methamphetamine, according to court documents.

His bail was set at $20,000 when he went before a judge, in part because prosecutors believed he had an extensive criminal history in California, under a different name.

Last week, detectives concluded he was actually John Lewis, that he was using his brother’s name, and that he had fraudulent identification for it.


Harold E. Lusk

On Wednesday, detective Dan Riordan said Lewis bailed out of jail, and they were looking for him for identity theft. Riordan believed Lewis and his girlfriend would be traveling in the motorhome he had previously parked in the Doty barn. It’s a 1994 Mountain Air, registered to his brother, according to the detective.

Lewis didn’t show up for his scheduled court hearing on Thursday, where he and his court-appointed attorney were expected to appear for his arraignment on the original charge.

The sheriff’s office says Lewis may accompanied by his girlfriend, Jodi Hamer.

They are asking for help in locating him.

Lewis is one of three people charged on Aug. 1 in connection with the July 28 theft of about 1,600 gallons of fuel, including regular unleaded gasoline, highway diesel and off-road diesel.

Also charged were 28-year-old Harold E. Lusk who resides on the Elk Creek property, and Raymond T. Hankins, 48, from Yelm.


Alyssa J. Hanson

This past Wednesday, authorities charged Lusk’s girlfriend, 20-year-old Alyssa J. Hanson with trafficking in stolen property and possession of methamphetamine.

Charging documents state Hanson spoke with detectives when the property was searched and she acknowledged she and Lusk split their time between living in a travel trailer there and the house, both places in which suspected meth was found. She allegedly said Lusk acquired fuel and that she and him distributed it to others from the Elk Creek Road property, according to court documents.

The case began to come together when deputies recognized two faces and a license plate on the surveillance video, put together with an earlier tip from an unnamed person who told law enforcement Lusk and his associates had been stealing large amounts of gasoline from local gas stations.

The unnamed individual also said Lusk and a man from California who was hiding in Lusk’s barn in a trailer were cooking methamphetamine for sale. No mention was made in Lewis’s charging documents of of meth-making materials located during the search.

However, according to court documents, numerous containers of gasoline, including a 55-gallon drum of it were discovered.

Lusk’s warrant includes four counts of unlawful possession of firearms, in connection with guns found that day.

Detectives thought Hanson and Lusk may still be in Lewis County, or may have been planning to leave the state.

Meanwhile, Hankins was picked up on his warrant in Thurston County, and bailed out, but appeared out-of-custody in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday. Judge James Lawler allowed Hankins to remain free on the $25,000 bail he posted.

His arraignment is set for this coming Thursday.

The sheriff’s office asks anyone with information on the whereabouts of Lusk, Hanson or Lewis to phone them at 360-748-9286 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-748-6422 if they wish to remain anonymous or earn a reward.


For background, read “Sheriff’s Office: Large scale gasoline stealing operation uncovered” from Friday August 1, 2014, here


Raymond T. Hankins, 48, is represented by defense attorney Bob Schroeter when he appears before a judge on Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court  to hear the charges against him.


Lewis County sheriff’s detectives share this photo of a 1994 Mountain Air – with a fox emblem – similar to the one John Lewis may be driving.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, August 10th, 2014


• An 18-year-old Salkum resident is being treated at Providence Centralia Hospital after a single-vehicle wreck on U.S. Highway 12 that left his legs trapped beneath his car early this morning. Troopers and aid called about 4:30 a.m. to the area near Jackson Highway found Roberto A. Sanchez had rolled his 1996 Hyundai and was ejected, according to the Washington State Patrol. The car was probably 30 feet off the south side of the roadway and up against a tree, not really visible to passing traffic, according to Lewis County Fire District 5. The patient didn’t know how long he’d been there or remember what happened, Firefighter Maria Kennedy said. “He called himself in,” Kennedy said. “If he didn’t have a phone, I don’t know how long he’d have been sitting there; probably until the sun came up.” With help from a crew from Lewis County Fire District 6, troopers, a deputy and a paramedic, they were able to safely raise the car and remove the young man, Kennedy said. By that time, he was alert and oriented and doing surprisingly well, she said. The investigating trooper concluded Sanchez had been traveling eastbound and fallen asleep, without a seatbelt. He was cited for second-degree negligent driving, according to the state patrol.


• A 53-year-old Tacoma man is dead after a wreck in the Capitol Forest yesterday, in which a UTV went off the road, down an embankment and rolled. Richard S. Daniel was driving a 2014 Kawasaki KRT800 – also known as a side-by-side, according to Trooper Guy Gill – on the B-Line Road just west of the C-Line Road at Rock Candy Mountain, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers called about 1:30 p.m. found his two passengers unhurt. The crash was blamed on going too fast.


• Firefighters from three surrounding departments joined Lewis County Fire District 15 yesterday afternoon when a brush fire broke out north of Winlock. Crews called about 4:15 p.m. to the area near Tennessee and Nelson roads found grass, trees and blackberry bushes burning and heading toward a home, District 5 Firefighter Maria Kennedy said. “We immediately put a defensive line around the residence,” Kennedy said. District 5 Chief Gregg Peterson, who served as incident commander, said it covered probably less than an acre and two small outbuildings burned. Nobody was hurt, personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources took over and will be determining the cause, Peterson said.


• Centralia police recovered a firearm stolen in Everett during a traffic stop at Cherry Street and Tower Avenue late yesterday afternoon. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 38-year-old Kelso woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine last night after contact with an officer about 9 p.m. at Main and Yew streets in Centralia. Lisa M. Cahoon was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants driving under the influence; responses for misdemeanor assault … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Updated at 6:29 p.m.


• Five engines and a ladder truck responded when a fire broke out at Sierra Pacific in Centralia this morning. The fire was in a building connected to the structure that holds the sawmill’s boiler, a ways away from where they do the milling, according to Riverside Fire Authority. The 9:23 a.m. alarm activation at  the 3100 block of Kuper Road in the Port of Centralia’s industrial park off Harrison Avenue drew crews from Chehalis and Rochester as well, Capt. Terry Ternan said. “They opened up the wall, shut the power off and extinguished the fire,” Ternan said. There was a little bit of extension into the ceiling and firefighters were on the scene about two hours, he said. Ternan didn’t know the cause but described the damage to the smaller building as significant. “Not a lot of dollar loss, but a lot of cleanup,” he said. Employees on the scene got on the cleanup while firefighters were there, he said.


• A fire investigator found wiring had shorted out in the back of an old stove, sparking a fire on the 100 block of Kiona Road in Randle yesterday morning. No one had been there for a few days, Fire Investigator Jay Birley said this morning. The fire damage to the double-wide mobile home was primarily contained to the kitchen, but left smoke damage throughout, according to Lewis County Fire District 14 Chief Jeff Jaques.


• Centralia police were called yesterday morning to a store on the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue that had taken in two fake $100 bills.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence; responses for hit and run, collision on city street … and more.

Primary election: Centralia area fire department gains support for increased taxes

Friday, August 8th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three days after the primary election and after the counting today of further ballots that arrived in the mail, Riverside Fire Authority Chief Mike Kytta said he thinks now he can say the levy has passed.

The fire department that protects Centralia and its surrounding area asked citizens to consider a new maintenance and operations levy, to supplement a steeply declining budget.

Just over 65 percent of voters said yes, according to a second tally conducted today by election officials.

The estimated levy rate is 49 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and will be used for fire protection and rescue services, facilities, maintenance, staffing and operations.

“Our entire organization of course is very, very thankful to the voters,” Kytta said this afternoon.

The primary reason for the reduction is related to the fairly sudden change in taxes contributed by TransAlta’s power plant, as it winds down coal burning operations.

The department has already seen a nearly 30 percent loss in response forces this year, according to the chief. Passing the levy won’t bring those employees back, he said.

“It won’t return things to pre-2014 level, but hopefully we’re stabilized,” Kytta said.

Mainly, they were trying to get ahead of predicted losses of revenue next year, where uncertainty still remains, Kytta said.

Tuesday’s primary election has seen a turnout of just shy of 34 percent. It won’t be certified until Aug. 19.

Most of the ballots that will count have been counted, according to Lewis County Election Supervisor Mariann Zumbuhl.

Riverside needed a 60 percent super majority for its measure.

Voters south of Ashford in the region around what is known as the Big Creek area or Paradise Estates appear to have passed a fire department levy as well.

In Lewis County Fire District 17 Big Creek-Mineral, 41 of the 52 individuals who cast ballots said yes to replace an expiring EMS levy.

That’s nearly 79 percent and they only needed 50 percent plus one vote, according to Zumbuhl.

Many other items were on the ballot, but won’t be decided until the November general election, such as the contested race for Lewis County sheriff.

Sheriff Steve Mansfield announced in February he would retire at the end of this year.

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rob Snaza secured nearly 78 percent of the votes.

Brian Green, a former member of the U.S. Navy who performs in and manages a local band of musicians, took almost 22 percent of the votes.

Snaza is listed on the ballot as preferring the Republican Party, Green prefers the Independent Party.

Also among those on the ballot, but running without challengers were Jonathan Meyer looking or a second term as county prosecutor, Warren McLeod aiming for a second term as county coroner, and Kathy Brack heading for a fourth term as county clerk.

Click here to see the rest of the races.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Updated at 6:12 p.m.


• Members of Riverside Fire Authority spent the better part of five hours today extinguishing a fire on property next to the abandoned Centralia Plywood Mill at the north end of town. Crews were called about 10 a.m. to the area where Central Boulevard dead ends after they began to get calls about a large amount of thick black smoke, Chief Mike Kytta said. “We did find fire in vegetation, so it was in grass, brush and some trees,” he said. “It spread out over about one acre.” The chief said they had reason to suspect it may have been burning all night, as they found deeply charred logs. The smoke began when the rubber on old conveyors and tires laying around ignited, he said. They were joined by an engine from Chehalis. Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Rick Mack is looking into the cause, he said. The area is overgrown with berry vines, and not really frequented, he said. Representatives of the property owners, Jorgensen Timber LLC, were bringing in an excavator and planned to sit on it and watching for spot fires, according to Kytta.


• Firefighters responded about 9 o’clock this morning to a fire in a double wide mobile home in Randle that appeared accidental, according to Lewis County Fire District 14. Chief Jeff Jaques said nobody was home at the time at the residence on the 100 block of Kiona Road. “There was fire damage to the kitchen but there was smoke damage throughout,” Jaques said. It was extinguished by 11 members of the fire departments in Randle and Glenoma. The cause is being looked into by a fire investigator, he said.


• Police were called to the emergency room at Providence Centralia Hospital about 5:10 a.m. today after a patient allegedly punched a nurse in the face. Further details were not readily available.


• Centralia police were called about 4:20 p.m. yesterday to the 1600 block of Johnson Road regarding the theft of jewelry.

• Chehalis police were contacted yesterday about a compound bow missing from Northwest Middle Street.


• A 22-year-old woman was arrested yesterday in Chehalis for alleged possession of heroin in connection with a search of a vehicle discovered unoccupied after a short police pursuit early last week. Sarah J. Branam, of Centralia, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Centralia police arrested two underage males yesterday evening for possession of marijuana at the 1200 block of Woodland Avenue. Grant T. Brandt, 20, of Centralia, and Dakota J. Tryon, 18 of Olympia, were cited and then released according to the Centralia Police Department.


• An Onalaska pet already labeled a potentially dangerous dog from a June incident is in trouble again after allegedly fighting with a neighbor dog and biting the neighbor who tried to break it up last night. A deputy called to the 500 block of Burnt Ridge Road was told by the 64-year-old man he heard his dog yelping as they walked back from the mailbox, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said he got bit near his thumb and his pet had injuries on its stomach and leg but didn’t note what if any injuries the Pit Bull sustained. Its owner, a 28-year-old Onalaskan, will be getting a citation in the mail, Brown said. The case will also be referred to animal control for review, according to Brown.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, resisting arrest; responses for disputes, misdemeanor theft, violation of protection order; complaint of surly subject in a wheelchair at freeway offramp, woman screaming at children to quit crying in Wal-Mart parking lot … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Updated at 7:08 p.m.


• Centralia police were called about 11:25 a.m. yesterday regarding two televisions stolen from the 600 block of Nick Road. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning a Vader resident was cited for allegedly restoring his water service himself by cutting a lock after he had been blocked from the service. A deputy responding on Monday to the 500 block of B Street learned that Jason Rayfield benefitted by getting possibly as much as 500 gallons of water, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said Rayfield admitted he did it but said he didn’t know it was a crime. He was issued the citation and then released, according to Brown. The loss is estimated at $178, Brown said.


• Chehalis police were contacted yesterday morning regarding a possible telephone scam involving the IRS. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said the department has been getting a lot of those kinds of reports lately.


• Chehalis police were called about 1:10 a.m. today about a power pole making river otter noises for the previous two hours. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said he had no information on what the officer may have found. The Chehalis Fire Department said it apparently was one of three old emergency speakers around town and public works went out and turned it off, as perhaps its battery was dying.


• Benjamin E. Hearn made an Alford plea – not admitting guilt – yesterday to third-degree rape of a child, in connection with allegations of a sexual relationship with a teenage girl. The 35-year-old Curtis resident was arrested in January for events that allegedly began in 2012 involving a 14-year-old friend of his daughter. He was taken into custody yesterday on a no-bail hold until his sentencing, which is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 17 in Lewis County Superior Court, according to court documents. His lawyer David Arcuri has said Hearn faces a year and a day in prison. The standard range for the offense for a defendant with no criminal history is 12 to 14 months.


• Troopers were called last night after a Chehalis police car traveling on the 2300 block of Jackson Highway collided with a deer at about 10:20 p.m. Nobody was injured except for the deer and the damage to the vehicle was fairly minor, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• A 45-year-old Onalaska man sustained a possible concussion when he totaled his car on the 800 block of Middle Fork Road at about 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said this morning. Darren S. Carmen was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for driving under the influence and with a suspended license, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A 25-year-old Pe Ell woman and a 1-year-old child both suffered possible head injuries when she lost control of her Ford Bronco and rolled it last night on Lost Valley Road in Curtis near milepost four, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy called about 10:45 p.m. was told by the driver she was going too fast down a hill, according to the sheriff’s office. The baby boy had been strapped into a car seat, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. They were both transported to the hospital, she said. The driver was cited for speeds to fast and no insurance, according to Brown.

• Three adults and a 3-month-old infant were hospitalized last night after a three-vehicle wreck on Interstate 5 in Centralia that began with a deer on the roadway. Firefighters called about 10:50 p.m. to the northbound lanes north of the Wal-Mart exit found all lanes were blocked and all victims had gotten out of their cars on their own. Troopers report a couple from Edmonds swerved to avoid the deer, lost control and rolled their four-door Saturn before hitting the center barrier. A 29-year-old woman driving a Ford Focus stopped so she wouldn’t hit them, and a 21-year-old Onalaska resident in another Focus ran into the first Focus, according to the Washington State Patrol. They were all (except for the 29-year-old) transported to Providence Centralia Hospital in stable condition, according to Riverside Fire Authority. According to a hospital spokesperson, treated and released were Dennis M. Campion, 57, Donna J. Jensen, 59, both of Edmonds; and Phaedra S. Witzel, 21, Onalaska. The state patrol described  the baby boy as uninjured.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, disputes, misdemeanor theft, hit and run, collisions on city streets, suspicious circumstances; complaint of dog on a walk leaving poop in yard … and more.

Former Centralia auto business owners avoid jail cells

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Keith A. Birdwell watches as the judge decides how much time to give his wife after his own sentencing this afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.


By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – He clearly didn’t like it, but a judge agreed today to give Keith A. Birdwell one year of house arrest so he could work and pay back $1 million to a local bank.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler was told by attorneys on the case that Security State Bank was on board with their deal that in exchange for a $100,000 downpayment on his restitution, the former used car dealer could avoid a lengthy prison term for his conviction on first-degree theft and three counts of felony unlawful issuance of a bank check.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg suggested the alternative of Birdwell sitting in prison and being ordered to pay back what he owes at $25 a month meant the bank would not likely get back much of its money.

Lawler called it a dilemma and said he didn’t want to victimize the Centralia-based financial institution again.

“The bank is making a business decision, they’re the ones that are the victims in this,” Lawler said. “It’s because of their participation, I’m going to follow the agreed recommendation, but I’m not happy about it.”

Birdwell, 48, and his wife were charged early last year with theft, for using various deceptions to dodge repaying what they borrowed for the vehicles at Birdwell Auto Sales in Centralia and their lot in Lacey. Both businesses are now closed.

He pleaded guilty this past spring. The deals were tied together. Lorinne D. Birdwell made a so-called Alford plea – not admitting guilt – last month, to attempted second-degree theft, a gross misdemeanor.

Tacoma-based defense attorney Keith McFie had told the judge he just today got a check for half of the $100,000 and didn’t say from who, but said the lender conditioned the money on Keith Birdwell being able to work.

The benches behind the defense table were crowded with apparent supporters of the Toledo couple.

Keith Birdwell stood when he addressed the court and apologized.

He said he’d never experienced the economy change so quickly and the that the value of the vehicles he offered for sale dropped rapidly. Rather than humble himself and admit troubles, he took advantage of his bank’s trust, he said.

“I used money to pay off vehicles already sold, I wrote checks before I had money in the bank,” he said. “I take full responsibility.”

Keith Birdwell noted he also lost $400,000 of his own money he’d put into the business over the years.

His lawyer told the judge he thought his client believed in himself too much, and now knows he ought to have shut down operations sooner.

“He ended up with inventory he couldn’t sell at the value of the flooring loans,” McFie said. “That’s when the desperation set in.”

Court documents described the flooring loans from the bank as like a line of credit, allowing the Birdwells to stock their dealership while maintaining capital to acquire new vehicles; they promised in their contract to notify the bank and pay off each loan within 10 days of selling the vehicle.

The troubles came to a head in July 2012 when a bank employee discovered 21 vehicles were unaccounted for, according to court documents.

Keith Birdwell is currently working three jobs and the details of how he will pay off the rest of the $1,005,779.65, McFie said he didn’t know; except he had anticipated the court might put his client under some sort of supervision.

His specific sentence is 364 days on electronic home monitoring, which must begin by Aug. 26.

Because Keith Birdwell also pleaded to the aggravating factors that the actions were major economic offenses with a high degree of sophistication, Judge Lawler was free to impose a penalty of up to 10 years in prison if he chose.

Lawler warned Birdwell if he missed his deadline, he would sit in jail the entire 364 days.

Before the hour-long hearing was over, Lorinne Birdwell took her turn at the defense table.

Eisenberg told the judge he recommended the same 364 days, as it was his and the bank’s position she was equally culpable, although as far as restitution, she would be jointly liable for only about $840,000 of the total.

“My understanding of the evidence was Mrs. Birdwell was the person in charge to contact the bank and let them know when a vehicle was sold,” he said. “There are indications of occasions when she didn’t do that.”

Seattle defense attorney Allen M. Ressler argued that would be a mistake, as the state allowed her to plead to a far lesser charge and the notion she was an equal participant was without any support in the evidence. He asked for 30 days of house arrest.

Lawler said he agreed with some of his logic, and imposed 90 days on electronic home monitoring. But the rest of her 364 sentence was suspended, essentially hanging over her head for two years, he said.

“You heard everything I said to your husband,” Lawler told her. “The same things apply to you.”

The judge set a review date of Nov. 7, to make sure the attempt to pay restitution have not been blown off, and addressed Lorinne Birdwell once again.

“You’re the one who could be sitting back in jail,” he said.

For background, read “Centralia used car business theft defendants get a break” from Thursday July 3, 2014, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014


• Two people were arrested in an investigation that wrapped up yesterday involving a stolen excavator recovered on property at the 1400 block of South Schueber Road in Centralia. Deputies learned from the 44-year-old victim in Rochester he got a tip on social media where his missing machine might be and deputies found it on Saturday on property belonging to 52-year-old Terry M. Petrich, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Petrich told deputies that 50-year-old Michal R. Larisch from Rochester brought it there to do some work in exchange for a couple of vehicles, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies concluded Larisch used it for a job on the 3700 block of Cooks Hill Road and his own property, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Larisch happened to be driving by when deputies were at Petrich’s place and a bucket for the excavator was found in the back of his vehicle, according to Brown. Both men were booked into the Lewis County Jail for first-degree possession of stolen property and trafficking in stolen property, Brown said. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a truck and trailer which were stolen in Rochester and believed to be used to haul the excavator, which was stolen from a nursery.  The trailer was recovered yesterday and deputies suspect the truck was dismantled and its engine and transmission sold to someone in Oakville, according to Brown. Prosecutors were to release Petrich today without charges, pending further investigation.


• A deputy was called yesterday to a burglary at the 8800 block of U.S. Highway 12 in Glenoma in which a resident arrived home to find a bedroom curtain hanging out the window and a screen removed. Unspecified items from the carport and shed were found sitting in the yard but nothing was missing,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• Chehalis police were called about 7 a.m. today about a possible vehicle prowl on South Market Boulevard.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, violation of no-contact order; responses for alarm, disputes, misdemeanor theft, collisions on city streets, suspicious circumstances … and more.

Thurston detectives investigate stabbing

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 25-year-old man who said he was stabbed by two strangers in Rochester when he and a friend ran out of gas is undergoing surgery this morning at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Thurston County deputies learned of the attack about 11:45 p.m. yesterday when they were called to an Olympia hospital for a reported stabbing.

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ray Brady said the man suffered had multiple stab wounds and was subsequently flown to Harborview with life-threatening injuries but is expected to survive.

The victim told deputies he was with a friend in the area of U.S. Highway 12 and Southwest 183rd Avenue when their Toyota Forerunner ran out of fuel. He said they were approached by two Hispanic males who started a fight with his friend, and when he intervened, they assaulted him, according to Brady.

He said his friend ran away and he phoned a family friend to come pick him up.

Brady said the family friend had to persuade him to go to the hospital, and he was taken to Capitol Medical Center.

His name was not released but Brady said he may be transient and at one time in the past held a Centralia address.

Deputies have scoured the area where he said the stabbing occurred but have not been able to locate a crime scene, or the light green Toyota Forerunner. They have not located the friend either, as the victim said he doesn’t know the friend’s last name, Brady said.

Detectives are continuing to investigate and are urging any witnesses to contact the sheriff’s office with information, at 360-786-5279

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


• A motorcyclist and his female passenger were transported to Morton General Hospital yesterday evening after they crashed on Forest Service Road 25 in East Lewis County. They were traveling northbound near milepost 10 when they came upon a sweeping left curve and the 68-year-old Olympia man applied the brake; the 2002 Yamaha XVS stopped suddenly to its left side and slid to a stop, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He thought the front brake may have seized, according to the deputy’s report. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said the full extent of their injuries were unknown, but the passenger ended up with abrasions and the driver had a possible collarbone injury.


• Police responded about 7:30 p.m. yesterday when a 33-year-old Chehalis man on a bicycle was struck by a van while crossing 13th Street at South Market Boulevard. The man had an injury to his foot or ankle, according to the Chehalis Police Department. No citation has been issued as of this morning, as there were conflicting stories about who had the right-of-way, according to police. The driver of the Ford Econline van is a 31-year-old Elma resident, Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said.


• A pistol was reported stolen yesterday afternoon from a travel trailer residence on the 3200 block of Galvin Road in Centralia.


• Centralia police were called about noon yesterday regarding a wallet stolen from the 100 block of South Silver Street and learned that someone had attempted to use the credit card.

• A wallet and an iPhone were among the property stolen from a vehicle on Southwest First Street near Market Boulevard in Chehalis yesterday.


• A 35-year-old Chehalis man was arrested yesterday in connection with a traffic stop back on April 8 in which a search of the vehicle turned up a white crystalline substance. Jacob E. Waldrop was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said he didn’t know specifically the reason for the delay.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants,  misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, disputes, shoplifting, possibly suicidal person, possible theft of prescription meds, suspicious circumstances, dogs left alone in parked vehicles … and more.

Brush fire in Winlock sweeps toward homes

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

It took more than 50 firefighters to contain flames that spread through pastures into a tree farm. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 15

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources are back on the scene today of a fire that scorched some 15 acres of farmland in Winlock yesterday.

Firefighters called at 5 p.m. to the 700 block of Nevil Road found an area of approximately 200 feet by 200 feet burning in a field that had been hayed, according to Lewis County Fire District 15.

As many as 50 members of five fire departments plus DNR joined them as wind gusts from the west pushed the flames into a tree farm and adjacent fields, threatening homes and outbuildings, Assistant Chief Kevin Anderson said.

He described the location as south of Nevil Road, roughly three-quarters of a mile west of North Military Road.

“With the wind conditions, it was an extended firefight,” Anderson said.

Heavy equipment was deployed by DNR to establish a line around the fire, Anderson said. It was stopped probably 20 feet from structures on its south side, he said.

Nobody was injured. District 15 resources were on the scene until 11:30 p.m. and DNR personnel monitored the area overnight and have returned today, according to Anderson.

DNR is looking into its cause, he said.

Anderson asks the public to take extra care to limit any sources of ignition.

The moisture content of vegetation remains very low and with the temperatures forecast over the next week and half, fire danger remains high, he said.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Updated at 9:54 p.m.


• A 22-year-old Napavine man told deputies that sometime during the week that ended on Saturday someone stole numerous valuables from a home and property he is looking after at the 200 block of Anderson Road in Glenoma. Among the missing items are a Honda generator, an industrial fan, a pop-up tent, a stereo component and two terra-cotta frog planting pots, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is estimated at $1,300, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Centralia police arrested two men for fighting in public about 9:30 p.m. yesterday at the 1300 block of Crescent Avenue, following a physical altercation in the roadway, according to the Centralia Police Department. Arrested were Jacob A. Pattison, 28, and Chad D. Howell, 27, both of Centralia, according to police.


• An officer on patrol about 2:15 a.m. on Saturday came across three people reportedly dumping trash into a dumpster behind the Twin City Town Center off Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis and found two of them were wanted on warrants, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Mandi J. Holper, 37, of Vancouver, had a felony warrant from Clark County and was subsequently arrested also for possession of methamphetamine. She and the other individual were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.


• Chehalis police were contacted about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday about a car prowl at the 600 block of Northwest St. Helens Avenue in Chehalis. Several items including a GPS device were taken from the unlocked vehicle which had been parked in the driveway of a residence sometime between July 19 and 23, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Chehalis police were called Friday about 12:40 p.m. about a window broken out of an employee’s vehicle at the 600 block of Southwest 13th Street.

• A deputy responded to a report of one tire slashed on a vehicle at the 100 block of Crescent Beach Drive in Packwood. It happened sometime between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday and there is a person of interest, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is listed at $250.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports the incident on the the Cowlitz River near Toledo on Friday evening when two children got caught by trees happened when the current took their small blowup toy rafts around the wrong side of an island. A deputy who responded with firefighters noted the 11-year-old and 12-year-old were wearing life jackets and were rescued at the tree-line. The adult with them ended up on the island and was picked up by a boater, according to sheriff’s office. Nobody was injured, but they were wet and cold, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• Firefighters were called twice yesterday to the Toledo airport when parachuters missed the landing zone, but neither resulted in life-threatening injuries. Responders arriving after an approximately 5:10 p.m. incident learned a man in his mid-20s hit the side of an airplane hanger and was in and out of consciousness, according to Lewis County Fire District 2. Chief Grant Wiltbank said the patient declined to be taken to a hospital. Then just before 9 p.m., they were summoned again when an individual missed the airport entirely and landed near a residence on the 100 block of Buckley Road, according to Wiltbank. He dislocated his shoulder, Wiltbank said. It was just two weeks earlier when a woman who jumped from a plane collided with a tree as she landed about a half mile west of the airport. She was airlifted with serious injuries.


• A pair of individuals from Longview escaped serious injury when a 1999 Ford Mustang failed to negotiate a curve northbound along the 500 block of Jackson Highway South, struck a culvert and rolled several times on Saturday afternoon. Deputies and aid called about 5:40 p.m. found the car landed right side up but was basically destroyed, according to responders. Both suffered minor cuts and scratches, but the 23-year-old female passenger complained of back pain and was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The driver, a 23-year-old man said he was distracted during conversation, according to the sheriff’s office. He was cited for not having liability insurance and for wheels off the roadway, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A 56-year-old motorist was arrested for driving under the influence on Saturday night after he left the Blueberry Festival in Mossyrock and took a corner too fast at the 100 block of Salkum Road, sideswiping a telephone pole, striking and destroying a telephone box, missing a parked vehicle and then impacting the east wall of the Brown Shack Tavern. A deputy called about 8:30 p.m. booked into the Lewis County Jail Edward D. Gones, of Carson City, Nevada, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. No mention was made if his intended destination was the tavern.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, disputes, aggressive cat, possibly suicidal person, dogs left alone in parked vehicles, collision on city street, girl transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure after a bicycle accident … and more.

Physician says ‘shaken baby’ not to blame for Morton infant’s brain trauma

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A second doctor who reviewed the case of the alleged shaken baby from Morton in which a Mineral man remains jailed has found something else caused the 4-month-old’s injuries.


Kyle Davison

Kyle Davison, 22, was arrested in early October and charged with  first-degree assault of a child after a doctor at Marybridge Children’s Hospital concluded bleeding on the child’s brain was consistent with non-accidental shaken baby syndrome.

Davison and the baby’s mother told police he was watching her when she began choking and stopped breathing and he tried to revive the infant then carried her to a neighboring apartment to get help. The little one was airlifted to the children’s hospital and put on life support.

Defense attorney Sam Groberg had another physician examine the child’s medical records, 3,200 pages going all the way to its birth, and even before that. He recently got the report back.

He said the conclusions are helpful to his client’s case.

“Basically it’s the doctor’s opinion it’s not shaken baby, but the symptoms are indicative of previous problems, and what happened when the baby started choking,” Groberg said late last week.

Groberg said the child had a documented choking problem, from a birth defect in its throat area.

He indicated he’s somewhat optimistic, since his doctor is the only one who has looked at all the baby’s medical records.

Lawyers on the two sides have been waiting on the report so they can proceed. Davison remains held on $100,000 bail.

On Thursday, they went before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court to set a new trial date. They chose the week of Sept. 8.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge he now will have to send the second doctor’s findings to his experts to look them over before they can go to trial.

For background, read “Lawyer seeks second opinion on brain trauma in Morton child assault case” from Monday April 14, 2014, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014


• A trio of travelers from Puyallup escaped with little to no injury when their pickup truck rolled and the trailer they were pulling detached on northbound Interstate 5 north of Centralia yesterday evening. Firefighters called about 6:30 p.m. to the area near the county line found the truck wheels down but with a crushed cab roof, according to Riverside Fire Authority. The man and woman in their 50s and a teenage boy had been wearing seat belts and were able to get themselves out on their own, according to Capt. Scott Weinert. “The driver stated that the travel trailer began swerving back and forth and he was unable to get it under control,” Weinert stated in a report to the news media. “The momentum became worse and caused the truck to swerve violently and rollover.” Two leaking propane bottles were secured on-scene by closing valves, according to Weinert. The incident blocked all but the far left lane for about 30 minutes, the state Department of Transportation reported.


• A 37-year-old Centralia man was arrested for disorderly conduct about 3:10 p.m. yesterday after he reportedly became combative with officers when contacted about painting and putting rocks in the road at the 1100 block of Woodland Avenue in Centralia, according to the Centralia Police Department. Further details were not readily available.


• Police were called about 2 p.m. yesterday regarding $100 being stolen from a residence on the 400 block of North Ash Street.


• Centralia police took a report about 1 p.m. yesterday of someone growing marijuana on someone else’s property on the 1400 block of West Main Street.


• Centralia police are investigating a report from about 9 a.m. yesterday of a male in his 40s exposing himself to oncoming traffic at Cherry Street and Tower Avenue in Centralia.


• Someone slashed two tires at the 200 block of South Silver Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 12:45 a.m. today.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, protection order violation, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for collision on city street … and more.