Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

Centralia police shooting case now in the hands of prosecutor for review

Monday, July 14th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news

Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg indicated this morning he’s certain his officer’s actions in fatally shooting a man following a shoplifting incident will be found as justified, after being briefed on findings of the outside investigation.

Berg and Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer met with a representative of the multi-jurisdictional team of law enforcement officers that looked into the June 29 incident late last week and were told of its conclusions, Berg said in a news release.

Paul M. Edmundson, a 43-year-old Centralia man, died from a bullet wound to his chest in the parking lot of Anchor Bank, after, police said, he attempted to pull a gun from his pocket during a struggle with a police dog and Officer Ruben Ramirez. The officer had been called to a report someone stole a burrito from the gas station convenience store next door.

It happened at South Tower Avenue and Cherry Street.

The investigation is complete, and was submitted on Thursday to the prosecutor for formal review, according to Berg.

“I thank the regional team for their work in this investigation and look forward to the review by the Lewis County prosecutor,” Berg stated.  “Based on the information presented by the team at the briefing I remain confident that the actions of Officer Ruben Ramirez will be found as a justified response to the threat that officer faced on that Sunday morning.”

Ramirez was placed on paid administrative leave.

Once Meyer is finished with his part, an internal use-of-force review board will convene, according to Berg.

The board will consist of a command level officer from the Centralia Police Department and at least three other command level officers from other law enforcement agencies.


For background, read “Coroner releases name of police shooting victim” from Wednesday July 2, 2014, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Traffic was slowed up yesterday afternoon on Interstate 5 in Chehalis. / Courtesy photo by Washington State Patrol


• Two children were taken to the hospital to be checked out after a multiple vehicle collision on northbound Interstate 5 in Chehalis yesterday. The Washington State Patrol reports four cars were involved and the injuries were minor. The left lane was blocked just north of the 13th Street interchange beginning about 12:30 p.m. with one vehicle partially on the center median.


• A 31-year-old Vader woman was airlifted after a wreck last night along state Route 506 when her car ran through a wire fence, rolling and came to land on its top in a field. Troopers responding just after 9 p.m. to the scene about three miles east of Vader found Elizabeth Bridgman was injured and her Oldsmobile Aurora was totaled, according to the Washington State Patrol. She was reportedly driving too fast and was not wearing a seatbelt. The eastbound lane was blocked for about an hour and a half, according to the state Department of Transportation. Bridgman was flown to PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center, according to the investigating trooper.


• Firefighters were called just before midnight to the 3100 block of Ives Road in Centralia for a stabbing victim. The 28-year-old man who was upright outside of an apartment complex had what appeared to be four mostly superficial wounds from a screwdriver in the middle of his back, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Medics bandaged him and he declined to be taken to the hospital, Fire Capt. Terry Ternan said.


• As a heat wave rolls into Western Washington, the state Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday that all outdoor burning on DNR-protected forestlands is prohibited, with two exceptions: Recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds, and gas or propane stoves/barbecue grills are allowed. DNR-approved prescribed fires for ecological purposes may be permitted if expressly approved by the commissioner of public lands. Because of the potential wildfire danger, the ban will run through Sept. 30, according to the state agency. Always illegal on DNR-protected forestlands are fireworks and incendiary devices, such as exploding targets, sky lanterns, or tracer ammunition. Charcoal briquettes are not allowed. The hot, dry conditions prompted a ban on outdoor burning in unincorporated Lewis County that began at 12:01 a.m. today.

Worker burned in Texas petroleum explosion just relocated from Adna

Friday, July 11th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news

CHEHALIS – An Adna native was seriously injured in a fiery explosion at a dormant oil well in central Texas.

Cameron McDonald, 25, is in a Houston hospital, with several broken bones and severe burns to his face, arm and legs, his Uncle Jim Harris said today.


Cameron McDonald

“He doesn’t remember anything at all,” Harris said. “He still doesn’t know why he’s in the hospital.”

It happened on Wednesday at a work site in New Baden, Texas, about 100 miles northeast of Austin, Harris said.

He got a phone call from his sister, who flew down yesterday to be with her son, he said.

Harris has been scouring the news to find out what happened and said he learned his nephew was using a cutting torch to remove bolts from a catwalk above a 12,000 gallon storage tank.

Harris said he understands McDonald was wearing a harness and thrown clear, but then slammed face first into the hot metal of the tank. News accounts say he was critical when transported and describe pillars of smoke visible for miles.

The incident is under investigation by Texas regulatory authorities.

Harris said his nephew only recently took the out of state job with a company that dismantled well sites, as he understood it. Before that, he worked construction locally, he said.

“Cameron, he just went down there in December,” he said. “He decided he was going to go down there and get some of that big oil money and took off.”

Harris got the call from his sister about 2:30 p.m. the day it happened, shortly after his nephew’s employer called his sister, Janie Harris, also of Adna.

They’ve been keeping in close contact. She texted him yesterday with an update, he said.

She told him her son is pretty upset.

“They won’t let him see his face or the news yet,” Janie Harris texted her brother. “Both his eyes are black, all his teeth are gone. But he’s alive. Thank God he’s tough.”

He’s had some skin grafts, Harris said, but it’s not clear how long he might be hospitalized.

Today, his nephew was able to walk from his bed to the bathroom, a good sign, Harris said.

“I hope he pulls through, he’s burned pretty bad,” he said.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 11th, 2014


• Five people were arrested yesterday after they were caught allegedly stealing scrap metal off the Centralia property of a 71-year-old resident currently locked up in the Lewis County Jail. Deputies responded about 2:30 p.m. yesterday to the 1300 block of West Reynolds Avenue, after people were seen at Vic Bonagofski’s place by someone who suspected nobody should be there, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. All were arrested for second-degree burglary, according to the sheriff’s office. One of them, Teresa D. Bartley, 43, from Winlock, was additionally arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle, detective Sgt. Dusty Breen said. Another, Peter D. Harris, 41, of Pe Ell, was additionally arrested for possession of methamphetamine, Breen said. Steven E. Merrill, 48, Chehalis, was taken to Thurston County because he was wanted on a warrant; and the rest were booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Breen, to include Joseph L. Hines, 37, Winlock; and Michael W. Kelly, 54, of Centralia. Bonagofski is serving time for driving with a suspended license, according to the information from the jail.


• Firefighters from Winlock were joined by members of four other departments when a bottle rocket ignited tall grass in a field yesterday on the 100 block of Marttala Road North. Crews called about 4:45 p.m. found a resident trying to put it out with a garden hose, according to Lewis County Fire District 15. “It wasn’t threatening any structures and we were able to contain it pretty fast,” Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said. The area burned amounted to roughly 10,000 square-feet, he said. Personnel were on the scene for about an hour, including some from the state Department of Natural Resources, Jacobson said. A teenager who lived there had been using fireworks, he said.


• An attorney for the man who bought the Curtis Store after the big flood of 2007 told a judge yesterday his client would be pleading guilty in connection with a deal made with prosecutors regarding his charge of a sexual relationship with a teenage girl. Benjamin E. Hearn, 35, was arrested in January for events that allegedly began in 2012 involving a 14-year-old friend of his daughter. He was charged with third-degree rape of a child, a class C felony, but details of the agreement were not discussed in court. Centralia defense attorney David Arcuri said he expects Hearn will be taken into custody the day he pleads guilty – to serve a year and a day in prison – and asked the judge to hold off a little bit on the sentencing date. “He wants to finish up some work and make some money before he goes in,” Arcuri said. Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt allowed the hearing to be scheduled on Aug. 6. Hearn remains free on bail.


• Firefighters will be gathering early tomorrow morning to burn down a house on the the 1600 block of Bishop Road in Chehalis. The practice burn will begin at 7 a.m. and is expected to be concluded by 11 a.m., according to Lewis County Fire District 6. Members of the department will provide traffic control. Anyone with questions may contact Chief Tim Kinder at 748-6019.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrant, driving with suspended license; responses for misdemeanor assault, parking lot hit and run, people sleeping in a park … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 10th, 2014


• Centralia police responded about 3:15 p.m. yesterday to a residential burglary on the 900 block of North Pearl Street. A window was broken out and “miscellaneous” items were taken, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police were called about 11:35 p.m. yesterday regarding several items taken over the weekend from a store on the 1200 block of Lum Road. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 27-year-old Winlock man was arrested yesterday for misdemeanor theft for allegedly stealing $61.86 worth of soda during the past year from a business on the 1400 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis. Andrew W. Freeman was then released, pending court, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

• Chehalis police were called about 7 p.m. yesterday after an iPhone was stolen from a vehicle in the parking lot at Safeway. Its owner said she left the windows rolled down while she went inside because she had dogs in the car, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The phone turned up with a 16-year-old Chehalis resident who said he found it, but he was arrested for second-degree theft, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.


• Police were called about 12:50 p.m. yesterday to Southwest Fourth Street near McFadden Avenue where a citizen had discovered a small plastic bag containing a white substance. The item will be destroyed, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A 29-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine when contacted by law enforcement officers near the Chehalis Police Department on Park Street and Washington Avenue yesterday afternoon. In his pocket was found a crystal substance that field-tested positive for meth, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Andrew T. Field was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.

• An 18-year-old resident was apparently caught smoking marijuana in public yesterday, in  Washington Park in Centralia and was arrested. Andrew P. Gastfield was then released following  the morning time contact with an officer, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for violation of protection order; responses for alarms, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, small dog left inside a parked car at K-Mart, complaint of loud music … and more.

Tractor operator falls onto hay mower blades in Mossyrock

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

The mowing tractor is parked after accident in Mossyrock. / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 3

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A man cutting a hayfield in Mossyrock who fell onto the blades of his hay mower yesterday is expected to survive but likely faces a long road to recovery.

Lewis County Fire District 3 was called by someone at the trailer court next to property on the 200 block of Mossyrock Road West  about 5:30 p.m.

“At the time of the incident he was alone, but when I got there, people were around,” Fire Chief Doug Fosburg said. “He was conscious and alert, but in a lot of pain.”

Fosburg said it was an older style piece of equipment – with five blades – where the cutting surfaces are exposed, not shielded.

The victim, who he estimated is in his 40s, had pretty severe cuts on all four extremities with quite a bit of blood loss and will probably lose some fingers, Fosburg said. Both legs and one arm were broken, he said.

He said responders were able to get him stabilized fairly quickly, administering fluids, and splinting and dressing his wounds.

He was airlifted from Mossyrock High School to Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, according to Fosburg.

“He’s very lucky no vital organs were hit,” the chief said.

It didn’t appear the injuries were life-threatening, but it’s definitely going to be a long road, he said.


Hay mower blades / Courtesy photo by Lewis County Fire District 3

Rising temperatures spark concerns about risk of fires, heat sickness

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Hot, dry conditions and a substantial danger of fire have prompted a ban on outdoor burning in unincorporated Lewis County that begins at the end of the day on Friday.

Not affected are recreational fires in approved burning receptacles or approved campfire sites, according to Community Development Director Lee Napier, acting as fire marshal.

The restrictions will remain in effect until further action by the county Board of Commissioners.

The board has authority over areas in Lewis County that are outside any city limits and not part of any state or federal lands.

The state Department of Natural Resources said this morning it is preparing to issue cautions to the public given the current conditions which include low humidity.

Firefighters were mopping up yesterday after a fire northwest of Packwood that began on Sunday and was contained at about six acres, according to DNR. It happened up Craig Road in timber slash, the remnants of a previous harvest, according to DNR spokesperson Janet Pearce.

Weather forecasters show temperatures climbing up through the 80s this week around Chehalis.

Officer Patty Finch of the Centralia Police Department is reminding folks of the dangers of leaving pets or people inside parked vehicles in the warm weather, even with the windows cracked.

As an illustration, Finch says on an 85 degree day, it takes only about 10 minutes for a vehicle to heat up to 100 degrees inside.

Finch further recommends:

• Drink plenty of water. Alcohol, caffeine and beverages with sugar can cause dehydration.
• Eat regular, balanced meals.
• Wear sunscreen, hats and loose fitting clothing.
• Make sure your pets have plenty of water.
• If you begin to feel dizzy, nauseous or have headaches or muscle cramps, move to a cooler location, rest for a few minutes and drink cold water. Seek medical attention immediately if you do not feel better.

For details about outdoor burning, call 360-740-1146.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Updated at 5:10 p.m.


• An intoxicated 54-year-old Morton man was arrested last night for for reportedly threatening his neighbor, saying he was going to tear out his mailbox and calling him the N word, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.  A deputy called about 9:45 p.m. to the 700 block of Davis Lake Road learned the two had known each other for quite a long time and it’s not clear why Steven C. Richart was upset, according to the sheriff’s office. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail for misdemeanor harassment.


• Someone broke through a back door at a home on the 2300 block of Highway 603 near Winlock yesterday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and stole about $3,000 worth of valuables including several cameras, jewelry and cash, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A deputy took a report yesterday from the 400 block of Shanklin Road in Onalaska of roughly $4,500 worth of belongings being stolen from where they were being stored inside an enclosed car hauler. It happened sometime since June 5, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Among the items missing are a laptop computer, a Hoyt compound bow and its accessories, a weed eater, binoculars and stereo components, according to the sheriff’s office.


• A 1996 Ford F350 crew cab was reported stolen yesterday morning from the 100 block of Gershick Road in Silver Creek and turned up later in the day wrecked, about four miles up a logging road outside Mossyrock, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The loss is $4,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

• An employee’s 1995 Mercury Tracer discovered missing from Wal-Mart’s parking lot about 11:30 p.m. Monday was found yesterday at an apartment complex  on Southwest Chehalis Avenue, according to police. Arrested for vehicle theft was Diana S. Stephens, 60, of Chehalis, according to police. The car was returned to the victim, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A 19-year-old student-inmate at Green Hill School in Chehalis is facing a possible charge of custodial assault after allegedly striking a staff member on the arm and in the back of the head yesterday, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A 34-year-old Winlock woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine following a traffic stop about 9 p.m. on Monday near North National Avenue and Median Street in Chehalis. An officer found a small plastic bag of suspected methamphetamine and Sarah A. Caton was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Lewis County Fire District 6 was called about 4:15 p.m. yesterday to a tractor and hay baler on fire on the 2100 block of South Schueber Road outside Chehalis. It was extinguished.


• A 36-year-old Centralia area man was sentenced today to a term of a little more than 16 years and as long as life after pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of a young relative. He turned himself in in January after the girl told her mother of incidents that took place when she was 12 years old, during the year that ended in September of 2012. Before his sentence was handed down in Lewis County Superior Court, Rodney J. Teitzel Jr. turned to the mother in the courtroom and said he’d failed at the most important thing he ever had to do right. The now-teenager was not present as she has moved away, but a note from her was read aloud, in which she said she didn’t know if or when she might ever forgive him. “Because of you, she is a shadow of her former self,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke said, reading a statement from the mother. Charging documents stated the girl told a detective of times Teitzel put his fingers inside her, under the guise of checking between her legs because the area was red. He is convicted of three counts of second-degree rape of a child. Judge James Lawler said the agreed upon recommendation from the two lawyers was clearly appropriate. Lawler ordered that if or when Teitzel is released from prison, he would be under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections for the rest of his life.


• A 66-year-old Winlock man did not see a stop sign and collided with another vehicle at the 4300 block of Jackson Highway about 11:30 a.m. yesterday. He was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, suspicious circumstances, hit and run, kids in a parking lot drinking beer; complaints of  fireworks … and more.

News brief: Centralia area porch, attic catch fire

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

It appears a burning cigarette near a wood porch ignited a fire last night that damaged a home northeast of Centralia.

Firefighters called about 8:10 p.m. to the 700 block of Big Hanaford Road found a resident has used a garden hose to mostly put it out, but flames had snuck up the side of the structure into its attic, according to Riverside Fire Authority. Crews had to rip off about one-third of the roof to fully extinguish it, Capt. Tim Adolphsen said.

Nobody was hurt, he said.

Fire Investigator Ted McCarty said a young girl and her cousin smelled smoke and alerted her father, who grabbed the hose.

“It appears the person there had discarded a cigarette in the leaves and pine needles by the deck,” McCarty said this morning.

Adolphsen called the damage to the rental home moderate, estimating perhaps $10,000 for repairs.

Drugs in Chehalis big drug case unavailable to use as evidence

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Randall D. Mauel, right, looks to his lawyer Don Blair during his sentencing hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – When police found a backpack containing a one-gallon freezer bag nearly filled with chards of meth and more than $11,000 worth of heroin inside a south Chehalis home in December, they didn’t have the authority to enter the house.

So say lawyers in the case of the Mauel brothers, two men arrested and charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, as well as unlawful use of a building for drug purposes.

“There was an issue with the search warrant affidavit, which would have been extremely difficult for the state to overcome,” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello said yesterday.

Randall D. Mauel, 43, was in Lewis County Superior Court with his attorney, following a plea agreement which would send him to prison for a year and a day.

The raid that took place on Dec. 9 at the 2500 block of Jackson Highway came out of fast-moving investigation by the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. The Lewis County Regional Crime Task Force and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team assisted, contributing about half of the 14 law enforcement officers that swarmed the residence.

Centralia defense attorney Don Blair told the judge a problem with the affidavit was an understatement.

Mauel pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to two counts of drug possession, admitting he had drugs.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey agreed with the recommended time, and read off a list of 16 previous felony convictions, mostly involving drugs, on the defendant’s record.

The judge was told he will be also doing two years for a Thurston County conviction that followed his March arrest in Tenino when detectives reportedly found nearly $10,000 cash in his wallet, along with a little more than an ounce of methamphetamine and a small amount of heroin.

Masiello said the case of  Ryan G. Mauel, the younger brother was resolved a few months ago, with a few months of electronic home monitoring, if he recalled correctly.

The sheriff’s office describes them both as Chehalis residents. When the brothers were charged in December, the judge was told the house belonged to their parents.

“We’re trying to get the best outcome we could possibly get,” Masiello said after the hearing.

Without the drugs available as evidence, the case essentially goes away, he said.

He explained the issue of the search warrant this way: When using an informant, they needed to establish the informant saw what they saw and that the informant was credible, he said.

When the Thurston County drug task force officer made a recorded request by phone to a judge, the officer didn’t really address the veracity part, other than saying, we’ve used this person before, he said.

For background, read “Two charged with drug dealing, two set free after Chehalis area raid” from Wednesday December 11, 2013, here

Tacoma teen’s body recovered from Alder Lake

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Authorities said yesterday 18-year-old Rashawn J. Hale-Moody was trying to cross Alder Lake with friends by holding onto a log when he slipped under.

“The male yelled for help before going under water and not resurfacing,” Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ray Brady said in a news release.

The lake is at the intersection of Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

The Mineral Fire Department was called on Friday afternoon to the area, at the end of Pleasant Valley Road and when they arrived deputies from Pierce County already had a boat in the water and there were numerous people at the site; an old campground.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said it happened in Pierce County. Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Ed Troyer said the young man was not wearing a life vest.

Dive teams from Thurston and Pierce counties searched over the weekend and located his body on Sunday afternoon. Authorities initially reported Hale-Moody was 17 years old.

A 17-year-old boy from Port Orchard who fell into the Ohanapecosh River farther east in Lewis County and was swept away earlier on Friday has not been found.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014


• Deputies responded about 6 a.m. yesterday to the 500 block of River Road outside Chehalis where a pair of individuals camping along the river with people unknown to them said belongings were stolen out of their vehicle. Missing were a wallet, a coin purse, a pill box and a medical bag with unspecified supplies, some of which were found in the vehicle belonging to Mark S. Chesler, 33, of Centralia, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. He denied he took them, but was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail for vehicle prowl and theft, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Police were called about 2:40 p.m. yesterday to a report of stolen prescription medications at the 900 block of F Street in Centralia.

• A 22-year-old Centralia man brought to the Lewis County Jail early yesterday by a Thurston County deputy on a warrant found himself in further trouble when during an intake process, a baggie containing a white substance fell out of his pocket. A deputy responding just after 6 a.m. contacted Cole E. Taylor and found the material field tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A deputy took a report yesterday evening that someone entered a shop building on the 1200 block of Centralia-Alpha Road and broke the windshield and rear window from an El Camino.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that a 53-year-old woman was bit by a Pit Bull when she tried to break up a dog fight early Saturday morning at Ike Kinswa Park.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning that last Thursday when a 57-year-old Onalaska man was checking his mail, he was bit by a dog that advanced on him, forcing him into a ditch. He was wounded above his knee cap. The pet was a Dalamation-Labrador-Pit Bull mix, according to the sheriff’s office.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported today that a 62-year-old Chehalis woman driving a Buick  Sedan turned in front of a motorcyclist on Sunday near Chehalis, causing the victim to lay down his bike. It happened at the 400 block of Bunker Creek Road and the 71-year-old Aberdeen man suffered abrasions to his left arm and leg, according to the sheriff’s office.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, failure to register as a sex offender; responses for alarms, dispute, broken windows … and more.

Stray fireworks mortar lands inside Onalaska woman’s clothing

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Amanda Allen is covered in gauze at Harborview Medical Center’s burn unit on Saturday.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Amanda Allen woke up in her own bed yesterday having a panic attack from a nightmare, slapping at her chest, trying to put the flames out.

The 24-year-old Onalaska woman was scared, but not as frightened as she was on Friday night at the fireworks show near Oakville when an errant mortar struck her in the mouth and shot down inside her zipped up jacket.

It felt like she’d been hit with a baseball, she said.

“Out of nowhere, I get hit in the face,” Allen said. “I see bright lights, I felt like I was on fire; I was on fire.”

Allen recalls trying to rip off her burning coat, and three tribal police appearing, attempting to help remove her flaming clothing.

Much of what followed is a blur, she said.

“I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it happened, she said.


Amanda Allen, undated photo

The Onalaska resident said she was at a friend’s place in Rochester on Friday, and they decided to go watch the Fourth of July show at the Chehalis reservation, something she’d never done before.

They spent time enjoying the concessions with hot dogs and ice cream and watching the numerous fireworks before settling down in the grass near the tribal center for the big event that began after dark.

“There were people all around us, little children, old people,” she said. “There were fountains and ground hogs, and then the people to the right of us were doing bigger ones in the road.”

Her friend Skylar Christoffer said he saw a cake-type device fall over, and it was pointed toward the four of them and the 5-year-old boy sitting next to him, she said.

“He grabbed Ryan and threw him into Travis’s arms,” he said. “Then he was helping me.”

Firefighters were called about 10:45 p.m. to the incident on Neiderman Road, they called for LifeFlight out of Longview and set up a helicopter landing zone, according to Grays Harbor County Fire District 1 Chief Kevin Witt.

It was one of two fireworks-related injuries they responded to there that night, Witt said.

Allen spent the next two days in the burn unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, being treated for burns from her neck down almost to her belly button, she said. Her lip was split open.

She’s feeling fortunate she still has her teeth and was so relieved to discover her nipple was not burned off, she said.

“They said they don’t think my lip will scar too badly,” she said. “They’re not sure about my chest, neck, chin and fingers, because scarring can up to a year to heal,” he said.

It hurts pretty bad, she said yesterday.

She’s home and won’t be able to work; she’s a caregiver for her 20-year-old bedridden brother, she said. She expects to spend time resting, watching movies, and trying to heal.

“One thing I’m worried about, I don’t want to look like Freddy Krueger, I don’t want people to stare at me,” Allen said. “I don’t want to be a sideshow.”

She’s grateful to the first responders, who tried to be gentle, but not very happy with whoever was setting off big fireworks so close to a crowd.

“My mom called the tribal police, they said they got so many stories, they don’t know,” Allen said. “I don’t want to sue them, I don’t want to press charges. I just want them to know I’m pretty messed up, physically and mentally.”


The mortar burns extend from Amanda Allen’s lip and neck to almost her belly button.