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In brief: Nail gun accident suspected in injury

A 26-year-old construction worker was seriously injured Wednesday in a possible nail gun accident at Gozzer Ranch near Harrison, Idaho.

The man was found with a nail in the side of his head just after 9 a.m. and was flown by helicopter to Kootenai Medical Center. Dispatcher reports indicated he was unconscious and that CPR was under way when authorities were called.

A project manager with the man’s employer, Edwards Construction Inc. of Coeur d’Alene, said he was in serious condition Wednesday afternoon.

“We don’t know what happened,” Project Manager Andy Smith said. “There were no witnesses.”

Smith said the victim had been employed by the company as a framer for a year. He declined to release the worker’s name.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration is investigating the incident.

A compliance officer from the federal agency was expected to arrive at the scene sometime Wednesday afternoon, according to Van Howell, assistant area director for OSHA in Idaho.

Howell said additional details would be released today.


Gregoire blocks Real ID plan

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday signed legislation rejecting Real ID, a federal identification requirement that would essentially create a national ID card.

The bill is part of a growing rebellion against an expensive federal mandate that the American Civil Liberties Union says would threaten personal privacy.

The new state law says Washington will not implement the new Real ID system unless: Uncle Sam foots the bill, addresses privacy and security concerns, and the system doesn’t place unreasonable costs or recordkeeping burdens on citizens.

The measure also gives the state attorney general the authority, if the governor concurs, to go to court to challenge the federal law.

The system, adopted by Congress in 2005, requires states to develop a new driver’s license and personal identification card that allows information to be checked by national databases. It requires the applicant to show a birth certificate, proof of citizenship, proof of state residency and other information. The person’s information must be stored electronically by the state.

The system, which is supposed to be a requirement in 2008, would cost the state $250 million to develop and implement, the governor said.


Prosecutor gets firefighter case

Washington State Patrol has forwarded its investigation of a triple-fatal crash to the county prosecutor.

“We are recommending that the prosecutor’s office review the case for charges,” WSP Capt. Jeff Otis said Wednesday.

Deputy prosecutor Clint Francis said the case won’t be reviewed until next week.

On Jan. 20, Spokane firefighter David Batty rear-ended a van on U.S. Highway 2, pushing it into an oncoming pickup. Killed were Gregory Stueck, 37; Kalen Hearn, 22; and Michael Edwards, 51.

Batty told investigators he had been prescribed two painkillers, a muscle relaxant and a sleep aid after a back surgery. Results of a blood test have not been released.

Batty, a lieutenant, has been on leave from the Fire Department since Aug. 28 for an injury.

He was convicted of vehicular homicide in 1993 for a drunken crash in which one person was killed. Alcohol is not considered a factor in January’s crash.

Suspect denies taking pickup

The man accused of stealing an off-duty police officer’s pickup and then getting shot in the head pleaded innocent Wednesday to second-degree vehicle theft.

Shonto K. Pete’s attorney argued during the arraignment that there was a lack of evidence for the charge, but Spokane Superior Court Judge Mark Price didn’t budge.

Pete remains jailed on $10,000 bail. His trial is set for June 11.

Pete is accused of stealing James “Jay” Olsen’s truck from outside a downtown bar in late February. Olsen shot at Pete four times, hitting him once, after chasing him into the Peaceful Valley neighborhood.

Olsen is charged with first-degree assault and reckless endangerment. He was released Monday night after posting bail.

Olsen, who is on unpaid leave, has not yet been arraigned.

Pair arrested in double stabbing

Two men were arrested late Tuesday after two other men were stabbed near a north Spokane shopping center, police said.

Spokane police used canine units to track the men to a nearby apartment building.

James E. Skinner, 24, was arrested on felony charges of second-degree assault and riot. Castile D. Smith, 21, was arrested on felony riot charges.

The stabbing occurred shortly after 10 p.m. behind the Fred Meyer store on East Francis Avenue after two groups of young men got into an argument, police said.

One of the victims was cut on the neck. The other was cut on the chest. None of the wounds is life-threatening.

The names of the victims were unavailable.

Couple arrested on meth charges

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an overdose call early Wednesday and arrested a couple on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine, marijuana and unprescribed narcotics.

Deputies were called by medics to a Spokane home in the 5900 block of South Assembly Street where they found the couple at the end of the driveway.

After learning that 36-year-old Anthony M. Vulcano had an outstanding theft warrant, deputies arrested him.

During a search of 35-year-old Tamra Ann Jones’ purse, the deputies found syringes, a glass tube, spoon and methamphetamine, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.

Jones also had a drug pipe and marijuana, as well as an unprescribed anti-anxiety tablet, deputies said.

Jones was booked on drug charges, and Vulcano was arrested on the theft warrant and drug charges.


Statehouse seeks woodworkers

Idaho woodworkers with the ability to make decorative woodwork and mementos from trees now on the Statehouse grounds are being invited to participate in the renovation of the state Capitol.

Though three-quarters of the trees on the Statehouse grounds have been moved as workers prepare to dig new underground wings to expand the Capitol, those that remain are either too large to move or in poor health. Keith Johnson, director of the state Department of Administration, said some of the wood is “historic and of great value to the Capitol’s history.” It includes a tree planted by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.

The maple, cherry, spruce, oak, redwood and pine will be turned into desks, bookcases, benches, small carvings, and mementos to adorn the renovated Capitol building.

Wood hobbyists or professionals can contact Diane Blume at (208) 332-1826 or They’ll be asked to donate the majority of their finished products.

From staff and wire reports