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In brief: Abused Idaho girl’s condition improves

Tue., July 8, 2008

A 3-year-old St. Maries abuse victim has been upgraded to satisfactory condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center, officials said Monday.

Kyra Wine has been hospitalized since June 17 after authorities found her with dead flesh on her hands and feet, extensive bruising and most of her hair missing.

The girl’s mother, 26-year-old Christina Haynes, and her mother’s boyfriend, 29-year-old Charles William Smith, remain in Benewah County Jail on charges of felony injury of a child.

Kyra has undergone multiple surgeries, including the removal of part of one foot and one of her ring fingers.

It is still unclear what caused Kyra’s injuries, officials say.

Benewah County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho Health and Welfare are investigating.

A trust fund has been established at St. Joe Valley Credit Union, P.O. Box 216, St. Maries, ID, 83861. The bank also can be reached by calling (208) 245-4231.


Man accidentally shot in eye dies

A man who shot himself in the eye has died at Sacred Heart Medical Center, officials confirmed Monday.

James Estes, 42, was playing with his gun and thought it was unloaded, Spokane police Officer Tim Moses said in a previous report.

On June 25, several visitors at Estes’ home expressed concern about the gun being out in the open, Moses said. Estes tried to prove it was safe by pointing it at his face and pulling the trigger.

Estes died on Friday, hospital officials said.


Abandoned boy possibly tortured

A Pierce County, Wash., sheriff’s spokesman said a 22-month-old boy who was dropped off at a Tacoma hospital may have been tortured and abused.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said detectives are trying to determine the boy’s name and who his parents are. Troyer also said the child had injuries consistent with torture.

Troyer said the boy is in serious condition and has been taken into protective custody. Troyer did not discuss the extent of the injuries.

A woman dropped off the boy at a hospital Sunday morning. Investigators do not believe she is the boy’s mother.

The woman has told investigators varying stories about how she came to have the boy.


Body of writer found in river

Authorities said Monday they have found the body of an Idaho writer who drowned in a river near Yellow Pine.

Authorities said that the body of William Studebaker was found Monday on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River. Relatives said the poet and kayak fanatic was found under a boulder about 1 1/2 -miles downstream from the spot near some rapids where he was last seen Friday.

Studebaker, 61, of Twin Falls, was seen swimming for shore, then floating facedown after kayaking with friends through a difficult stretch of Class-5 rapids.

Studebaker was the author of about a dozen books of poetry and nonfiction, including “Short of a Good Promise,” a 1999 reminiscence of growing up in the remote Idaho backcountry following World War II.


Priest put on leave while investigated

A Roman Catholic priest is on leave during a church inquiry into a recent allegation that he sexually abused a boy in 1969 in Clark County.

It’s the second time the Rev. Michael C. O’Brien has been placed on leave during an abuse investigation, the Archdiocese of Seattle said. He was returned to parish ministry after a 2004 archdiocesan review board found a separate allegation, dating from the early 1990s, to be not credible.

“All I can say is I never sexually abused anybody, and hopefully it will all be cleared soon,” O’Brien said Monday.

He has been serving as pastor of St. Mary of the Valley parish in Monroe, northeast of Seattle.

An alleged victim said last month he’d been abused in 1969 by O’Brien, who was assistant pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Vancouver at the time, said Greg Magnoni, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Following protocol, the archdiocese told law enforcement, launched its own investigation and offered the alleged victim outside counseling, Magnoni said.

Clallam Bay, Wash.

Entangled whale sought by rescuers

Rescuers were waiting Monday for another sighting of a humpback whale entangled in crab pot lines so they can attempt to free it.

The director of Olympia-based Cascadia Research, John Calambokidis, said the “word is out” for boaters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The whale was last seen Sunday near Clallam Bay, tangled in lines with three buoys.

Calambokidis said it can survive for months, but not in the long run.

Using a pole, he was able to attach marker buoys with a radio transmitter to the lines Saturday, but they were removed overnight by fishermen who thought they were helping.

The 30-foot whale is either a small yearling or calf separated from its mother. Calambokidis said it may be the same whale that was reported entangled in mid-May near Victoria, B.C.

Yellow Pine, Idaho

Small plane crashes, injuring one

Authorities said at least one person was injured when a small plane crashed at a rural airstrip northeast of the mountain town of Yellow Pine.

A Valley County Sheriff Department spokesman said the accident occurred Monday at the Big Creek area in the Payette National Forest.

Police said the plane came to rest about 75 feet beyond the southern end of the runway. Few other details were available.

Victor, Idaho

Golf course offers scooters

An eastern Idaho golf course is giving players the option of riding scooters from shot to shot.

The Teton Reserve Golf Course near Victor has a fleet of all-terrain Segway scooters for golfers who want to trade in their more conventional golf carts.

The Segway scooters are two-wheeled, battery-operated machines that are driven in an upright position. Each is equipped with a device for toting a golf bag on the side.

Clyde Clifford, co-developer of Teton Reserve, says adding the Segways distinguishes the course from others in the region.


Panel sorting out medical coverage

Who decides whether the state will pay for some new or contested medical procedures?

In Washington it’s an 11-member committee. The Health Technology Assessment panel makes decisions that affect about 763,000 Medicaid, workers’ compensation and public employee patients.

Among the decisions: Lumbar fusion is covered as a last resort for back pain. But a CT or “virtual” colonoscopy is not covered because polyps would still have to be removed by a probe.

The Seattle Times reports the panel has made five decisions since it was appointed in 2006 and has five reviews pending. One is whether the state will pay for implantable painkiller pumps for noncancer patients.


Injured climber from S. Carolina

A climber who suffered a head injury when he fell 100 feet while descending Mount Hood is recovering at a Portland hospital in fair condition.

Clackamas County authorities on Monday identified the climber as Erik Scott Heerlein of Charleston, S.C.

From staff and wire reports


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