October 6, 2008 in City

U-Hi cancels classes because of threat

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Classes were canceled today at University High School in Spokane Valley as a precaution after a threat was made against a student or students, a district official said.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the threat, which is “serious enough for this decision to be made,” said Melanie Rose, the district’s public information officer.

No other Central Valley schools were affected by the closure. Rose said she did not know the nature of the threat.

Rose said school Superintendent Benjamin Small decided to cancel classes at the high school today to give sheriff’s detectives more time to work on the investigation. She anticipated class would resume on Tuesday.

The spokeswoman said the incident was unrelated to a rumor spread by cell phone text messaging by students on Friday that a gun had been brought to the school. That rumor was investigated by the sheriff’s office and determined to be false, Rose said.


Man missing since Friday

The family of a missing 88-year-old Spokane man is asking the public’s help in finding him.

William James, a retired architect who suffers from a mild form of dementia, drove away from his South Hill home on Friday morning and hasn’t been heard from since. His son Andy James said the family has been all over the area searching for signs of him or his car, a 1988 silver Buick LeSabre, with Washington license number 139NLI.

“He’s the type of guy who would stop and ask for directions,” James said. “He’s gotten lost a couple times. The thing that worries me is that he apparently hasn’t contacted anybody.”

James’ big fear is that his father drove south of town toward the Palouse, headed out on a country road and got lost, or ended up in a ravine.

William James is 5-foot-4, 125 pounds and has thick white hair. Anyone with information about James or his car is urged to call 911.

Fire destroys family’s home

A boy playing with a cigarette lighter is believed responsible for a north Spokane house fire on Sunday morning that left a family homeless.

The Spokane Fire Department responded to a report of a house on fire at 173 E. Cleveland at 9:15 a.m. Firefighters found the home in flames. A check inside the home confirmed that all the occupants, two adults and two children, had made it outside safely, according to a news release.

An investigation determined that a 9-year-old playing with a lighter had ignited a curtain, and flames quickly spread to the rest of the home. Damage to the 800-square-foot house was estimated at $160,000.

The Red Cross is helping the family with lodging, fire officials said.

The Fire Department reminds people to leave lighters and matches in secure locations. Fires set by youths result in more than 300 deaths each year.

Blaze damages house

A house fire on Sunday morning temporarily displaced a family of three in the Indian Trail neighborhood of Spokane.

Firefighters responded to 8218 N. Marjorie St. at 11:40 a.m. and found smoke coming from the roof, according to a Fire Department report.

Relatives and friends are assisting the family. Fire investigators suspect an overheated fan motor is responsible for the blaze, which caused an estimated $15,000 in damage. The fire, however, still is under investigation.

Newport, Ore.

Coast Guard ends search

The U.S. Coast Guard has ended its search for a 23-year-old man reportedly swept from the south jetty at Newport.

Petty Officer Shawn Eggert said the search was suspended late Sunday afternoon. The missing man’s name has not been released.

Eggert said a Coast Guard lifeboat was escorting a boat into Newport harbor at 10:42 a.m., when the crew spotted a man waving for them.

The man said he and a friend had just been knocked into the water by a wave. He said the waves pushed him to shore, but his friend was swept away.


Vehicles hit cow, man dies

A car and a pickup traveling in opposite directions simultaneously struck a cow northwest of Crater Lake.

The driver of the car died at the scene, as did the cow.

The Oregon State Police says a Buick driven by 51-year-old Newton Rodney Wonacott, of Central Point, was westbound on Oregon 230 late Saturday as a Ford pickup driven by 28-year-old Aaron Platt, of Redmond, was approaching eastbound.

The vehicles hit a cow that was walking across the highway, but did not come into contact with each other.

The Buick went off the westbound shoulder and struck a tree. Newton Wonacott died and his passenger – 80-year-old Ruby Wonacott, of Medford – was injured. Platt and his passengers were not hurt.

Staff and wire reports

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