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In brief: Man sentenced for 1978 murder

Sun., April 25, 2010

VANCOUVER, Wash. – A 49-year-old man has been sentenced to 33 years and four months in prison for the 1978 slaying of a Vancouver woman.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Harris sentenced Michael Allen Hersh on Friday for killing Norma Simerly. She was stabbed four times and bludgeoned in the face with firewood in her home on April 28, 1978.

Police suspected Hersh in Simerly’s death when he was arrested for a similar attack on another woman in 1978. But they couldn’t link him to the killing until DNA tests were done several years ago.

Hersch is currently serving time for the 1978 assault of a Hazel Dell woman.

Truck’s fuel line leak reaches bay

SEATTLE – The state Department of Ecology said fluid from a broken hydraulic line on a truck went down a storm drain in Seattle and reached Elliott Bay.

Department spokeswoman Katie Skipper said a containment boom was placed around the outfall at Myrtle Edwards Park after the spill was reported Friday.

She said about 160 gallons of oil may have leaked from the truck, but it’s not known how much went down the storm drain or reached the bay.

Man’s body found in Utah state park

WILLARD, Utah – Crews have removed a man’s body from Willard Bay in northern Utah.

Utah State Parks rangers recovered the man’s remains, still clad in a life jacket.

Ranger Jeff Steele said the badly decomposed body was spotted by fishermen near the bay’s north dike.

He said authorities are investigating whether the remains may be those of 60-year-old Don Larkin, of Pocatello, Idaho, who vanished while visiting the bay on March 22. Authorities later found Larkin’s car parked in Willard Bay State Park.

Investigators say it appeared Larkin may have taken a kayak onto the bay.

BYU-Idaho teacher dies in Tonga

REXBURG, Idaho – Brigham Young University-Idaho said a nursing instructor supervising students has died while on a humanitarian mission to the South Pacific island nation of Tonga.

A school spokesman said 59-year-old Gayle Lee died Thursday after falling from a cliff on Tongatapu and into the sea. Tongatapu is the nation’s largest island.

Spokesman Andy Cargal said 24 nursing students supervised by Lee have been in Tonga since April 17 and were to depart April 30 but now plan to return Tuesday.

Cargal said the cause of the fall remains unknown.

Cargal said Lee’s husband, Gary Lee, was injured in a rescue attempt. The extent of his injuries wasn’t known, but Cargal said he’s well enough to return to the United States on Tuesday.

Woman drowns; another missing

PORT ORFORD, Ore. – One woman has drowned and another is presumed to have drowned near Port Orford on the Oregon Coast.

The Oregon State Police said 78-year-old Darlene Bryson, who lived close to Agate Beach, was found dead Friday afternoon after washing ashore on the beach.

Rescuers were searching for 53-year-old Kathleen Meeker, of Port Orford, who was walking with Bryson on the beach Friday.

Police said the beach where the women were walking is hazardous due to deep, soft sand, numerous rip tides and a severe drop-off where the water meets the beach.

Brucellosis feared near Yellowstone

BILLINGS – Researchers say the animal disease brucellosis is emerging in new “hot spots” around Yellowstone National Park, complicating efforts to control transmissions to cattle.

Artificial elk feeding grounds and herds of bison inside Yellowstone National Park have long been considered the main source of brucellosis infections.

But Paul Cross with the U.S. Geological Survey says a third source is now emerging. Blood tests show large elk herds living far from the feeding grounds have brucellosis exposure rates ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent.

That means getting rid of the feeding grounds and containing the park’s bison might not be enough to stop transmissions to cattle in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Cross was the lead author of a study published Friday by the Public Library of Science.


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