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NW today: Kayakers watch as croc snatches guide

What’s news in the Northwest today:

JOHANNESBURG – A pair of Northwest kayakers watched in horror as a crocodile snatched their guide from his kayak while he led an expedition from the source of the White Nile into the heart of Congo. South African Hendrik Coetzee, 35, an acclaimed outdoorsman who wrote movingly about testing himself against nature, is presumed dead after the attack. His body has not been recovered. The two Americans — Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic — paddled unharmed to safety after the Tuesday morning attack on the Lukuga River in Congo. They expect to return home to the U.S. shortly. Korbulic is from Rogue River, Ore., and Stookesberry is from Mount Shasta, Calif. The stretch of river where the trio was traveling is notoriously dangerous because of its whitewater, and the high density of crocodiles and hippos.

Bend pit bull mix rescues blind cocker spaniel

REDMOND, Ore. — It’s a heartwarming and a tailwagging story. The Bulletin reports a pit bull mix at the Humane Society of Redmond rescued a blind cocker spaniel that had wandered off from its new owner and collapsed in a snowy ditch near the animal shelter in central Oregon.

The pit bull mix, named Nala, kept tugging on her leash during a walk Monday, and shelter volunteer Alan Borland gave her some lead. They found the 10-year-old spaniel, named Chadwick, curled up in the ditch, filthy and clinging to life with ice balls on his feet. Chadwick had been adopted by a Redmond woman who has given a home to other disabled animals, and was glad to have him back. Meanwhile, the shelter hopes somebody wants to give Nala a good home, too.

Pasco shooting survivor points to defendant

SPOKANE — The only survivor of six men shot at a Pasco garage in 1987 pointed in court at Vicente Ruiz as one of the gunmen. The Tri-City Herald reports 47-year-old Aldo Montes Lamas wiped tears from his eyes Wednesday as he described the shooting. Lamas was wounded in the stomach. Defense lawyers for the 46-year-old Ruiz have argued it’s a case of mistaken identity. Ruiz is charged with five counts of aggravated murder and faces life in prison if convicted. His cousin, Pedro Mendez-Reyna, was convicted in 1994 for his role in the shooting and is serving a life sentence. The trial for Ruiz was moved to Spokane after two mistrials in Franklin County.

Crowd prompts Mount Vernon hospital to lock down

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon went into a lockdown when about 100 relatives and friends came to the emergency room where a man died. Sheriff’s Det. Kay Walker told the Skagit Valley Herald they were upset with the medical community over care for the man. The 30-year-old collapsed at a home in Burlington Tuesday night and was taken to the hospital where he died about an hour later. Family members in the emergency room were described as hostile. Hospital spokeswoman Kari Ranten says because of the number of people, the hospital heightened security. Police, deputies and troopers assisted. No one was violent. There were no arrests.

Historic hotel for sale in Southern Oregon

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. — The historic U.S. Hotel is up for sale in the southern Oregon town of Jacksonville. The Mail Tribune reports the Jackson County Board of Commissioners decided Wednesday to offer the property. But there was no word on whether anybody has expressed interest recently. The county assessor’s office valued the building at $2.2 million in 2009. But that was reduced to $1.7 million in 2010 and the property now is valued at $1.3 million. The Southern Oregon Historical Society will receive $1 million from the proceeds of the sale, which the society will use for operating expenses and to help pay off a $600,000 loan. The remainder from the sale will go to Jackson County, which owns the building but leases it to the historical society.

Jury convicts Oregon man in Boise stabbing

BOISE — A transient from Oregon has been convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing another man eight times during an April fight in a park near downtown Boise. John Walters, 51, of Medford, Ore., was convicted Wednesday by an Ada County jury in the death of 49-year-old Robert Phillips. Prosecutors argued that Phillips was stabbed in the abdomen and chest after being confronted by Walters in a bathroom at Ann Morrison Park. The attack occurred while children were playing, and parents who witnessed the attack testified to seeing the two men arguing earlier that day. Walters was apprehended by police with a knife at his feet. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder in Idaho is life in prison.

Missoula tops Peace Corps volunteer ranking

Missoula, Mont. — The Peace Corps says more of its volunteers come from Missoula than any other U.S. metropolitan area per capita. Officials with the worldwide service organization say that 15 volunteers from Missoula are currently serving at posts around the world. That’s a rate of 13.81 volunteers per 100,000 residents. Burlington, Vt., is next at 12.02 volunteers per 100,000 residents. Montana ranks No. 3 among states that produce Peace Corps volunteers, with 6.97 volunteers for every 100,000 residents. Vermont is first. The Peace Corps says Montana has produced a total of 1,292 Peace Corps volunteers.

3 Springfield police cars damaged in chase

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Springfield police damaged three patrol cars Tuesday night chasing down a hit-and-run suspect. A spokesman, Sgt. John Umenhofer, told The Register-Guard all three cars damaged their light bars when they clipped a partially fallen tree. All three became stuck in the mud on an unpaved road where the fleeing van also got stuck. Repairs are estimated to cost $2,500. The officers arrested the 46-year-old van driver after he tried to run into a wooded area. He had methamphetamine in his possession.

Southwest, PeaceHealth finalize merger

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Southwest Washington Medical Center and PeaceHealth made their marriage final Wednesday, signing papers to launch a nonprofit health system with roughly 15,000 employees, eight hospitals and nearly $2 billion in revenues. The deal cements Bellevue-based PeaceHealth’s plan to move its corporate headquarters and some employees from its other locations to Vancouver, bringing some 340 new jobs with it. It also boosts Vancouver-based Southwest Washington Medical Center’s capacity to expand hospital services in the years ahead while enabling it to team up with another PeaceHealth affiliate – St. John Medical Center in Longview – to serve Southwest Washington residents.

Stores start renting textbooks to college students

MOSCOW – The University of Idaho Bookstore has joined a growing number of campus retailers offering textbook rentals as a way to help students cut education-related costs. About 1,500 college and university bookstores have a rental service this year, up from 300 during the 2009-10 school year, according to The New York Times. The UI Bookstore offered more than 300 different textbook titles for rent this semester, and about 1,300 total copies were rented out. If a book costs $100 new and $75 used, it could cost about $45 to rent the used copy for the semester.

Portland officer cleared in Nov. 23 shooting

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing in the Nov. 23 Portland police shooting that ended in the death of Craig Boehler in a fire. The district attorney’s office says the investigation found Boehler was shot three times by an officer and once by his stepfather during a domestic disturbance, but the gunshots were not fatal. The 46-year-old died of smoke inhalation. The Oregonian reports investigators are trying to determine whether Boehler set the fire or if it was started by a tear gas canister or some other cause.

New Thurston prosecutor fires 5 deputies

OLYMPIA — The newly elected prosecutor in Thurston County is firing five deputy prosecutors. Jon Tunheim is currently chief deputy prosecutor and won the top job in November’s election. Incumbent Ed Holm did not seek re-election, and no one ran against Tunheim. He says the firings have nothing to do with personal feelings, job performance or the budget. He told The Olympian he wants to build the office with his own hires.

2 more arrests in 2009 armored car guard’s death

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Police in Lakewood, Wash., have arrested two more people in the 2009 fatal shooting of an armored car guard outside a Wal-Mart store. The News Tribune says Arnoldo and Jennifer Trevino turned themselves in Wednesday after warrants were issued for their arrests. Police allege the Trevinos drove the shooter, Calvin Finley, around after the robbery. They are also accused of renting a hotel room for Finley. Finley pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in March and is serving a life sentence. Several others have also faced prosecution in the deadly robbery. Loomis armored car guard Kurt Husted was shot in the head for a bag of money in June 2009 at the store.

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