In brief: Route 97 crash leaves three dead

MONDAY, FEB. 7, 2011

TONASKET, Wash. – A car slid on slick roads and crashed into oncoming traffic in Okanogan County on Sunday, killing three people, including two children, the Washington State Patrol said.

One car was going northbound Sunday afternoon on state Route 97 when it lost control in slush and spun into a car in a southbound lane about two miles south of Tonasket, near the Canadian border, the WSP said.

Troopers said everyone in the northbound car was ejected by the force of the collision.

The drivers, 44-year-old Cecilia Aldaco-Frias and 45-year-old Kathleen N. Thompson, were hospitalized, as was Thompson’s passenger, Randy J. Thompson, 58.

The WSP said the three dead were passengers in Aldaco-Frias’ car. They included a 4-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy.

Megaload waiting for better weather

KOOSKIA, Idaho – An oil company’s megaload of refinery equipment will remain at a U.S. Highway 12 turnout near Kooskia until at least tonight because of wintry weather moving through the area, according to an Idaho official.

Idaho Department of Transportation spokesman Adam Rush said the equipment headed for Billings is scheduled to start moving again tonight on a 52-mile leg before stopping about five miles east of the Lochsa Ranger Station.

The three-story, 226-foot-long megaload is being moved only at night, and is the first of four megaloads scheduled to cross Idaho and Montana.

No injuries, but fire damages home

Flames in the attic of a Spokane home were quickly extinguished Sunday by firefighters.

No injuries were reported in the 4:35 p.m. blaze at 15 W. Courtland Ave., where light smoke could be seen coming from the back side of the home as the first firefighters rolled onto the scene, according to the Spokane Fire Department. Firefighters doused the flames with a hose.

Cause of the fire remains under investigation by the department’s Special Investigation Unit. Damage was estimated at about $4,000.

Twenty-three firefighters responded to the scene, the department said.

City may toughen panhandling law

BOISE – Boise Mayor Dave Bieter will decide in the next month or so whether to beef up an existing ordinance concerning what some say is a growing problem of panhandling in the tough economy.

City leaders had planned to release details of a new ordinance late last year and put it on the City Council’s agenda this spring.

The city’s legal department is still looking at the proposal.

“The mayor wants to see this new version and see what the next steps are, if any,” Adam Park, Bieter’s spokesman, told the Idaho Statesman.

Boise police say complaints about panhandling are up sharply since 2008, and city officials say most Boise residents want tougher limits.

But Boise officials have said the current ordinance is nearly impossible to enforce and is similar to ordinances elsewhere that have been successfully challenged in court.

Patient left ill-clad, wandering in rain

SEATTLE – Family members are looking for answers after a brain surgery patient clad only in a hospital gown was left wandering in an unfamiliar neighborhood after the University of Washington Medical Center sent him home in a taxi.

James Absten Sr. had gone to the medical center Thursday for tests, according to KOMO-TV. When he checked out OK, the center sent him home in a taxi. But Absten was too disoriented to give the right address. The station says nearby residents found him standing in the cold and rain, wearing only the gown and socks. They helped get him home.

KOMO says the medical center sometimes uses taxis when private rides can’t be arranged. But it says the center acknowledges something went wrong and that an investigation is under way.

Second teenager’s body recovered

YACHATS, Ore. – Crews have recovered the body of a second teenager who was swept off a rocky outcropping into the Pacific Ocean, according to the Oregon State Police.

Lt. Gregg Hastings said 17-year-old Jack Harnsongkram’s body was found Sunday morning. The body of 18-year-old Connor Gregory Ausland was recovered Saturday, hours after both were swept away.

Hastings said a wave knocked the two into the ocean Saturday while they were at the south end of Smelt Sands State Park near Yachats.

Prisoners’ phone rates soared

SALEM – The Oregon Department of Corrections has demanded refunds and a rate rollback from a phone company that provides service to inmates after family members and friends of prisoners complained that the price went up without notice.

Corrections officials said they did not receive word of the rate changes from Value-Added Communications of Plano, Texas, until Tuesday, when they began getting complaints.

A review determined that the phone company violated its contract by not securing agreement with the state and not giving notice, the department said on its website.


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