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In brief: Sheriff’s office identifies kayaker

Thu., Sept. 29, 2011

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office has identified the 51-year-old woman who died Sept. 21 while kayaking on the North Fork of the Flathead River as Shawna Thomas, of Coeur d’Alene.

Thomas worked in the office of the Idaho State Police in Coeur d’Alene, Undersheriff Jordan White said in an email.

Thomas and her 59-year-old husband were in a two-seated kayak about four miles south of Polebridge when the accident happened about 1 p.m., a news release from the sheriff’s office said.

Thomas and her husband had extensive experience and were properly equipped and trained for the river and the conditions, the release said. Both were wearing life jackets. However, they had little time to react when they went around a tight corner and their rigid-framed collapsible kayak became trapped between two clusters of tree roots that were hanging over the river.

The accelerated force of the water around the bend twisted the front of the kayak around one of the clusters, causing the boat to roll and bend. Thomas was caught in the partially collapsed vessel while her husband was washed out, the release said. He wasn’t injured and attempted repeatedly to free his wife, eventually hiking to nearby North Fork Road for help.

Rescuers freed Thomas but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Groups schedule political debates

Spokane candidates will give their pitch for city office during several debates today.

The League of Women Voters will hold debates featuring candidates for mayor, City Council president, three City Council seats and one position on the Spokane School Board. The event also includes forums on the Spokane County animal control measure, the Community Bill of Rights initiative and three state initiatives.

The event starts at 5 p.m. at Spokane City Hall and is open to the public. It will be taped and will air eight times on CityCable 5, starting at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Mayoral candidates Mary Verner and David Condon also will debate at noon at the weekly downtown Rotary meeting at the Spokane Club.

Two other debates next month were recently announced.

The annual Chase Youth Commission debate will start at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at Spokane City Hall. Teens in the audience will cast votes for each race. Results will be announced that night.

Ferris High School’s leadership class will host two debates starting at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at the school’s auditorium. One forum will feature Verner and Condon. The other will feature Spokane School Board candidates Deana Brower and Sally Fullmer.

Protest to support Occupy Wall Street

A protest is planned in Spokane to support Occupy Wall Street and similar protests cropping up around the nation.

Protesters will speak out about national and local issues such as the state of the economy, homelessness, officer-involved shootings and increasing police oversight, said organizer Jessica Nuna.

“It’s hopefully going to be a chance to really unify Spokane and bring the issues in Spokane to the forefront, but it’s also about the nationwide issues,” Nuna said.

Setup for the protest began Wednesday, and organizers plan to run the sit-in until Jan. 1, according to the Occupy Spokane Facebook page.

The protest will take place on West Riverside Avenue in front of the Spokane Club, near the U.S. Courthouse.


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