What’s news in the Northwest today:
BOISE — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says 43,000 pounds of cantaloupe donated to the public in southern Idaho might have been contaminated with listeria, but most of it has probably already been eaten or thrown away. Health and Welfare spokeswoman Emily Simnitt wrote in the press release that department officials learned today that the recalled cantaloupe had been distributed in the state in late August. Public health officials are currently investigating one Idaho illness that might be linked to the outbreak: A Jerome County woman in her 60s became ill with listeria in early September. She was hospitalized for a time but has recovered. No other illnesses have been reported in Idaho. The department says the melons were shipped from Jensen Farms of Colorado to Select Express in Aberdeen. They were too ripe to be commercially sold, so Select Express donated the fruit between Aug. 28 and Sept. 2. Most of the donated melons have probably been eaten or disposed of by now, according to the department’s statement. Still, health officials are warning people who think they might have some of the contaminated melons to throw them away. Those who have eaten the cantaloupe should watch for symptoms and seek medical attention if they occur within 70 days, according to the department.
Idaho woman dies in fiery crash on Highway 95
A Cottonwood, Idaho, woman died late Wednesday in a fiery crash involving a semi-truck and trailer, Idaho State Police said. Elaine L. Crea, 62, died at the scene of the accident at U.S. Highway 95 and Gulch Road, which is south of Cottonwood. She was headed north in a 2002 Chrysler 300 and attempting to turn onto Gulch Road when the accident occurred about 5:30 p.m. Another northbound vehicle driven by Jessica L. Enneking, 25, of Cottonwood was slowing for Crea. However, a 2004 Peterbilt tractor-trailer rig driven by Charles E. Sumner, 75, of Clarkston, was unable to stop and initially hit Enneking’s vehicle, pushing it into a field. The semi then hit Crea’s vehicle on the driver’s side, pushing it down the highway. Crea’s vehicle and the semi burst into flames. Sumner escaped, but Crea was not able to escape the fire, according to Idaho State Police.
N. Idaho county offers healthy lifestyle discount
SANDPOINT — A North Idaho county is offering public employees a 5 percent discount on their health insurance premiums — if they can pass a wellness screening. Bonner County commissioners voted Tuesday to offer the discounted health care to employees who pass a health screening on several indicators including tobacco use, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, alcohol use and blood sugar. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports Commissioner Mike Nielsen proposed the program that takes effect Oct. 1, saying it could save money by promoting healthier lifestyles and reducing the number of medical claims filed. But the discount may prove a meager incentive to some. For instance, public employee Anna Bates says she would only save about $3.50 a month. Nielsen contends the program can be expanded later to include more incentives.
Whitefish Oktoberfest hunting for hounds
KALISPELL, Mont. — Organizers of the Great Northwest Oktoberfest in Whitefish are looking for a few good dogs. A couple dozen dachshunds, in fact. The Flathead Beacon reports organizers were a bit, well, short on entries and asked for help rounding up potential contestants for Saturday afternoon’s dachshund drag races. Dogs must be pre-registered. The entry fee is $3. Other contests include keg hurling, stein holding, log sawing, waitress races and a brat-eating contest billed as “the wurst minute of your life.”
Campaign to keep dog droppings out of Puget Sound
OLYMPIA — A campaign was launched Wednesday to urge south Puget Sound dog owners to pick up after their pets to prevent waste from polluting shellfish beds. The campaign called Scoop to Win is funded by Thurston County and aimed at pet owners in the Henderson Inlet and Nisqually Reach watersheds. The goal is to protect commercial shellfish growing areas that have a history of closures due to bacteria pollution washed into the sound by stormwater. The Olympian reports that over the next month volunteers will visit parks and neighborhoods, marking piles of waste with flags and talking with pet owners about the importance of cleaning up.
2 Glacier High students charged in assault on bus
KALISPELL, Mont. — Two of six Glacier High School freshmen football players who were suspended from school and kicked off the team after reports of bullying on the team bus now face criminal charges. Kalispell police say one 15-year-old boy is charged with sexual assault while another is charged with accountability to sexual assault. The charges were filed in Youth Court and the boys’ names were not released. The other four involved in the alleged assault of as many as eight teammates don’t face criminal charges, but may face further punishment by the school. Parents and grandparents of students on the bus told police that several players were taken to the back of the bus and assaulted and molested as the team returned from a game in Missoula on Sept. 12.
Vigilant mom prevents child abduction
TUMWATER, Wash. – Tumwater police are looking for a man who tried to lure a young boy into his car. The incident happened at a bus stop during the Monday morning commute. Until this week, Dorothy Scott felt pretty comfortable knowing she’s had the ”stranger danger” talk with her children. But Monday morning, the warning was put to the test not far from their home, when police said a man approached her 12-year-old son Glenn at the bus stop in Tumwater. A vehicle stopped and a man asked her son, “Hey kid, want a ride?” Scott screamed and the man took off. ”My mom taught me not to talk to strangers, but I didn’t know how to reply or what to say, I was dumbfounded,” her son said.
Second trial begins for Idaho man in fatal crash
POCATELLO, Idaho — An Idaho Falls man is facing his second trial in connection with a fatal crash after the first trial resulted in a hung jury. Cody McDermott-Reid is charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and aggravated driving under the influence in connection with a single car crash that killed 24-year-old Angie Large and injured Michaela Bjarnson last year. He was first tried on the charges last October, but that case ended in a mistrial after the jury wasn’t able to reach a verdict. The Idaho State Journal reports that opening arguments in the new trial began Wednesday. Prosecutors say McDermott-Reid was behind the wheel of his silver BMW the night of the crash, but defense attorneys say Large may have been driving when the accident happened.
Machete-wielding men menace Puyallup family
PUYALLUP, Wash. – Puyallup police are searching for suspects after a group of machete-wielding, masked men broke into a home and threatened residents Tuesday morning. About 9 a.m., 911 received a call reporting a home invasion in the 300 block of 4th Street SE. The caller ”stated several masked men were in the house with machetes threatening the occupants. A firearm owned by the homeowner was taken by the suspects during the incident,” Puyallup police Capt. Dalan Brokaw said. Before police arrived on the scene, the suspects were gone. Investigators don’t believe the home invasion was a random act. ”Investigators believe the residence was targeted by suspects involved with an adult sibling living at the residence,” Capt. Brokaw said. No one was injured in the incident.
Two more gas leaks in north Seattle, brings total to 10
SEATTLE – Puget Sound Energy found two more gas leaks in a north Seattle neighborhood Wednesday, bringing the total to ten. The discoveries came after a home exploded early Monday morning that sent a husband and wife to the hospital with serious injuries. A Seattle attorney, David Beninger, who clashed with PSE over its handling of a 2004 gas leak and house explosion that killed a Bellevue woman in 2004, is now questioning PSE’s investigation of gas leaks leading up to the explosion in Pinehurst. During Sunday’s storm, it appears a tree fell into a power line and caused holes in the natural gas pipes. PSE crews went door to door searching for leaks, but stopped short of the area where a home later exploded early Monday morning.
Feds seek new information in murder of Seattle prosecutor
SEATTLE – Federal investigators announced a new effort to solve the 2001 murder of Western Washington Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas C. Wales today. The FBI, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny A. Durkan are undertaking a ”major effort to seek information from the public related to the 2001 slaying of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas C. Wales,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. Wales made a name for himself fighting for stricter gun control laws and enforcement. He was shot through the window of his Queen Anne home while working at his computer Oct. 11, 2001. Details regarding the new effort to solve Wales’ murder were announced Wednesday afternoon at a press conference. U.S. Attorney Durkan stressed the importance that people with information should contact the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL FBI.
Great Falls woman charged with fake raffle
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Great Falls woman is charged with failing to award the prize from a 50-50 raffle that she said was to support her daughter’s soccer team. The Great Falls Tribune reports Michelle Denise Mitchell-Devine is charged with felony theft. Court records say Mitchell-Devine sold 200 tickets at $10 each for the raffle in April and May. The drawing was to be held May 30 at a casino, but Mitchell-Devine did not show up. She later said she held the drawing at her house. In June, she ran a newspaper ad thanking those who supported the fundraiser and saying that Harold B. won the $1,000 prize. However, others say she gave at least two other names of winners. Mitchell-Devine appeared in court Wednesday with her attorney Larry LaFountain.
Jackie Kennedy relative jailed again in Oregon
MEDFORD, Ore. — The half-brother of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, James Auchincloss, is back in jail in Oregon, accused of violating terms of his probation in a child pornography case. A Jackson County sex offender program manager told the Mail Tribune the 64-year-old Ashland man was arrested Tuesday in Medford and is being held without bail for a hearing but did not say how Auchincloss violated probation. He pleaded guilty in August 2010 to encouraging child sexual abuse for having computer images of naked boys. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to undergo sex offender treatment. He was in contact with officials again in December, March and June for various violations and denying that he needed therapy.
Washington dead man appeals murder conviction
SEATTLE — The family of a man who committed suicide four days after he was sentenced to life in prison is appealing his conviction, attempting to clear his name at taxpayers’ expense. The Seattle Times reports that 57-year-old Christopher Harrison Devlin was found dead Sept. 20, 2010 at a Spokane County jail cell. Earlier that week, Devlin had been convicted of killing a man who had been set to testify against him in an assault trial. Devlin’s attorneys immediately appealed his conviction. Attorney Gregory Link argues that a recent state Supreme Court decision allows him to seek the appeal, even though a previous law dismissed those types of appeals. And because Devlin was broke at the time of his death, the attorney and Devlin’s sister want the state to pay. Senior deputy Spokane County prosecutor Mark Lindsey says the right to appeal is solely for an individual. Both sides have turned to the state Court of Appeals to settle the matter.