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In brief: Airway Heights prison inmate was killed by tree

An Airway Heights prison inmate who died while clearing state land in Stevens County last week was hit by a falling tree, the Stevens County coroner said Friday.

Daniel J. Hall, 47, had been serving a sentence for drug and auto theft convictions since January 2011, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Coroner Patti Hancock said Friday that Hall died Oct. 17 of skull fractures caused by a tree falling on his head. She said it appeared to be an accident.

The tree “was burned at the stump and it just fell. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Hancock said.

Hall was the second Airway Heights inmate to die clearing land owned by the Washington Department of Natural Resources in Stevens County. Last October, 22-year-old Danny R. Bergeson was electrocuted cutting a tree near a power line on DNR land.

A DNR spokesman said last week that it’s common for prison crews to work on DNR property. Hall was a minimum-security inmate due to be released next September.

Addy Hatch

Former Deaconess CEO dies of gunshot wound

Jeff A. Nelson, an executive brought in to attempt a financial turnaround of Deaconess Medical Center nine years ago, was found dead Tuesday from a gunshot wound at his home outside Minneapolis.

Nelson left Spokane in 2007 after shepherding the sale of Deaconess and Valley hospitals to current owner Community Health Systems Inc.

He was working as president of Northwestern Health Sciences University, a small nonprofit school that offers programs in chiropractic, acupuncture and Oriental medicine and massage therapy, when he died.

Police in Stillwater, Minn., are not seeking any suspects in the shooting, according to the university and media reports in Minneapolis.

Nelson’s work at Deaconess from 2004 to 2007 came amid financial turmoil, including losses of tens of millions of dollars. He was loaned to Deaconess by Tatum Partners Inc., a group of executives who root out systemic business problems and make tough decisions to right balance sheets.

John Stucke


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Before the falls: Spokane and the history of river cities

The falls are beautiful, they’re powerful and they’re the reason for the city. Spokane is one of a small number of American cities that have falling water in their hearts, and it’s no accident. The reasons for a city are many, but chief among them is water – for drinking, for transportation, for industry and, most recently, for beauty.