NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Man’s body found on Riverton bike path

RIVERTON (WNE) — A 62-year-old man was found dead Monday afternoon on a bike path in Riverton. 

Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen said the American Indian man’s identity will be released once next of kin have had time to notify his extended family. 

“It was a John Doe, and we just got identification today, so I need to let the family (have time to) notify, because there are some extended next of kin that are not local,” Stratmoen said Tuesday. “I’ll give (them) at least 24 hours before I release the name.” 

Stratmoen said the man was living in Fremont County at the time of his death. The man’s cause of death will be determined by an autopsy, which won’t take place until Friday in Loveland, Colorado, due to a winter storm forecast for the area that is expected to bring hazardous travel conditions to the region

“I’m not going to send my deputy down and have him stranded in Rawlins,” Stratmoen said. 

The man’s body was discovered at about 2:35 p.m. Monday in the 200 block of North Broadway.

The initial report was regarding an unresponsive subject lying on the Rails to Trails recreation path wearing a T-shirt, jeans and one shoe. 

At about 2:40 p.m. a Riverton Police Department officer who responded to the scene indicated the man was deceased, according to initial reports.

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Utah man killed in crash near Laramie

LARAMIE (WNE) — A fatal crash occurred on Interstate 80 east of Laramie on Saturday morning.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeremy Beck said the wreck, which occurred around 9:23 a.m., played a key role in the closure on I-80 from Laramie to Cheyenne.

As traffic was building up in Laramie, Beck said the situation also caused an eastbound closure from Rawlins.

The four-vehicle collision occurred when a Freightliner tractor-trailer was traveling westbound on I-80.

The Freightliner had stopped in the roadway due to other traffic stopping ahead, according to a WHP press release. A 2018 Hyundai Kona had stopped behind the Freightliner. The driver of a second Freightliner tractor-trailer failed to negotiate the stopped traffic and collided with the stopped Hyundai, pushing it into the rear of the first Freightliner. Shortly after this collision, a third Freightliner tractor-trailer collided with the second Freightliner.

The driver of the Hyundai was identified as 48-year-old Salt Lake City, Utah, resident Brook N. Williams. Williams was wearing his seatbelt but succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the crash.

The passenger in the Hyundai has been identified as 47-year-old Salt Lake City, Utah resident Melanie Williams. She was wearing her seatbelt and transported to Ivinson Memorial Hospital for her injuries sustained in the crash.

Speeding too fast for the winter road conditions are being investigated on the part of Castillo and Potkaj as a contributing factor to the crash. The road conditions were slick with black ice and blowing snow. There was little to no visibility at the time of the crash.

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Public’s help sought in Roosevelt Fire probe

AFTON (WNE) — Fire investigator officers and agents with U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations on the Bridger-Teton National Forest have spent months continuing the investigation into the ignition of the Roosevelt Fire. Now the Forest Service is looking for help from the public.

The Roosevelt Fire began mid-September 2018 during a period of heavy recreation use. Many visitors were enjoying their public lands during the opening of rifle deer season. The incident led to the loss of numerous private homes and structures in the Bondurant area, as well as serious injuries to National Forest visitors.

Investigators have determined the Roosevelt fire to be human caused, originating from an abandoned warming fire in the upper reaches of the Hoback River drainage. The fire ignited approximately three miles west of the Upper Hoback Trailhead, from a small topographic bench, on a steep timbered slope, approximately 110 yards above the trail, on the south side of the canyon. The area is located approximately three-quarters of a mile east of the lower reaches of Roosevelt Meadows, just inside the Sublette County line. It’s believed the involved person or persons may have used this location as an observation or resting point while passing through the area. Numerous people were present in the backcountry that weekend who may be able to contribute information helpful to the investigation.

Anyone with information as to the cause of the incident, or persons responsible, is urged to contact U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement at 208-557-5852.

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LaGrange seeks law enforcement presence

TORRINGTON – Town of LaGrange Mayor Mike Marshall and Public Works Director Tracy Pragnell spoke to the Goshen County Board of Commissioners during their meeting last week to inform the commission there is an increasing need for law enforcement presence in the county’s southern-most population center. 

According to the LaGrange officials, there has been a small outbreak of criminal activity in the town, including an attempted robbery and a break-in, as well as a vandalism incident at the town’s roping arena. The people of LaGrange have also had issues with speeding vehicles passing through town. 

“We’ve had a few incidences in the LaGrange area in the last few months,” Marshall said. “We’re seeing more of a need for law protection down there. We talked to Sheriff (Kory) Fleenor about it at our last town council meeting the other night to try to come up with some ideas. It’s just something to throw out there. We’re looking for ideas and some information.” 

Marshall told the council LaGrange last had its own law enforcement officer in the 1970s, and the town probably still doesn’t need a full-time officer, but the increase in criminal activity and increased speed limits on the roads around LaGrange have created a potentially dangerous situation. 

“The traffic through LaGrange has picked up because of the speed limits,” he said. “It’s almost as fast to go the Cheyenne from Scottsbluff than it is to go to the interstate. That’s what people are doing.” 

Commission Vice Chairman John Ellis agreed higher speed limits have resulted in more traffic on rural roads, and said enforcing speed limits in remote areas is a challenge for the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office because there are only so many deputies on patrol. 

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Lusk schools adopt 4-day week

LUSK (WNE) -– Following two public forums and an open board meeting, the Niobrara County School Board voted to move forward with an alternative, four-day calendar for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. 

The selection of this calendar is predicated on approval from the state, which must be granted before the district can move forward with the specifics of the academic and activities calendars for the upcoming years. The alternate calendar does meet the state hourly minimums as established by the State Department of Education of 950 hours a year for elementary, 1,050 hours a year for middle school, and 1,150 hours a year for high school students. 

The total instructional time for high school students will be increased by 23 minutes during the school day, however, at the elementary level, it will be unnecessary to increase instructional time. 

The extra minutes in the proposed elementary calendar could be used for extended lunches, recess or non-core instructional time and interventions. 

At both forums and during the board meeting, concerns were expressed about the intent behind the four-day calendar, along with the resulting reduction in overall instructional days. The question of teacher and support staff work time and contract hours were also addressed. 

George Mirich, district superintendent, emphasized the change to an alternate schedule was not intended to be a budget item nor was it intended to fundamentally change teacher contracts. Currently staff are contracted to work from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Because students won’t be in the schools for regular instruction time past 4 p.m., staff contracts will not change. 

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Man charged in assault of teen pleads guilty

GILLETTE (WNE) — A man accused of threatening and beating a 16-year-old boy who was with his daughter pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated assault and battery and reckless endangerment.

A trial for Adam Keuck, 39, had been scheduled to begin Monday in District Court, but after reaching a plea deal last week he now faces sentencing May 24 on the two charges.

Keuck had been charged with four counts of aggravated assault and battery and two counts of aggravated burglary in the April 14, 2018, incident in which he and the girl’s mother followed their daughter to a boy’s house.

Charges against Sara B. Cage, 39, are still pending.

Four teenagers had gathered at a house April 14, including their daughter, who had been picked up by a friend. The friend told police that when he picked her up, Keuck came to the car and spoke threateningly to him, pointing out the young age of his daughter. He reportedly pointed a handgun at the 17-year-old, saying, “They’ll never find your body,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.

After the two teenagers left, Keuck and Cage decided to follow them.

When they arrived at the house, they learned that the girl and another boy were in a bedroom. They went into the house without invitation, upstairs to the bedroom and pulled the boy by his hair out of a closet where he had hidden, according to the affidavit.

The boy was thrown on the bed and Keuck began punching him, eventually drawing a firearm from a holster and pointing it at the boy’s face.