Wyoming News Briefs
July 13, 2023
Colorado man dies, bus driver airlifted in Sunday morning crash
GILLETTE (WNE) — A 25-year-old Colorado man died and a bus driver was airlifted for treatment after a head-on crash Sunday morning south of Wright.
Campbell County Coroner Paul Wallem said Nicholas Finnian Mahoney, of Littleton, Colorado, died instantly at the scene.
Sheriff Scott Matheny said the Sheriff’s Office began receiving “numerous” 911 calls at about 7:30 a.m. for a pickup versus passenger bus accident on Highway 59 south of Cosner Road.
He said Mahoney was driving north on the highway in a 2018 gray Ford F-150 when he crossed the double yellow lines and hit a southbound mine passenger bus.
Mahoney had chest and head injuries and was removed from the truck, Wallem said. The driver, age unknown, of the Dakota Bus Service passenger bus was taken to a hospital for treatment by helicopter.
Matheny said there were no other notable injuries to bus passengers.
Rod Orullian, a truck driver who often drives on Highway 59, approached the aftermath shortly after the crash. He saw about six or seven bus passengers trying to get out of the bus through the side windows, while emergency responders worked to take the bus driver out of the vehicle.
Orullian said bus passengers weren’t able to get out through the regular doors. The bus hadn’t tipped over but it had gone about 600-700 yards through a field off of the road.
Orullian said he was at the crash site for about two hours before the debris was cleared and the road was reopened.
Scammers posing as police officers in Park County
CODY (WNE) — Scammers are posing as local law enforcement officers, accusing victims of not reporting for jury duty or missing a court date, and asking for payment in return, according to Cody Police Department’s Facebook page.
“Scam tactics continually change, but an example of one recently being used is: [the] scammer identifies themselves as a Cody police officer and accuses the victim of not reporting for jury duty and is being fined, or the victim missed a court date and there is a warrant for their arrest unless a payment is made,” the CPD’s Facebook page said.
The payment is demanded in various forms, including prepaid credit cards, wire transfers and even cash sent by mail or inserted into cryptocurrency ATMs, the Facebook post said.
“Victims are asked to read prepaid card numbers over the phone or text a picture of the card,” it said.
“Scammers will use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim,” the post said. “And [they] will urge victims not to tell anyone else, including family, friends or financial institutions about what is occurring.”
There are several ways to protect yourself from these scams, CPD said.
“Law enforcement authorities will never contact members of the public by telephone to demand any form of payment, or to request personal or sensitive information,” the Facebook post said. “Any legitimate investigation or legal action will be done in person or by official letter.”
The CPD encourages citizens never to give any personal identifying information to anyone unless the caller’s identity can be verified. It also recommends people cease all contact with the scammers immediately, notify their financial institutions to safeguard any financial accounts and file a police report, the Facebook post said.
“Be sure to keep any financial transaction information, including prepaid cards and banking records and all telephone, text or email communications,” it added.
WYDOT awarded federal RAISE grant for I-25/I-80 interchange
CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Wyoming Department of Transportation is the recipient of a 2023 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity discretionary grant to help fund the redesign of the Interstate 80/Interstate 25 interchange in Cheyenne.
“This is the third time we’ve applied for federal grant funding for this interchange, so we are thrilled to have the chance to move forward,” Keith Fulton, WYDOT assistant chief engineer of engineering and planning, said in a news release.
The $13 million grant will help fund the final design work for a new interchange configuration, where the two busy interstates meet.
“The current cloverleaf design is obsolete, and the sharp, tight curves, paired with vehicle weaving, and insufficient acceleration and deceleration lanes can create issues for freight and other traffic movement,” Fulton said in the release.
The RAISE grant does not fund any construction work, but Fulton explained that design work is crucial before any shovels can hit the dirt.
“Once we have a final design, we can better estimate construction costs and possible phasing of projects,” he said.
Lander Fourth of July celebration featured high-speed chase
LANDER (WNE) — No spectators were injured during Lander’s Fourth of July celebration after a high-speed chase sped through town and ended in a crash on Sinks Canyon Road.
According to Lander Police Chief Scott Peters, a 911 call was received at just before 2 p.m. from a female subject who said the driver of a red sport utility vehicle was going to “crash the car,” and that he was assaulting her and holding her against her will.
Police intercepted the vehicle on Highway 789, and when the driver failed to pull over, a high-speed pursuit began.
The chase reached speeds of 100 mph through town.
“Due to the violence involved with the complainant, Lander Police officers continued the pursuit to attempt to save the life of the passenger, driver and others,” Peters wrote of the incident.
Police attempted to funnel the pursuit away from Lander city limits, and it eventually ended on Sinks Canyon Road when the 17-year-old suspect crashed the car.
The suspect was taken into custody and treated at a local medical facility for injuries related to the crash. He was referred for possible charges of felony eluding, driving while under the influence, and reckless endangering. Drugs and alcohol appear to be contributing factors, according to Peters.
Kids discover fossils and formations through Science Kids class
SHERIDAN (WNE) — Science Kids is transporting youth millions of years into the past with its “Mineral Miners and Fossil Finders” class this week.
The class centers around various topics in geology and paleontology and is geared toward children ages 12 through 14 years old. A similar version of the class designed for younger children took place in June.
The goal of Science Kids is to give children hands-on educational opportunities outside of a traditional classroom.
The Mineral Miners and Fossil Finders program allows students to explore the history and geological features of the Bighorn Mountains through various field trips to sites such as the Museum of Discovery at Sheridan College, Dayton Mercantile and a petrified forest. They also get the chance to do preparation work on fish fossils, pan for gold and make a cast of a dinosaur jaw bone.
Dave Nicolarsen, a geologist who has also been involved with the curation of dinosaur displays at the Museum of Discovery, instructs the class.
Nicolarsen said Sheridan County’s natural landscape and geological features make it an ideal place for young scientists to rock out.
“The whole area has been uplifted and eroded away over the last 65 million years. We see some of the basic rock formations that are normally way down deep in the ground, so we get to look at those,” Nicolarsen said. “A lot of other states don’t have these types of deposits that are actually showing on the surface.”
He said over the course of the class, students learn to use various pieces of archaeological equipment, grow in technical skills and improve their critical thinking abilities.
Secretary of state welcomes addition of election measures
CHEYENNE (WNE) — On July 1, Secretary of State Chuck Gray welcomed several new additions to the Wyoming Election Code.
House Enrolled Act 46, which strengthens Wyoming’s voter ID law for absentee ballots, and House Enrolled Act 30, which increases transparency in the release of Wyoming’s Voter Registry List information, went into effect July 1, according to a news release from his office.
House Enrolled Act 70, which prevents crossover voting and closes Wyoming’s primaries, and Senate Enrolled Act 86, which advances election security by, among other things, shortening the early voting period from 45 days to 28 days, previously went into effect in March.
“Wyoming’s 2023 Legislative Session saw the passage of a number of landmark election integrity bills. I am proud of our administration’s work in advocating for advancements in election integrity and security, and our team is working hard to ensure their smooth and efficient implementation in preparation of the 2024 Election,” Gray said in the news release.
The Wyoming Secretary of State publishes the Wyoming Election Code.
To view a copy of the revised Election Code, visit the Secretary of State’s website.
Man arrested for felony theft and drug possession at Walmart
GILLETTE (WNE) — Police arrested a 58-year-old man for felony counts of theft and drug possession Wednesday evening at Walmart.
An employee called officers to report video of the man taking carts full of unpaid items from the store on June 18 and June 28. The woman told officers the same man was currently at the store, Police Deputy Chief Brent Wasson said.
Officers spoke with the man, James Comstock, at Walmart who also had been previously trespassed from the store. He denied being the man from the videos but allowed officers to search his vehicle where they found about 5.5 grams of meth.
The value of the stolen items in June amounted to $1,216.74, and the man was arrested for felony theft, since it was more than $1000 worth of stolen items in the last 90 days. Wasson said Comstock also was arrested for felony drug possession and criminal trespassing.
Woman charged with injuring two deputies
PINEDALE (WNE) — A Missouri woman is charged with two felonies of injuring deputies while resisting arrest June 20 after a traffic stop near the Daniel Junction.
Crystal D. Hatcher is also charged with the third or more possession of marijuana, a felony in Wyoming, according to court records.
Sublette County deputies Brian Gardner and Danielle Cooper stopped driver Clifton N. Brown, also of Missouri, around 11:49 p.m., for speeding southbound on Highway 191, according to the affidavit. Deputies noted a very “distinct” smell of what they concluded was marijuana from the vehicle and asked Brown to step out of the car, which he declined to do, asking to call his attorney, it says.
Brown resisted and called the deputies “racist” when they asked him several more times and they helped him out, according to the affidavit.
Brown and Hatcher, his passenger, denied there was marijuana in the vehicle.
Hatcher said she was one week pregnant and refused to get out, verbally and physically resisting and “forcefully” pulling herself out of the patrol car.
Deputies Gardner and Cooper “carefully placed her on the ground,” according to the affidavit. Both injured their knees from trying to protect Hatcher from hurting herself while resisting as they placed her on the ground, it says.
Hatcher is charged with a felony of interfering with and causing injury to Gardner as well as the same felony for injuring Cooper.
She admitted marijuana in the car was hers, leading to a third felony charge of third or subsequent possession, records show.
Brown was cited for speeding and released. Hatcher refused treatment and was taken into custody, then released after Brown paid her $10,000 cash bond.
Hatcher waived her June 28 preliminary hearing in Sublette County Circuit Court.
Father of 3-year-old arrested for intoxication and child endangerment
GILLETTE (WNE) — A 38-year-old man who allegedly left his three-year-old son unattended while he was drunk Wednesday night was arrested for child endangerment, intoxication and interference of an emergency call.
Officers went to the 1000 block of Country Club Road at about 10:20 p.m. after reports of the man threatening people and leaving his toddler unattended. The boy looked for and found a woman who lives nearby. He was in wet clothes and a wet diaper, Police Deputy Chief Brent Wasson said.
The boy’s father was found very drunk and sleeping in a yard where the sprinklers were going, which is what also soaked the boy. The neighbor took care of the boy, and the man left the area.
When he was later found by officers, he was very drunk, Wasson said, and he became agitated.
Officers arrested him and found that when the neighbor told him she was going to call police for help, he threatened and intimidated her into not calling, Wasson said.
Along with the arrest, the man also was given a trespass notice for the Fairway Estates property.
The child was taken into protective custody.
Realtors: Evanston home market is hot
KEMMERER (WNE) — According to local realtors, Evanston houses are selling in spite of recent years’ economic difficulties.
“Even with high interest rates, the Evanston market is still hot,” Evanston Coldwell Banker owner and Realtor Britany Erickson told the Herald,
Buyers, she said, are moving from Utah, as commuting distances to Park City, Heber, Coalville and Ogden, Utah, are short.
RE/MAX Results Realty owner Mike Eastman said the supply of homes is low, with 34 active listings in Evanston. Inventory of homes will remain low in the near future, according to Erickson.
In this environment, she expects home prices will continue to increase due to high demand and low supply.
“I am also seeing foreclosures that had previously been in moratorium during COVID being released to sell,” she said, “which normally would have an effect on the market but has not.” Due to low inventory, Erickson has noticed multiple offers on these properties, leading to an increase in prices.
Eastman said the prices have reached record highs as the market becomes very competitive. Interest rates are high, he said, and prices will remain stable until inventory rises to meet demand.
Those in search of a home should keep a few things in mind, according to the Realtors. Erickson said buyers should find a good agent with a good understanding of the market and financing.
“They should be experienced in all aspects to help navigate this very volatile, unpredictable real estate market,” she said, adding that she always recommends a home inspection and a good lender.
Eastman recommended adjusting expectations.
“Buyers should carefully define the difference between wants and needs,” he said, “and be willing to sacrifice items on their wish lists that aren’t necessary to daily life.”
He said buyers should search beyond a single neighborhood, perhaps viewing options they had not considered previously.
Minnesota man arrested after high-speed chase on North Fork
POWELL (WNE) — Prosecutors say a Minnesota man led officers on a high-speed chase west of Cody last week, endangering a Park County sheriff’s deputy and other drivers.
Kirt D. Raymond, 53, allegedly hit speeds of up to 100 mph, drove into oncoming traffic and nearly caused multiple crashes while fleeing from authorities on the North Fork Highway (U.S. Highway 14/16/20W).
After a roughly half-hour pursuit that stretched from the Buffalo Bill Reservoir through Wapiti, into the Shoshone National Forest and back, Raymond was arrested late Wednesday night. He remained in custody on Monday, with bail set at $50,000.
During a Friday hearing in Park County Circuit Court, Deputy County Attorney Jack Hatfield filed felony counts of attempting to cause bodily injury to a peace officer and aggravated fleeing police.
Raymond also faces misdemeanor counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances for a second time in 10 years — Hatfield said Raymond has three prior DUI convictions — and possession of THC (marijuana).
“These are serious charges,” Circuit Court Judge Joey Darrah told Raymond. “And so … I’m gonna give you a warning that if you say anything about what happened in this case, it will be on tape and it will be used against you; I am confident of that. And it will be taken out of context.”
After receiving the warning, Raymond said that he is suffering from manic depression.
He indicated he is a military veteran and 100% disabled.
“I haven’t been taking my meds in over three to four weeks and I’m not doing right,” Raymond told the court. “I actually thought I was going towards South Dakota.”
A preliminary hearing is tentatively set for July 17.