August 13, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A press release issued late Monday night by the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department has confirmed that a 16-month-old Thatcher boy has died after drowning in a body of water.
"At approximately 9:00 p.m. a call came in to Box Elder Communications that there was a missing boy. At first it was reported that he was three years of age but later determined he was 16 months old. At the time it was feared he had fallen into the canal near the residence," wrote Chief Deputy Dale Ward.
After multiple public safety agencies responded, and a request made to the canal company to divert flows and lower the water level in the canal, the boy was found deceased in a "body of water located east of the residence" at about 9:45 p.m.
Ward stated that no further information was available, but that the Sheriff's office would be releasing more details on Tuesday.
Update to story 8/14/2018
New information released on Tuesday, August 14 has clarified what happened to the child.
According to Chief Deputy Dale Ward of the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department, at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, Keith Weaver of Thatcher advised dispatchers that his 16-month-old son Jackson Weaver was missing, stating he had been playing in the yard with his brothers just prior to them noticing he was gone.
The Weaver home is situated near both an irrigation canal and an adjacent irrigation ditch just north of the Thatcher/Penrose Fire Department. The search began near the canal, and the canal company was contacted to shut down the water.
"Mr. Weaver started looking in the area of a water diversion structure that diverts the irrigation water from an open ditch into a 12 inch PVC pipe system. This pipe runs both below and above ground and makes several turns to provide water to neighboring fields," wrote Ward. "Mr. Weaver then followed the pipe until it came back above ground and started taking apart the pipe sections at the joints. He found Jackson inside the pipe about 530 yards from the opening near the home."
Emergency personnel responded to Weaver's location, but discovered that Jackson was deceased.
The Sheriff's Department has determined that Jackson Weaver's death was a "tragic accident," and no foul play of any kind is suspected.
Utah Highway Patrol photo
Highway Patrol urges motorists to check their tires regularly
August 12, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Two Malad, Idaho men have died after their pickup truck tire separated while traveling along I-15 late Saturday morning.
According to Lieutenant Lee Perry of the Utah Highway Patrol, at approximately 11:47 a.m. the truck, a black 2000 Ford F-250, was travelling northbound on I-15 near mile marker 387 at normal freeway speeds when the passenger front tire tread separated, causing the tire to blow and the driver to lose control.
"The truck veered off the roadway to the right and traveled a short distance before jumping a runoff ditch and rolling onto its roof," said Perry. "The driver was killed instantly, and the adult front seat male passenger was critically injured." A 13-year-old boy who was riding in the backseat suffered minor facial injuries, and was treated at Bear River Valley Hospital and released.
The driver has been identified as 44-year-old John A. Ward. The injured passenger, identified as 33-year-old Peter J. Ward, was taken by ambulance to Bear River Valley Hospital, and then airlifted to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, where he succumbed to his injuries late Saturday night.
None of the truck's occupants were wearing seat belts. Investigators have zeroed in on the age of the truck's tires as the cause of the accident.
"All four tires were from the same manufacturer, and were approximately eight years old," said Perry. "People should realize that tires only have a 72 month guaranteed life span, so they need to think about replacing tires that are more than six years old."
Perry also suggested checking tire pressure weekly, making sure that tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommendation, and also to check sidewalls for cracks and tread for any signs of separation.
"Separation can not always be detected until it occurs, however, so you should replace old outdated tires," he said.
Courtesy BLM / J. Shoyer
The Goose Creek fire burning near Grouse Creek and Etna in northwestern Box Elder County did not have any appreciable growth on Tuesday, but thunderstorms that developed over the area Wednesday afternoon could change that.
Aug. 1 · Sean Hales · Managing editor
The Goose Creek fire in northwestern Box Elder County, which has consumed 122,916 acres (192 square miles) and destroyed three outbuildings, did not have any appreciable growth yesterday, Tuesday, July 31, according to information released today from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. But that could change as thunderstorms develop over the area.
Winds from those thunderstorms could significantly hamper firefighting efforts by accelerating or changing the direction of the blaze. Furthermore, given critically low dead fuel moisture, any lightning strikes from the storms could start another blaze and complicate the situation.
“...microbursts can be a dangerous and unpredictable situation for firefighting,” wrote BLM Public Information Officer Vince Mazzier in an email. “ These downdrafts have no particular direction, they are variable and erratic, causing fire to move in unpredictable ways and fanning available flames and causing extreme fire behavior. When these occur in a fire area they are always a ‘watch out’ situation for our firefighters.”
The area where the fire is burning is prone to extreme fire behavior, with recent fires growing more than 20,000 in 24 hours. This year, the area has around 200-300 percent more fine fuels, and dead fuel moisture is near historical lows for this time of year. Even sagebrush live fuel moisture is reaching critical levels. Information from the Great Basin Coordination Center’s “Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory” said that under such conditions, as well as other existing factors, even retardant is not effective unless “immediately followed up with firefighters and/or used in conjunction with bucket drops.”
Structure protection, and minimizing risk to Grouse Creek and Etna townsites, remains a priority of firefighting efforts.
Fire officials are urging caution in wildland areas where any form of ignition has a 90 percent chance of starting a fire. There are still fire restrictions in place on public lands, including:
1. No campfires, except in permanently constructed cement or metal fire pits provided in developed campgrounds and picnic areas.
2. No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area that is paved, barren, or cleared to mineral soil.
3. Cutting, welding, or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
4. Use of any tracer or incendiary ammunition of any caliber.
5. Possession or use of any kind of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices, pyrotechnics or fireworks, or exploding targets.
6. Use of any Sky Lanterns, Chinese Lanterns, Fire Balloons, Acetylene Balloons or similar device.
7. Use of any Off Road Vehicle (ORV) that is not equipped with a properly installed and maintained spark arrestor. Spark arresters shall meet the 80 percent efficiency level standard.
As of today, the Goose Creek fire is 35 percent contained, with full containment estimated by next week, Wednesday, Aug. 8.
August 1, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
The business arrangement between the Brigham City Redevelopment Agency and Brigham House, LLC, which runs the restaurant of the same name and manages the Academy Conference Center, has been terminated as of today.
The restaurant celebrated its grand opening on May 4, less than three months ago.
"We have mutually agreed to terminate our relationship," wrote Brigham City Administrator Jason Roberts in response to a News Journal query. "The City is releasing a statement very soon on Facebook announcing that the City will be managing the Academy Conference Center beginning today. The restaurant space is no longer being leased by Brigham House."
Employees of the restaurant were reportedly informed last night not to come into work today. The News Journal is attempting to gather more information on this developing story.
Photo Credit: Jess Roberts
Town of grouse creek saved, for now
July 30, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Two wildfires that began in Nevada have both joined in Utah, burning over 118,000 acres as of Monday afternoon, destroying tens of thousands of acres of range land that cattle ranchers in Box Elder County depend on to feed their herds.
The Goose Creek Fire began southwest of Jackpot Nevada on Thursday, July 26, the result of a lightning strike. Another Nevada fire, the China Jim Fire, also began by lightning strike on Saturday, July 28, beginning on the northern slope of China Jim Mountain, which is about 13 miles southwest of the unincorporated town of Grouse Creek, Utah.
Box Elder County firefighters were already out battling several blazes, including a 1,241 acre fire in the Raft River Mountains, a 745 acre fire at Monument Peak, an 80 acre fire in the Bovine Mountains, and also mopping up a 1,008 acre fire in Hansel Valley, when the fires crossed the border into the county on Saturday.
‘There were a lot of fires going on, and a lot of resources that were tied up,” said Box Elder County Fire Marshal Corey Barton. “And once we were able to get resources cleared, it took a while for them to get here. But we were able to get five dozers, three road graders, and a ton of Box Elder resources.” Those resources came from Box Elder County and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as well as Utah State Lands.
“People need to understand that when we order an engine from Willard, it takes three, three and a half hours to get them out here, because the location is so remote,” he said.
Barton reported that the fires initially crossed into rough terrain that was impossible to get to except by air. By Saturday evening, however, the China Jim Fire had burned through to State Route 30, forcing the road to be closed from nine miles east of the Nevada border, due to heat and visibility issues. The road was re-opened on Sunday morning.
By Sunday both fires had converged into one massive fire burning along the Utah/Nevada border, estimated at that time to be 100,000 acres. The names of the two fires were joined as the Goose Creek Fire. Engines from Garland Fire, Willard Fire and Grouse Creek Fire were deployed to protect structures, and brush trucks from Tremonton Fire, Garland Fire, Honeyville Fire, Box Elder County Fire, as well as Davis, Weber and Cache County were actively fighting the fire, as well as a multi-engine and several single engine air tankers.
When the town of Grouse Creek was threatened, the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department ordered a voluntary, then a mandatory evacuation. As firefighters battled to save Grouse Creek and were able to establish lines around the town, the mandatory evacuation order was lifted.
“The air tankers were dropping right in people’s backyards,” said Barton, about the effort to save the town. “They were literally dropping flame retardant on the back of the houses, trying to protect them from the fire.”
Barton stated that the biggest losses to area residents so far hasn’t been structures, even though three uninhabited structures have been lost. He said the greatest losses to the local ranchers have been in burned grazing land.
“They raise cattle, this is cattle business out here. When we’re burning up all this range land, we’re burning up their summer feed, along with some pretty prime Sage Grouse habitat.,” he said.
The BLM has taken control of fighting the fire, bringing on a level one incident team, which is the highest priority designation. According to the BLM’s incident website, approximately 306 firefighting personnel were actively fighting the Goose Creek Fire as of Sunday night. The fire was listed as 15 percent contained, having burned 118,000 acres, with an expected full containment date of Wednesday, August 8.
Photo courtesy of Stan Summers
Update 7-29-18 8:47 p.m - County fire officials have reported that Grouse Creek residents are now being allowed to return home.
July 29, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
Two lightning caused fires that are burning near the Utah/Nevada border have joined together into one large fire that has now burned over 100,000 acres across both states.
Citizens of the town of Grouse Creek, located in the remote northwestern portion of Box Elder County, are being "strongly urged" to evacuate as the fire advances further east.
The China Jim fire started in Nevada on Saturday afternoon, the result of a lightning strike. By Saturday evening that fire had crossed into Utah, forcing the temporary closure of SR-30 from mile marker 9 to the Nevada Border. The road was re-opened late Sunday morning.
The Goose Creek fire also began in Nevada, with lightning igniting desert brush on Thursday evening in an area south and west of the City of Jackpot.
On Sunday both fires combined in Utah, together burning over 40,000 acres in Box Elder County by Sunday evening.
Multiple county and state agencies are fighting the fire, including units from Willard Fire, Corinne Fire, Garland Fire, Honeyville Fire, Thatcher Fire, Park Valley Fire, Grouse Creek Fire, Box Elder County Fire, as well as the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Units from other agencies across the state have also started responding.
The News Journal has a conference set up with fire officials for Monday morning, where more information will be given.
Video stills of a robbery suspect who demanded money from the U.S. Bank inside the Perry Walmart just after noon on Thursday.
July 19, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A robbery took place early Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Bank located inside the Perry Walmart.
According to the Perry Police Department, at approximately 12:01 p.m. an unknown man walked into the bank and demanded money from the teller. The man did not display any weapons.
The teller gave the man an unspecified amount of cash, and he left on foot. His direction of travel after leaving the bank is unknown.
Video stills of the suspect from the bank's camera system were made available to police, and were shared with the News Journal.
"If anyone knows the guy, or has seen him, or has any other information, we're asking them to give us a call," said Sergeant Scott Hancey of the Perry Police Department.
Calls can be directed to Box Elder Dispatch at (435) 734-3800, asking to speak with a Perry police officer.
Hancey said the investigation of the robbery is being headed up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) out of the Salt Lake City field office.
50-year-old James John Sever of Oak City is extracted from a ravine by a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter on Friday. (Photo courtesy of the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department)
July 14, 2018 • Nelson Phillps • Staff Writer
A 50-year-old Oak City man is safely recovering in a Brigham City hospital room after wandering away from his Dock Flat campsite in the early morning hours of July 12.
Dock Flat is located in eastern Box Elder County, between Mantua and Willard Peak.
According to a press release by the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department, the man, James John Sever, suffered from "significant medical issues," which caused great concern to his friends and family when he could not be located at camp on Thursday morning.
"The missing male had been reported to have been last seen about 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning in his camp," read the release. "When his friend got up the next morning he could not be located. The friend contacted family and they searched for him during the day but were unable to locate him."
Friends and family of Sever searched the area for most of the day on Thursday, and contacted Box Elder Dispatch when darkness began to fall on Thursday night at approximately 8:30 p.m. A Box Elder County deputy responded and determined that search and rescue needed to be deployed. They arrived in the area about 9:00 p.m.
A grid search was started in the immediate area, and a request was put in to the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) Areo Bureau for helicopter support. Ground and air crews searched until approximately midnight, when the search was suspended until 6:00 a.m. Friday morning.
Shortly after noon on Friday a crew from the Box Elder County Horse Posse located Sever in a deep ravine about a mile southeast of the camp. Sever was given medical treatment and stabilized at the scene by first responders, while a call was placed again to DPS for a helicopter extraction, due to the rough terrain and nature of Sever's injuries.
Brigham City Rescue and Mantua first responders also created a rope rescue line, in case an aerial extraction wasn't possible. DPS was successful in getting Sever out of the ravine, and the rope line was used to get emergency personnel back onto the roadway.
Sever was transported to Brigham City Community Hospital with "non-life-threatening injuries" by Brigham City Ambulance.
In a statement issued Friday night, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department thanked all of the agencies involved in the successful rescue, including Box Elder Communications, Box Elder County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, Box Elder County Sheriff's Horse Posse, the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau, Utah Search Dogs; Brigham City Ambulance and Rescue, Mantua First Responders and Mantua Police.
"We live in a wonderful state where all agencies work toward the greater good; life, care and safety of our citizens," read the statement.
Carcasses of dead carp float along an oxbow lake near the Bear River. The major kill event had raised concern by some about water quality in the Bear River, but officials with the Division of Wildlife Resources say low water and heat are to blame.
A large number of dead fish discovered near the Bear River that had some concerned about the river’s water quality is is nothing to raise a stink about, according to the preliminary results of an investigation by the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources.
According to an email composed by Chris Penne, the DWR’s northern region aquatics manager, “One of our Law Enforcement Sergeants is looking into the kill, but it is looking like there is no need for concerns over water quality in the Bear River itself...”
Penne indicated that the fish kill happened in an oxbow lake adjacent to the Bear River called the Horshoe Sloughs, that is not connected the river. While the reason is under investigation, low water levels and heat are the most likely culprits, according to Penne.
“The old oxbow lake appeared to be drained down and the dead fish appear to be mostly common carp, leading us to speculate that the fish may have been deliberately killed as part of a lake/slough renovation,” Penne wrote in the email. “It could also be that the lake was drained down, which allowed it to get too warm and caused the fish to die from the heat and ensuing low oxygen levels (water holds less oxygen when it gets warm).”
While there is no concern over water quality, Penne joked that all the dead fish have had an unmistakable impact on the area.
“...air quality in the local community might be another issue as the smell from all the rotting carcasses appears to be quite potent (LOL).”
July 11, 2018 (Story updated with additional information)
A search for a Perry City man that went missing on Sunday came to a tragic end Wednesday morning, when his body was recovered from the waters of Willard Bay.
The man, identified as Brandon Larsen, 46, is suspected to have been paddleboarding at the bay, possibly drowning when a storm blew through the area on Sunday night..
According to Willard Bay State Park Manager James Morgan, the search for Larsen began on Tuesday morning after park employees noticed a car that had been parked at Eagle Beach since Sunday. Park rangers ran the license plate and learned that the car belonged to Larsen, and that he had been reported missing since Sunday.
A beach chair, sandals, beach towel, and car keys were previously found on Eagle Beach on Sunday night, and were turned into lost and found. On Tuesday park officials confirmed that those keys belonged to Larsen's car.
Larsen is believed to have brought a paddleboard to Willard Bay with him. Investigators have not yet located the paddleboard and are asking for the public’s help in finding it. The board is a Dave Scadden Paddlesports inflatable, Grand Slam model. It is lime green with a white border.
"If anyone has found a paddleboard or may have seen Larsen on the board at Willard Bay Sunday, please contact Utah State Parks. This paddleboard, along with any information about Larsen’s activities Sunday, is important to the investigation," wrote Morgan in a news release.
A multi-agency search was organized on Tuesday, including officers from Utah State Parks, the Willard City Police Department, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department and their search and rescue dive team, as well as the Brigham City Police Department, who provided a command center. Multiple friends and family members also participated in the search.
During search efforts on Tuesday, a cell phone belonging to Larsen was found floating in a dry bag.
Larsen was located in the water at approximately 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and his body was soon after recovered.
"He kept a life-jacket on his paddleboard, but he was not wearing it," said Morgan to the News Journal on Wednesday morning. "We know that he went out paddleboarding on Sunday night, and there was a storm that came through on Sunday night."
Utah State Parks is currently investigating the death as a drowning. As part of the news release, the agency asked "everyone to always wear your life jacket when out on the water."
In a statement released Wednesday, Larsen's family expressed their appreciation for all of the agencies and people involved in the search, and have asked for privacy.
Box Elder News Journal
PO BOX 370
Brigham City, UT 84302
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