Event photos by Loni Newby and Hailey Hendricks
Shortly after 5 p.m. this evening emergency personnel were dispatched to an explosion and fire at S & M Diesel Service, 3585 W. 5000 North, Brigham City. Two men were injured, one man was severely burned and remains in critical condition. That man was taken by ambulance to Bear River Valley Hospital. The steel building suffered significant damage and is considered a total loss. Although the fire was put out, by the efforts of 25 firefighters from six stations. The explosion occurred when a welder made contact with a fuel tank.
A well-prepared Michelle Richan survived seven days after getting stuck in remote area of West Box Elder County
Brigham City resident Michelle Richan, for whom searchers had been looking for nearly a week after her disappearance on March 19, was located early Tuesday afternoon, though details were scarce prior to the News Journal’s Tuesday print deadline.
“All I know so far is she has been located and she is alive. I don’t know any details yet,” said Lt. Tony Ferdberder shortly after noon on Tuesday, as news of Richan’s rescue became known.
Within minutes, however, Ferdberder was able to fill in more of the story.
A state road crew worker discovered Richan with her vehicle, which had become stuck in treacherous, muddy conditions on Immigrant Trail Road, in Box Elder County south of Park Valley.
“She’s perfectly fine,” Ferdberder said. “Search and Rescue has been activated and is on their way to get her out.”
Throughout the weeklong search since she was reported missing on March 20, friends and family members had described Richan as someone who would have been well-prepared for some kind of emergency, with necessary survival gear. Ferdberder confirmed such was the case.
“She had plenty of food and water to survive. She had or was in process of building a fire to stay warm.”
Richan had been unaccounted for since March 19, when she left Eureka, Nevada, after visiting her boyfriend, said acquaintance and private investigator Michelle Palmer, of Corner Canyon Investigations. When she didn’t arrive home in Brigham City as planned, both her boyfriend and her daughter notified authorities.
Surveillance video from March 19 placed Richan first in Carlin, then in Wells, Nevada, that afternoon.
Not a trace of her was heard again until Tuesday.
“There’s no indication of anything,” Ferdberder said Tuesday morning before Richan was found. He declined to make speculations at that point.
The speculation of investigator Palmer, however, was spot on.
Tuesday morning, in an interview with the News Journal, Palmer had said, “My thoughts are she went off the road somewhere, maybe off the road to explore and got stuck.”
Immigrant Trail Road, according to Ferdberder’s information, is a less-travelled backroad running between State Route 30 and Kelton. Road crews were preparing for post-winter grading of the road when they discovered Richan.
Palmer said a private-citizen airplane pilot who was assisting in the search saw Richan’s vehicle from his plane Tuesday and was able to alert the road crewman who then established contact.
Ferdberder and Palmer indicated that Richan would be taken to Park Valley, and from there most likely transported to the hospital.
The main thing, though, repeated by Palmer several times in another brief interview after the good news, was “She’s alive and well.”
Earlier in the day, seven days into a fruitless search, moods were beginning to lower, Ferdberder said after Richan had been located. “You do, you start to lose hope for a good ending, if you will. It was definitely getting somber.”
It was a definitely different mood from the “Praise the Lord!” response of Robyn Gail Ramirez, a family friend of Richan’s who was a frequent customer at the Sinclair Short Stop in Corinne where Richan has worked for about 15 years.
When asked how she was feeling after Richan was discovered, Ramirez replied, “Utter and complete joy and happiness! Everyone at the store is laughing and crying! Customers are coming in beaming with relief and surprise! We’re all running around taking too neighbors and so happy. The joy is palpable!”
Ramirez described Richan as funny, witty, ready with a snappy comeback when customers joke with her, and as being “very honest and very truthful. Just a really good person,” Ramirez said. “You know, the community — everybody stops in this store. You can’t even go in there without seeing people welling up.”
Ramirez had set up a Facebook fundraiser that had earned nearly $1,200 in less than 24 hours by Tuesday morning, money that was to help pay for gas and meals for volunteer searchers.
“The way people have donated, it’s just stunned me,” Ramirez said.
Ferdberder said about 150 such volunteers had contributed to the search since it began, “out looking, driving roads between here and Nevada to see if they can see anything, a vehicle crashed off the roadway, anything along those lines,” in a search area he described simply as “huge.”
Another obstacle in the search were the same wet, muddy conditions of backroads that led to Richan’s disappearance in the first place.
Ferdberder said Richan did right to remain with her vehicle — as long as she was equipped with stores and gear to do so.
“Especially in a remote area like that,” he said. “Think of just the last week: we’ve had rain and snow storms. If she’d been out in those conditions, it could very well have turned out different.”
March 4, 2019 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A woman is dead, and a man is in intensive care at an area hospital, after what authorities are saying was a murder and attempted suicide at a residence in Bothwell on Sunday.
According to a press release issued by the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department, police were dispatched to the residence at approximately 6:50 a.m. on March 3 for an "unknown problem." Officers from the Tremonton Police Department were first to arrive, and discovered the body of 53-year-old Maria De Jesus Cervantes, who had apparently died from multiple stab wounds.
Also found at the scene was a 39-year-old man suffering from a knife wound to the neck. The man, identified as Jose Gutierrez-Torres, was transported to a local hospital, and then transferred to the intensive care unit of another unidentified hospital.
"Further investigation revealed that Gutierrez-Torres had stabbed Cervantes and then turned the knife on himself," wrote Chief Deputy Dale Ward of the incident.
Ward stated the location of the hospital treating Gutierrez-Torres would remain undisclosed for "security and officer safety reasons," and that he would be taken to the Box Elder County Jail upon his release.
No further information was released, with Ward saying the incident was under active investigation.
December 12, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
A house fire that started late Monday afternoon has claimed the life of a Willard City woman.
According to Willard City Police Chief Jean Loveland, at approximately 4:50 p.m. on Monday, firefighters from Willard City responded to the call of a structure fire at 255 South Main.
A female resident was inside the home at the time, and was located and brought out by firefighters. Kathy Olson, 69, of Willard was taken by ambulance to Brigham City Community Hospital, and later transferred to Ogden Regional Medical Center, where she passed away. Although a final cause of death has not yet been determined, officials believe the cause to have been smoke inhalation.
State fire officials have determined the cause of the fire to have been a "chimney fire," where creosote buildup inside the chimney flue catches fire and spreads it to other parts of the home.
Willard officials have relayed the gratitude of the family for all the personnel involved in fighting the fire, and also their request for privacy during a difficult time.
There will not be a public funeral service for Olson, according to her wishes, but the family said a memorial gathering will be scheduled at a later time.
In addition to Willard City agencies, other departments that responded to the fire included the Brigham City Fire Department, Utah Highway Patrol, and Utah Parks.
Officers from the Brigham City Police Department, the Utah Highway Patrol, and multiple local law enforcment agencies escort the body of Assistant Chief of Police Dennis Vincent home to Brigham City late Saturday morning.
Vincent passed away at the University of Utah Medical Center on Friday, due to complications following an October 18 surgery to correct two brain aneurysms.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. at the Box Elder Stake Center, 420 South 800 West, Brigham City, Utah.
Viewings will be held on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Gillies Funeral Chapel, 634 East 200 South, Brigham City, and on Saturday at the church from 12 Noon to 12:40 p.m.
Interment will be in the Brigham City Cemetery, where police honors will be accorded.
We at the News Journal worked closely with Chief Vincent through the years, and feel the loss, as does the greater Brigham City community. Our hearts go out to the Vincent family, as well as the men and women of the BCPD.
The Box Elder News Journal's online Halloween decor contest is designed to recognize the many residents who bring fun to their neighborhoods by decorating for the holiday.
To enter your Box Elder County home or business in the competition submit ONE photo to email@example.com by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 26.
One winner, chosen by popular vote, will receive a one year subscription.
Voting: pick one favorite, write the number as a comment below. Only one comment per person, and only comments on this page will be considered as official votes. (Social media likes and shares do not count toward official totals.)
The voting window will close on Monday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m.
A high-speed chase reaching speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour resulted in the eventual apprehension of four car burglary suspects.on Saturday.
October 3, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
One adult male and three juveniles from the Ogden area were taken into custody on Saturday, on suspicion of multiple car burglaries, a problem which has been plaguing Box Elder County this year.
“Our guys caught three juveniles and an adult, and we tied them to a string of 12 different car burglaries from Willard to Perry, Brigham City and Mantua,” said Lieutenant Chris Howard of the Brigham City Police Department (BCPD).
According to police the adult suspect, identified as 22-year-old Ramone Aguilar, was the driver of a stolen car that the three male juveniles, ages 15, 15 and 16, would ride in as the group broke into cars, stole valuables, and ran back to Aguilar to make a quick getaway.
When a report of people trying to break into a car in northwest Brigham came in on Saturday morning, two BCPD officers in separate cars spotted the suspects in a vehicle, the suspects sped away and the officers gave chase.
“They ran east on 1500 North to Main Street, then south to Highway 13, and then west out to the freeway,” continued Howard. “On the freeway they proceeded south, at speeds of over 100 miles per hour, and exited at 1100 South.”
The suspects drove into the island on the 1100 South interchange, disabling their vehicle, which they then exited and ran away on foot. The three juveniles ran east and were quickly apprehended, while Aguilar ran west, and for awhile seemed to get away.
“Several hours later we got a tip from the truck stop on 1100 South, LW’s, that this guy had come wandering in there,” continued Howard. A Perry police officer made the arrest, being backed up by BCPD and Willard officers.
“All were interviewed by our detectives here in Brigham, and the adult male admitted to what was going on, and actually identified a bunch of the property that was obviously stolen” said Howard. “He identified what had been taken, and where they had taken it from.”
Formal charges against Aguilar have not yet been filed, but he was taken to the Box Elder County Jail and booked on preliminary charges of auto burglary and attempted auto theft. The case is still under investigation, and more or different charges may apply pending the outcome.
Howard stated that the department feels these suspects may be responsible for more area auto burglaries, but can’t definitively say that yet.
As more information becomes available, the News Journal will report it in future editions.
Brigham City Fire Department Photo
September 10, 2018 • Nelson Phillips • Staff Writer
An unattended stove burner has been pinpointed as the cause of a fire that took the lives of three dogs at a Brigham City mobile home park on Sunday.
According to Brigham City officials, the fire was reported Sunday afternoon shortly before 4 p.m. at 1060 South Main in unit number 2. Units from Brigham City Fire, as well as Willard and Corinne arrived on scene by 4:04, and had the fire extinguished by 4:32 p.m.
None of the three human residents were home, however, three dogs that were inside the home at the time of the fire were killed.
"Fire investigators determined the fire was accidental, and caused by an unattended stove-top which had been left in the on position," said Brigham City Fire Marshal Michael Young.
Young also reported there were no working smoke detectors found in the mobile home.
Damages to the home are estimated to be in the $15,000 range. The three residents displaced by the fire have reportedly found shelter with friends and neighbors.
In a statement, the Brigham City Fire Department urged homeowners and renters to never leave a stove-top unattended "for any length of time," and to exercise caution while cooking. The statement also urged homeowners to have a fire extinguisher nearby, and to ensure that working smoke detectors are present on every level of a home.
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