NEWS BRIEFS for Thrusday, September 26, 2019


Body of missing kayaker found

AFTON (WNE) — The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the body of a missing Opal kayaker had been found at Lake Alice on Monday, September 23. That notification came following a search that extended over a month and involved search and rescue operations from both Kemmerer and Star Valley. In addition,  several other organizations and volunteers were involved.

Schuyler McKnight, 22, Opal, was first reported to the Lincoln County Dispatch Center as missing at Lake Alice at 5:30 p.m. August 12, 2019.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, along with Lincoln County Search and Rescue and Star Valley Search and Rescue responded to the scene.

The lake is in the Bridger-Teton National Forest east of Cokeville. The 230-acre lake is three-miles long and 200 feet deep in some locations.

Kevin Gordon, Lincoln County Search and Rescue Commander based out of Kemmerer, said the search covered a total 41 days. As the search continued, additional volunteers from search and rescue operations in Pinedale, Jackson, Driggs and Salt Lake City joined local volunteers.

In addition, a specialist from Minnesota, using remote robotic equipment, helped with the search.

After an extensive search in the area where the kayaker was last seen in August, search crews moved further out into the deep lake. 

“The primary search area was keeping us towards the middle of the lake,” Gordon explained in an interview with SVI Media. “Working with those people we decided to look a little beyond that. We did and he was there, we found him.”

Arrests net more than 40 pounds of marijuana

GILLETTE (WNE) — Two Olympia, Washington, residents are in Campbell County jail after they were caught with more than 40 pounds of marijuana and more than 9 pounds of THC wax on Saturday after being pulled over for speeding on Interstate 90.

Mark Reed, 56, and Octavia DeVais Reed, 55, were pulled over at about 9 a.m. Saturday when a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper clocked them going 88 mph in a 80 mph zone about 3 miles from Gillette.

The driver, Mark Reed, apologized for speeding and explained that they were headed “back home,” which confused the trooper since they were traveling east. He asked Reed to clarify, and Reed said they’d been evicted and were moving to Florida, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

But their rental car agreement stipulated that they would be returning it Sept. 25 to the same place in Washington that they rented it from, the affidavit said.

The trooper found what he thought was more than 3 ounces of marijuana — the level for a felony — in dispensary containers in the center console, in her purse and in a bag holding a C-pap machine, according to the affidavit.

In the back was a large trash bag and a tweed suitcase that both contained marijuana and in two taped up cardboard boxes was a substance believed to be 9.39 pounds of THC wax, according to the affidavit.

Mark and Octavia Reed have been charged with two counts of felony possession involving marijuana and liquid THC.

Assets of former treatment center turned over to feds

POWELL (WNE) — A judge has ruled that the federal government can seize the assets of a former Powell group home and substance abuse treatment facility, finding evidence that Northwest Wyoming Treatment Center submitted fraudulent bills to Medicaid. 

On Sept. 6, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin ordered the forfeiture of three buildings, a vacant lot, a UTV, a trailer and money in two bank accounts belonging to Northwest Wyoming Treatment Center (NWTC). The exact value of the assets is unclear, but they could easily top $750,000. 

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne moved to seize NWTC’s property in March, alleging the nonprofit organization had engaged in healthcare fraud. 

Public court records contain few details about the allegations against NWTC, as the complaint outlining the government’s case remains sealed from public view. 

However, in a Sept. 5 court filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Heimann did outline some of the complaint’s content. 

Heimann said that, prior to the case being filed, NWTC’s board of directors reached a deal with prosecutors in which they agreed the U.S. Attorney’s office could prove the center submitted fraudulent bills to Wyoming Medicaid and to let the government take the center’s property. 

An attorney representing one of Northwest Wyoming Treatment Center’s former leaders has said the forfeiture case stems from the federal government’s investigation into Powell psychologist Gib Condie.

Condie is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for felony health care fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Condie ran a billing scheme through his private, for-profit business, Big Horn Basin Mental Health Group, that defrauded Medicaid out of more than $2.28 million between 2012 and 2016.

Game and Fish moves two grizzlies

CODY (WNE) — Wyoming Game and Fish recently trapped and moved two grizzly bears for displaying dangerous behavior.

The decisions for the actions were made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with the cooperation of the Shoshone National Forest.

On Sept. 20, an adult male grizzly was relocated from private land northwest of Thermopolis to the Fox Creek drainage about 50 miles northwest of Cody.

That bear was killing cattle.

Two days later, a second bear, a sub-adult male, was captured and transferred to the Mormon Creek drainage about five miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

In that case the young bear was displaying habituated behavior.

Safety board issues recommendations after 2018 train crash

CHEYENNE (WNE) — While the investigation of a train crash that killed two people west of Cheyenne last year continues, the National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations last week for railroads to prevent future accidents.

The board, which handles investigations of railroad and other transportation accidents, recommended that carriers inspect end-of-railcar air hoses and review their instructions for monitoring air flow meters.

It also suggested reviewing responses when air pressure from the end of the train fails to respond to an air brake application, and checking the status of communication between devices at both ends of the train before cresting a grade.

The recommendations come nearly a year after a Union Pacific train traveling eastbound collided with another train that was stopped on the track in the Granite Canon area last October. The crash killed both the engineer and the conductor of the moving train.

The railroad’s rules already cover all but one recommendation, which is for train engineers to check communication with the end-of-train device before cresting a grade, Union Pacific senior director of corporate communications and media relations Kristen South said in a statement.

As Union Pacific reviews the recommendations, the safety board will continue its investigation, though it remains unclear when it will reach a conclusion, NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said.

Additional recommendations could come at the end of the investigation, 80% of which are typically adopted across all modes of transportation, Williams said.

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