Snowmobiler probably caused avalanche that killed him
JACKSON (WNE) — The man who was buried in an avalanche while snowmobiling at Breccia Cliffs on Monday likely triggered the slide that killed him, authorities said.
Dale Walter Clyde Laedtke, 27, of New London, Wisconsin, was riding with three friends on the north side of Togwotee Pass when the massive slide broke above him.
Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center personnel will visit the site today, but initial reports indicate that the crown of the avalanche was 6 to 8 feet deep and that Laedtke was 6 feet under the snow when his friends dug him out.
Witnesses called for help just before 3 p.m. Monday and tried to revive their friend when they found him, but it was too late.
Teton County Search and Rescue rushed to the scene and later pronounced Laedtke dead.
A cause of death has not yet been determined, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said.
It’s believed that Laedtke and his friends had proper backcountry equipment with them at the time of the accident.
There have been 18 avalanche-related fatalities in the U.S. this winter season, according to Avalanche.org.
Three of those have happened in western Wyoming.
“Breccia Cliffs is very serious terrain,” Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr said.
There have been avalanches there before, Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center Director Bob Comey said.
“That area is somewhat accessible to sleds,” Comey said. “It’s ridden a lot. It’s a scary slope, and with our snowpack the way it is, unfortunately the recipe came together for a trigger.”
Laramie recreation center evacuated after chemical spill
LARAMIE (WNE) — The Laramie Community Recreation Center was evacuated Tuesday morning after a chemical spill.
Assistant City Manager Todd Feezer said chlorine was spilled after a staff member accidentally mixed a small amount of acid into the chlorine tanks during a chemical transfer, causing an “unfortunate combination of chemicals.” The evacuation was to allow for the spill to be cleaned and the chlorine fumes to dissipate.
“We’re very grateful that we didn’t have any dangerous exposure to staff or participants or residents of this community,” Feezer said.
Chlorine gas can be dangerous if inhaled. The Laramie Fire Department responded to the scene as both LFD and as a hazmat team through Wyoming Regional Emergency Response Team No. 3. The responders used air quality monitors to test the amount of the toxic chlorine gas still in the Recreation Center’s air.
“It’s just going to take some time to ensure the air quality in the building is good, and we won’t leave until we are 100 percent satisfied,” said Laramie Fire Department Company Officer Todd Hixon, who responded to the scene.
Hixon said “most important thing” was to evacuate everyone safely and to make sure the building is empty.
“We go on our self-contained breathing apparatus that ensures our safety as far as inhaling any toxic gases or anything like that, and from there just try to assess the problem, see how we can mitigate it to do it safely,” Hixon said.
CWC equine center included in construction funding
RIVERTON (WNE) — The capital construction funding bill Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed into law last week includes money for a new ag and equine sciences complex in Riverton.
The status of the funding had come into question last month when the Wyoming Senate unanimously killed the capital construction legislation, saying it contained too much additional spending from House members on the Joint Appropriations Committee, according to State Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton.
The Senate later rescinded that vote and approved the bill – Senate File 162 – which then made its way through amendments in the House, none of which involved the funding for the Riverton project.
The bill was signed into law Thursday. Equine center SF 162 includes $3,926,792 for the proposed new Central Wyoming College Rocky Mountain Complex for Ag and Equine Sciences in Riverton.
CWC had requested the matching money for the facility. Now that the funding has been approved, Wyoming has allocated a total of almost $9.2 million for the project – or exactly half of the almost $18.4 million projected total cost.
CWC has committed to financing its half of the project through a capital campaign, grants and the sale of the college’s current equine facility on Gasser Road.
The new complex will include two indoor arenas, an outdoor arena, classrooms, offices, locker rooms, a lab, an animal health unit and a maintenance shop, according to previous reports. Administrators said it will allow for expanded program offerings that aren’t possible at the current facility.
Bookkeeper in senior center forgery faces more charges
DOUGLAS (WNE) — Charges against the former Converse County Senior Citizen Centers bookkeeper keep piling up.
Marnie Zamora, 42, was charged with felony check fraud Feb. 28 after law enforcement officials allege that sometime after September 2018 she knowingly issued two or more checks which were not paid due to insufficient funds.
Investigators said Zamora had written three checks from her Converse County Bank account and deposited them into her Points West Community Bank account. PWCB Vice President Ron Hayes told investigators that Zamora then withdrew the funds from an ATM shortly after making the deposit.
Zamora had done this several times during several weeks after September 2018, according to a court affidavit filed by police.
Zamora was previously charged with forgery and theft which allegedly occurred while she was employed as the bookkeeper for the Converse County Senior Center. Those charges were filed in September, more than a month after her employment with the senior centers was terminated.
Doug Johnson and Nancie Fink alleged that Zamora forged both of their signatures on 19 checks and deposited them in her bank account, according to court documents.
Bank statements, copies of the checks and the signature card from CCB with all the Douglas Senior Center board members were provided by Johnson and Fink as further proof the signatures on the checks in question did not match, according to court documents.
Bank records from CCB show the 19 checks were deposited into Zamora’s account.
Anonymous donors pay off Torrington utility bills
TORRINGTON (WNE) – Over the coming weeks, 24 struggling households in the City of Torrington will have running water, working lights and other city utilities thanks to the generosity of a mysterious benefactor working on the Elk Creek Pipeline for ONEOK, Inc.
The donor - who utility clerk Emily Quinlan could only identify as ‘James’ – walked into Torrington City Hall and paid more than $3,000 to bring the overdue bills current. Quinlan said she caught the name and that he was from Louisiana – any other details were lost in the moment.
“I was kind of dealing with a lot of money to remember a name,” she said. “He was a very nice guy. You could tell that they were enjoying helping people.”
Quinlan said the money was donated by a group of pipeline workers. The men just wanted to do something nice.
“They just called up and said ‘Hey, we want to do something to help,’” she said. “Once we got to a certain point on our discontinuation list, they came in and paid what was left.”
The man known only as “James” told Quinlan the pipeliners had been active in the community previously.
“He explained to me that the workers donated money to help out,” Quinlan said. “They had raised some money to buy some Christmas gifts and they were going to use what was left to buy TVs for (St. Joseph’s Childrens Home).”
The generosity of the pipeliners made an immediate impact on at least one Torrington resident, Quinlan said.
“We did have one gentleman who came in to pay his bill, found out what had happened, and paid it forward and paid someone else’s bill,” she said.