Aug. 16 Regional News Briefs

Friday, August 16, 2019

Missing Utah man found in wilderness area

MISSOULA (AP) — A 25-year-old Utah man missing since Sunday in a wilderness area along the Idaho-Montana border has been found in good condition. Authorities and family members told KUTV in Salt Lake City and KECI-TV in Missoula that Kaden Laga, of Orem, Utah, on early Friday showed up at a camp set up by searchers. Laga was on a horseback trip Sunday with members of his family in the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness when one of the horses went lame. Laga decided to walk out and meet his family at a trailhead. However, he never showed up. Search and rescue personnel from Montana and Idaho conducted ground and air searches with the help of helicopters and dogs over the last week.

Montana Supreme Court orders new trial in deadly hit-and-run

GREAT FALLS (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted in a deadly hit-and-run, finding his lawyers should have acquired the testimony of the state trooper who investigated the case. The Great Falls Tribune reports the court in an opinion Tuesday determined that attorneys for Charles Geoffrey Santoro had “rendered ineffective assistance of counsel.” Santoro was convicted of negligent homicide and criminal endangerment in the death of Levi Rowell outside a bar in Sunburst in 2013. According to court documents, Santoro reversed his truck with the door open, catching Rowell and dragging him under the vehicle. Court documents say the trooper’s report did not support prosecutors’ theory that Santoro ran over Rowell a second time. State Department of Justice spokesperson Anastasia Burton declined comment on the case.

Volume of natural gas flaring hits record in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Regulators say the volume of natural gas flared in June reached an unprecedented level due to shutdowns of several natural gas processing facilities and pipelines The Bismarck Tribune reports that the amount of natural gas burned off as a byproduct of oil production during June jumped 155 million cubic feet per day, to 687 million cubic feet per day. Statewide, companies flared 24% of all gas produced, or double the 12% target. North Dakota set an oil production record in June at 1.42 million barrels per day. Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms says July flaring numbers could still be high, but they could improve in August and later in the year as more pipelines and processing plants come online.

Colorado sets new hail record of at least 4.8 inches

BETHUNE, Colo. (AP) — Colorado has set a new hail record but the exact size of the hail that fell near the Kansas border is still being determined. Officials with the National Weather Service and the Colorado State University Climate Center measured a hail stone that fell at a home north of Bethune Tuesday and preserved in a freezer at 4.8 inches (12.1 centimeters) in diameter. That’s about the size of a softball although it’s more oblong. Measurements taken by the family that recovered after it was safe to go outside show it was initially a little bigger. The Climate Center says it will consider all information to determine a final measurement. The previous hail record for Colorado is 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters). The national record is 8 inches (20 centimeters) — the size of a volleyball — set in 2010 in South Dakota.

Death of man found near suicide victim investigated

MONTEVIDEO, Minn. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the shooting death of a South Dakota man who was found next to a woman who officials say committed suicide in western Minnesota. Chippewa County sheriff’s officials say 42-year-old Andy Wilcox, of Sioux Falls, was found with a gunshot wound to the head Sunday west of Sparta Cemetery in Montevideo. Wilcox was taken to North Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The Argus Leader reports 41-year-old Charity Hoffelt, also from Sioux Falls, was found dead near Wilcox. Authorities say Hoffelt’s death from a gunshot wound has been determined to be a suicide. Sheriff’s officials say the two were dating.

Wyoming lawmakers plan bill to add tolls on Interstate 80

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are poised to consider making Interstate 80 a toll road during the legislative session next year. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports the state Legislature’s transportation committee voted Tuesday to sponsor a bill that would call for toll road planning and give the state Transportation Commission the authority to place tolls. Republican state Sen. Stephan Pappas wasn’t sold on the idea, saying the state should set up a task force to explore all options to generate revenue for infrastructure before landing on tolls. Republican state Sen. Michael Von Flatern says the state has already studied the issue for years, so lawmakers need to start acting on ways to pay for infrastructure needs.