Entries in Salt Lake City (13)


Homeless Man Loses Leg in Freight Car Fright

KTVX/ABC News(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A 19-year-old train-hopper, who became trapped underneath heavy sheets of steel inside a freight car on Thursday, was rescued when a surgeon rushed to the scene to perform an emergency amputation.

The homeless teen, who authorities have not named citing medical privacy laws, was discovered Thursday by rail workers in South Salt Lake City, Utah, much of his lower body pinned under several hundred pounds of steel.

The man and his dog had hopped the train in Denver, illegally riding the rails in an open-top freight car filled with heavy sheets of metal each between 10 and 15 feet long, authorities said.

"He became trapped when the load of tight steel shifted and pinned him underneath," said Chief Ron Morris of the South Salt Lake Fire Department.

By the time emergency workers arrived at the scene, the man had been trapped for eight hours. His dog was already dead.

Workers tried for two hours to lift the steel off of him using a small crane, Morris told ABC News, but were unsuccessful as the man began losing consciousness.

Working against the clock, rescue workers set up a "sanitary MASH unit inside the car," and flew in a surgeon from University Hospital to perform an emergency amputation, Morris said.

The man's right leg was amputated. His left leg and pelvis were severely crushed and his right arm was fractured. The man was flown to a nearby hospital and remains in critical condition.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prominent Utah Republican Fundraiser Arrested on Rape Charges

Flickr/Michael.Jolley(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A prominent Republican fundraiser has been arrested on numerous rape charges in Salt Lake City.

Gregory Nathan Peterson, an active fundraiser for conservative politicians in Utah, was charged Wednesday with a number of violent crimes, including  21 charges of rape, forcible sexual abuse and battery, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, one charge of assault and one charge of felony burglary, court documents reveal.

The charges stem from alleged attacks on four women between March 2011 and April 2012. Two of the alleged attacks occurred at the cabin where Peterson, 37, held political fundraisers.

One woman listed in an affidavit filed by the Salt Lake City District Attorney’s office says she met Peterson at a church activity, where he invited her to see a movie. However, she alleges, Peterson drove in the opposite direction of the theater, and told the woman he was taking her to his cabin in Heber, in a neighboring county. He told her he had a gun, and hit her when she rejected his sexual advances. Once at the cabin, the woman says Peterson raped her throughout the night, and drove her to her car the next morning.

Peterson met the other three alleged victims online, according to court papers. He took one of the women to his cabin, and then to his mother’s house; he allegedly raped her at both places. The other two women told authorities Peterson raped them in their own homes.

“The allegations of these four women are more than sufficient for us to move forward with charges against Peterson,” Sim Gill, Salt Lake City District Attorney, told ABC News.

Peterson has been active in fundraising for Utah Republican candidates for years, including Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, Gov. Gary Herbert, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz and others, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. He was listed as an event chair for a 2007 Mitt Romney campaign event, held at the Romneys’ Utah home, and has donated thousands of dollars to Romney’s campaign.

Peterson is a Nebraska native, and Brigham Young University alum, ABC News affiliate ABC4 reports. He currently owns and operates Peterson Wealth Management.

The cabin where the alleged rapes took place was the site of the Rocky Mountain Conservatives Convention and Barbeque, which Peterson called the “CPAC of the West,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Last year, the second year of the event, nearly 300 people attended.

Politicians who may have benefited from Peterson’s fundraising are distancing themselves from him now, ABC4 reports:

“Mr. Peterson was not involved in the campaign or in getting him elected,” Sen. Mike Lee’s office said in a statement.

“Mr. Peterson has no formal affiliation with the Governor’s campaign, nor has he ever,” Governor Gary Herbert’s office said. “In fact, the Governor declined Mr. Peterson’s invitation this past spring.”

Peterson presented himself as a “close personal friend” of the Romney family. Photos of Mitt Romney and Peterson together show they have met, and Peterson claimed to have befriended two of Romney’s sons at BYU, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

In a statement, the Romney campaign denied Peterson is close with the candidate.

“We are appalled at this situation,” the Romney campaign said. “He hasn’t been associated with our campaign since 2007. And you can believe he won’t be, going forward.”

There had been rumors circulating of improper conduct on the part of Peterson several months ago, a Utah state delegate told the Salt Lake Tribune. Brandon Beckham, who had worked with Peterson, told the paper he had warned GOP candidates to stay away from Peterson after he learned of the allegations months before any charges were filed.

Another conservative activist who knew Peterson, Darcy Van Orden, told the Salt Lake Tribune she found the allegations disturbing, but isn’t surprised.

“I believe in innocent until proven guilty,” Van Orden told the paper, “but having talked to several people and heard a lot of allegations about this for basically the last six months, I was kind of waiting to see this thing play itself out.”

There were initially five women who came forward, but, Gill said, the DA’s office felt they could only meet the burden of proof for filing charges in four of the cases.

“What we have is at least four women, maybe more, who have suffered serious trauma,” Gill told ABC, “and that’s the important thing here. I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Communist, whatever, we will prosecute you if you engage in criminal acts like this in this county.”

It is unclear whether Peterson has a lawyer yet. He is currently being held on $75,000 bail, and is due in court on Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Police Pursue Murderous 'Bonnie and Clyde' Across Western US

ABC News(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Utah and Nevada state police are hunting a couple they have dubbed "the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde" after a murderous crime spree and chase that has led investigators across two states.

The armed and extremely dangerous suspects are linked to the murder of an elderly couple, another attempted murder and the carjacking of a woman's vehicle, which then set off a police pursuit across 330 miles of Utah and Nevada over five days.

Police say the couple's crime spree began last Thursday when they stole a car in Moroni, Utah, about 100 miles south of Salt Lake City. A day later and eight miles away, police say the suspects broke into the home of retired couple Leroy and Dorothy Fullwood.

Investigators found signs of a struggle inside the home and believe the Fullwoods, who were found dead on New Year's Eve, were murdered after a botched robbery. Surveillance video later captured the male suspect at a convenience store, allegedly using the couple's stolen credit cards.

"A credit card receipt was found in the vehicle that corresponded with residence here," Police Chief Jim Wilberg of the Mt. Pleasant, Utah, police department said. "They ransacked the house. There is a lot of evidence that's been collected."

Police believe that after stealing the Fullwoods' car the suspects drove over 200 miles into Nevada, where the next morning they carjacked a woman at gunpoint. The couple allegedly shot the woman in the head as she managed to escape. Miraculously, the victim made her way to a Nevada police station, then was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

"[The victim] was transported by an ambulance here to an awaiting medical helicopter," Sgt. David Wiskerchen of the West Wendover, Nev., police department told ABC News. She is recovering at a Salt Lake hospital after undergoing surgery, according to ABC News Salt Lake City affiliate ABC-4.

Police did manage to catch up with the suspects on a Nevada highway, pursuing them at speeds over 100 miles per hour. The suspects avoided a spike trap and managed to elude state troopers on back-country roads.

The couple were last seen driving a stolen gray Volkswagen Jetta with Colorado license plate 725WHX.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


River Rescue: For Third Time, Salt Lake City Strangers Step Up

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- This weekend, Utah's Salt Lake City area upped its ranking as one of the nicest places on Earth after a dramatic rescue by people who just happened to be passing by.

On New Year's Eve, a group of nearly 10 strangers saved three children trapped in a car that had plunged into the Logan River. The driver had been trying to brake on a slick road and lost control.

It was the third incident in nearly six months where a passersby had stopped to help someone in danger.

In September, college student Brandon Wright was driving his motorcycle in Logan, Utah, when a car pulled out in front of him. The 21-year-old's bike hit the car's hood and became trapped underneath it with Wright still holding on. Both vehicles then burst into flames.

A crowd of eight or nine people, including construction workers and students from Utah State University, lifted the burning car and pulled Wright out.

"They should get used to being called heroes because that's what they are," Wright said during a hospital news conference in September. "They restored my faith in humanity."

And in December, when a Utah Transit Authority bus hit Aryann Smith in a crosswalk, leaving the 24-year-old pinned underneath, a West Valley City police officer consoled the badly injured woman by holding her hand and giving her words of encouragement.

According to Salt Lake City's Deseret News, Officer Kevin Peck crawled under the bus and held Smith's hand until the vehicle was lifted and she was pulled out. Though Smith's legs were badly injured, she was not expected to lose them.

"She asked me not to leave. So I said I would just stay under there with her until we got her out," he told the newspaper.

In the latest act of random kindness from rescuers, Roger Andersen, 46, was driving northbound on U.S. 89 in a Honda Accord on Saturday when he tried to brake and lost control. His daughter and another girl, both 9, and his son, 4, were trapped in the car after it slid off the road.

"He was panicked, doing everything he could to get in through the doors, but they wouldn't budge," said rescuer Chris Willden, a Defense Department contractor who shot out one of the car's window and helped remove a girl from a seat belt.

Willden, with three children of his own, and his father were among several men who made their way down the embankment into the water.

Though they were lifeless after rescuers pulled them from the car, the boy and his sister were reportedly doing well in intensive care at Primary Children's Medical Center. The father and the other girl were not injured, authorities said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Desperate Facebook Plea Saves Woman, Boy Held Captive for Days

Comstock/Thinkstock(SANDY, Utah) -- A Utah woman and her 17-month-old son are safe after allegedly being held captive and abused for days by her ex-boyfriend.

Troy Critchfield, 33, has been charged with kidnapping, sodomy, and child abuse after allegedly taking the woman's phone and holding her hostage. But the woman was able to sneak a laptop into a closet and post an urgent message for help on Facebook, perhaps saving the pair from further terror.

“He had had her locked up in the house without any communication for the past four-to-five days, where he had been assaulting her physically as well as sexually," Sandy City Police Sgt. John Arnold told ABC News Radio on Sunday, adding, "this was all being done in the presence of their kids.”

Friends and family alerted police after seeing the woman’s desperate plea for help, a note that said she and her son would be dead by Christmas.

“It is a very good thing that people were paying attention and were able to make contact with us,” Arnold said.

“Sometimes social media's been very helpful in trying to get information out, and in this situation it was good for her to be able to get information out to family and friends.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Occupy Deaths Force Cities to Close Camps

Scott Eells/Bloomberg(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- With an Occupy demonstrator in Salt Lake City dead from what police said was a combination of carbon monoxide poisoning and drug use, a 35-year-old's suicide at Occupy Burlington, Vt., and a shooting death within or near Occupy's Oakland, Calif. site, officials in all three cities are pressing to close those operations.

Eviction notices were handed out Friday night to Occupiers in Oakland, where the Oakland Police Officers Association argues that monitoring Occupy is unfairly cutting into worker hours that should be spent patrolling the rest of the city.

The man, who so far has not been identified, was gunned down Thursday near the Occupy Oakland encampment, and Friday Mayor Jean Quan asked the hundreds of demostrators camped in Frank Ogawa Plaza to leave voluntarily.

"It is an example of why we need to peacefully close the encampment at City Hall," Quan said. "We are asking everyone at the plaza to leave. We're going to give another official notice today."

The Oakland Police Officers' Association (OPOA) said the connection between the Occupy protest and the killing is clear.

"I don't see too many broad daylight murders in Downtown Oakland," Dom Arotzarena with OPOA said. "What's happened in Oakland is that this Occupy Oakland (movement) has created an environment that is conducive to crime."

But protesters told ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco that there was no link between Occupy Oakland and the murder.

"They were not occupiers," protester Maxwell Pryde said. "It happened in an area where kids come hang out after school anyway."

Clashes between Oakland police and Occupiers have been intermittent, with police on Oct. 25 tear-gassing that encampment and arresting 85 Occupiers. The next day, Occupiers were allowed to return to their makeshift headquarters.

In Salt Lake City -- where, thus far, police said, the 91 arrests of Occupiers more or less equals the total arrests in 2010 for the area around the encampment -- protesters countered officials' complaints.

In Vermont, 35-year-old transient Joshua Pfenning's shooting suicide, using what police said was a stolen gun, Police Chief Mike Schirling to question the prudence of allowing the camp to remain, the Burlington Free Press reported.

Pfenning, police said, aimed the gun one of three other people inside his tent before his self-inflicted shot, about which he had forewarned other protesters.

"We know that at least one weapon has been present in the encampment and we are now clear that there has been extensive consumption of alcohol and some use of drugs by those present in the camp," said Shirling, who, according to the Free Press, had walked through the camp, chatting with protesters and handing out his business card. "The presence of structures and tents creates an enhanced risk by virtue of the activity that can and is occurring inside them."

Protester Jaime Jackson, 20, a University of Vermont student in environmental studies, told the Free Press that the encampment, established on Oct. 28, was a necessary action.

"This movement is still young," she said, "and we're not going away."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Possible Break in the Case of Missing Utah Mom

Comstock/Thinkstock(WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah) -- A new lead in the nearly two-year-old case of missing Utah mom Susan Powell has investigators scrambling to Nevada, where they say they have a fresh lead that might help solve the mysterious missing person's case.

"We have received some information, a tip, that we're going to be following up on, and it's information regarding Susan Powell," said Utah's West Valley City Police Sgt. Michael Powell, who is not related to the missing woman.

"We will be in Ely, Nev., tomorrow with a team of detectives," he said.

Sgt. Powell declined to say whether they believe the missing mother might be dead or alive, or comment on the nature of the tip.

The Nevada town where investigators will soon be searching is nearly 250 miles southwest of where Susan Powell, then 28, was last seen on Dec. 6, 2009, at the West Valley City, Utah, home she shared with her husband Josh Powell and their two young sons, who were 2 and 4 at the time.

She was reported missing the next day.

Josh Powell, 34, is the only named person of interest in the case and has maintained that his wife left on her own. He has told authorities that he had been camping -- in the middle of a blizzard -- with the couple's sons the night his wife vanished.

In a November 2010 interview with the Salt Lake City Tribune, Josh Powell described his wife as being "extremely unstable" and said he feels her mental illness led to her disappearance.

Josh Powell has taken his kids to live with his father, Steven Powell, in Washington State since the disappearance.

A message left for Josh Powell's attorney, prominent criminal defense lawyer Scott Williams, was not immediately returned.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boy Scout Jarod Ropelato Still Missing in Utah Wilderness

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- The search for missing Boy Scout Jared Ropelato resumed early Saturday morning in Utah's Ashley National Forest, with volunteers fanning out at dawn along with search and rescue teams.

So far, searchers have seen no trace of Ropelato, 12, of Hooper, Utah, who went missing around noon Friday after separating from his troop during a fishing trip in a wooded area near Daggett Lake and Spirit Lake, officials said.

"At some point, he either went to get some lures or wandered away from the lake," Karen Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Daggett County Sheriff's Office in Manila, Utah, told ABC News Radio, "and they discovered him missing around 12."

After 20 or more searchers scoured the area accessible only on foot or by horseback for much of the day Friday, searchers got back at it early Saturday.

"We've got people coming in on horseback," Peterson said. "We've got at least eight to nine K9 teams."

The weather appeared to be cooperating.

"It is a nice day," Peterson said. "Right now, up in that area, it's about 57 degrees and it will probably get into the 80s lower down."

Late into the night, searchers hunted for any sign of Ropelato.

As afternoon turned into night, his anxious parents worried he may not be prepared for a night alone in the woods—no backpack, no warm clothes, just his early scout training.

"We don't go very much with him to the outdoors," said his father, Larry Ropelato, "so he's not real familiar."

However, Jared is the youngest of five brothers, all dedicated to scouting. The four oldest are Eagle Scouts.

"I know he knows all the scout laws," said Dawn Ropelato, Jared's mother. "I hope that as he realized he was lost that he was smart enough to think about the things he's been taught."

Their mother, like the rest of the family, believes Jared will be found and will continue his family's scouting tradition.

"I do have faith that he'll be able to put this on again and earn his eagle and learn," she said. "I'm sure he's learned something from this."

She said her son probably is "probably pretty sad and scared. But I also believe that he does know to pray and he does believe in a father in heaven."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman Says Reformed Skinhead Is Her Soulmate

Federal Bureau of Investigations(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Accused murderer and reformed skinhead Curtis Allgier called longtime friend Erika Herrera from a Utah jail this month and asked her to marry him.

"He just asked nonchalantly," Herrera said. "He said, 'I would get married again and you're the person I would want to marry. Would you marry me?' I was taken aback at first, and then I was like, 'Yea, why not?'"

Allgier, 31, is a maximum-security prisoner at Salt Lake County Metropolitan Jail who is accused of murdering corrections officer Stephen Anderson with his own gun in 2007, for which officials will pursue the death penalty.

His face is a mosaic of tattoos, including swastikas. On his chest is an ink likeness of Adolf Hitler. Both are physical reminders of his upbringing by a family of skinheads.

"He is a lowlife," said Anderson's daughter, Michelle DeHaan, a stay-at-home mother of five in Mount Pleasant, Utah. "He has made terrible choices in his life and he's hurting other people because of his choices."

But to Herrera, Allgier is her soulmate: an old friend who shares her passion for tattoos and sends her "stacks upon stacks" of love letters from jail.

"I love him to death and he deserves nothing but the best," she said. "No matter where you are in life, homeless or what your situation may be, I do believe that you deserve to be happy."

They are set to marry inside the jail, where Allgier has been an inmate for four years. The wedding ceremony will take place Aug. 8, Herrera said, although the request is still being processed, according to the Salt Lake County Sherrif's Office.

Any ceremony will lack visitors, rings and even a kiss because the couple will be separated by a glass window, Lt. Mike Dinero said.

"It's just a legal ceremony, not a celebration," he said.

As a maximum security prisoner, there's no need to fuss about what the groom will wear: Allgier will be in hand and feet shackles, wearing a "standard jail issued jumpsuit."

Herrera said that she had no plans to wear a wedding gown.

Instead of exchanging rings, she said, the couple, who have tattoos on their faces, will tattoo each other's names on their ring fingers. They are hoping for a "honeymoon" in a state prison that allows conjugal visits, because the Salt Lake County Metropolitan Jail does not.

Allgier was being escorted June 25, 2007, by corrections officer Anderson to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City where the prisoner was scheduled to have an MRI. After Allgier's handcuffs were removed, he grabbed Anderson's gun and allegedly shot the officer to death, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Utah Mom Tried to Sell Daughter's Virginity, Cops Say

Salt Lake City Jail(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A Utah mother could spend her life in jail after allegedly trying to sell her 13-year-old daughter's virginity for $10,000, prosecutors told ABC News.

Felicia McClure, 32, was charged Tuesday with multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor. Police said that McClure's boyfriend tipped them off after he found text messages between the woman and the man offering to pay for sex with the girl.

McClure had repeatedly been in touch with the man, whom police have identified only as "Don." The two adults took the girl to a Victoria's Secret store in which she modeled thong underwear and bras for Don, according to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

According to court documents McClure admitted to police that she offered to sell her daughter's virginity to him for $10,000. McClure also admitted to taking pictures of her daughter and selling them to another adult man, identified only as "Will." Two of the photos that McClure allegedly sent show the girl's entire buttocks, according to documents.

According to prosecutors, McClure asked her daughter if she was willing to lose her virginity to Don. The girl initially agreed to her mother's request, but later "told her mother 'no' and that she didn't feel comfortable having sex," said Gill.

"We're diligently following up on the men. For now we've chosen to go after the mother," Gill said.

Aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony for which McClure is charged on two counts, carries in Utah a maximum sentence of life. Had the girl been 14 instead of 13, her mother could not be charged with a first-degree felony, Gill said.

McClure is currently in the Salt Lake County Jail. Her bail was set at $250,000. She does not yet have a lawyer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio