Entries in Washington (95)


Woman Dead, Snowshoer Missing After Cascade Mountains Avalanche

Hemera/Thinkstock(SEATTLE, Wash.) -- A woman hiker who was rescued Saturday from the Cascade Mountains in Washington after being buried by an avalanche has died, and one snowshoer remains missing.

The first avalanche took place around noon at Granite Mountain, knocking three men who were on snowshoes to the ground. Two emerged injured from the snow, however the third, a 60-year-old man, whose identity has not been released, did not.

"They started out, everything's fine, they're in a gully-type area - when they're hit by the avalanche," Sgt. Katie Larson, spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff's Office, told ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV.

Larson said one of the men was carrying a GPS device, which showed they were carried 1,200 feet down the mountain at speeds of up to 53 miles per hour.

One of the rescued snowshoers has a shoulder injury, while the other injured his hamstring, she said.

A team of 100 rescuers, some with search dogs, fanned out in the area on Saturday to search for the missing snowshoer, but heavy snowfall and fading daylight hampered the search and rescue mission, forcing the teams to retreat for the night.

The search has been suspended indefinitely due to poor weather conditions, the King County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Sunday.

The second avalanche occurred at Red Mountain, a half hour after the first, striking 12 snowshoers and a woman who was walking nearby.

The group of hikers were able to rescue themselves, but realized the woman was missing. After searching for and locating the woman, the hikers dug her out of about 5 feet of snow. She was not moving and somewhat conscious when they rescued her. Search and rescue teams arrived in over two hours, who loaded the woman onto a sled and hiked her through blizzard-like conditions through the mountains.

Medics at the base then confirmed that the woman had died. She has not yet been identified.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Washington Man Suspected of Murdering Grandparents in Custody

KOMO News(LINCOLN CITY, Ore.) -- A Washington state man suspected of murdering his grandparents last week is in custody after a daylong standoff Tuesday at a motel in Oregon.

Michael Boysen, 26, surrendered after state police tactical teams used breaching explosives to knock down the door of the motel room.

"The encounter went really well.  The subject was already down on the floor.  So there was no further resistance from him," said Keith Killian, the police chief in Lincoln City, Ore.

Killian said Boysen was treated for some self-inflicted injuries.

"They were not gun shot injuries, they were some sort of cuts," the police chief explained.

Boysen was wanted for allegedly killing his grandparents last Friday after they threw him a party to welcome him home from prison.  He was released on March 8 after serving time since 2006 for three robbery convictions, according to ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO.

"At the grandparents' house on Friday night, there was kind of a welcome home party with other family members," King County Sheriff John Urquhart said at a news conference on Monday.  "Everybody left the party at about 9 o'clock at night."

Authorities believe that Boysen killed his grandparents shortly after that and then took off in their car, a red 2001 Chrysler 300 with a Washington license plate 046-XXU.

"We are at a loss as to why he killed them," Urquhart said.  "We don't know what the motive is."

The sheriff said the grandparents were not shot, but did not elaborate on how they were killed.

On Saturday, the victims' daughter, Boysen's mother, discovered her parents' bodies after going to their house when she was unable to reach them, KOMO reported.

Family members have identified the slain couple as Robert and Norma Taylor, according to KOMO.  They were 82 and 80 years old, respectively.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Federal Offices in DC Close as Major Snowstorm Heads East

Man clears snow from the Millennium Park skating rink in Chicago. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- Federal offices in Washington, D.C. will be closed on Wednesday as the nation's capital prepares to be hit by what could be the biggest snowstorm there in three years.

In a statement Wednesday, the Office of Personnel and Management said "non-emergency employees will be granted excused absence for the number of hours they were scheduled to work."

The storm is expected to bring 6 to 10 inches of snow inside the Beltway, up to 14 inches in the western suburbs, 10 to 18 inches in western Virginia, and up to 6 inches in the eastern suburbs.  The heaviest snowfall will be on Wednesday and it is forecast to end by night time.

Elsewhere, 3 to 6 inches of the white stuff is expected in Philadelphia, with rain mixing in from time to time.  New York City is forecast to get the same amount of snow, with more than 6 inches possible for eastern Long Island and just north of the city.  Snowfall in both cities will end on Thursday, as the storm moves on to Boston and New England.

Already, the system has wrecked havoc on the Midwest, dropping 8 to 12 inches of snow from Minneapolis to Chicago, crippling transportation.  

As of Wednesday morning, over 1,600 flights have been canceled, according to  The Washington, D.C., area has the most cancellations, followed by Baltimore, Chicago and Atlanta.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Former Ms. Washington Sentenced in Murder Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Peggy Sue Thomas, a former Ms. Washington and ex-wife of a millionaire, was sentenced to four years in prison for her role in the murder of a former colleague’s husband.

The ex-beauty queen accepted a plea bargain in January, one week before she was due to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge. Thomas pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance in the first degree, and in exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors recommended a four-year sentence.

The punishment disappointed the family of Russell Thomas, who was found shot to death in his car two days after Christmas 2003.

“It seems like a travesty of the basic sense of justice that she would be sentenced to less than four years in prison for the cold and premeditated act that could not have happened without her involvement,” the victim’s father, Jim Douglas, said in court on Friday, ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO reported.

Prosecutors said Thomas and her then-boyfriend, James Huden, lured Douglas into a remote area so Huden could shoot him.

Douglas was found dead in a car in Freeland, Whidbey Island, two days after Christmas 2003.

Prosecutors said it could have been a revenge murder, with Huden and Thomas suspecting that Douglas was abusing his wife and kids.

At his trial last year, Huden declined to reveal why he targeted Douglas and rebuffed a deal to testify against his former girlfriend.

Huden was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

The former beauty queen was given an opportunity by the judge on Friday to come clean about the murder, but she declined.

Thomas did, however, address her tarnished image in January when she accepted the plea bargain.

“I’m not the woman that’s been portrayed in the papers over the last few years,” she said. “I would want to tell Russell Douglas and his family that I am so sorry for their loss.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Wash. Widow, 91, Plans Estate Sale So She Can Afford to Bury Husband

KOMO/ABC News(SEATTLE) -- A 91-year-old Arlington, Wash., widow is selling all of her belongings so she can afford to bury her late husband.

Elsie Smith told ABC News she is hoping that by selling all of her possessions through an estate sale, she can bury her husband in the same cemetery as their family members in Snohomish, Wash.

Smith said that someday, she wants to be buried there as well.

Smith had been married to her late husband, Joe Smith, for "46 and a half years," she said. The two met through her niece's husband, who was a co-worker of his at the time.

Joe Smith passed away at the age of 88 on Feb. 5. For the past two years, he had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease, ABC's Seattle affiliate KOMO reported.

"I loved that man more than anything in this whole wide world," she told KOMO.

Smith has a total of $9 to her name, KOMO reported. She said she thinks it will cost "about $3,000 for the funeral."

"I would like to get some help in any way that I possibly can," she said.

Everything is up for grabs in Smith's apartment when the sale takes place, except "her makeup and her clothes," she said. Smith said she will not be selling her husband's clothing either.

Smith said her late husband's niece is helping her with the estate sale, which she thinks will happen sometime next week.

"I'd like to keep everything," she said. "But I have to sell it."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Washington Man Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison For Killing Terminally Ill Wife

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(SEATTLE, Wash.) -- A Washington man was sentenced to two years in prison for shooting his terminally ill wife in what his family said was a mercy killing.

Donald McNeely, 55, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Thursday. His adult children asked a judge for mercy and insisted their father killed their mother, who had an inoperable brain tumor, out of compassion.

"I think that was his only option," said Nikki Bryant, McNeely's daughter.

"He loved my mother," she told ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle. "He still loves her very, very much."

On March 14, 2012, McNeely sat with his wife, Linda, who had just returned from hospice care. He watched her for two hours as she slept before he delivered one shot to her ailing body.

McNeely called 911 around 3 p.m. that day and told the operator he "could not stand it anymore," according to the police report.

He then called his two adult children, who rushed to the scene as he surrendered to police.

The body of 52-year-old Linda McNeely was found draped with a blanket in the home, with a pistol lying nearby, according to the report.

McNeely told police his wife had asked him several times over the course of her illness to shoot her.

Washington is one of two states that has a "Death With Dignity" Act. The law allows terminally ill adults who are of sound mind and have been given six months or less to live the right to obtain prescription drugs that will speed up their deaths. Oregon is the only other state with a similar law.

The McNeelys had considered the option, but Linda McNeely was not a candidate because of her cognitive deterioration, the Everett Herald reported.

Donald McNeely had faced a maximum of 18 years in prison.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Washington Skier Buried Alive in Avalanche Saved by Quick Thinking

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A quick-thinking 20-year-old Washington skier who was buried beneath an avalanche for up to 15 minutes managed to keep breathing until rescuers arrived by scooping snow away from her mouth.

Emily Anderson was skiing with a group at Crystal Mountain in Enumclaw, Wash., on Monday when more than 3 feet of snow cut loose, triggering an avalanche.  She says when she looked down she saw the snow moving strangely beneath her.

"I saw, like, a crack, and, you know, you hear a little, a little pop when it starts to go.  I realized that it was an avalanche and it just pushed me into a tree.  And, all of a sudden, was encased and I couldn't move," Anderson told ABC's Good Morning America.

When she became buried, her first thought, above everything else, was how to breathe.  Anderson's left hand could move just enough to get the snow away from her mouth.

"My head was down, facing down, a little bit and so I, like, had to kind of scoop the snow away.  I breathed in snow a little bit -- that was scary," she said.  "I was kind of in a sitting position, and my right arm was stuck out…. to my side … [I] couldn't move it."

Then a second wave hit her -- a wave of fear that she might not be found.

"I felt very alone and I felt, you know, like -- this could be it!" she said.

During Anderson's ordeal, she was screaming, but buried under the snow, no one could hear her.

Luckily, a friend saw it happen and called for help.  The ski patrol was there within minutes and began poking through the snow with long poles trying to find her.

Newman, a 4-year-old avalanche rescue dog, was there, too.

"Avalanche dogs are the best way to find somebody like Emily.  This woman is lucky.  The avalanche statistics say that once you're buried without a trace to the surface, your chance of surviving that -- statistically -- is one out of three," Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol Director Paul Baugher said.

Fifteen minutes later, she felt the poles poking through.  They found her, and dug her out.

"I'm very lucky!  Everything about it went my way -- that's for sure," Anderson said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Buried Alive in Avalanche Rescued by Fellow Skiers

Hemera/Thinkstock(CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, Wash.) -- An experienced skier was buried alive on Crystal Mountain in Washington this week when more than 3 feet of snow triggered an avalanche in the area where she was skiing.

Emily Anderson was buried beneath the avalanche for up to 15 minutes, according to Crystal Mountain ski patrol director Paul Baugher.

Baugher said that the area had received 40 inches of snow in about 35 hours Sunday and Monday, and when a small section of terrain was opened to expert skiers, dozens of ski patrols and avalanche control staff were sent to the site.

"In a big storm like this we have a little place, a little pocket like this ... and this person and her party triggered this small little pocket in this innocuous place," Baugher said.

"Because of a lot of good things, you had not only the ski patrol, which was out there doing avalanche control work, but they were pre-positioned with equipment. We always watch while the first skiing gets done ... just in case there's an 'oops,' because you can never get the risk to zero."

When Anderson was overtaken by the rushing snow, her fellow skiers realized she was missing and used a cell phone to call the ski patrol dispatcher, a phone number they had saved before embarking on their adventure.

Within five minutes a ski patrol member showed up to assist the skiers in searching for their friend, Baugher said.

Baugher said that ski patrol members were specially trained in where to look for survivors of an avalanche immediately after it occurs. The patrol member instructed Anderson's friends in how to use their poles to search specific areas for signs of her.

"We had a guy on the scene in five minutes, and he was able to organize the good inbound powder skiers, who had collapsible probe poles, and they figured out where to start probing, and then, boom, this gal was found," Baugher said. "She spent maybe 10 to 15 minutes under the snow. She came out just great, she really did."

Anderson was not carrying an avalanche beacon with her at the time, although members of her party were.

Two other skiers were partially buried in the avalanche but were able to free themselves, Baugher said.

Anderson skied down the mountain herself after her ordeal.

"It was a great outcome because we were prepared and the guys that ski this terrain were prepared too. They carried all the right equipment and kept everyone in sight, and they knew the number. It was a great combination," Baugher said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Washington Celebrates First Same-Sex Weddings in State

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SEATTLE, Wash.) -- As the clock struck midnight Sunday, wedding bells began to ring in Washington.

Same-sex couples tied the knot in midnight ceremonies as a new state law went into effect recognizing their marriages.

Marriage licenses became available to the couples on Thursday, however according to state law, they had to wait three days before they could legally wed, meaning the first weddings could not take place until today.

“We weren’t going to wait one second longer,” groom Matthew Wiltse, 29, told ABC News affiliate KOMO, after his midnight wedding.

Wiltse and his partner of 10 years, Jonathon Bashford, 31, were one of five couples wed at the Thurston County Courthouse overnight.

The celebratory mood continued into the day, as 140 couples were married in the grand lobby at Seattle City Hall, which is usually closed on Sundays.

Sixteen judges volunteered to officiate the marriages, according to a City of Seattle live blog of the day’s festivities.

Two-thirds of the couples married at city hall today were women, and one-third men, according to the blog.

After saying “I do,” couples were able to meet Mayor Michael McGinn as they picked up signed, embossed certificates recognizing their marriage.

A room at city hall was turned into a large joint wedding reception, where newly married couples, family and friends celebrated with colorful cupcakes and pictures.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Day One of Legal Pot Marred by Deaths at Alleged Wash. Growing Center

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- The first day of legal marijuana use in Washington State was marred by an attempted robbery ending with two deaths at an alleged pot-growing facility just south of Seattle.

The possession of pot became legal in the state Thursday after voters passed a measure decriminalizing it in November. Day two kicked off with more celebrations under the Space Needle tower, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, but the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department investigated an attempted robbery in Puyallup at an alleged growing center foiled by a homeowner who shot two alleged burglars in front of his 9-year-old son.

Officers say they arrived at the home of the man, 35, Thursday to find two masked men dead on the floor and marijuana plants in the attic, ABC affiliate KOMO-TV News reported.

While the law passed in November made it legal to carry and consume marijuana, Sgt. Sean Whitcomb of the Seattle Police Department said cultivating and selling the drug outside of medical dispensaries is still a crime.

“When you’re engaged in that type of criminal activity, there is an element of risk,” Whitcomb told ABC News Friday.

The legislation leaves Washington in a “murky place,” Whitcomb said. Smokers who have purchased marijuana from a street dealer are in the clear.

But the dealer “is still committing a felony,” he said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle sent out a statement Wednesday reminding residents that pot is still illegal under federal law and cannot be brought onto federal property.

“Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law,” the memo from U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said.

Federal officials have not said whether they will take action in Colorado and Washington where possession laws now conflict with nationwide drug classifications, but Seattle Police told ABC News Thursday that federal agents were hands-off on pot smokers in the state.

In an ABC News poll released shortly after the election, 48 percent of Americans expressed support for legalizing marijuana.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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