The Star Valley Independent is part of the Wyoming News Exchange. These news briefs are courtesy of the WNE.
Coroner: Gunshot victim sober at time of death
RIVERTON (WNE) — Officials have confirmed that Levi King of Riverton was sober at the time of his death last month.
An autopsy showed no relevant toxicology for King, 19, who was shot in the head March 12 at a Riverton home.
Keith Sack, 22, of Riverton, is being prosecuted for manslaughter in connection with the incident. He says he accidentally shot and killed his friend with a bolt-action rifle.
Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen said the absence of “relevant” toxicology doesn’t always mean the deceased was not intoxicated.
“It means … there was nothing that was contributory to the death,” he said Tuesday.
In this case, however, he said no drugs or alcohol were found in King’s system.
“Levi was sober,” Stratmoen said.
The other three people present at the time of King’s death – Slack, Wyatt LeClair and Nicholas Taufen – said they were drinking beer that night at a house on East Pine Street.
They also were “dry firing” an unloaded Ruger Precision rifle.
At some point, the rifle was set aside, and King loaded a magazine into the gun, according to a police affidavit. Later, Sack began handling the gun again, and without realizing it was loaded, he pulled the trigger, killing King.
King’s autopsy says he died of an intermediate-range rifle wound to the head.
An intermediate-range gunshot wound is defined as one in which the muzzle of the weapon is away from the body at the time of discharge but is sufficiently close to create certain kinds of forensic markings.
Sack’s attorney, Jeremy Hugus, said Sack intended to aim at the wall, not King. In addition, witnesses at the scene said Sack was shocked that the gun was loaded.
State makes wind energy services known
RAWLINS (WNE) — The Wyoming Business Council launched a new online service aimed at promoting the wind energy industry.
Carbon County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Cindy Wallace said the website will help match local service providers to wind development companies coming into the state.
“They might need welders or they might need someone who can do cement or they might need someone who can do repair work on their vehicles,” she said.
“All they have to do is put a real short profile about their business in there, along with their contact information. That’s it.”
The service is free.
Carbon County expects to have projects getting started in the next two years. This includes the Rocky Mountain Power and Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy projects.
“The wind industry is growing in our state,” Wallace said. “It has taken a while but it is finally growing. We have some of the best wind resources in the whole country.”
Wallace said there could be anywhere from less than 100 to more than 900 construction workers for each wind energy project. In addition, she noted that companies interested in acquiring rooms, gasoline or other unique amenities should register.
“Some of the workers might need supplies of bottle water to be delivered,” she said. “Even housing — workers might come in, and they need a place to stay.”
To register, go to www.wyomingbusiness.org/windenergyfaq. For more information about the website, call Wallace at 324-3836.
Chugwater water judged among top 10 nationally
WHEATLAND (WNE) — Chugwater proved it has some of the best tasting water in the country when it placed first in Wyoming, then in the top 10 at the Great American Water Taste Test held Feb. 7 in Washington, D.C.
“I told ’em in Washington, ‘I’ll be back,’” Chugwater Utilities Director Steve Kelley said during a recent interview.
Kelley theorized Chugwater’s tap water is so tasty because the town doesn’t do anything with it aside from some chlorination. He said Chugwater does not add fluoride.
“It’s just the natural formation it comes from,” Kelley said. “It’s extremely good water.”
Chugwater was voted best tasting in Wyoming in 2017, which gave the town the right to compete in Washington in February.
The Great American Water Taste Test is sponsored by the National Rural Water Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to training and supporting water professionals who serve small communities across the country, according to the nonprofit’s website at nrwa.org.
Kelley has been utilities director in Chugwater 19 years.
Kelley said he’s been entering Chugwater tap water in the taste test contest 15 years — about as long as the contest has been held — but last year was the first time Chugwater’s water was voted best tasting in Wyoming.
He said Chugwater has consistently been ranked among the top in the state, usually the top five, and it took second place for three years in a row before being rated the best in 2017.
“I’m going to keep competing,” Kelley said. “I will compete again this year in two weeks in Casper (at the Wyoming Rural Water Association spring conference).”
Funds raised for injured skier
JACKSON (WNE) — In addition to the $117,000-plus that’s already been raised online for Bryce Newcomb, the injured skier’s friends turned out last week for an old-fashioned benefit at Elks Lodge No. 1713.
As of Tuesday the proceeds from the auction and raffle were still being counted.
“The estimate right now is $50,000,” Elks Club Manager Corey Field said. “But there are still some outstanding checks from auction items.”
Businesses and individuals donated a total of $75,000 worth of high-end items like skis and mountain bikes for the auction. Of the 600 attendees, not many people left empty-handed.
“There was no leftover stuff,” said Kevin Gregory, Newcomb’s friend and one of the benefit organizers. “It seemed like everybody walked out with great items.”
Newcomb has yet to wake up from an injury he sustained March 27 when a snow cornice he was standing on broke. He went tumbling down Cody Peak, a backcountry area just south of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
The pro skier remains in critical condition with a severe brain injury in the Intensive Care Unit at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Newcomb and his family have seen an outpouring of support from friends and strangers since the accident.
“We are praying for a miraculous recovery from Bryce and appreciate all the love and support that has been coming his way,” his brother, Cole Newcomb, told the News&Guide. “We are so incredibly grateful to everyone in the Jackson community for their incredible support and rallying yells.”
A videographer and photographer were on hand to document the event.
Newcomb’s friends can’t wait to show him the party they threw in his honor.
“He has a long road ahead of him,” Gregory said. “But there’s a lot of documentation for him to see when he wakes up.”