Northwest Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Monday, March 14, 2005

Coast Guard lifts 3 hurt men off vessel

KODIAK - Three crew members of a cargo vessel were transported to Kodiak after suffering serious injuries.

The three - all from the Philippines - were working on board the Sun Bulker when they were injured Thursday night.

The vessel was about 80 miles off the coast of Kodiak.

They were airlifted by Coast Guard helicopter Friday morning.

The crew members are Richard Canindo, 32, the chief officer; and seamen Arthur Castro, 42, and Cristano Garces, 33.

"Injuries are pretty severe, apparently, because we had to use three helicopters," said Chief Petty Officer Roger Wetherell of the Coast Guard public affairs office in Juneau.

The crew members were securing equipment to the deck outside the skin of the ship in rough weather, he said.

One crew member suffered a broken arm or shoulder, one had lacerations to the head, and the third had a possible broken leg, the Coast Guard said.

"It happened last night, but the weather was so severe and it was dark and we weren't able to get helicopters out to them," Wetherell said.

Goatnapping would become a felony

NAPAVINE, Wash. - Angel isn't your average goat. The 5-year-old white Saanen doe has won numerous state awards and is worth well over $3,000.

But in the state of Washington, she isn't considered livestock, and if someone tried to steal the prize show and dairy goat off Pat Hendrickson's Napavine farm they'd only face misdemeanor charges.

Under bills before the House and Senate, goats would finally get the respect Hendrickson said is long overdue. And goat owners could be assured that thieves would face harsher penalties for stealing the animals, which can range in value from $100 to $16,000.

"For years and years, goats have always been the brunt of jokes," said Hendrickson, who has nearly 40 goats on her farm. "They're not a $5 tin-can eating animal anymore."

Since the state doesn't designate goats as livestock, theft of them is usually only a misdemeanor, while theft of official livestock - like horses, mules, pigs or sheep - is a felony.

Livestock thieves are charged according to their motives. If the theft was done with intention to sell or exchange the animal, the culprit faces first-degree theft, which is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and $20,000 in fines. If they steal it to keep - or eat - for themselves, the charges are slightly less, and they face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

But as the law stands now, goats are only considered property, and the punishment depends solely on their worth. The bills before the Legislature don't create a new law, they just designate goats as livestock and add them to the current livestock theft law.

"Right now if someone were to steal a $1,600 goat, they'd spend zero to 90 days in jail," said Joseph Wheeler, senior deputy prosecuting attorney in Thurston County. "With this law, they'd get at least three to nine months, assuming they have no criminal history."

Workers pass checks despite convictions

SPOKANE, Wash. - More than 100 state employees in sensitive positions passed criminal background checks despite records of serious professional misconduct and criminal convictions that included murder, statutory rape, robbery and drug possession, The Spokesman-Review reported Sunday.

The Legislature ordered the background checks in 2001 to filter out troubled workers with the Department of Social and Health Services. The hundred-plus employees cited by the newspaper all required special clearance because they had unsupervised access to the elderly, adults with disabilities and children, according to documents recently released by DSHS.

About two-thirds of the DSHS's 18,000 employees work in those kinds of jobs.

The agency refused to disclose the names of the employees with criminal records, citing privacy laws, even though state officials acknowledged criminal backgrounds are public record.

The Spokesman-Review requested the documents after a psychiatric nurse with a criminal record was accused of raping a patient at Eastern State Hospital last year.

The documents that were released paint a more comprehensive picture than the agency's news releases from 2002, which stated that only 27 state employees had criminal records that prevented them from having unsupervised access to vulnerable populations. However, a review of the state documents shows that at least 113 other employees kept their jobs - though the majority of them had potentially disqualifying criminal records.

The agency initially ruled that the employees should be removed from the sensitive positions, but it allowed them to appeal to a panel of state employees. That panel, known as the Mitigating Circumstances Review Board, approved 91 percent of the employees who came before it.

Quake reported north of Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A minor earthquake with a magnitude of 3.3 was reported Saturday night, 15 miles north of here at 7:37 p.m.

The quake occurred 16 miles below the surface of the Earth, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Stephen Malone, director of the seismology laboratory at the University of Washington, said the quake occurred below the Earth's surface and was not related to reports of a fireball streaking through the night sky.

Scientists said the fireball was probably a meteor and likely disintegrated just before any fragments fell into the Pacific Ocean.

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