Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yellowjacket sting suspected in death of Fairbanks man

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FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man died suddenly after possibly having an allergic reaction to a yellowjacket sting.

Zachary M. Warwick, 29, was pronounced dead Saturday evening at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Warwick tried to drive himself to the hospital, but crashed the 2005 GMC Sierra pickup after he lost consciousness. No one was injured in the single-vehicle crash.

Warwick was unconscious at the scene and having respiratory problems.

He likely was stung at his Glacier Avenue home Saturday afternoon and suffered an allergic reaction, said his sister, Sydney Morgan.

Warwick was asthmatic and had his inhaler with him in his vehicle, Morgan said.

Family members found that the last Web search on Warwick's computer was for symptoms and treatment of wasp stings, Morgan said.

Warwick was born and raised in Fairbanks, graduating from Lathrop High School in 1995. During high school, he represented Alaska on the Junior Olympics Alpine Ski Team.

Warwick got a business degree from Montana State University and was working toward an accounting degree at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

He was likely doing yard work Saturday when he was stung, according to Morgan. No one suspected he was allergic to yellowjacket stings.

Most people don't know they are allergic to insect stings because they usually have to be stung at least once to develop an allergy, Tanana Valley Clinic family physician Charles Steiner said Sunday.

"The only thing it takes to develop an allergy is prior exposure," he said. "It only takes one exposure to trigger the sensitivity so the second exposure can be catastrophic."

Steiner said common reactions to stings, such as redness, swelling and slight pain at the site, are not life threatening. But people should seek medical attention if they develop systemic reactions, such as watery eyes, scratchy throat, swelling lips and a raspy voice. Such symptoms mean the airway might be becoming restricted and could cause anaphylactic shock.

"If your vocal chords swell enough, you can't breathe," Steiner said.

Anaphylactic shock is usually treated with a shot of epinephrine, Steiner said. The time between a sting and possible death can be as short as 15 minutes, so it's best to call an ambulance, which will have the epinephrine on board, Steiner said.

"The treatment is 911," he said.

Even though Warwick was researching wasp stings online, he might not have been able to determine if the sting was the culprit or he was having a severe asthma attack, Morgan said.

An autopsy is being conducted.

Nicked paint delays Alaska Airlines flight with congressman

SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines Flight 4 from Seattle to Washington, D.C., with Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., on board made an unscheduled stop in Denver on Monday because of a nick in its paint, the airline said.

The airline learned of the 1-inch chip after the plane left Seattle, and decided to divert it to Denver as a safety precaution, said Amanda Tobin Bielawski, Alaska Airlines spokeswoman.

The Boeing 737-400 with 160 passengers on board landed in Denver at 1:23 p.m. MDT and resumed its flight to Washington after being checked.

"There's no damage to the aircraft, we will paint over that area with new paint in the next couple of months," Bielawski said.

She said it was not immediately known what caused the chip near the rear door of the aircraft. It was noticed by a catering crew.

She called the damage cosmetic, but said the airline would check that its reporting procedures were followed.

Reichert was expected to miss dinner and two votes in the House because of the unscheduled stop, said press secretary Kimberly Candena.

"I would not say that he was the least bit bothered by it," Candena said.

Moderate earthquake jolts eastern Siberia

ANCHORAGE - A moderate earthquake struck eastern Siberia Monday morning.

There were no immediate reports that the quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1, was felt or caused any damage, the Alaska Earthquake Information Center said.

The earthquake occurred at 7:30 a.m. (ADT) about 32 miles northwest of Alaska's Little Diomede Island.

Boy gets more than 26 years for murder

EPHRATA, Wash. - Craig Sorger's relatives spoke through their tears, telling a judge about a murdered 13-year-old boy who loved science, video games and race cars.

When Monday's sentencing hearing was over, the family got its wish: a playmate who was just 12 years old when he was charged as an adult in the slaying drew the maximum sentence of a little more than 26 years.

Evan Savoie of Ephrata, now 15, showed no emotion when Grant County Superior Court Judge Ken Jorgensen imposed the sentence.

Sporting a new, shaved haircut and a goatee, Savoie smiled slightly as he was led away in handcuffs

Savoie and a friend were charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 15, 2003, death of Sorger, a developmentally disabled boy who had last been seen playing with them in a recreational vehicle park.

His bloody body was found hours later with dozens of stab wounds.

"We will never see Craig graduate, get married or have children. We will never see the man Craig would have become," Karen Sorger told the court.

"Craig got a death sentence," she told the judge, asking him to give Savoie, "enough time to contemplate the gravity of what he has done."

The state's standard sentencing range for first-degree murder is approximately 20 to 26 years.

"This is a tragic incident for everybody involved," defense attorney Randy Smith said. "But the likelihood that rehabilitation is going to be any more effective after 26 years than after 20 years is ridiculous."

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