Northwest Digest

Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Survivors of fatal accident still in ICU on Tuesday

JUNEAU - Two girls who survived the Sunday afternoon accident that took the life of 19-year-old Brant Cooper were in intensive care Tuesday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Erin Scheidecker and Patricia Brown were passengers in the vehicle driven by Cooper, according to Juneau police Capt. Tom Porter.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman at Harborview said both were patients there. Both were housed in the intensive care unit, but the spokeswoman could not release their condition.

Scheidecker was a Juneau-Douglas High School senior, Principal John Norman said. Brown was no longer attending the school. He said counselors have been working with students who have needed help in dealing with the accident.

"It's very tragic," he said.

Police listed the girls in critical condition on Sunday, when they were flown to Seattle. The accident was reported at 2:10 p.m. by a motorist passing the scene on Glacier Highway about 10 miles north of Tee Harbor.

Porter said the names were not released until the investigation confirmed initial reports that Cooper was the driver.

Officers reported Sunday that the vehicle hit a rock wall and rolled over. Cooper was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. At least one of the girls was thrown from the vehicle, Porter said.

"All appearances are that they were not wearing seatbelts," he said. "We're looking at speed as a contributing factor."

Police are waiting for autopsy results and the investigation continues.

Grandparents file for custody of Starr children

JUNEAU - The parents of Richard George Jr., the man Denni Starr was convicted of killing, are seeking custody of her children.

Richard and Barbara George filed the action in Juneau on Monday, arguing that as paternal grandparents they are "the parties most able to provide for the children's best interests."

Denni Starr, 24, was found guilty in September in Sitka of second-degree murder in the July 26, 2003, stabbing death of Richard "Buddy" George Jr., the father of her children. The jury also found Starr guilty of misdemeanor reckless endangerment after it was shown the deceased was holding their youngest daughter in his arms when he was stabbed.

Starr is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 6 in Sitka. She is being held at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Her daughters, now 7 and 2, are residing with Starr's parents in the Mendenhall Valley, according to the Georges' filing. The Georges argue the September 2003 removal of the girls from Angoon, where they had resided their entire lives, "has resulted in substantial emotional harm to the children."

The court has addressed the maternal grandparents' guardianship, but not the question of custody of the children.

The Georges argue that Starr is unable and unfit to care for her children.

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