'01 in the city included fires, rescues, deaths

Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2001

A sampling of other local nongovernmental news events of 2001 include:

• A Juneau man survived a near-fatal attack by a brown bear trying to protect its cub on Admiralty Island in early December. The sow mauled Kenneth Horton for about five seconds and almost took off his face in the attack. Horton called for help by radio and was later medevaced to a Seattle hospital for treatment of severe wounds to his face, head and shoulders. Horton still needs reconstructive surgery.

• Harborview Elementary kindergarten and first-grade teacher Vivian Montoya was named Alaska teacher of the year by the state in November, and JDHS librarian Linda Thibodeau was honored as the state school librarian of the year by a professional association. Four local teachers in a program for at-risk students received national recognition among 25 educators named to USA Today's 2001 All-USA Teacher First Team. The award went to current CHOICE teachers Barbara Bonner and Lisa Eagan, JDHS assistant principal and CHOICE co-founder Laury Scandling, and CHOICE co-founder Mark Roschy, who left Juneau earlier this year. CHOICE stands for Choosing Healthy Options In Cooperative Education.

• Tuyet Hagerup, owner of the Big Dipper Ice Cream store, was shot in the head outside the Nugget Mall on Nov. 8. While Hagerup survived, she suffered hearing loss and throat damage, according to court documents. In court hearings, Hagerup - who is going through divorce proceedings - said she believed her husband Ron was responsible for the shooting. Ron Hagerup's attorney said there was no credible evidence connecting his client to the crime and no charges have been filed in the case.

• Several fires destroyed residents' homes and other possessions in 2001. An April blaze burned down the Evergreen Avenue home of Jean and George W. Rogers while the couple was out of town. No one was injured, but a half-century of mementos and memories went up in flames. A fund-raiser at the JDHS auditorium brought in money and support for the longtime arts supporters, who plan to rebuild their home. About a month later, a fire at Coho Apartments damaged half of the Mendenhall Valley apartment building. And the year ended with two mobile home blazes that left five people looking for new homes.

• A Juneau man, Rey Joel Soto, was sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison in March for killing Kenneth Thomas and for his role in the robbery and beating of Alfred Torres Sr. on Jan. 25, 2000, near Willoughby Avenue. His partner in the crime, Ronald E. Smith, had been sentenced in December. A bloody baseball bat found in the car he was a passenger in minutes after the robbery helped to convict Soto.

• A hiker died on Mount Juneau in August. Evan Schroeder of Tenafly, N.J., who came to town on a cruise ship with his family, climbed on unstable rock in Chop Gully and fell to his death on Aug. 22. Retrieval of his body was an arduous maneuver for 10 rescue workers. Juneau Mountain Rescue team members later erected warning signs hoping to prevent future accidents.

• A pregnant female humpback whale died in July near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, after being struck by a large ship. A marine mammal specialist from California concluded that the whale, a member of an endangered species, was probably injured by a cruise ship. Charges have not been filed, although an investigation is ongoing.

• An orphaned sea otter pup found abandoned near Hoonah in July survived rescue and grew large enough to be transferred from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward to an aquarium in Vancouver, British Columbia. The pup, named Elfin, weighed less than 3 pounds when recovered but grew to 12 pounds, and appeared on the center's Christmas card.

Government, election, tourism and other local and state news highlights of 2001 will be wrapped up in Monday's Empire.

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