Wyoming news briefs for June 17

Posted 6/17/22

News from across Wyoming.

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Wyoming news briefs for June 17


Boy dies after accident near Casper

CASPER — A 5-year-old boy has died from injuries he sustained when a car he was traveling in collided with a semi-truck southwest of Casper last week, the Wyoming Highway Patrol said Thursday. 

The child, who was not identified, was in the backseat of a Honda Pilot that struck the semi-truck on June 9 near Pathfinder Reservoir. 

The crash occurred at around 8:20 p.m. as the semi-truck was heading east on Wyoming 220. The Honda, driven by Sierra M. White, 23, of Evansville, had been stopped on Pathfinder Road. As the truck passed by the intersection, the Honda accelerated forward and into the semi’s path, the highway patrol said. 

The semi-truck struck the driver’s side of the Honda, and both vehicles overturned, the patrol reported. 

White, the 5-year-old boy, a 4-year-old child and a passenger — Catherine Brummett, 27, of Evansville — were all taken to Wyoming Medical Center with injuries. The 5-year-old boy died shortly after arriving. 

The highway patrol report did not describe the extent of the other’s injuries. 

The truck’s driver, 62-year-old Lusk resident Howard Lorenzen, was also injured and taken to Wyoming Medical Center. 

The highway patrol says it is investigating driver inattention and cell phone use as possible factors that contributed to the crash. 

Forty people have died so far this year on Wyoming roads. That’s roughly how many have died in the past two years.


Gillette schools OK girls’ wrestling

GILLETTE — The Campbell County School District has added girl’s wrestling as an official school sport for the upcoming school year.

School board members voted unanimously Tuesday to make the girls wrestling program official at Campbell County High School and Thunder Basin High School.

Girls have been allowed to participate in high school wrestling for some time, but they have had to compete with and against boys. The new program will create a division specifically for girls to compete against one another, although they will continue to be part of the wrestling team with boys, similar to sports like track and cross country, said Alex Ayers, district superintendent.

Ayers said the high school athletic directors, who were not at the meeting Tuesday, supported adding the new program.

“I will tell you that the cost of doing that will be relatively small,” Ayers said.

The Wyoming High School Activities Association Board of Directors approved girls wrestling as a sanctioned school sport in April. The winter sport will take place alongside the boys wrestling season in its inaugural 2022-23 school year.

Ayers said other districts in the state have added the girls wrestling program and that there’s excitement for the additional opportunities the new classification provides.

“I think there are some girls that would be interested — I know there are — that don’t want to wrestle against boys,” Ayers said. “That will be the group of people that will be very interested in this new sport.”


Grand Teton grizzly ‘Blondie’ loses cubs

JACKSON — Grizzly 793, known as “Blondie” by wildlife watchers, has lost her three cubs born this year.

That’s according to Grand Teton National Park, which confirmed rumors that had been circulating on social media for days. Justin Schwabedissen, the park’s bear management specialist, said Thursday that officials saw the 15-year-old bear and her offspring the night of June 10 in the dark near Pilgrim Flats. But the following morning, park officials started receiving reports of a grizzly fitting 793’s description that no longer had cubs.

Schwabedissen said that 45 percent of cubs less than a year old — known as “cubs of the year” — die, and that depredation by a male grizzly is a “common” cause of mortality.

He and Grand Teton chief of staff Jeremy Barnum suspected that a male grizzly had gotten to 793’s cubs as well, having seen one in the Pilgrim Flats area the night of June 10.

Grizzly bears are territorial, and males see grizzly cubs as potential threats or competition, Barnum said.

“As we see grizzlies in the park expanding into what was their traditional habitat, bears are going to bump up against each other,” he said. “This is their natural way [to] address their territorial competition.”

Blondie, Schwabedissen said, has had four litters of cubs. She has lost three of them so far.


Sweetwater sheriff disputes ACLU claim

GREEN RIVER — The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is disputing a claim by the Wyoming ACLU that the office is among the most egregious on civil rights violations of undocumented immigrants at the Sweetwater County Detention Center. 

According to a media release from the sheriff’s office, the office was falsely accused of ranking in the top 54 law enforcement agencies nationwide an ACLU report claims are the most egregious in civil rights violations. The actual list does not include the SCSO, or any Wyoming law enforcement agency. 

The claim focuses on participation in the 287 (g) Program established through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The program creates agreements between law enforcement agencies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that aim to reduce “the number of criminal offenders that are released back into the community without being screened for immigration violations,” according to the ICE website. 

Commenting on the allegation made by ACLU Wyoming Communications Director Janna Farley, SCSO spokesperson Jason Mower claims a press release issued by Farley misrepresented findings of a report issued by the ACLU.

“Ms. Farley’s claim in her press release (June 8) is patently false,” Mower said. “It’s defamatory, and it’s a gross misrepresentation of the actual findings in the report.” 

Mower said the sheriff’s office participates in the program, saying that participation isn’t a secret. Sheriff John Grossnickle, also cited in the media release, said the office has had limited participation in the program for more than 12 years.