Wyoming news briefs for May 31

Posted 5/31/22

News from across Wyoming.

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Wyoming news briefs for May 31


Experimental plane crashed Monday morning into storage unit; pilot dead, no others hurt

CHEYENNE — A single-engine experimental plane crashed at around 8 a.m. Monday into a storage unit on Crook Avenue, near Nationway.

The crash appeared to have caused a relatively small blaze that was extinguished within about half an hour. Besides the pilot, there were no other fatalities.

The pilot of the aircraft, which federal air authorities described as an Express 2000 RG, was its sole occupant. The person, who authorities did not identify by name, has died, according to an update the Cheyenne Police Department distributed by email at around 1 p.m. Monday. 

The individual was an adult male, CPD spokesperson Alex Farkas said by phone Monday afternoon. 

"No further injuries have been reported," according to the police department's news release.

The airplane had taken off from Cheyenne Regional Airport and was headed to Texas, according to National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson Jennifer Gabris. 

Coroner Rebecca Reid said in a brief phone interview that it might take a few days to get a positive identification of the pilot. 

When the plane crashed, Cheyenne Storage was closed to customers, a co-owner said by phone Monday afternoon; she would not provide her name.

Both the FAA and the NTSB will investigate the incident, an FAA spokesperson wrote in an email to the WTE. In approximately 15 business days, the NTSB will release a preliminary report on the crash, Gabris said.

A final report, with an analysis and suggesting a probable cause of the crash, will be released within a year or two, the spokeswoman estimated.


Torres transferred to juvenile jail facility following judge’s order

SHERIDAN — Christian Torres, a 15-year-old accused of first-degree — or premeditated — murder of his adoptive father, has been transferred to a juvenile detention facility to await trial this fall, 9th Judicial District Court Judge Melissa Owens ordered Wednesday, May 25. 

“The court finds it necessary to immediately intervene for the safety and the well-being of the minor defendant…” Owens wrote. 

Owens is overseeing Torres’ criminal trial because 4th Judicial District Court Judge Darci Phillips recused herself from the case.

During a hearing on the defendant’s request to be rehoused in a juvenile facility, Torres’ defense team, attorneys Jonathan Foreman and Anna Malmberg, presented evidence indicating Torres was physically and sexually harassed while in custody at the Sheridan County Detention Center. 

Foreman argued Owens’ authority to order Torres be housed in another facility pursuant to Wyoming’s Title 14, which governs the juvenile justice proceedings in the state. Just because Torres is charged as an adult in this case does not mean Title 14 — which guarantees juveniles special protections under the law — is inapplicable, Foreman argued. 

Foreman also indicated there may be civil remedies available under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a federal law that prohibits juveniles from being housed within sight, sound or touch of adult inmates, or the 14th Amendment. 

Deputy Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Christopher LaRosa responded Title 14 is irrelevant because Torres is charged as an adult. 

“He’s not a juvenile under the law,” LaRosa argued. “He’s charged as an adult.”  

LaRosa argued there was no state or federal statute that granted the judge authority to dictate Torres be removed from the Sheridan County Sheriff Office’s custody and housed in a juvenile facility elsewhere. 


Wyoming Highway 130 opens

LARAMIE — Wyoming Highway 130 — also known as Snowy Range Road — is again open to Wyoming motorists looking to explore or cross the Snowy Range.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation announced the road’s opening Monday, May 16, after a closure of six months — alongside the reopening of Wyoming Highway 70, which was closed for five months.

Buried under several feet of snow and without the traffic to justify regular plowing, the highways are closed annually and cleared between April and May by WYDOT crews working dozers, rotaries and plows.

“On 130, the main difficulty we had this year was the ice buildup that was within the snowpack — this was caused by the freeze-thaw cycle that we had here,” WYDOT Spokesman Matt Murphy said.

Highway 130 — the main east-west thoroughfare through Medicine Bow connecting Albany and Carbon counties — is attacked from both sides with a Saratoga crew setting out on the west end of the closed road and a Laramie crew starting on the east.

The two crews work their way to the middle, dozing sections of the snowbank between them down to a height of 4 feet, coming through with a rotary that blows most of the remaining snow off to the side of the highway and finally cleaning up the thin layer of slush with a regular plow.

Though the road is cleared and open, WYDOT urges motorists and bikers to use caution.

“The snowdrifts that are on the side of the road can melt and then you get some water over the road’s surface,” Murphy said. “At nighttime, that will freeze. If you’re driving through in the morning, it’s good to keep that in mind in case you hit a slick spot or two.”