Yellowstone’s Shooting Victim from Pocatello

September 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on Yellowstone’s Shooting Victim from Pocatello 

Ella Marie Tucker of Pocatello, Idaho, has been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting on Saturday (Sept. 7) at the Grant Village Campground (on left side of map) in Yellowstone National Park. Map courtesy of National Park Service

The toddler killed Saturday (Sept. 7) by a gunshot in Yellowstone National Park was identified Monday as Ella Marie Tucker, of Pocatello, Idaho, but exact details of the shooting remained withheld by park officials, National Parks Traveler reported.

A five-paragraph release from the park said that while rangers were alerted to the incident by a woman at the Grant Village Campground who called 911 to report her daughter had “just shot herself with a handgun,” it added that rangers and Park Service special agents “continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Saturday morning incident.”

The 3-year-old’s death was the first gun-related fatality of a Yellowstone visitor in 35 years.

Click here to read the entire story.



Child Killed with Dad’s Gun in Yellowstone N.P.

September 9, 2013 by · Comments Off on Child Killed with Dad’s Gun in Yellowstone N.P. 

A typical campsite at Grant Village Campground in Yellowstone Natoonal Park where a 3-year-old girl fatally shot herself with her father’s pistol on Saturday (Sept. 7). Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

The first child to die from gunfire in Yellowstone National Park in three-quarters of a century was a 3-year-old girl killed over the weekend by a bullet shot from her father’s handgun at a popular lakeside campsite, park officials said on Sunday (Sept. 8).

Little information was released by authorities about the toddler’s death since her mother called emergency dispatchers on Saturday to report that her daughter had shot herself at the Grant Village Campground on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, Reuters reported.

Emergency personnel were unable to resuscitate the child, whose name was being withheld until today at the request of the family, who are from Idaho, park spokesman Al Nash said.

The death comes three years after enactment of a federal law that lifted a decades-old ban on the possession of firearms by visitors to most national parks, including Yellowstone.

It marks the first fatal shooting in Yellowstone since 1978, and the first shooting death of a child in the park since 1938, when the 13-year-old son of the park’s master mechanic accidentally shot himself in the head with a rifle, Nash said.

A portion of the forested campsite where the shooting occurred remained cordoned off on Sunday as Yellowstone rangers and special agents with the National Park Service continued their investigation of an incident that Nash described as “the kind of thing that isn’t supposed to happen here.”

Park officials revealed the girl’s age on Sunday and said the weapon was a pistol that belonged to her father.

Authorities have declined to say whether investigators believe the shooting was accidental or deliberate.

The Grant Village campground in Yellowstone, which spans nearly 3,500 square miles of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, sits in the Wyoming section of the park near a developed area that contains a ranger station, lodge, shower facilities and other amenities.

Grant Village Campground where a little girl was fatally shot over the weekend is located on the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Map courtesy of National Park Service

It remains unlawful in most national parks including Yellowstone, celebrated for natural wonders like the Old Faithful Geyser and for an abundance of wildlife such as bison, elk and grizzly bears, to hunt or to fire a gun.

The legislation allowing visitors to carry guns in the parks was tacked on to a credit card bill passed by Congress in 2009 and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The measure was backed by gun-rights proponents like the National Rifle Association, but opposed by groups representing park rangers and retired National Park Service employees.

Supporters said it would provide uniformity to a patchwork of firearms regulations that allowed guns in public lands overseen by the U.S. Forest Service and federal Bureau of Land Management, but not in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Opponents said the law would heighten risks for visitors and park employees, embolden poachers and complicate prosecution of wildlife crimes.



Oil Pipeliners/RVers Arrested in W. Va. Murder

September 5, 2013 by · Comments Off on Oil Pipeliners/RVers Arrested in W. Va. Murder 

Investigators have traced the murder of Wheeling Jesuit University student Kevin Figaniak to two transient pipeline workers who had been living in an RV park a few miles away in Ohio.

They’re still looking for a third, KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh, reported.

Arrested and charged with criminal homicide are Craig Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., and 24-year-old Jarret Chandler of Winnfield, La.

Until this past week, Peacock had been living in a trailer and Chandler had been living in another, members of a diverse community of oil and gas workers drawn to this region from around the country.

“Wherever the work’s at,” said Peggy Robinson, a worker. “That’s where we go.”

License plates in the RV parks are from Texas, Mississippi, Oregon and from Ohio where Robinson and her husband have come to weld pipelines — part of their own cross-country migration.

But she says most of the workers she encountered here and elsewhere are hard-working and law abiding.

“We don’t have any criminal history, speeding tickets anything. We don’t have any trouble with people at the campgrounds,” Robinson said.

Industry spokespeople say the murder while tragic is an isolated case. That even the number of transient gas and oil workers are far fewer that many perceive.

According to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, 96% of new hires in the industry last year came from within the five-state Marcellus Shale region.

And until this murder, lead Det. Sgt. McKenzie said police have had few problems with the workers, if any.

“I think these guys come up here to work. They work 12-hour shifts six, seven days a week. I don’t think they have time to go out,” he said.

Oil and gas workers KDKA spoke with who did not wish to appear on camera say they are shocked and saddened by these events, but they say the suspects are not representative of their community as transient and diverse as it may be.

Latest Briefs from RV Parks and Campgrounds

May 7, 2013 by · Comments Off on Latest Briefs from RV Parks and Campgrounds 

Campgrounds and cabins (in top left quadrant of map) are show in a preliminary design for the Biscuit Run State Park in Virginia that’s been in the drawing stages for several years.


From Charlottesville Tomorrow:

Almost two years after the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation completed public planning efforts for Biscuit Run State Park in Albemarle, there is no approved master plan or funding to open the park.

Department of Conservation spokesman Gary Waugh said a deadline for one of the state agency’s major documents is the cause of the delay.

“This is the year we’re issuing the Virginia Outdoors Plan,” he said. “It’s a huge undertaking that takes our entire staff, so the (Biscuit Run) master plan was set aside while they worked on that.”

Waugh said that the Department of Conservation is hoping to ship the outdoors plan to its advisory board later this year.

The 1,200-acre park site is located south of Charlottesville between Route 20 and Old Lynchburg Road.


From The City Wire, Fort Smith:

Several conservation and citizen action groups announced Monday they will file a lawsuit in an effort to halt construction of a hog farm in the Buffalo National River watershed.

The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), The Ozark Society and Earthjustice claim that loan approval made to C&H Hog Farms to operate a 6,500-pig operation were not “properly examined” and may violate the Endangered Species Act.

The hog farm is producing pigs for Cargill.

According to a press release from the four groups, the estimated 2 million gallons of waste produced by the hog farm will be spread on 630 acres, with some of the land adjacent to Big Creek, a large tributary of the Buffalo National River.

Designated in 1972 by President Richard Nixon as America’s first national river, the Buffalo National River travels freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states.


From the Lake County News:

A bill to provide $2 billion in new revenues for public education and state parks passed through its first policy committee Monday with unanimous Democratic member support.

The bill, SB 241, would impose a 9.5% industry severance tax on large oil companies for the extraction of oil from California’s jurisdiction.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee passed the bill out with a 5-2 vote and it was supported by student, education, tax and environmental groups, as well as economists. The bill next goes to Appropriations.

“It’s time for California to profit from its limited natural resources and reinvest in our core services,” said the bill’s author Senator Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa. “We’ve cut to the bone to balance the budget for the last several years; meanwhile oil companies reap billions of dollars in profits every year. Big Oil’s free ride needs to end and the industry must pay its fair share for the resources that belong to every Californian.”

California is the fourth largest oil producing state in the nation and the only top ten producer that does not impose an oil severance tax. In Alaska, the tax ranges from 25% to 50%, in Texas it’s 4.75% and in Kansas, 8%.


From the Tulsa World:

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is probing an officer-involved shooting at a state park in Atoka County on Saturday.

“An Oklahoma Department of Parks and Recreation park ranger shot and killed a man when the man attempted to run over the ranger,” the OSBI said in a news release.

Campers told the ranger that David Adam Patrick Maher, 30, had been acting strangely and causing a disturbance at McGree State Park.

When the ranger approached Maher, he ran to his vehicle and attempted to hit the ranger, the agency said.

Maher’s last known residence was in New York.


Bill: Campground Ban for Sex Offenders

March 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Janet Duprey

New York Assemblywoman Janet Duprey is looking to make campgrounds safer for children.

“Kids should be allowed to be kids, and campgrounds need to be safe sites,” she told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican.

The Republican from Peru is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit registered sex offenders from entering or using campgrounds that offer overnight accommodations.

Duprey said the issue was brought to her attention last year when a sex offender moved into a permanent site at an area campground, which she declined to name.

The woman registered her address as the campground, as she was required to do by law.

The owner of the campground did not find out about her criminal past until a number of guests canceled reservations, giving her presence as the reason.

When the owner tried to have the woman ousted, there was nothing in the law to accommodate her removal.

The woman was arrested and removed after she allegedly approached a young child, Duprey said.

“There is nothing in the law that says they can’t be at campgrounds.”

Duprey said the nature of campgrounds, with their expansive areas where children often roam free, can give predators fertile hunting ground.

Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said the current sex-offender law targets schools, playgrounds and other sites where children gather but says nothing specifically about campgrounds.

“This is something that probably should have been looked into a long time ago,” Favro said.

“This law will provide for a safer environment for children and families. It’s common sense.”

Duprey’s bill is before the Assembly Committee on Corrections right now, and she is hoping to get it through to the full Assembly and eventually the Senate.

“We’ve got about 40 co-sponsors right now, and it’s bi-partisan, and hopefully it can gain some ground,” she said.



Human Remains Located at Oregon Park

March 14, 2013 by · Comments Off on Human Remains Located at Oregon Park 

A streetside view of the Anchor Inn RV Park, a 10-site park in Port Orford, Ore., where a human skull and other remains were found buried this week after a trailer was moved.

The owners of a Port Orford, Ore., RV park where human remains were discovered Monday (March 11) say they’re baffled as to how a body got there, the Bandon Western World reported.

Anchor Inn RV Park owner Craig Lundberg, who’s owned the park for about a year with his wife Malinda, said that whatever occurred probably happened before they owned the complex.

“This happened long before we got here,” Lundberg said Tuesday afternoon. “Whatever happened probably happened in the last five years, but we’re just not sure what happened or when.”

Police officers investigating the human remains uncovered said they are treating the scene as if it were a homicide as a precaution.

Oregon State Police Sgt. Andy Kenyon said Tuesday afternoon that there is “no indication of foul play” at the scene, but it is standard procedure to treat an investigation of this type as if it were a homicide until that possibility is ruled out.

The cause of death will be determined after a medical examiner conducts an autopsy and determines whether a criminal investigation needs to take place.

Kenyon said a reconstructionist also would use equipment, including lasers, to help police create a “to-scale diagram of the scene” for future use in the investigation.

Maintenance workers found a human skull underneath a trailer around 1 p.m. Monday after it was moved at the RV park. More remains were discovered Tuesday as officers continued to investigate the scene.

The additional remains appeared to be in a sleeping bag.

Port Orford Police Chief Marvin Combs said the discovery set off a death investigation that involved officers from his department, Curry County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police.

Lundberg was unwilling to comment on the investigation, saying he didn’t feel he had enough information to say anything, but he did confirm that Oregon State Police were “sifting through everything” and that he doesn’t believe it was a homicide.

“But I think I’ll just wait for the experts on that,” he said. “I know they’re working on it and everything will come out in the wash.”

He and his wife live at the RV park located about a half block off U.S. Highway 101 within the city limits of Port Orford, located on Oregon’s southern coast. They have been remodeling and revamping it over the last year to turn it into a 55-and-older park.

“I heard it was pretty wild here before we owned it,” Lundberg said. “But I don’t think they’ll know for a while what happened and I’m sure it was before we got here. But by the same token, we have to deal with it now.”


Police Explain Oregon Campground Shooting

February 27, 2013 by · Comments Off on Police Explain Oregon Campground Shooting 

One week before an elderly man opened fire Monday (Feb. 25) at an RV park outside the city limits of Silverton, Ore., wounding a staffer, park management reported the man to police for threatening and delusional behavior, The Oregonian, Portland, reported.

Police identified the shooter as Jimmie Eugene Hickey, 78, and Hickey’s victim as Nicholas Lee Fisher, 32. Fisher was listed in good condition at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center on Tuesday. Hickey, shot by law enforcement officers, died of his wounds.

Hickey was a former resident of the Silver Spur RV Park, said owner Terry Glenn, and his target during the 30-minute spree appeared to be Fisher, the park’s assistant manager.

Click here to read the entire story.


The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs

October 8, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Latest RV Park and Campground Briefs 


From CBS News, Miami:

A Broward County jury has returned a mixed verdict in the trial of a woman accused of not protecting her children during her husband’s murderous rampage last February at a Deerfield Beach RV park.

Deanna DeJesus was charged with aggravated manslaughter and child neglect in connection with the bloody standoff between her husband William De Jesus and Broward Sheriff’s deputies.

After just a few hours of deliberations, the jury announced it was hung on the charge of aggravated manslaughter, but did convict DeJesus of child neglect. The charge carries a maximum of 15 years in jail.

Prosecutor Gregg Rossman said his main goal is to make sure DeJesus has no more contact with her surviving son. Rossman said, ”Whatever timeframe it takes to make sure she can have no further contact with this child or cause this child any harm that would be sufficient for me.”

Click here to read the entire story.


From The Associated Press:

Current and former members of the military are being offered lodging discounts at Kentucky state parks with the USA Military Pass starting Nov. 1.

With the pass, lodge rooms start at $44.95 a night and cottages start at $74.95 a night, not including tax. The nightly rates are $5 more at Barren River, Cumberland Falls, Kentucky Dam Village, Lake Barkley, Lake Cumberland and Natural Bridge.

Proof of military service is required at check-in.

The discount runs through March 31. From April through October, current and former members of the military can get a 10 percent lodging or camping discount.

Armed Robber Strikes Kentucky Park

August 28, 2012 by · Comments Off on Armed Robber Strikes Kentucky Park 

While it is a very rare occurrence, an armed robbery happened during the weekend at Carter Caves State Park in eastern Kentucky, WSAZ-TV, Charleston, W. Va., reported.

With its unique caves, hiking trails and activities, Carter Caves State Park is a regional, even national getaway destination in eastern Kentucky.

An armed robber got away from there this weekend after injuring a lodge desk clerk. Kentucky State Police and the state park system are both keeping this case close to the vest.

Police say the 911 call to the Lewis Caveland Lodge came in about 3 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 25). An unknown subject entered the lodge, assaulted the desk clerk on duty and took money from the register and the clerk. Then, that person fled.

The clerk is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The lodge doors are locked overnight. Investigators are working to figure out how the person got it or maybe was already inside.

There are rangers who patrol Carter Caves, but there’s no word on their involvement.

A spokesperson for the Kentucky State Park system says they are now reviewing their security measures and working closely with state police.

State police investigators would not give a description of the suspect, saying that information is “case incident material” and vital to withhold for the investigation.

Kentucky State Park folks say they can’t remember a similar in-park crime since an incident several years ago at Natural Bridge State Park


Truck Driver Charged with Manslaughter in Tent Fatalities

July 10, 2012 by · Comments Off on Truck Driver Charged with Manslaughter in Tent Fatalities 

A North Dakota man accused of killing two young brothers from Texas when he drove over their tent at a campground after losing control of his speeding pickup truck was charged Monday (July 9) with manslaughter and drunken driving.

The driver, Juan Acosta, 30, is also charged with reckless endangerment and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, Bottineau County Prosecutor Swain Benson told The Associated Press.

Acosta was arrested after the Sunday crash at the Hahn’s Bay Campground at Lake Metigoshe in Bottineau, near the Canadian border. The accident also injured the children’s father and another boy.

“He was driving too fast on a campground road, lost control and ran over the tent and crashed into a tree,” Highway Patrol Trooper Capt. Gary Orluck said.

The crash killed 5-year-old Alaries Ruiz and his 9-year-old brother, Cyris Ruiz. Their 28-year-old father, Juan Ruiz, was flown to a hospital in Minot, 85 miles southwest of the campground, where he was treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries, Orluck said. The boys’ friend, 9-year-old Anthony Tabarez Jr., of Newburg, has minor injuries, he said.

Acosta, also of Newburg, was being held in the Bottineau County jail Monday and is expected to appear in court today. Benson didn’t immediately know if Acosta had an attorney, and there was no answer Monday evening at a phone listing for him.

The brothers had traveled from their home in El Paso, Texas, to visit their father who worked in the oil patch region of North Dakota. Their bodies were sent to Bismarck for autopsies and their mother, Sandy Hernandez, was heading to North Dakota on Monday.

Orluck said Ruiz knew the driver of the truck who, along with his two passengers, had been staying at the campsite too.

“We have an indication that they were all camping together and all parties were at least acquaintances,” Orluck said.

The campground is located less than two miles from the Canadian border, and within the Turtle Mountain State Forest, a 12-square-mile parcel that is among the most-wooded areas of North Dakota, a prairie state.

State Forester Larry Kotchman said the 25-unit campground was closed immediately after the crash.

“We are deeply saddened by this. It is very tragic,” Kotchman said.


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