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April 30, 2013 at 8:51 PM
SPOKANE — A Federal Way pilot who overshot the Spokane airport by some 50 miles and later lined up on the wrong runway during approach has been convicted in federal court of flying while intoxicated.
A jury convicted 48-year-old Paul R. Roessler under the federal statute of operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol last week, the Spokesman Review reported Tuesday.
Roessler was flying a twin-engine Piper PA-34 Seneca for Seattle-based Airpac Airlines last April when air traffic controllers could not reach him via radio as he went past his arrival time. Controllers enlisted nearby pilots to radio him, but he was not responding.
Eventually, Roessler contacted the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center at 8:09 p.m. and said he had accidentally shut off his communication system.
Air controllers “informed the Defendant that he has overflown Spokane by approximately 50 miles and asked if he was going to return to Spokane,” court records say. Roessler said he would. “My mistake, my apologies,” he said.
As Roessler approached Spokane International Airport, he was told by controllers that he was cleared to land on Runway 25. But “during the approach the Defendant lined up to land on the wrong runway,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lister wrote in court records.
Air traffic controllers asked him which runway he intended to use and he shifted course and landed on the correct runway.
Once he landed, emergency and law enforcement personnel checked up on Roessler as he unloaded his aircraft and could smell alcohol in his breath.
Spokane Airport Police officers noted that Roessler’s voice seemed “mushy,” which made her suspect he’d been drinking. Once inside, Roessler walked directly toward a coffee machine, but an officer refused to allow the pilot to drink coffee because he feared Roessler was trying to mask his breath, court records state.
Officials tested Roessler’s blood-alcohol level. It registered at .108 percent. The legal limit is .04 percent.
Later, during an interview, Roessler admitted he’d been drinking whiskey mixers that morning. “The Defendant indicated he thought he was alright because there was an eight hour break from ‘bottle to throttle,” Lister wrote.
Roessler will be sentenced in July. He faces up to 15 years in prison, although he’s likely to get far less time. His commercial pilot’s license has been revoked.An earlier version of this post originally published April 30 reported the legal blood-alcohol limit is .08 percent. That is the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle. Federal aviation regulations state no person may operate an aircraft with a blood alcohol content of .04 percent or greater.
April 30, 2013 at 8:06 PM
The man who packed the parachutes used by infamous skyjacker D.B. Cooper more than four decades ago has been identified as the victim of a homicide in Washington state.
However, authorities say they have no reason to think the death of 71-year-old Earl Cossey was linked to the Cooper case.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday that Cossey died April 23 of blunt force trauma to the head. Cossey’s daughter found his body Friday when she went to his home in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville to check on him, said King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West.
“We have no information that leads us to believe that this case has any relation to the Cooper case,” West said in an email.
In November 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper — later erroneously identified as D.B. Cooper — hijacked a passenger plane from Portland, Ore., to Seattle. He released the passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in exchange for $200,000 and four parachutes, and asked to be flown to Mexico.
The plane took off again at his direction with some of the crew on board. As the plane neared Oregon, Cooper jumped from its lowered rear stairs. No one knows what happened to him. Investigators doubt he survived the nighttime jump in a frigid rain, and some of his money was found by a boy playing on a Columbia River beach in 1980.
The parachutes provided to the skyjacker came from an Issaquah skydive center, which had recently bought them from Cossey. The one Cooper apparently used was a military-issue NB6, nylon parachute with a conical canopy.
Over the decades, as parachutes were sometimes discovered in the area of Cooper’s jump, the FBI sought Cossey’s help in identifying them.
“They keep bringing me garbage,” Cossey told The Associated Press in 2008, after the FBI brought him a silk parachute discovered by children playing at a recently graded road in Southwest Washington. “Every time they find squat, they bring it out and open their trunk and say, ‘Is that it?’ and I say, ‘Nope, go away.’ Then a few years later they come back.”
That didn’t keep him from having fun at the expense of reporters. Cossey told some who happened to call him on April Fools’ Day that year that the chute was, in fact, Cooper’s.
One reporter called him back and angrily said he could be fired for writing a false story, Cossey said. Another said the newsroom was entertained by the prank.
“I’m getting mixed reviews,” Cossey said. “But I’m having fun with it. What the heck.”
Cossey was also spent several years teaching at Leota Junior High in Woodinville.
Cossey’s family last saw him the night of April 22, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators were asking anyone who saw Cossey alive after that night and anyone who knows with whom he associated to contact them.
A reward of up to $1,000 was being offered for information leading to an arrest.
April 26, 2013 at 11:14 PM
WENATCHEE — The Chelan County treasurer says hackers stole more than $1 million from an electronic bank account held by a Leavenworth hospital.
Treasurer David Griffiths’ office noticed Monday that three unauthorized transaction files had been logged the previous Friday, April 19.
The Wenatchee World reports that the files moved more than $1 million out of a public hospital district account to 96 different bank accounts, most in the Midwest and East.
Griffiths says his office has been able to retrieve about $133,000 by notifying recipient banks. He says it may take a month to learn how much money can be recovered.
The account was a type used for direct-deposit payroll and bill payment. By law, the treasurer administers such assets for 55 county taxing districts, including Leavenworth’s Chelan County Public Hospital District No. 1, which operates Cascade Medical Center.
The Chelan County sheriff’s office is investigating locally and Griffiths is cooperating with interstate fraud investigators.
April 26, 2013 at 9:05 PM
PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea said Saturday it will soon put a detained American from Lynnwood on trial for allegedly trying to overthrow the government, further complicating already fraught relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
The indictment of Kenneth Bae comes in the middle of something of a lull after weeks of war threats and other provocative acts by North Korea against the U.S. and South Korea. It has expressed rage over U.N. sanctions over a February nuclear test and ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills, though analysts say Pyongyang’s motive is to get its Korean War foes to negotiate on its own terms.
Bae, identified in North Korean state media by his Korean name, Pae Jun Ho, is a tour operator of Korean descent who was arrested after arriving with a tour on Nov. 3 in Rason, a special economic zone bordering China and Russia.
He is the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The other Americans were eventually deported or released after high-profile diplomatic interventions, including some involving former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Analysts say the North will likely soon hand Bae a harsh punishment to use him as a bargaining chip in possible negotiations with the United States.
“The preliminary inquiry into crimes committed by American citizen Pae Jun Ho closed,” the official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief report. “In the process of investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK with hostility toward it. His crimes were proved by evidence.”
DPRK is the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Under North Korea’s criminal code, terrorist acts include murdering, kidnapping and injuring the country’s citizens can lead to a death sentence or life in jail.
North Korea and the United States fought the 1950-53 Korean War and still don’t have diplomatic relations. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the United States.
KCNA didn’t say when Bae’s trial will take place or what the charges were.
North Korea’s state media and the U.S. government have made little information about Bae public.
But his friends, colleagues and South Korean activists specializing in North Korea affairs said Bae is a Christian missionary based in a Chinese border town who frequently made trips to North Korea to feed orphans there. It is not known whether he tried to evangelize while in North Korea.
Officially, North Korea guarantees freedom of religion. In practice, authorities crack down on Christians, who are seen as Western-influenced threats to the government. The distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services can mean banishment to a labor camp or execution, defectors from the country have said.
In 2009, American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for trespassing and unspecified hostile acts. They were freed later that year after former President Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang to negotiate their release.
April 24, 2013 at 9:04 PM
The father-in-law of a missing Utah woman is expected to be released from a Washington prison next month, less than a year after he was sentenced to 2 ½ years for recording images of two neighbor girls in their bathroom.
Washington state Corrections Department spokesman Chad Lewis tells KING-TV that Steven Powell will be released May 23 from the Monroe Correctional Complex. He began his sentence last June 19.
Lewis says most offenders can get time subtracted from their original sentence for good behavior and meeting other criteria.
Susan Powell disappeared from her Utah home in 2009. Her husband, Josh, was a focus of the investigation until he killed himself and the couple’s two children in February 2012. Steven Powell was arrested after authorities investigating Susan Powell’s disappearance searched his home.
April 23, 2013 at 8:15 PM
The enclosures at a Central California wild animal park where a lion killed an intern from Brier were working properly at the time of her death, federal officials said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that the agency’s investigation on the day after Dianna Hanson, 24, was fatally mauled in March found no violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at Project Survival’s Cat Haven.
USDA investigators looked at whether proper enclosures were in place, and whether they were in good working order, among other things.
“We looked at anything and everything that could have contributed to that incident, including enclosures, the employee training program, procedures for cleaning enclosures and feeding the animals, and we did not find any violations,” said USDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Cole.
The federal agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service sent two people — an inspector and a big cat specialist — from its office in Fort Collins, Colo., after the attack. Hanson, a big cat lover, was working a six-month internship at the private zoo in the Sierra Foothills. near Fresno just west of Kings Canyon National Park.
The inspection into Hanson’s death included the safety clasps on enclosure doors. Hanson was cleaning the cage of a 4-year-old male lion named Couscous when he somehow escaped from a smaller enclosure and attacked her, leading some to speculate that perhaps a door had not been latched properly.
Sheriff’s deputies killed the animal when they could not lure him away from Hanson’s body.
April 16, 2013 at 6:44 PM
WENATCHEE — Washington State Department of Transportation crews have reopened the North Cascades Highway.
Officials say lighter winter snowfall helped crews open the road nearly a month earlier than they were able to last year.
The highway reopened Tuesday afternoon.
It typically takes four to six weeks to clear the highway in the spring, but this year highway workers accomplished it in three weeks — clearing snow as deep as 35 feet.
A 37-mile stretch of the highway was closed for winter on Nov. 20.
March 14, 2013 at 4:07 PM
NEW ALBANY, Ind. — A mother and her two children who were found dead in a shallow creek in southern Indiana had recently moved from Washington state, police said Thursday. The area of Washington they moved from has not been released.
New Albany police Maj. Keith Whitlow said in a statement the victims had been identified as 35-year-old Jamie Clutter, her 10-year-old son Brandon Clutter, and her 6-month-old daughter Katelyn Clutter.
Whitlow said the family moved in December to an apartment in New Albany, an Indiana city less than a mile north of Louisville, Ky.
The mother and children’s bodies were found Wednesday. Floyd County Coroner Leslie Knable said autopsies were performed Thursday and she plans to release details concerning the deaths on Friday.
Police said further testing is needed to determine the exact cause of the deaths. Knable said there were no visible injuries.
Whitlow did not immediately respond to messages Thursday from The Associated Press, but he has said that investigators are treating the deaths as homicides despite the lack of any obvious signs of foul play. Investigators have not identified any suspects.
A person walking through Binford Park in New Albany spotted the bodies in Falling Run Creek on Wednesday evening, Whitlow said. The creek is 12 to 18 inches deep. Whitlow did not have an estimate of how long the bodies had been in the creek.
WHAS-TV reported no vehicles were found near the bodies.
“We haven’t had many ones like this, especially with children,” Whitlow told the News and Tribune.
March 13, 2013 at 7:08 PM
SHELTON — A Washington State Patrol spokesman says a 46-year-old trooper was accidentally shot in the leg Wednesday afternoon during a training exercise at the patrol’s academy in Shelton.
The Kitsap Sun reports that Sgt. Freddy Williams says the trooper suffered an entry wound to the thigh.
Williams said the trooper was stable and was being treated at a local hospital.
The trooper was not immediately identified. Additional details were not immediately released.
February 21, 2013 at 6:05 PM
The Army says some of its paratroopers got stuck in trees while jumping from a plane on a windy day near the town of Rainier in Thurston County.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord spokesman Joe Piek said he didn’t have many details about what happened Thursday afternoon, but firefighters were helping to rescue two or three paratroopers stuck in trees near one of the base’s drop zones.
The nearby Yelm Fire District said three people were stuck in a thickly wooded area near the town of Rainier, and separate rescues were under way for each.
No injuries have been reported.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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