TWIN FALLS — Police say they are investigating the death of a 10-month-old girl left for hours in a car on a hot day.
Lt. Terry Thueson with the Twin Falls Police Department confirmed Monday morning that the infant died Friday. Just before midnight, Twin Falls Police responded to the 500 block of Highland Avenue for a call about a baby not breathing. Officers found the 10-month-old was unresponsive.
Paramedics took the baby to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center for treatment; however, lifesaving measures were unsuccessful.
“Officers learned the baby had been left unattended inside a parked vehicle for several hours during the afternoon and evening hours,” a police statement said Monday afternoon.
Police did not release the names of the baby or the parents. Don Patterson of Twin Falls told the Times-News on Monday that the girl was his granddaughter and said she had been left in a car strapped into her car seat Friday evening. Patterson said his granddaughter died that night.
No one has been arrested.
“These types of investigations can take time and the Twin Falls Police Department is committed to conducting a thorough and complete investigation,” Thueson said in the statement.
Coroner Gene Turley said his office sent the baby’s body to Boise for an autopsy.
Late Monday, Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs said he was still awaiting autopsy results. Depending on the results, he said, investigators could request additional tests.
Complete autopsy results could take up to a month, Thueson said.
“It simply is not safe to leave an unattended child in a vehicle anytime,” Police Chief Craig Kingsbury said in the statement. “This becomes especially true during warm temperatures. The interior temperature of a vehicle increases rapidly and this can become deadly for children and even pets. Please do not ever leave children unattended in a car.”
The high temperature recorded at the Twin Falls airport was 81 degrees on Friday, but temperatures around town reached into the mid-80s, KMVT Chief Meteorologist Brian Neudorff said.
“Peak high typically takes place between 5 and 6 o’clock,” he said.
Utah police are investigating the death of a 2-year-old who apparently fell asleep in a hot car in the southern part of the state Saturday. Temperatures in near St. George, Utah, topped 100 degrees over the weekend.
Investigators say the child likely fell asleep during a ride in a van with several other children on Saturday, and wasn’t immediately missed when the group got out of the van.
In Houston, police say a 7-month-old boy died after he was left in a car outside a Houston business while his father was inside working Friday.
Authorities say the infant’s 36-year-old father had dropped off two of his three children at a day care Friday and then went to work.
An in Fort Worth, Texas, police say a three-year-old died Friday after he climbed into a hot car that was parked in the yard of his home.
RUPERT — A Rupert man who police say choked a girl and cut her with a piece of glass after she rebuffed his advances is charged with felony injury to a child.
Case Weems, 18, was charged after a 16-year-old girl told police she had been communicating with Weems, whom she knew as Josh, on Facebook Messenger.
The girl said she met Weems at a shed near Ridley’s Family Market. While the two were inside the shed, the girl said, Weems started kissing her, and when she told him to stop and hit him with her elbow, he threw her to the ground and started to choke her. The girl said she was unable to speak while he was choking her and started to black out.
The girl said she picked up a broken piece of glass from the ground and cut him on the hand to get him to stop choking her. She said he then cut her with a piece of glass during the struggle.
The girl told police she took a piece of glass with her when she left the shed because she was fearful she would be assaulted again.
Detectives found blood and broken glass inside the shed. Detectives spoke with Weems, who was at the hospital emergency room being treated for cuts on his hand.
Weems told police he fell near Ridley’s and cut his hand on broken glass. He denied going into a shed or being with anyone.
RUPERT — A Rupert woman was shot in the chest Tuesday and police are looking for a 40-year old man in connection with the shooting.
Minidoka County Sheriff Eric Snarr said Thursday that a warrant has been issued for Ernesto Moroyoqui-Martinez a.k.a. Ramiro Mendoza-Lopez for attempted second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm and is wanted on a $500,000 bond.
Snarr said the Moroyoqui-Martinez is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached.
The 38-year-old woman has been released from the hospital.
The shooting occurred at 218 W. Oleta Lane.
Anyone with information on Moroyoqui-Martinez should call the Minidoka County Sheriff’s Office at 208-434-2320 or any law enforcement agency.
BURLEY — Two men are in stable condition at a Utah hospital after a Saturday crash southeast of Burley.
Jose Orozco-Tapia, 75, of Burley was driving 2000 Chevrolet Astro van south on 550 E. at 250 S., when he hit a feed wagon being pulled by a tractor at 10:34 p.m.
The 1984 International tractor was being driving north on 550 E. by Thales Zollinger, 56, of Burley.
Extrication was used to free the occupants of the van.
Orozco-Tapia, and his passenger Adrian Mendoza Hernandez, 31, of Burley were flown to Portneuf Medical Center. Portneuf staff said the two men were then transferred to the University of Utah Hospital, where an employee said they were both in stable condition.
Orozco-Tapia’s other passengers, Arcadio Garcia-Corza, 67, Agapita Orozco, 68, and Silverio Rosales, 61, all of Burley, were taken by ambulance to Cassia Regional Hospital, where they were treated and released, Stephanie Curtis, hospital spokeswoman said. Patient information on Gustavo Orozco, 54, who was also taken to the Burley hospital, was unavailable.
Zollinger told police the van was driving in the middle of the road and he tried to veer off the road but the van clipped the driver’s fender of the feed wagon he was towing.
Police were unable to speak with Orozco-Tapia because of his condition.
The Cassia County Sheriff report indicates neither driver was cited.
In the van, Rosales and Garcia-Corza were wearing shoulder seat belts and the remaining people were wearing shoulder-lap belts.
Zollinger was wearing a lap belt and he was not taken to the hospital.
TWIN FALLS — A Boise-based union says Lamb Weston has brought in a “union-busting firm” to illegally intimidate and coerce workers at its Twin Falls plant.
Lamb Weston employees will vote next month on whether they want to be represented by Teamsters Local Union 483, affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Employees say a firm has been harassing them — particularly immigrant workers — while they are on duty, and put out anti-union flyers.
Lamb Weston says the company respects its employees’ right to vote and hired a firm to educate them about the company’s stance. But that’s not the story told by employees such as Conley Dyer, a forklift operator who was pulled off the floor Monday and questioned about his support of the union.
“They tried to intimidate me,” he said. “... I think they’re trying to instill fear.”
A coworker from Iran had been told the plant would close if the union vote passes, Dyer said.
Lamb Weston denied these and similar allegations in an emailed statement.
“We do not think union representation would be advantageous to our employees, and have communicated this to them,” spokeswoman Shelby Stoolman said. “The legal regulations established by the Labor Relations Board allow us to communicate with employees about our stance on the petition within specific guidelines, which we closely follow. We do not threaten or intimidate our employees in any way.”
This is not the first attempt Lamb Weston employees have made to unionize, Teamsters Local Union 483 Director of Representation Darel Hardenbrook said.
During a last attempt several years ago, he said, the company paid Craft Barresi Consultants $300,000 to talk to employees. Union representation never came to an employee vote.
Lamb Weston would not disclose the details of its current arrangement with the firm, which employees believe once again to be Craft Barresi Consultants.
“We’ve hired the consulting firm to assist our management team in answering questions for our employees so they can make a fully informed decision on election day,” Stoolman said.
Since Idaho adopted right-to-work laws in the 1980s, union membership in the state has declined. This legislation prohibits companies from requiring union membership as a condition for employment.
Teamsters Local Union 483 has grown its membership by 40 percent over the past 18 months, Hardenbrook said. It represents employees in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, Magic Valley and Wood River Valley.
The union has received a stipulated election agreement for representation, and employees at Lamb Weston will vote July 13 and July 15. The vote needs 50 percent, plus one, to pass.
Dyer says the firm has gone beyond informing employees of the company’s stance.
“It’s gotten to where it’s more personal,” he said.
Jason Samargis, an employee of 18 years, said several of his coworkers have been approached at work and were reportedly told they could lose their health care benefits or future raises if the vote passes.
The conflict has been going on for months. Employees Drew Jones and Shawn Gifford said in written statements that in early February, they were pulled into supervisor Xavier Bell’s office and interviewed about their stance on unionization.
“They’re approaching you all over the place,” Samargis said. “They’re separating and conquering. I think it’s at the level of intimidating and harassing.”
Teamsters Local Union 483 Organizer Dale Varney said this violates Idaho law and the National Labor Relations Act.
Lamb Weston isn’t the same company Samargis joined 18 years ago.
He says he never receives advanced notice before he’s told to stay another four hours at the end of his shift. His pay has been decreased and “human resources changes their policies with an email or a text.”
“People who have been there for 20 years have been packing up and leaving, even for lower-paying jobs,” he said.
Others are concerned about health and safety policies.
“I’ve watched so many people get fired because their kids are sick and they had to take off work,” Dyer said, adding that Lamb Weston does not provide paid sick leave.
When an employee is hurt on the job, he or she is told to go to an on-site nurse and to use worker’s compensation as a last resort, Dyer said.
One employee said he was not provided with medical care until 2 ½ days after he was severely burned on the job.
Hardenbrook said the union would advocate for fair wages and safety measures that are adhered to. While even non-union members would benefit from the representation, a membership would grant a higher level of legal representation and accidental death and dismemberment service.
Monthly membership costs twice an employee’s hourly rate if he or she makes $11 per hour or less — and 2½ times the hourly rate if he or she makes more than that.
The Teamsters say they are working hard to combat misinformation that has been going around before the vote takes place.
“A lot of people are still wanting change,” Samargis said. “But they’re scared.”