TWIN FALLS — A driver who collided head-on with a pickup, killing the driver, was on meth at the time of the March crash, police say.
Adam Keith Christensen, 41, of Jerome was arraigned Friday on charges of vehicular manslaughter and two counts of aggravated driving under the influence.
Court documents filed Friday say Christensen had methamphetamine, Diazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, and Propofol, which is used as a sedative before surgeries, in his system at the time of the crash.
The crash happened the afternoon of March 13 at 3375 East and 3700 North west of Kimberly when Christensen crossed from eastbound 3700 North into the westbound lane in a 2003 Peterbilt semitrailer, Idaho State Police said. The semi sideswiped a Ford SUV and the Ford pickup it was towing and collided head-on with a Dodge Ram 3500 pickup.
The driver of the Dodge, Ernestine Bill, 66, of Kimberly was killed. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Court documents say two boys were also in Bill’s pickup during the crash and were injured.
Police worked for more than seven hours at the scene investigating.
Danny Connolly, 56, of Twin Falls was driving the Ford Explorer that was towing the Ford F-350 driven by Donald Connolly, 58, of Twin Falls. Neither man was reported injured.
Court documents say Idaho State Police got an anonymous tip two weeks before the crash accusing Christensen of driving his semi to Salt Lake City to buy meth then return to Jerome and Twin Falls counties to distribute the meth. He has not been charged with any drug crimes.
Christensen was booked into the Twin Falls County Jail on $500,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for June 23.
GOODING — Deterred by high water elsewhere, Gene Lawley and his fishing buddy dipped their lines in Dog Creek Reservoir for the first time June 8, setting up their lawn chairs at the end of the dock.
They’d come on the recommendation of Dean Grissom, Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s recreation site maintenance foreman. The appeal: variety.
“It’s a good fishery. It gives a lot of opportunity for all kinds of fish,” Grissom explained later. “I’ve seen 5-pound bass come out of there before. I’ve never caught one, but I’ve seen it happen.”
By late morning, Lawley and his buddy had caught a few bluegill and a lot of small perch, plus a couple of foot-long trout they didn’t have the right nets to land. Their first impression of Dog Creek Reservoir?
“It’s all going to hang on if we get some good fishing results,” said Lawley, of Twin Falls.
Until now, Fish and Game couldn’t describe the angling opportunity at this popular, year-round reservoir north of Gooding in much more detail than Grissom gave Lawley. The agency stocks rainbow trout, channel catfish and tiger muskellunge in Dog Creek Reservoir, but other than tagging some catfish for angler reporting it hasn’t sampled the fish populations there.
Has the stocking produced solid catfish and tiger muskie fisheries? And what other sport fish swim in Dog Creek Reservoir? A project led by regional fisheries biologist Scott Stanton aims to find out.
On June 8, as Lawley fished from the dock, Stanton’s team was pulling its trap nets out of the reservoir — one facet of Fish and Game’s standardized protocol for surveying lowland lakes.
The protocol calls for four survey methods — specifying the location, timing and duration of each — and requires length and weight data for each fish caught. Floating gill nets last week sampled fish swimming in open water, such as trout and juvenile perch, and sinking gill nets sampled those on the lake bottom, such as catfish, suckers and carp. Trap nets — not lethal to most fish species — sampled shallow water near shore. And this week, the team planned nonlethal electrofishing of the shoreline.
By the end of June 8, the first three survey methods had revealed channel catfish, bullhead catfish, bass, bluegill, perch, rainbow trout, tiger muskie, carp, largemouth bass, largescale sucker, bridgelip sucker, pumpkinseed and green sunfish.
“So there’s a lot of competition as far as food sources out there,” Stanton said.
That, of course, can inhibit the growth of desirable fish species. Stanton can’t draw conclusions until the data are crunched, but the skinniness of fish in his nets suggested competition.
A morning on the reservoir
The four trap nets prescribed for a reservoir of Dog Creek’s size, about 59 acres, have soaked for about 24 hours when Stanton’s team arrives June 8 to pull them out of the water. To set up a work station, Stanton drives a gear-laden boat to a spot on the shoreline out of the way of the expected noon crowd at the Dog Creek dock.
“I think everyone takes their lunch break down here — that’s what we’ve concluded,” fisheries technician Anna Estes explains.
As Estes and bioaides Austin Hafer and Tyus Lourenzo unload data-collection equipment, oxygen tanks, buckets and nets, Stanton is occupied at the back of the boat. It’s taking on water.
Someone asks: Austin, did you put a plug in the boat?
But it’s not until the second question that the awful realization appears on Hafer’s face: Did you turn the plug?
That type of boat plug expands when turned, but Hafer didn’t know. So now, while the bilge pump runs, he and the others search for a stick that can replace the lost plug.
As Stanton and Lourenzo return to the dock to hammer in the stick tighter, Estes buckets lake water into a holding tub, and Hafer prepares its oxygen supply.
“Well, I guess I graduated from losing gas cards to boat plugs,” he says. “I’m probably going to get a sarcastic lecture about this. I love it.”
Hauling in the nets
From the boat’s bow, Stanton and Lourenzo haul up each trap net, working quickly to empty fish into the tub of lake water on board. Most are alive — thrashing the water in the tub — but many of the perch have gilled themselves in the holes of the net.
After the live fish are back in water, Stanton and Lourenzo laboriously pick the dead perch from the net and add them to the tub, where they float belly-up at the churning surface.
Stanton’s 10-year-old son Gus, along for the ride, points out the tiger muskie in the catch from the first net.
“I wonder who he’s going to eat first,” Gus says.
In the fourth net, small perch are particularly numerous.
“Be thankful every hole in that net wasn’t full of perch,” Stanton tells Lourenzo. “I’ve seen that. Makes for long days.”
Sometimes a perch population pulls off an unusually good spawn, then is stunted because of competition for food, Stanton explains. He can’t be sure that’s what happened here, because the survey team isn’t aging the perch it catches.
Between hauls, out of earshot of his seasonal employees at the work station, Stanton tells about Fish and Game’s longstanding tradition of awarding a traveling trophy named for the first two syllables of “catastrophe” — the taxidermied hind end of a mountain lion. Or maybe it’s a bobcat, he says. The award’s latest recipient was a state wildlife veterinarian, after the two orphaned mountain lion kittens he was holding in his office overnight conquered the barricade and had the run of a research lab.
“I don’t think it’s ever been given to a seasonal,” Stanton says.
Does a lost boat plug rise to the “catastrophe” level?
“I don’t know,” Stanton says. “I’ve done worse, but I haven’t been nominated yet.”
Measuring the catch
After emptying each net, Stanton and Lourenzo return to the work station where Estes and Hafer wait. The men on board hand down dripping nets of fish for quick transfer to the tub on shore.
There, a well-practiced routine commences: Stanton measures each fish, announces the species and length and slides it down the measuring board to Lourenzo. Manning the scale, Lourenzo announces each weight. Estes repeats each number, madly tapping data into a PDA, and only once in a while objects to Stanton giving the length of a new fish before Lourenzo can finish weighing the last one.
Hafer tosses each fish back into the reservoir, sometimes letting Gus or his 5-year-old brother, Fin, take a turn. Gulls venture close to pick up a few of the dead perch.
As the team gathers its gear at the end of the morning, the lecture Hafer predicted arrives. But it’s short and doesn’t sound sarcastic.
Stanton: “What’d you learn today, Austin?”
Hafer: “Turn the boat plug.”
Stanton: “Good man.”
And as their boat heads back to the dock, Stanton offers Hafer a little consolation. “I lost the GoPro camera in the Big Wood River once,” he says.
With a wetsuit and snorkel gear, Stanton saved the camera — and a record free of any joke taxidermy.
TWIN FALLS — Can’t get enough of Shoshone Falls? If you missed seeing the Niagara of the West raging over its banks earlier this spring, you’ll soon have another opportunity.
Snow and rain earlier this week combined with warm weather has created the need to release more water from the Snake River’s storage system, said Steve Stuebner, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Water Resources. Flood-control releases from Upper Snake River reservoirs will return Shoshone Falls to the spectacle visitors hope to see.
Brian Stevens, a hydrologist with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Upper Snake field office in Heyburn, said the bureau will run 15,000 cubic feet per second through the Mid-Snake region and over Shoshone Falls for up to two weeks, depending on irrigation demand and temperatures.
With flows currently at nearly 5,000 cfs, releasing another 15,000 cfs will bring Shoshone Falls to levels thousands of visitors enjoyed in April.
While most of the water above Shoshone Falls is normally diverted into canals at Milner during irrigation season, heavy snowmelt and a low demand for irrigation water this spring has kept some water going over the falls. Streamflows at Milner Dam peaked at 22,000 cfs in April. By late May, all of the river at Milner Dam was diverted into various canal systems.
But that didn’t last long, Stevens said. Flood-control releases resumed June 8 at Milner.
The bureau and the U.S. Corps of Engineers conjunctively manage the reservoir system to maximize storage while minimizing flood potential.
The Upper Snake River system is 94 percent full, with Henrys Lake, Island Park, Ririe and American Falls reservoirs at 100 percent of capacity, according to the bureau.
Jackson Lake is 92 percent full and Palisades is at 84 percent.
“We have flood control space at Palisades and Jackson Lake,” Stevens said. “But we can’t allow them to fill too fast.
“We are likely to stay at a high outflow until the snow melts.”
HOLLISTER — U.S. 93 was closed for three hours Saturday while Idaho State Police investigated a two-vehicle injury crash at milepost 25 south of town.
William Freda, 51, of Susanville, Calif., was driving north in a 1993 Ford pickup, when he struck a southbound 2000 Nissan Altima, driven by Renae Stark, 33, of Turlock, Calif., said a statement from ISP.
Freda and Stark were transported by ground ambulance to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls. Freda was admitted and was in stable condition Sunday afternoon. A hospital spokesman would not release information about Stark, who was not listed as a patient at St. Lukes on Sunday.
Freda’s passenger, Amanda L. Shattuck, 35, also of Susanville, and Stark’s passenger, Ryan J. Harner, 28, of El Dorado Hills, Calif., were transported by air ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello. Shattuck is in critical but stable condition, said a hospital spokeswoman. Harner was treated and released.
All occupants were wearing seatbelts.
Both northbound and southbound lanes were closed until after 9 p.m., the ISP said.
ISP was assisted by Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office. The crash remains under investigation.
WENDELL — Draycen Lamm dangled his legs Wednesday while sitting at a desk, mumbling a little as he recited his lines for a play.
“Make sure you’re not putting your hands in front of your face,” former M*A*S*H* actress Connor Snyder told the Wendell boy. She was having trouble hearing the dialogue.
Last week, the Wendell School District’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program offered a “Kids 4 Broadway” STEM theater camp for elementary and middle schoolers.
It’s a nationwide traveling program to teach children about theater. And this particular camp was focused on science, technology, engineering and math.
A 17-member cast of first through seventh-graders performed “The Inventive Inn” on Friday for their family members and friends.
The play is about a Midwest family who loses power at their bed and breakfast during a thunderstorm.
Scientists from the past — such as Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei — come to visit and explain their inventions.
With nearly 80 percent of Wendell students considered economically disadvantaged, the camp was a chance to try out an activity they may not be exposed to otherwise.
“They’re learning there’s just this whole other world out there beyond Wendell, Idaho,” said Jennifer Clark, director of Wendell’s 21st Century program.
Last year, the Wendell School District received $179,550 in federal funding to launch a 21st Century program. Grants are renewable for up to five years.
Students at high-poverty schools have access to academic help, and activities such as dance and robotics.
A handful of other Magic Valley schools, including in Mini-Cassia, also participate in the program.
Wendell’s after-school program launched in October 2016 and serves about 90 kindergarten through eighth-graders. There’s also a nine-day summer session, which is underway now, that focuses on STEM fields.
The purpose is to keep children engaged and learning over the summer, Clark said.
After receiving an invitation from Snyder to bring the Kids 4 Broadway program to Wendell, Clark decided it would be a good use of some remaining 21st Century funds for this year.
Snyder founded Kids 4 Broadway in 1991. Her theater career has included television show appearances — such as “Nurse Able” on M*A*S*H in the 1970s — plus time as an HBO writer and producer for “The Travel Journal.” And she co-starred in a road tour for “Marriage Go Round.”
She has directed more than 350 children’s theater productions across the United States — mostly, at 21st Century Community Learning Centers and U.S. Air Force Boys & Girls Clubs.
Last week, Wendell students prepared for the play in just five days, from auditions Monday to a performance Friday.
At first, students were hesitant when Clark asked who wanted to audition for the play. Only one student raised their hand.
But once auditions started, “the next thing we know, everyone wanted to,” she said.
The 52 Wendell students who didn’t receive a role in the play did science experiments on stage before the performance.
Middle schoolers, for example, did a demonstration using static electricity from a balloon to turn on a light. Kindergartners showed the audience an experiment using magnets.
Students also helped with creating costumes and props, and ushering and seating audience members before the show Friday.
“They’re just learning about the whole theater experience from a professional actress,” Clark said.
There’s a chance one of the children in the summer program may catch the “acting bug,” she added, and want to pursue that as a career.
Last week, students they participated in other activities during the summer 21st Century program such as physical education, playing board games, doing art projects and visiting the Wendell Public Library.
This week, they’ll go on a field trip to Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and take swimming lessons.
Clark remembers participating in a summer theater program for three years when she was a child. She didn’t end up going into acting, but it helped her build confidence.
She hopes Wendell’s 21st Century program helps children gain similar life skills.
Joanna Jimenez, 11, was nervous to audition for the play. But she was cast as scientist Robert H. Goddard and after a few days of rehearsing, she felt more comfortable.
“I just wanted to try it out,” she said during a rehearsal Wednesday.
Nearby, 7-year-old Jonah McCarty was wearing a gray wig with curly hair in a ponytail. He played the role of Galileo.
To prepare, he learned scientific information such as about the speed of sound and light.
During a rehearsal Wednesday, Snyder told students: “We have to start getting serious, guys.” There were only a couple of days left before the performance.