April 28, 2015

Palo man killed by speeding pickup in Cedar Rapids police chase

Police car lightsA Cedar Rapids city employee has died after his vehicle was hit during a police chase. Thirty-five-year-old Stephen Cook of Palo worked in the meter shop of the City of Cedar Rapids Water Division and he was driving a city van on Friday when it was T-boned by a speeding pickup truck.

Police say the truck ran a stop sign as the driver was fleeing from officers who’d tried to stop him for a registration violation. The truck hit the van with such force, the van overturned and Cook was thrown out. He died Saturday at the hospital. The pickup’s driver, 47-year-old Lawson Chadwick of Hiawatha, was also injured. Charges against Chadwick have been upgraded to include vehicular homicide.

The man who was killed, Cook, was a volunteer firefighter in Palo for the past four years. Palo Fire Chief James Seeley told KCRG TV that Cook will be very much missed.

“Steve was an amazing guy,” Chief Seeley says. “He’s the kind of guy that you would want with you if you were going to go into a house fire but he’s also the kind of guy that you would want to go have a drink and have a conversation with afterwards, too.”

On Sunday, members of the Palo Fire Department put up more than 90 American flags along the town’s streets in honor of Cook.

By Jill Kasperie, KCRG, Cedar Rapids


Nevada man identified as drowning victim

Hamilton County authorities have released the name of the man who apparently drown at Little Wall Lake south of Jewell. He is 29-year-old Zong Xiong of Nevada. A set of keys and sunglasses were discovered on the dock of the lake early Thursday evening with a vehicle parked nearby.

Search boats and divers spent Friday morning in the recovery effort. The body of Xiong was found in the lake early Friday afternoon. Authorities consider the drowning to be ruled as accidental with no indication of foul play.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)


Alliant Energy adding animal protection to power poles in Keokuk County

View from the Decorah eagle cam.

View from the Decorah eagle cam.

Alliant Energy is installing some equipment on power poles in southeast Iowa’s Keokuk County today to try and protect eagles and other wildlife. The company started looking at adding the equipment after one of the Decorah eagles was electrocuted.

Alliant spokesman, Justin Foss, says not every power pole is a danger. “Some of the power poles have extra equipment on them — in the industry we call them cutouts and arresters — other pieces of equipment that help bring the electricity down to a farmstead. And it’s those pieces that raptors can sometimes touch and get electrocuted on. So, on those pieces of equipment, on those poles, we are going to be able to add this extra equipment to protect them,” Foss says.

Foss says eagles used to stay closer to water and were in these more rural areas where the poles are located. But, they’ve found the eagles are feeding on carcasses from an animal operation and showing up in areas they weren’t expected to be. The new equipment will provide more protection for the poles in the area. “If they do land around there, then we’ll have other cover ups and other protective material to hopefully prevent another electrocution down there,” Foss says.

Foss says they looked at poles in a 6-mile radius of where the eagle was electrocuted. “Not every pole presents the same hazards for raptors and birds, so we’re going to target the ones that have a lot of the extra equipment that is more dangerous and concerning,” Foss says. He says the things being installed will help prevent eagles and other animals from being killed or injured, but won’t ensure it never happens.

“Even with all the investments and all the protection equipment out there, you just can’t protect 100 percent, and that’s part of what we’re trying to mitigate and work against here,” Foss says. “If you installed this really good plastic equipment out there, there’s nothing to say that a raccoon or a squirrel won’t come through some day and really gnaw it and chew it.” Foss says they will do what they can to make the equipment safer and prevent injuries to animals.



NW Iowa teen dies, others hospitalized, after smoking synthetic drugs

Police CarA Sioux City teenager died and three others were hospitalized after police say they became ill while smoking a synthetic drug.

Officer Jeremy McClure of the Sioux City Police Department says emergency responders were initially called late Thursday night to War Eagle Park to check on a person who was sick. “Four subjects were transported to local hospitals for treatment after ingesting smokeable synthetic drugs. One those subjects, 18-year-old Austin McCloud of Sioux City, died while being treated,” McClure said at a news conference today.

McCloud and the three other victims, between the ages of 16 and18, were found together in a car shortly after 11 p.m. McClure said an autopsy will help determine exactly what caused McCloud’s death. Two of the teens were still be treated at the hospital, as of this afternoon, while the other teen was treated and released.

The names of the other three victims are not being released, but McClure said they are all students at Sioux City West High School. It remains unclear exactly what substances were being used by the four teens. “We’re not exactly sure what synthetic drug they were using at this time,” McClure said. “The substances that we found at the scene are being sent to the Iowa State Criminal Lab to be tested.”

For now, no charges have been filed in the case.

By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City

Body found in Little Wall Lake near Jewell

Sheriff vehicleAn apparent drowning is under investigation in north-central Iowa. Divers recovered the body of a man Friday afternoon at Little Wall Lake south of Jewell in Hamilton County.

Hamilton County sheriff Dennis Hagenson said the search started Friday morning when someone discovered a set of key, sunglasses and a parked vehicle near the south end of the lake.

Search boats were called to locate the person. The Hamilton County Sheriff and Conservation Departments and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are investigating. The identity of the man pulled from the lake has not been released.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)


Audubon man dies after being trapped in grain bin

A western Iowa man has died from injuries he suffered in a grain bin accident on Thursday afternoon. The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office reports 62-year-old Gary Glen Fancher, of Audubon, died at the scene of the accident in northern Audubon County.

Fancher had entered the bin to break the corn loose from above, while unloading the bin. Authorities say they received a 911 call just before 1 p.m. about a person being trapped in the grain bin. Audubon Fire and Rescue requested assistance from the Exira, Harlan and Atlantic Fire Departments.

After extensive extrication efforts, Fancher was removed from the grain bin and pronounced dead.

(Reporting by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)


Five of 6 cities appeal to keep traffic cameras in place

Traffic-Cameras-in-DSM-3Five of six cities have appealed orders from the Iowa Department of Transportation to remove traffic enforcement cameras that the DOT says don’t meet their guidelines. DOT director of traffic and safety, Steve Gent, says today was the deadline for appealing.

“The Iowa DOT has received appeals from Muscatine, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Des Moines and Council Bluffs. And then Davenport, they’ve chosen not to appeal the automated traffic enforcement ruling,” according to Gent. The DOT asked that 10 of the 34 cameras across the state be removed after creating rules in February of 2014 that required the cities to show the use of the cameras improves safety on the state roadways where they are installed.

Gent says it will take another month to answer the appeals from the five cities who want to keep the cameras. “The Iowa DOT will evaluate the appeals, we’ll take a look at them, do any analysis that needs to be done to determine whether or not to approve the appeals,” Gent says. “That will all be done in the next 30 days.”

Motorists should note that the cities can still operate the cameras until the outcome of the appeal is decided, as Gent says the DOT won’t take any action to try and turn the cameras off during the appeal process.

If the DOT rules against the cities, they still have another step to try and keep the cameras. “The city of course can take it to district court, and then on through the court system, as anybody has those kinds of opportunities with their government,” Gent says. The cameras bring in millions of dollars in revenue to the cities and have been controversial since they began operating.