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30002538Eli Tomac crosses the finish line to win the 450 Supercross race at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, on Saturday night. It was his first win at Anaheim 1 since he began racing in the 450cc class. (Star Racing Yamaha)Eli Tomac crashes, comes back to win opening Supercross in AnaheimYamaha ace from Cortez puts on a dazzling display of speed on new bikeEli Tomac of Cortez on Saturday opened the 2023 AMA Supercross season with a comeback victory in Anaheim, California, after recovering from a crash and overtaking Chase Sexton for the win as the clock wound down.The race at Angel Stadium, the first of two this season, came after a 2022 season in which Tomac won the big three championships amid speculation that the 2023 season could be his last.But if fans thought Tomac make this season a dragged-out victory lap to celebrate his storied career, they got a surprise Saturday night. The defending champion, now racing at age 30, set a blistering pace with sub-minute laps and got up from a crash to again charge into the lead in the race’s final moments.After riding fast on a new bike in practice rounds and a qualifying heat, Yamaha’s ace also got off to a fast start as the main event got underway. Justin Barcia went to the lead in the first lap, with Tomac less than a second behind him as they entered Lap 2. Roczen was third, and Stewart and Sexton rounded out the top five.Tomac hit the gas in Lap 2, with a fast lap of 59.710 seconds to close to within 0.23 second of Barcia. After a brief back-and-forth battle for the lead, Barcia crashed and dropped into 10th place, and Tomac spurted into the lead.As Tomac and Roczen got some running room, both posted sub-minute speed in Lap 5, but Stewart, riding with Roczen on the Suzuki team, slipped by for second place in Lap 6.Sexton, meanwhile, had raced from fifth to third place. He began closing in on Stewart.As the front-runners began to find their form in Lap 9, Tomac crashed on the ramp up the bridge after getting too far back in his seat and losing traction on his front end. He dropped to sixth place, but told Motocross Action Magazine his bike was not damaged, and he realized “the podium was within reach.” He moved up to fourth place with teammate Ferrandis in the next lap after Anderson fell.By Lap 13, less than 5 seconds separated the top four riders – Sexton, Stewart, Roczen and Tomac. As the leaders bunched up, Tomac took third place in Lap 14, and second place in Lap 16.Two laps later, Tomac blasted past Sexton for the lead, and led the rest of the way to finish the final, 21st lap nearly 3 seconds ahead.Cooper Webb closed late in the race to finish second ahead of Sexton, Ferrandis and Roczen.It was Tomac’s first win at in a season-opening 450 cc race at Anaheim and the first time he he started the championship series in the lead.“It took 10 years in the 450 class to get this win. It took me 10 years to figure out how to come here with it. ... I don't know, everything felt right.” After his first win at Anaheim, he gave a lot of credit to his new Yamaha YZ45F, saying he felt “like a whole different guy jumping through whoops.”30001931Star Racing YamahaEli Tomac of Cortez on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, won the first qualifying heat in the 450 Supercross at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.Heat 1: Tomac wins wire to wireTomac and teammate Dylan Ferrandis of Star Racing Yamaha broke to the lead of the first qualifying heat, with Tomac in front with a sub-minute lap, at 59.7 seconds. Ferrandis was right behind, at 1 minute, 0.73 seconds, and Adam Cianciarulo of Kawasaki was in third. Joey Savatgy and Jason Anderson rounded out the top five.Anderson got past Savatgy for fourth place in the third of seven laps, and Tomac stretched out a 4.564-second lead over Ferrandis in Lap 5, again completing the lap in less than a minute, at 59.989.Tomac eased off the throttle in the Lap 6, at 1:01.871, and finished the seventh and final lap in 1:02.772 to beat runner-up Ferrandis by 3 seconds, and Cianciarulo by 4.6 seconds. Aaron Plessinger was fourth, and Anderson, fifth.Heat 2: Sexton wins wire to wireChase Sexton, who challenged Tomac for the 2022 Motocross championship, went to the lead in Heat 2. Ken Roczen, now riding for Suzuki, overtook Marvin Musquin for second place in Lap 2, and Cooper Webb gained third place in Lap 3. Malcolm Stewart moved into fourth place in Lap 4, and Musquin dropped to fifth.Sexton beat Roczen to the finish line by 2.672 seconds. He ran his fastest lap in Lap 1, at 1 minute, 0.163 second.Qualifying laps: Sexton and TomacSexton was the fastest qualifier Saturday at Angel Stadium with a best lap of 59.785 seconds, and the only qualifier to come in under a minute. Tomac was second, at 1 minute, 0.089 second, and Musquin of KTM, Anderson of Kawasaki and Ken Roczen of Suzuki, rounded out the top five. Ferrandis was sixth.0VideoYouTube480360The track aheadTomac and teammate Ferrandis of Monster Energy Yamaha/Star Racing made their maiden trips on the new 2023 Yamaha YZ45F this weekend.Ken Roczen switched to the 450SX Suzuki after a season with some difficulties on the Honda. Chase Sexton has said he was happy with the changes Honda made this summer and is looking forward to “big whoops” this year. “It’s not the same bike I rode last year in Supercross.” The season starts on the heels of Tomac’s best season. He beat Sexton for the championship in the 2022 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross season, 546 points to 539, and he beat Anderson, of New Mexico, for the title in the 2022 Supercross season. Tomac topped off his best year in racing by teaming up with Justin Cooper and Sexton to defeat France for the world title in the Motocross des Nations in September at Red Bud MX track in Buchanan, Michigan.After a lot of speculation last year that 2023 would be Tomac’s final Supercross season, he still is uncertain.“It’s hard to say,” Tomac said in Friday’s news conference. “I’m not going to say right now if I’m going to be done this season or now. As you get older … you start to enjoy things and enjoy the racing more. … I’m going to enjoy the moment as much as I can.”Ferrandis spent most of the 2022 season on the sidelines with injuries, and will compete this year for his first 450 Supercross title after winning the 450 Motocross title aboard a Yamaha for his rookie year in 2021. “The new bike suits me way better than the old one,” he said Friday. “I’ve been struggling a lot the last two years in Supercross with it, but I’ve been happy with the new bike. Just able to do a lot of motos and spend time on the bike having fun. Something I missed the last two years.”34463142Eli Tomac during a news conference Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. (Star Racing Yamaha)Tomac on Friday said the best thing about the new bike was the weight loss.“You feel the thing, you know, lean easier in the turns, and you can feel it in the air,” he said. That’s No. 1 for me.”“I’m excited to just go out there and put what we have to the test – put the ‘23 through the test, and me being 30 years old to the test. I think I was counting on my hand this morning, this is my 10th time here in the 450 class.”Tomac told Swapmoto Live that he spent about five hours on the bike’s frame before taking it to California, and giving it a fresh build there. “This team has been really good with letting me put time on the frame and put some hours on it, because we spend so many hours on our practice bikes that to me sometimes it doesn’t make sense to race the race bike as fresh as they are.”Tomac also broke with his usual routine, and instead of staying in Cortez, went to Florida to ride in different conditions and with different riders, and not only on the Yamaha test track.“You gotta just take it everywhere you can,” he said.Tomac also noted that he signed for the Supercross season this summer and is taking it “season by season.” He has not yet signed for the summer AMA Motocross season. “It’s great to be here and um just to be here healthy … and yeah I get to run the No. 1 plate here and get another shot at it so um yeah we're ready to go ready.” Sexton, runner-up to Tomac in the Motocross and the heir apparent, said he learned a lot while chasing Tomac this summer in the outdoors Motocross.“I think it's definitely a position that I’ve wanted to be in since I got on a 450, and winning only one race last year wasn't really quite enough for me I guess to be a contender. … I had some mistakes, but outdoors I really learned a lot about myself and how I can deal with things, and racing Eli really taught me something I could have never been taught otherwise, so I’m just looking forward to bringing that in here and into Supercross.” The 17-race Monster Energy AMA Supercross series next goes to RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland. The series concludes May 13 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City a week after stopping at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver for Race 16 and the only stop in Tomac’s home state of Colorado. This article was republished Jan. 8 to clarify that Eli Tomac had a surprisingly strong start to the 2023 Supercross season.
Yamaha ace from Cortez puts on a dazzling display of speed on new bike
44242950Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., left, and Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., right, speaks with Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in the House chamber as the House meets for a second day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)McCarthy rejected for House speaker with GOP in disarrayTrump renews his support for McCarthy, but it made no differenceWASHINGTON – House Republicans flailed through a second day of multiple balloting Wednesday, unable to elect their leader Kevin McCarthy as House speaker or come up with a new strategy to end the political chaos that has tarnished the start of their new majority.For a fourth, fifth and sixth time, Republicans tried to vote McCarthy into the top job as the House plunged deeper into disarray. But the votes were producing almost the same outcome, 20 conservative holdouts still refusing to support him, and leaving him far short of the 218 typically needed to win the gavel.In fact, McCarthy saw his tally slip to 201, as one fellow Republican switched to vote simply present.Seeing no quick way out of the political standoff, Republicans voted abruptly late Wednesday to adjourn as they desperately searched for an endgame to the chaos of their own making. They were due back at 8 p.m.“Well, it's Groundhog Day,” said Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., in nominating McCarthy on the sixth ballot.She said, “To all Americans watching right now, We hear you. And we will get through this – no matter how messy.”But the right-flank conservatives, led by the Freedom Caucus and aligned with Donald Trump, appeared emboldened by the standoff – though Trump publicly backed McCarthy,60004000Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., center, accompanied by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., right, walk out of the House chamber as voting continued for a second day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)“This is actually an invigorating day for America,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who was nominated three times by his conservative colleagues as an alternative. “There's a lot of members in the chamber who want to have serious conversations about how we can bring this all to a close and elect a speaker.”McCarthy, the California Republican, vowed to keep fighting despite the grueling spectacle, unlike any in modern times, that threw the new majority into tumult a day earlier. Animated private discussions broke out on the chamber floor between McCarthy supporters and detractors searching for an endgame.The House gaveled in at noon, but no other work could be done – swearing in new members, forming committees, tackling legislation, investigating the Biden administration – until the speaker was elected.“I still have the most votes,” McCarthy said at the start of the session. “At the end of the day, we'll be able to get there.”But the dynamic proved no different from Day One, as Democrats re-upped their leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, for speaker, and Donalds offered his challenge to McCarthy in another history making moment. Both Jeffries and Donalds are Black.“This country needs leadership,” said Rep. Chip Roy, the Texas Republican noting the first time in history two Black Americans were nominated for the high office, and lawmakers from both parties rose to applaud.44602973Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listens to votes being cast in the House chamber as the House meets for a second day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)It was the first time in 100 years that a nominee for House speaker could not take the gavel on the first vote, but McCarthy appeared undeterred. Instead, he vowed to fight to the finish.The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House.President Joe Biden, departing the White House for a bipartisan event in Kentucky with Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, said “the rest of the world is looking” at the scene on the House floor.“I just think it's really embarrassing it's taking so long,” Biden said. “I have no idea” who will prevail.Tensions flared among the new House majority as their campaign promises stalled out. Not since 1923 has a speaker's election gone to multiple ballots, and the longest and most grueling fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged out for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.A new generation of conservative Republicans, many aligned with Trump's Make America Great Again agenda, want to upend business as usual in Washington, and were committed to stopping McCarthy's rise without concessions to their priorities.But even Trump's strongest supporters disagreed on this issue. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a firm Colorado conservative who nominated Donalds the second time, called on the former president to tell McCarthy, "`Sir, you do not have the votes and it's time to withdraw.”48823254Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., nominates Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., in the House chamber as the House meets for a second day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Earlier Wednesday, Trump had done the opposite, urging Republicans to vote for McCarthy. “Close the deal, take the victory,” he wrote on his social media site, using all capital letters. “Do not turn a great triumph into a giant & embarrassing defeat.”As the spectacle of voting dragged on, McCarthy's backers implored the holdouts to fall in line for the California Republican.“I do think members on both sides of this are getting a lot of pressure now,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “So I think the message from home is, 'Hey, sort this stuff out, we don't have time for the small stuff and the egos.'”he standoff over McCarthy has been building since Republicans won the House majority in the midterm elections. While the Senate remains in Democratic hands, barely, House Republicans are eager to confront Biden after two years of the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress. The conservative Freedom Caucus led the opposition to McCarthy, believing he's neither conservative enough nor tough enough to battle Democrats.To win support, McCarthy has already agreed to many of the demands of the Freedom Caucus, who have been agitating for rules changes and other concessions that give rank-and-file members more influence in the legislative process. He has been here before, having bowed out of the speakers race in 2015 when he failed to win over conservatives.0VideoYouTube480360“Everything's on the table,” said ally Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. – except, he said, having McCarthy step aside. “Not at all. That is not on the table.”Democrats enthusiastically nominated Jeffries, who is taking over as party leader, as their choice for speaker. He won the most votes overall, 212.If McCarthy could win 213 votes, and then persuade the remaining naysayers to simply vote present, he would be able to lower the threshold required under the rules to have the majority.It's a strategy former House speakers, including outgoing Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Speaker John Boehner had used when they confronted opposition, winning the gavel with fewer than 218 votes.One Republican, Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, voted present on multiple rounds, but it made no difference in the immediate outcome.AP writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Kevin Freking contributed reporting.
Trump renews his support for McCarthy, but it made no difference
41822788Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., listens, after a closed-door meeting with the GOP Conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)Boebert plays key role in blocking McCarthy from becoming House speakerThe Republican congresswoman for Colorado said she wouldn’t vote for McCarthy unless he agreed to her terms. WASHINGTON – Failing to elect party leader Kevin McCarthy as the new speaker of the House, Republicans adjourned in disarray Tuesday night, ending a raucous first day of the new Congress but hoping to somehow regroup on Wednesday from his historic defeat.The abrupt end to a long, messy Day One showed there is no easy way ahead for McCarthy who promised to fight to the finish to claim the gavel despite opposition from the chamber's most conservative members. Needing 218 votes in the full House, McCarthy got just 203 in two rounds – less even than Democrat Hakeem Jeffries in the GOP-controlled chamber – and fared even worse with 202 in round three.Tensions rose as night fell on the new House majority, and all other business came to a halt. The House agreed to return at noon Wednesday.“Kevin McCarthy is not going to be a speaker,” declared Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., among the holdouts.Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Garfield County, played a key role Tuesday in blocking McCarthy from securing the speaker’s gavel by repeatedly casting votes for conservative Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.McCarthy had pledged a “battle on the floor” for as long as it took to overcome right-flank fellow Republicans who were refusing to give him their votes. But it was not at all clear how the embattled GOP leader could rebound after becoming the first House speaker nominee in 100 years to fail to win the gavel with his party in the majority.Without a speaker, the House cannot fully form – swearing in its members, naming its committee chairmen, engaging in floor proceedings and launching investigations of the Biden administration.31492098Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., listens during the second round of voting for the next Speaker of the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)“We all came here to get things done,” said the second-ranking Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise, in a rousing speech urging his colleagues to drop their protest.Railing against Democratic President Joe Biden's agenda, Scalise, himself a possible GOP compromise choice, said, “We can't start fixing those problems until we elect Kevin McCarthy our next speaker.”It was a chaotic start to the new Congress and pointed to a difficult road ahead with Republicans now in control of the House. Lawmakers' families waited around, as what's normally a festive day descended into chaos, kids playing in the aisles or squirming in parents' arms. A new generation of conservative Republicans, many aligned with Donald Trump's MAGA agenda, want to upend business as usual in Washington, and were committed to stop McCarthy's rise without concessions to their priorities.“The American people are watching, and it's a good thing,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who nominated fellow conservative Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio as an alternative for speaker.It was the second time conservatives pushed forward a reluctant Jordan, the McCarthy rival-turned-ally, who earlier had risen to urge his colleagues, even those who backed him, to drop vote for McCarthy.“We have to rally around him, come together” Jordan said.0VideoYouTube480360In all, a core group of 19 Republicans – and then 20 – were voting for Jordan, denying McCarthy the majority he needs.Smiling through it all, McCarthy appeared intent on simply trying to wear down his colleagues. Earlier, he strode into the chamber, posed for photos, and received a standing ovation from many on his side of the aisle. He was nominated by the third-ranking Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who said the Californian from gritty Bakersfield “has what it takes” to lead the House.But a challenge was quickly raised by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a conservative former leader of the Freedom Caucus, who was nominated by a fellow conservative as speaker.The mood was tense, at least on the Republican side, as lawmakers rose from their seats, in lengthy in-person voting. Democrats were upbeat as they cast their own historic votes for their leader, Rep. Jeffries of New York.In the first-round tally, McCarthy won 203 votes, with 10 for Biggs and nine for other Republicans. In the second, it was 203 for McCarthy and 19 for Jordan. On the third vote, McCarthy had 202 to Jordan's 20. Democrat Jeffries had the most, 212 votes, but no nominee won a majority.“The one thing that's clear is he doesn't have the votes,” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., told CNN before joining with those voting McCarthy. “At some point, as a conference, we're gonna have to figure out who does.”The standoff over McCarthy has been building since Republicans appeared on track to win the House majority in the midterm elections. in November A new generation of Trump-aligned Republicans led the opposition to McCarthy, believing he's neither conservative enough nor tough enough to battle Democrats.While the Senate remains in Democratic hands, barely, House Republicans are eager to confront Biden after two years of the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress.After a private GOP morning meeting, a core group of conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus and aligned with Trump were furious, calling the meeting a “beat down” by McCarthy allies and remaining steadfast in their opposition to the GOP leader.“There's one person who could have changed all this,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chairman of the Freedom Caucus and a leader of Trump's effort to challenge the 2020 presidential election.The group said McCarthy had refused the group's last-ditch demand for rules changes in a meeting late Monday at the Capitol.“If you want to drain the swamp you can't put the biggest alligator in control of the exercise,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.“He eagerly dismissed us,” said Boebert.Boebert said Tuesday that she wouldn’t vote for McCarthy unless he agreed to her conditions, including taking up a vote on term limits for members of Congress.“As it stands,” Boebert tweeted Tuesday morning, “I will not be voting for Kevin McCarthy to be Speaker of the House.”50323355Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., walks on the House floor during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)McCarthy's backers grew angry as well. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., a leader of a more pragmatic conservative group, said “frustration was rising” with the minority faction opposing McCarthy.As the day began, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled closed the last session, moving aside for new House leadership in her Democratic Party, to a standing ovation from colleagues on her side of the aisle.The chaplain opened with a prayer seeking to bring the 118th Congress to life.Democrats enthusiastically nominated Jeffries, D-N. Y., who is taking over as party leader, as their choice for speaker – a typically symbolic gesture for the minority but one that took on new importance with Republicans at odds with each other.“A Latino is nominating in this chamber a Black man for our leader for the first time in American history,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, the third-ranking Democrat, in nominating his colleague.But there was only negative history for the Republicans. as McCarthy fell short, even with an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.Next steps are uncertain. The second-ranking House Republican, Scalise of Louisiana, could be a next choice, a conservative widely liked by his colleagues and seen by some as a hero after surviving a gunshot wound suffered during a congressional baseball game practice in 2017.A speaker's contest last went multiple rounds in 1923.This year's Republican deadlock was in stark contrast to the other side of the Capitol, where Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell will officially become the chamber's longest-serving party leader in history. Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York will remain majority leader.Despite being in the minority in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim 51-49 majority, McConnell could prove to be a viable partner as Biden seeks bipartisan victories in the new era of divided government. The two men are expected to appear together later in the week in the GOP leader's home state of Kentucky to celebrate federal infrastructure investment in a vital bridge that connects Kentucky and Ohio.
The Republican congresswoman for Colorado said she wouldn’t vote for McCarthy unless he agreed to her terms.
Durango man suspected of jail escape, police shooting pleads guilty to gun chargeElias Buck, 23, faces up to 10 years in prison after signing plea deal640423Elias Buck, 23, is suspected of escaping from the La Plata County Jail and shooting a Farmington Police Department officer while on the run. He has pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge in New Mexico.A Durango man who allegedly escaped from the La Plata County Jail and shot a Farmington Police Department officer in the arm while on the run has pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.Elias Buck, 23, faces up to 10 years in prison after signing a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico on Thursday.A sentencing date has not yet been set, said Scott Howell, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque.36063023BarretoAccording to the plea agreement, Buck possessed a semi-automatic pistol Jan. 7 – the same day Officer Joseph Barreto was shot in the arm – after having been previously convicted of felonies, including trespassing of a dwelling and possession of a dangerous drug for sale.Prosecutors in San Juan County, New Mexico, had previously charged Buck with aggravated battery upon a peace officer with a deadly weapon for the shooting, but that charge was dismissed to allow the federal case to be adjudicated. Prosecutors in San Juan County retain the right to refile charges for shooting a peace officer.“When the federal government is done prosecuting him, we will then refile our charges that don’t involve the firearm, and he will be prosecuted in state court,” said Dustin O’Brien, chief deputy district attorney with New Mexico’s 11th Judicial District, in a previous interview.It is possible Colorado prosecutors could file charges against Buck for escaping from the jail, but those would likely take a back seat to the San Juan County charges.Buck is suspected of escaping Dec. 27 from the La Plata County Jail, where he was being held on suspicion of motor vehicle theft.0VideoYouTube480360While on the run, Buck allegedly shot Barreto in the right arm as the officer approached Buck and his girlfriend, Victoria “Rossi” Hernandez, while investigating a possible drunken driving incident. The officer returned fire but didn’t hit Buck or Hernandez.The shooting set off an intense search for Buck, who was eventually captured seven days later at a QuikTrip Convenience Store in Phoenix, where he was taken into custody.shane@durangoherald.com
Elias Buck, 23, faces up to 10 years in prison after signing plea deal
Drone helps find suspect hiding under cloak of darkness north of DurangoAztec man accused of stealing pickup, leading police on chase21131363Law enforcement used a drone with night vision to help arrest a man suspected of vehicular theft. (Courtesy of Durango Police Department)La Plata County Sheriff’s deputy Steven Reiter was patrolling U.S. Highway 550 near Hermosa on Monday night when he spotted a Ford F-150 with no taillights traveling southbound at 90 mph. Reiter turned on his emergency lights and siren and gave chase in a pursuit that continued at high speeds northbound on County Road 203 and then onto Hermosa Creek Road (County Road 201). Deputy Reiter broke off pursuit along Hermosa Creek because of the danger of driving fast on a gravel road. And because the road dead ends. During the pursuit, Durango Police Department officers learned the pickup had been stolen from the 700 block of East Third Avenue in Durango. Reiter was joined by four other deputies about 1½ miles up Hermosa Creek, and a spike strip was deployed. It wasn’t long before the driver of the pickup, later identified as Ronnie James, 48, came back down the road and blew all four tires on the truck when he hit the strip. James then ran from the vehicle and into thick brush where deputies lost sight of him. That’s when they called Durango police officer and drone pilot Dan Kellermeyer who arrived on scene at 8:50 p.m.Within three minutes of liftoff the infrared camera on the drone, which detects heat, located James hiding 30 yards west of the road. Deputies closed in and arrested him without further incident. 0VideoYouTube480360James’ last known address was in Aztec. Whether he has any prior criminal history is not yet known, said representatives at DPD and the Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with aggravated motor vehicle theft and vehicular eluding, both felonies. “We’ve had some good wins with the drone, as far as looking for bad guys,” Kellermeyer said. “We found the woman who escaped from the hospital who was an FBI fugitive. I don’t remember the exact dates but I believe it was in March or April that we captured some armed robbery suspects on the river trail using the drone.” In a release issued by DPD about the arrest, the drone is praised as a “great piece of technology that serves the whole community” and that the department wants the community to know how it will be utilized. Kellermeyer elaborated on that while talking with The Durango Herald about the incident.“I think when people hear drone, or especially in a government use, there’s maybe some concerns that some people have,” Kellermeyer said. “And we want people to know that we are intentional about the way we are building our policies and using drones to focus on public safety. We are not doing random surveillance or looking for crime. We solely deploy the drone in response to specific incidents in progress.” In addition to searching for suspected offenders, the DPD’s four drones can be deployed for missing persons, search and rescue, hazardous spills, disaster response, and crash investigations. “We’ve put the drone out on three different fatal accidents that we’ve had in the city,” Kellermeyer said. “And it only takes six or seven minutes to take a bunch of photographs on that scene that we can then take back to our office and stitch together into a map and do our measurements on that model, as opposed to spending an hour-and-a-half on scene doing manual measurements of everything. So that significantly cuts down on the amount of time that we’re processing accidents.” In the release about the incident, Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer praised the teamwork between the DPD and Sheriff’s Office. “It’s also a reminder that residents need to lock their cars and secure keys to help prevent these types of crimes,” he said. gjaros@durangoherald.com
Aztec man accused of stealing pickup, leading police on chase
Helicopter crashes at Durango-La Plata County AirportTwo people on board; neither injured. Runway reopens after nearly two hours20001240Emergency personnel respond to a helicopter crash Wednesday at the north end of Durango-La Plata County Airport. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)Two people avoided serious injury in a helicopter crash Wednesday afternoon at Durango-La Plata County Airport.The crash occurred at 1:14 p.m. on the north end of the runway, said Tony Vicari, director of aviation at the airport. Two people were on board, both of whom escaped without injury, he said.The helicopter lay on its side with “fairly significant damage,” Vicari said. The crash occurred on one of the busiest travel days of the year – the day before Thanksgiving. The runway was closed for about one hour and 45 minutes and reopened at 2:55 p.m. Four commercial flights were delayed, including two United Airlines flights and two American Airlines flights.The runway closure was expected to cause “cascading delays” throughout the day, Vicari said.The helicopter belonged to Colorado Highland Helicopters, which is based at the Animas Air Park south of Durango. The helicopter took off from the air park at 12:28 p.m. and signaled its arrival to DRO at 1:07 p.m., according to FlightAware, a website that tracks aircraft movements across the country.0VideoYouTube480360“They were doing training flights,” Vicari said. “It’s just normal for that operation at our airport.”He did not have any information about what may have caused the crash.Brandon Laird, owner and chief pilot of Highland Helicopters, said the helicopter was occupied by an “FAA representative” and a student pilot. The FAA representative was piloting the craft and demonstrating an emergency maneuver, called an autorotation landing, which is a transition from forward flight to the ground without power, Laird said.“The blades are rotating under their own aerodynamic force and gliding similar to an airplane,” he said. “The intent was to glide to the runway, which they did, but in that transition to touch the ground, he hit a little harder than what was intended.”A skid on the bottom of the aircraft broke away, as designed in high-impact situations, and the aircraft tipped onto its side, causing the blades to contact the ground and “tore everything up,” Laird said.The autorotation landing is “something that we teach and we practice, and it is a very, very dynamic maneuver,” he said. “You’re practicing for the potential eventuality of an engine failure, which would be scary, but that’s something that we train diligently for. I do thousands of those a year, and this was just a mild misjudgment that resulted in a bit of a hard landing.”Highland Helicopters has owned the MD 500 chopper since 2016, but the craft was built in 1971.“That was our first machine that we started our business with,” Laird said.The wind was blowing about 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph about the time of the crash, said Norv Larson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, which maintains a weather station at the airport. But there were no other weather impediments, he said. Visibility was clear in excess of 10 miles.16POINT (-107.74500765921633 37.1606639401768)The airport will be working with the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration to preserve the crash debris. It is not unusual for helicopters to fly up and down the runway similar to a fixed-wing aircraft, so “this is a normal maneuvering area for helicopters,” Vicari said.Vicari could not immediately recall the last time the airport had an “alert 3,” or an incident involving an actual crash. After loading the aircraft onto a trailer, the airport underwent an intensive cleaning process to ensure all debris was removed from the runway so that other aircraft could resume operations. “These types of accidents can go very differently, and we’re very grateful – it’s a good time to be grateful right before Thanksgiving – that this didn’t go a different way,” Vicari said.20001226The helicopter that crashed Wednesday at the north end of Durango-La Plata County Airport is lifted onto a trailer and removed so the airport can reopen. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)20001333Emergency personnel respond to a helicopter crash on Wednesday at the north end of Durango-La Plata County Airport. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Two people on board; neither injured. Runway reopens after nearly two hours
Lake Nighthorse kokanee salmon help ensure next year’s stockThe 150,000 fish released into the reservoir will produce up to 1.5 million eggs this year20001372Kokanee salmon are a landlocked version of the sockeye species native to the northern Pacific Ocean. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)A persistent breeze off the chilled waters of the Lake Nighthorse reservoir made for contemptibly cold conditions on the small floating platform where Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Jim White and his small cadre of helpers work two days per week for a month each fall. On Nov. 4, five men worked aboard the platform, each clad in bright rubber fishing gear.Free fishKokanee salmon will be given away about 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, in the parking lot at Lake Nighthorse. Participants of the giveaway must hold a valid Colorado fishing license. Youths up to age 4 may receive kokanee if accompanied by a license-holding adult.The team’s work is methodical, nearly mechanized, and appears almost too simple given the great importance it carries. One CPW employee scoops a dip-net full of kokanee salmon out of a mesh enclosure suspended in the lake within the center of the platform. He dumps the fish into an bath-sized tub of water, where reduced oxygen levels lull the vivacious fish to into a semi-sedated state. Then, two men – White and his now-retired predecessor, Mike Japhet – alternate grabbing male and female fish, carefully aim the hole in the rear of the abdomen into the small plastic tubs in front of them, and squeeze. Most of the fish release a satisfying “splat” as their reproductive material, either spawn (eggs) or milt (sperm), shoots into the tub.Conversations on the platform are interrupted by the regular cry of “got one” from the biologists handling fish each time they spawn a female salmon. 20001333Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials and volunteers work on a floating platform just off shore. The platform has nets suspended underneath it to trap and contain the fish. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)The biologists can often tell if a fish is “ripe,” meaning ready to spawn, before they squeeze. If the fish is not ripe, it gets tossed back into the water to be spawned next week. If it is ripe, it gets tossed into a separate pen to be given away to the public later in the day.“Think like bananas,” Japhet said. “If bananas aren’t ripe, we don’t eat them.”As the historic Colorado River Basin drought and a warming climate continues to alter the habitat of kokanee salmon, the spawning that CPW performs at Lake Nighthorse each year grows increasingly important. The species was first introduced in Colorado in 1951. Kokanee salmon are nearly identical to the sockeye found in the northern Pacific Ocean. Sockeye are anadromous, meaning they live most of their lives in saltwater but return to freshwater to reproduce. Unlike their anadromous relatives, kokanee salmon are landlocked and spend their entire lives in freshwater. Although they are nonnative to the region, they thrive in the cold water of Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs.0VideoYouTube480360“We’re primarily doing this to provide sport fishing opportunities all over the state,” White said. “... Not only will anglers benefit by catching them, but folks who like fishing for trophy lake trout (will benefit) because kokanee are a good prey fish for trophy lake trout.” White said that kokanee are not only fun to catch and a nutritious meal for trophy lake trout, but they are healthy eating for humans as well because they eat plankton, and thus do not accumulate mercury. He also said the salmon will not eat or crossbreed with native fish species. As of this year, CPW stocks 26 lakes and reservoirs with baby “fingerling” kokanee each spring. Next year, CPW hopes to have 10.2 million eggs with which to hatch kokanee to stock Colorado’s waters. 20001333Kokanee salmon eggs are fertilized, then washed and sterilized. They expand and harden in the first 30 minutes of their life, after which time they can be moved without risk of breaking. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)20001144After kokanee salmon eggs and milt, a seminal fluid, are collected from the spawning fish, the fish are given away by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to the public. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)jm@durangoherald.comAfter Japhet and White mix the salmon’s reproductive material, a fourth CPW employee rinses the eggs in a water bath. It takes just a minute or so for the eggs to become fertilized. They are then soaked in an iodine bath to disinfect them and prevent the spread of any viruses.After 30 minutes in iodine, the eggs have swollen up and hardened, allowing CPW officials to move them.“Once 30 minutes goes by, then we can put the eggs in those big coolers and then transport them,” White said. “We have about eight to 10 hours to get them where we need to get them before they need to be put out (in hatchery trays). At that point, they really can’t be messed with for about another 40 days.”White and his team will spawn somewhere between 1 million and 1.5 million eggs from Lake Nighthorse’s kokanee population this year. Most of those eggs are taken to the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery located upstream of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, near Gunnison, where CPW biologists will monitor them until they are fish roughly 2 inches in length. 9501425Jim White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist, squeezes eggs from a kokanee salmon on Nov. 4, at Lake Nighthorse. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)9501392Kokanee salmon eggs are collected by Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Nov. 4 at Lake Nighthorse. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)“We only stock about 150,000 kokanee in (Lake Nighthorse),” White said. “So it’s a pretty good return for the number of fish we stock.”There are 13 bodies of water in Southwest Colorado that will be stocked with fingerling kokanee in the spring, which will require CPW to procure almost 4.9 million fish. Of those 13 bodies of water, five are considered “brood lakes” like Nighthorse, where CPW biologists take eggs to raise for the next year’s stock. The 150,000 kokanee stocked in Nighthorse produce 20% to 30% of the total fish needed next spring in Southwest Colorado.The Vallecito Reservoir used be a wealth of kokanee spawn, but White said CPW gave up on the lake eight years ago. CPW spokesman John Livingston called the lake “no longer viable.”“When you get really low reservoir elevations from drought years, it’s just not good for kokanee,” White said. “It gets too warm, and where it’s cold, there’s not enough oxygen to support them. And where there’s oxygen, it’s too warm. So they get what’s called ‘squeezed.’” White said an influx of mysis shrimp and gill lice have reduced the productivity of the Blue Mesa reservoir. Increased water usage or changing conditions could also threaten productivity of Lake Nighthorse or McPhee Reservoir in Dolores, both of which are important sources of kokanee eggs, meaning CPW tries to maintain all five brood stocks to avoid putting all its eggs in one basket.20001289Jim White, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist, takes a boat from the dock at Lake Nighthorse on Nov. 4, out to the platform where spawning kokanee salmon have gathered in a fish trap so that staff members and volunteers can collect eggs from the fish. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)9501200The line for the first kokanee salmon giveaway of the year at Lake Nighthorse began to form over an hour before the event’s start time. Anyone with a valid Colorado fishing license is eligible to receive free fish. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)By 2 p.m., White and his team had handled 1,650 fish. Those salmon, which are just 9 to 11 inches long as a result of cold conditions in Lake Nighthorse that limit growth of the plankton the fish feed on, were contained within one pen. Salmon die after they spawn, and those that are spawned in Lake Nighthorse are no different. To avoid both wasting the meat and the foul nuisance that thousands of decomposing salmon carcasses create, CPW gives away the live fish after spawning them. A line beginning at the water’s edge grew steadily as the biologists finished their work and towed the pen over to the boat ramp. Anyone with a Colorado fishing license is eligible to receive salmon. Adam Dalrymple said the kokanee salmon are a staple of his household’s winter food supply. He, his partner and their daughter eat the fish about once per week all winter. “If we don’t get a deer, I’m always here,” he said. “And then we are here if I have time if we do (get a deer).” Dalrymple said about 50% of his household’s diet is from food they are able to harvest themselves. “It’s a joy – it’s a part of why I live here,” he said.rschafir@durangoherald.com
The 150,000 fish released into the reservoir will produce up to 1.5 million eggs this year
FBI fugitive captured during escape attempt in Durango areaWoman was in custody two days before making a break for it during hospital visit358211Fugitive Corienne Anne Meyer was arrested in Durango by Durango Police Nov. 4, escaped custody after being taken from the La Plata County Jail to the hospital Nov. 6, and was subsequently recaptured 45 minutes later. (Courtesy of Durango Police Department)Corienne Anne Meyer was taken from the La Plata County Jail to Mercy Hospital on Sunday after showing signs of a seizure at about 6:25 p.m. Minutes after arriving in the emergency room, she slipped away from a sheriff’s deputy and ran from the hospital. As soon as Meyer’s restraints were removed so she could be examined, she leapt to her feet and ran out of the hospital and into the sage-covered fields between the hospital and U.S. Highway 160.La Plata County sheriff’s deputies and the Durango Police Department set up a perimeter and began searching with the help of a K-9 unit and a Flight For Life helicopter. Officers found Meyer’s discarded orange jail top but not Meyer. The Durango Police Department then deployed a drone, which quickly found her lying flat in the brush. What occurred next was caught on drone footage supplied to The Durango Herald by the Durango Police Department. Meyer then gets up and begins to run toward Wilson Gulch Drive as two sheriff’s deputies and their canine close in from the direction of the hospital. Meyer runs, then stops and crouches again, before making a final run onto Wilson Gulch. 0VideoYouTube480360That’s when Durango police officer Savannah Horne streaks into the drone footage running along Wilson Gulch toward Meyer, whom she then tackles and takes to the ground. Reverse 911 calls were sent to nearby businesses and residents during the course of the search, which lasted 45 minutes from escape to capture.Meyer was taken back to the emergency room for a medical evaluation before being returned to jail where she faces the additional charge of “escape,” a class 4 felony. She was first arrested in Durango by Durango police on Friday after the department was alerted by the FBI that she had been sighted south of Camino del Rio. The FBI had been searching for Meyer, who was considered “armed and dangerous” for several weeks before the police apprehended her without incident. Meyer was wanted for several crimes including but not limited to aggravated motor vehicle theft, violating a protective order multiple times, assault on law enforcement, child abuse and burglary. Meyer’s is the fifth La Plata County Jail inmate to escape custody since 2018. She is the first to escape after being transported to the hospital. In 2018, an inmate walked away while working in the community on a day pass. In 2019, a trustee climbed the jail’s barbed-wire topped perimeter fence and escaped with the help of family. In September 2021, a man being held for animal abuse climbed a wall and got past two fences, one wrapped in razor wire and the other topped in barbed wire, before being apprehended in the Animas River. And then in December 2021, another trustee, Elias Buck, jumped the perimeter fence and escaped. He was arrested 11 days later, but not before allegedly shooting a Farmington Police Department officer in the arm. gjaros@durangoherald.com
Woman was in custody two days before making a break for it during hospital visit
Honeypot ant photo exhibit comes to Durango Public Library Former biology professor shares knowledge of the species20001333The Durango Public Library is showing a new photo exhibit about honeypot ants from research conducted by John Conway, a former biology professor. The ants were used as food sources by Indigenous peoples of Australia and are prominent at the Garden of the Gods. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)Durango Public Library welcomed a new photo exhibit this month based on honeypot ant research completed by retired biology professor John Conway.The Durango resident spent his career teaching human anatomy and physiology at the University of Scranton, but his real passion is studying ants. In 1975, Conway completed a honeypot ant survey at the Garden of the Gods as part of his doctorate thesis at University of Colorado Boulder. In 2018, the city of Colorado Springs hired Conway to conduct a new survey of the nest population in Garden of the Gods to see whether the population had decreased since his first study.He found 50 nests during his first survey, but when he returned in 2018, the nest population had decreased to 20. He speculates the decrease may be a result of increased human interaction, climate change and erosion mats causing habitat disturbance.Many people hike and ride horses on the trails which could cause disruption to the ants.“Honey ants can actually tolerate and sometimes build their nests in the middle of human trails,” Conway said. “But I never found them in the middle of a horse trail because horses really tear up the ground wherever they go.” Conway said warmer temperatures caused by climate change may have been related to the decline in the ant population. The ants tend to nest in dryer climates and will forage in cooler temperatures. “They tend to nest on the tops of ridges and in the Garden of the Gods,” he said. “The ridge tops go up roughly from 5,000 to 7,000 feet,” he said.Honeypot ants are a unique species drawing interest from those who visit Colorado Springs. There are two different types of honey pot ant: workers and repletes. The workers will go out and forage for nectar from plants like yucca or scrub oak. The worker ants forage the nectar and return to their nest where they regurgitate the nectar into a replete’s mandible. The replete’s abdomen will increase in size as it receives more nectar. Their job is to store the nectar for times when nectar becomes scarce and then feed the rest of the colony. They feed the rest of colony by hanging upside down from their dome-shaped nests. Conway said he hasn’t found honeypot ant species near Durango despite his best efforts. He said people have found honeypot ants near Towaoc, but he doesn’t know why the ants prefer certain parts of Colorado compared to others. He also said there is an abundance of nests in Portal, Arizona, where he has done research. The honeypot ants were used as a shrub food source by Indigenous peoples of Australia. They ate the ants as a form of carbohydrates during the 1800s when resources were scarce. Conway has even eaten some of the ants. “They don't taste like bee honey. They sort of taste like molasses, but they definitely have a nice sweet flavor to them,” Conway said.The Indigenous peoples of Australia also ate witchetty grubs which provided a great source of protein. Each grub has 15% protein and 10% fat and Conway estimated that eating 10 grubs would satisfy daily protein needs. Photos of the Indigenous peoples eating the ants and grubs are on display at the exhibit. Conway recently served as a consultant for a YouTube video created by PBS about the honeypot ants. He has also given lectures at the Garden of the Gods visitor’s center and at Fort Lewis College about the ants.tbrown@durangoherald.com0VideoYouTube480360
Former biology professor shares knowledge of the species
30002000Tuesday’s total lunar eclipse will last from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday. The moon will start to get red just after 2 a.m. and reach a maximum eclipse about two hours later at 3:59 a.m. (Associated Press file photo)Election Day will get last lunar eclipse until 2025The moon will be close to Mars and a red star called Antares, a ‘fortuitous placement’ of three red things in the skyIf you beat the crack of dawn on Election Day, there’s a stellar reason to step outside and look up at the skies in the hours before polls open: the last total lunar eclipse for more than two years.Tuesday’s total lunar eclipse will last from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday. The moon will start to get red just after 2 a.m. and reach a maximum eclipse about two hours later at 3:59 a.m.A lunar eclipse happens when the sun, the Earth and a full moon are all in alignment. The sun shines on the Earth, creating a shadow behind the Earth and making it possible for the moon to move through the Earth’s shadow, said Andrea Schweitzer, astronomer with the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud and physical sciences professor at Western Governors University.The moon will start out white, become gray, and then transition to an orange-red. Because the moon is in the Earth’s shadow and not directly illuminated by the sun, the only light the moon sees is reddish light that first passed through Earth’s atmosphere.0VideoYouTube480360The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Boulder forecasts clear viewing conditions in Denver. There may be a few clouds, but nothing blocking the moon, National Weather Service Meteorologist Zach Hiris said Friday. The forecast does not indicate any meaningful precipitation anywhere in the state, he added.“All things considered, for an eclipse in November it certainly could be much worse weather to peek out and try to see it,” Hiris said.The lunar eclipse is a global event. The red moon will be visible across North and Central America, as well as in Ecuador, Colombia, and western parts of Venezuela and Peru, during the totality phase, when the moon is completely in the Earth’s shadow, according to NASA. People in Asia, Australia and New Zealand will also be able to see the eclipse.18001013“During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight. The blue light from the Sun scatters away, and longer-wavelength red, orange, and yellow light pass through, turning our Moon red. *This image is not to scale.*” (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio)While the moon is eclipsed Tuesday, it will also be close to Mars and a red star called Antares. While this won’t necessarily affect the color of the moon, it is a “fortuitous placement” of three red things in the sky, said Jennifer Hoffman, interim director at the University of Denver’s Chamberlin Observatory. “Celestial events like this help connect us to our solar system environment,” Hoffman said. “When you know the moon looks red because the sunlight hitting it has already passed through Earth’s atmosphere, it helps you feel a connection between the three celestial bodies.”Ron Hranac, past president of Denver Astronomical Society and a member of the group’s board of directors, recommends people find a location to watch the lunar eclipse with a relatively unobstructed view to the southwest and west. You don’t have to find a dark sky location to see the eclipse, he said.Because the Earth’s shadow is big in comparison to the moon, the lunar eclipse will last several hours. You don’t have to rush outside to catch it at a specific time, and you don’t need special equipment to see it, either.“It’s something that people can look at with the naked eye. There’s no need for binoculars or a telescope,” said Hranac, a longtime amateur astronomer. “There’s no need for any special filters or eclipse glasses or anything else. Because you’re looking at the moon, you just step outside and enjoy the view.”These reddish lunar events happen even less than once in a blue moon. You’ll get to vote on the next president well before the next total lunar eclipse comes in March 2025.Read more at The Colorado SunThe Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.
The moon will be close to Mars and a red star called Antares, a ‘fortuitous placement’ of three red things in the sky