2nd plane crash victim succumbs to her injuries, Clark County Coroner’s Office release both victims IDs

COURTESY: Bullhead City Fire Department

LAS VEGAS, NEV.– A second person has died as a result of the injuries they received in Sunday’s plane crash south of Laughlin. The Clark County Coroner’s Office has identified both that victim and the one who died at the scene of the crash.

They were an Avondale, Ariz. couple on their way back home after a quick trip to Laughlin with two friends. James Walker, 72, was killed on impact Sunday night while his 64-year old wife, Evelyn, died three days later at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. She had been airlifted from the scene after suffering burns from the fire that ignited after the crash.

Although early reports indicated that one of the passengers was stuck inside the wreckage, those first responding to the scene told Federal investigators that Mrs. Walker and the two friends had freed themselves from the wreckage and had moved away from the flames. The two friends who have been identified as Gregory Torres and Diana Soto, both retired New York City police officers. They are also at the UMC Burn Center. Their current condition is not known.

The group took off from the Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport shortly before 6 p.m. en route to Phoenix-Goodyear Airport, west of Phoenix. Their Rockwell Commander crashed in the brushy area of the Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation Area, just off the Nevada shoreline. The fire that ensued burned 36 acres of brush before it was extinguished. Although closed for most of the week, the state park is once again open.

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Laughlin man sent to prison for December robbery

LAS VEGAS, NEV.– The Laughlin man who robbed the 76 Gas Station and Convenience store on Needles Highway in December and then barricaded himself inside the Colorado Bay Club condominium complex has been sent to prison.

Steven Joseph Alaniz, 26, was recently transferred to the High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs. He will serve up to four years in prison as part of a plea agreement with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

Alaniz never contested the robbery charges against him. He entered a guilty plea in Clark County District Court in February.

It was back on Dec. 15, 2014 when Alaniz walked into the 76 Convenience store at the north end of the Laughlin Town Center and demanded cash from the clerk. He fled the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. Metro officers en route to the reported robbery recognized the suspect as he crossed Needles Highway.

Alaniz managed to flee into the Colorado Bay Club condominium complex, where he barricaded himself inside one of the units. Police evacuated nearby condos and closed El Mirage Way.

Metro called in their SWAT unit and negotiators from Las Vegas to assist in the operation. The Bullhead City Police Department SWAT team was also dispatched to Laughlin.
After three hours of negotiations, Alaniz surrendered peacefully. He was still in possession of the cash he took from the convenience store.

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Device found in Golden Valley was a pipe bomb

     GOLDEN VALLEY, ARIZ.– A suspicious device found on the side of Highway 68 this morning has been destroyed and it was confirmed to be a pipe bomb. Now, authorities are trying to determine who put it there.

At approximately 2:45 p.m., the Kingman Police Department Explosive Ordinance Disposal team– AKA Bomb squad– utilized a robot to remove the suspicious item. The device was then taken to a safe location in the desert area near where it was found and destroyed.

It was shortly after 8:30 this morning when a local resident found the object on the side of the road at Highway 68 and Milky Way Road in Golden Valley. He told Mohave County Sheriff’s dispatchers that he picked up a large metal pipe and then discovered that it had end caps on both ends. Fearing it was a pipe bomb, the individual told sheriff’s deputies that he simply placed it back on the ground and proceeded to walk away to call authorities.
Deputies secured the area, closing one of the two westbound lanes of Highway 68, as well as Milky Way Road from Chino Drive to Highway 68.

The Kingman and Bullhead City police department bomb squads were called in to assist in the retrieval of the device.

The scene has been cleared and all roads are now open. Sheriff’s detectives are now in charge of the investigation.

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Plane was en route to west Phoenix airport

LAUGHLIN, NEV.– The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now confirms that the plane that crashed in the Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreation area (BBCSRA) Sunday night had taken off from the Laughlin-Bullhead International Airport.

According to an e-mail from FAA spokesman Ian Gregor, the plane, which was carrying four passenger, was en route to the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport when it crashed.

Gregor also identified the aircraft as a Rockwell Commander, which is a single-engine aircraft.

Agents with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are en route to the crash sight and will investigate the accident.

The crash killed one person and sent the other three the hospital. All three are currently at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. None of the names of the passengers have been released.

The plane crash also ignited a large fire that has since been contained. However, firefighters remain on scene and are still working to put out hot spots.

The BBCSRA remains closed to the public at this time.

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Accident west of Laughlin claims the lives of three people

    LAUGHLIN, NEV.– Investigators with the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) believe a traffic accident on State Route 163 Sunday afternoon, which killed three people, was caused by a tire blow out.

The accident occurred six miles west of the Needles Highway intersection at around 1:30 p.m.

The driver, whose name has not been released, appears to be the only survivor of the accident. NHP Troopers at the scene said, it appeared as though the rear left tire blew out while the group of four travelled east on SR163 at an unknown speed. The speed limit in that area is 65 mph.

As a result of the sudden loss of one of his rear wheels, the driver is believed to have overcorrected, causing the vehicle to roll several times into the desert, off the south shoulder of the highway.

Clark County Fire Department crews from Stations 76 and 85 had to use extrication equipment to free the driver from the wreckage. He was taken to the hospital in Bullhead City. His current condition is unknown at this time. The three passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident remains under investigation.

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BHCPD looking for assault suspect

BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZ.– Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a man who’s wanted for assaulting his 69-year old step-father during an argument yesterday.
Detectives believe Lawrence Anthony Smilari, 36, pushed his step-father over a couch and punched him in the face several times while he was on the floor. The victim suffered severe injuries to his face and was treated at Western Arizona Regional Medical Center before being flown to a hospital in Las Vegas for additional treatment.

Officers have been unable to locate Smilari and have requested a felony warrant, charging him with aggravated assault per domestic violence.

Anyone with information about Smilari’s whereabouts is asked to contact Bullhead City police at (928)763-9200 during business hours or (928)763-1999, after hours.

Police ask communities members to not approach Smilari should you encounter him.

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BHCFD: DOJ disingenuous toward the spirit of settlement agreement

     BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZ.– Administrators with the Bullhead City Fire District say the U.S. Justice Department has brutally and unfairly characterized the fire department as being insensitive and indifferent to U.S. military members with ongoing commitments to the armed forces.

Fire Chief Rick Southey says nothing can be further from the truth and believes a media release issued by the Justice Department earlier this week, which highlights the case of a U.S. Army Reservist who tried to get his job back as a fire inspector when he returned from deployment in 2013, blatantly disregards specific points of the agreement as it pertains to the department.

Southey quickly pointed out that the settlement agreement that fire district governing board chairman Dave Cummings signed clearly states that by agreeing to settle out of court, the department does not admit to any violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). Nonetheless, the Justice Department not only claims the fire department violated USERRA, but also declares that the fire department “discriminated” against U.S. Army Reservist Brett Guinan, whose position was eliminated as part of a ‘reduction in workforce’ undertaken by the department as a budget cutting move in 2012.

“The Department of Justice press release is inaccurate in several areas and disingenuous to the spirit of the settlement agreement which unfairly casts the Bullhead City Fire Department in an undeserving negative light,” Southey said.

The Fire Chief also released letters that he authored when the U.S. Department of Labor first started investigating claims by Guinan that he had been unfairly targeted for termination while on deployment. The chief defended the department’s action claiming that Guinan was not the only person effected by the budget constraints that has forced the department’s hand since 2009. He even suggested it was a difficult decision given the fact of Guinan’s service to the country.

“It is regretful that the Bullhead City Fire District (BCFD) has had to even consider the separation of Mr. Guinan at a time he is serving our country,” Southey wrote in his letter to the Department of Labor investigator. “I believe we have explored every possibility in retaining the position up to the present time and believe we have complied fully with all employment laws.”

“However, under the current fiscal pressures and needs of the District, it was in the best interest of the District to reduce staffing levels as Department finances dwindle and the need to do more with less has increased,” the chief added.

In a subsequent letter to the investigators, Southey highlights seven positions that had been eliminated by the department since 2009 with Guinan’s being the eighth position. He also points out that the department’s policies require the department to consider rank and tenure when deciding who would be terminated during times of workforce reduction. There were two other members of the department who could have also faced termination, but both had worked for the department longer than Guinan, who was hired in July 2006.
Southey also informed the investigator that other members of the department are veterans and some were still obligated to perform military duties as reservists, for whom the department had made accommodations in the past.

“I would also add that our Department has several veterans and at least 2 full time members who are currently engaged in military reserve service,” Southey wrote.
At the conclusion of their investigation, the Department of Labor sent their findings to the Justice Department who proceeded to seek a settlement. The fire board approved the settlement last month for $75,000, which will serve as back pay to Guinan.

Southey said, his department was advised by its attorney’s and insurance provider to accept the settlement as the costs of litigation would quickly eclipse that amount.

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Remains of Yucca woman uncovered in Yuma, her friend has been charged with murder

James David Collins, 50, of Yucca, Ariz. - Yuma County Detention Center, Yuma, Ariz.

YUMA, ARIZ.— After seven months, authorities believe they have solved the case of a missing Mohave County woman. The remains of Cynthia Marie Horn, 54, of Yucca, were unearthed yesterday from a grave site on land owned by the family of the man charged with her murder.

James David Collins, 50, had been arrested on an unrelated arrest warrant earlier in the day while staying at his mother’s residence in Yuma. The warrant was out of Lake Havasu City Justice Court for failing to comply with sex offender registration requirements.

Mohave County sheriff’s detectives have long sought Collins for questioning in connection with Horn’s disappearance.

Horn disappeared in Oct. 2014 and was last seen in Yucca driving her black 1994 Jeep Wrangler. Shortly thereafter, local authorities learned that Collins had been arrested in Mexico for a weapons violation. At the time, according to a Mohave County sheriff’s office spokesperson, Collins was found to be driving Horn’s Jeep. He was eventually released from Mexican authorities and vanished.

With the assistance of the United States Marshals Office, Collins was found in Yuma on Tuesday. He was booked into the Yuma County Jail on the outstanding warrant.
Once he was in custody, investigators were able to obtain a confession from Collins regarding Horn’s disappearance and death. He told detectives that he killed her in Yucca and then transported her body to Yuma County where he buried it on family trust land.
Yuma County Sheriff’s detectives used that information to obtain a search warrant for the grave site and recovered human remains. They have been turned over to the Yuma County Medical Examiner for confirmation of identity and to determine an exact cause of death.

Collins faces a multitude of charges including second degree murder, abandonment of a dead body and theft of a means of transportation.

The case remains under investigation.

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DOJ: Bullhead City Fire Dept. discriminated against Army Reservist

     BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZ.– The Bullhead City Fire District has come to terms with the U.S. Justice Department in connection with a civil complaint surrounding the employment of an Army Reservist who didn’t get his job back when he returned to Bullhead City from deployment in 2013. The settlement will cost taxpayers $75,000.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed suit against the fire district in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, claiming the department discriminated against U.S. Army Reserve Member Brett Guinan, who worked as a fire inspector. The complaint alleges the fire district terminated his employment on the basis of his military service– a problem exacerbated by the district’s refusal to rehire Guinan under the terms of the Federal Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

Guinan was deployed three times between 2008 and 2013. The lawsuit accuses Guinan’s supervisors at the fire department of starting to make ‘negative statements’ about his military service obligations. It also alleges that during his third deployment, the fire district eliminated Guinan’s fire inspector position and terminated his employment, claiming to have undergone a ‘reduction in workforce.’

The Justice Department says that the fire district’s ‘reduction in workforce’ only effected Guinan’s fire inspector position while others continued to receive compensation for doing the work associated with that position. Also hindering the fire district’s argument was the fact that the department continued to post new job openings on its website at the same time it claimed to be reducing its workforce.

Guinan had notified the fire department that he wanted his job back once he returned from his third deployment. The fire department refused, which the Justice Department claims is a violation of the USERRA.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, which was filed along with the complaint, on Tuesday, the fire department will pay Guinan $75,000 in back pay and damages. According to the justice department, the fire department has also agreed to draft and adopt new personnel policies that inform employees of their rights and obligations under USERRA. The department will also provide informational training to all supervisory staff in all five fire stations.

“This settlement will provide much needed relief to U.S. Army Reserve Member Brett Guinan, who lost his job simply for serving our country,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. “I want to thank the Department of Labor for referring this case to the Department of Justice.”

“I’m hopeful that through the department’s newly created Service members and Veterans Initiative, we will continue to build on our strong ties with federal partners and continue using every took at our disposal to protect the rights of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces,” he added.

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BHC fire victim is a retired doctor and father of Mayor of Reno, Nev.

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve is in Las Vegas, tending to her father who was hospitalized Tuesday after a fire destroyed his RV in Bullhead City.

BULLHEAD CITY, ARIZ.– The name of the elderly man who was critically injured in a fire Tuesday at his RV in Bullhead City has been released and it turns out he is renown doctor from northern Nevada, whose oldest daughter is the Mayor of Reno.

Dr. Donald Schieve, 82, is reportedly in a medically-induced coma at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he was airlifted after suffering sever burns from a fire that destroyed his RV.

His daughters– Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Reno television news anchor Amanda Sanchez– are currently in Las Vegas with their father, according to administrators with the city of Reno.

Bullhead City Fire investigators say they could not determine what ignited the blaze or identify where it started due to the damage it caused, but they suspect the fire started on a porch which was attached to the RV.

Battalion Chief Craig Stephenson believes that Dr. Schieve suffered severe burns over 50 percent of his body when he ran through a wall of fire to get out of his RV, through the only exit, and off his porch, which were fully engulfed in flames.

A fire Tuesday at this RV in Bullhead City severely injured Dr. Donald Schieve, 82, a retired doctor from northern Nevada. He sustained burns over more than 50% of his body. (The license plate on the car has been blurred for privacy consideration)

Firefighters were dispatched to the blaze at an RV park in the 1600 block of Highway 95 Tuesday evening at 6:35 p.m.

Once they arrived, Fire crews aggressively attacked the fire and had it under control within 15 minutes. The fire destroyed the trailer, a car parked at the location, and caused some fire damage to the neighbors awning. Fire personnel were on scene for approximately two hours.

Dr. Schieve is a pathologist and ophthalmologist who retired from Washoe Medical Center in Reno. His daughter, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, was elected to her position last year.

“Our thoughts are with the Mayor and her family during this difficult time,” said Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger in a prepared statement, which was also read at Wednesday’s Reno City Council meeting. “We ask that the Mayor’s privacy be respected.”

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