The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com
Thursday, December 16, 2021
Willamette Valley Weather
Today– A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Light and variable wind.
Friday– Partly sunny, with a high near 47. Light southeast wind.
Saturday– Rain likely, mainly after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50. South wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Sunday– Rain likely. Snow level 3100 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Monday– Rain likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46.
Pedestrian Killed In Crash At Hwy 99 And Prairie Road In Eugene Early Thursday Morning
Police are investigating a fatal crash that left a pedestrian dead early Thursday morning at Highway 99 and Prairie Road in Eugene.
The identity of the deceased and the circumstances that led up to the crash are not yet known.
Dispatch logs show firefighters and police were called to the scene just before 5:30 a.m. Dec. 16, 2021.
“The crash, which occurred at 5:28 p.m., is a fatal pedestrian/vehicle crash,” police said. “The Eugene Police Major Collision Investigation team has been called out to investigate the crash. Travelers are asked to avoid the Prairie Road/Hwy. 99 area, as the traffic there will limited and congested for several hours.”
Fatal Crash on Hwy 126W-Lane County
On Tuesday, December 14, 2021 at approximately 7:40 AM, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two-vehicle crash on Hwy 126W at milepost 29.
Preliminary investigation revealed a westbound Dodge Caravan, operated by Alfred Santos (62) of Eugene, collided head-on with an eastbound Toyota Camry, operated by Zakkary McCann (29) of Mapleton.
McCann sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. A passenger in the Toyota Camry, Kussaundra Stevenson (25) of Mapleton, received minor injuries. Santos was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
Hwy 126W was closed for approximately 4 hours.
OSP was assisted by Western Lane Ambulance, Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Lane Fire Authority and ODOT.
This investigation is continuing and more information will be released when appropriate.
Woman Assaults Two Strangers in Separate Attacks in Eugene
A woman faces accusations she randomly assaulted two people in Eugene.
Police responded Tuesday afternoon to 12th Avenue and Oak Patch Road to a report that a 72-year-old woman had been attacked at random by a stranger.
The suspect was later identified as 30-year-old Bianca Sade Nazaire, police said.
She was “reported to have been standing over the older woman and punching her,” police said. “Bystanders intervened, calling 911 and yelling at the suspect to stop, which allowed the victim to get up momentarily, but then Nazaire pushed the victim to the ground and began punching her again.”
According to police:
The victim was able to stand when Nazaire was distracted and she ran across the street to bystanders.
Nazaire chased the victim across the street. The victim ran around cars and a bystander told her to get into his car, which she did.
Although Nazaire is reported to have tried to open his door to get at the woman, the man drove her to a nearby location to await police contact.
A police officer found Nazaire in the 1300 block of Oak Patch Road in a parking lot.
She refused his commands to stop, police said.
“He followed on foot as she walked away,” according to police. “The officer was able to block her path and although she was argumentative, officers were able to take her into custody without incident.”
Investigators soon learned there might be other victims.
“While officers were investigating the assault, one was approached by another victim, who advised that she was also targeted by Nazaire up the street on Oak Patch,” police said. “She reported a random attack during which Nazaire put her arm around her head and neck and tried to take her face mask off in the presence of the victim’s young child.”
Police booked Nazaire at the Lane County Jail for Assault in the Second Degree, Harassment, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, and other charges.
Oregon reports 907 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 39 new deaths
There are 39 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll at 5,508, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today.
OHA reported 907 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 403,329.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (8), Clackamas (63), Clatsop (25), Columbia (5), Coos (23), Crook (12), Curry (7), Deschutes (39), Douglas (51), Gilliam (3), Grant (12), Harney (3), Hood River (5), Jackson (63), Jefferson (5), Josephine (36), Klamath (18), Lake (2), Lane (68), Lincoln (8), Linn (45), Malheur (4), Marion (90), Morrow (3), Multnomah (128), Polk (28), Tillamook (13), Umatilla (16), Union (2), Wasco (2), Washington (87), and Yamhill (30).
New Vaccine Clinic in Springfield
An upcoming booster clinic in Springfield will help more people in getting their booster shots and primary doses.
The clinic aims to give 500 doses per day at the PeaceHealth Riverbend Annex in Springfield. Lane County Public Health says you don’t need an appointment.
They say because of the partnership with OHA, the facility will have enough staff to keep any lines moving right along.
“There’s a possibility for some drive-thru options, but for right now, this is the first time in the entire pandemic that OHS has been down offering vaccines in our community,” says Jason Davis with LCPH. “So, they’re getting a feel for things and seeing how that facility (the annex) works and what the capacity will be like. But for right now, it’s going to be that walk-in option.”
Davis says bring your vaccination card with you. All types of Covid-19 vaccines will be available.
The clinic will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., starting this Friday.
More than 3 million Oregonians have received COVID-19 vaccines
More than 3 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of the three authorized COVID-19 vaccines as of Tuesday, OHA is reporting.
Oregon reached the milestone just two days short of the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses — made by Pfizer-BioNTech — administered in Oregon on Dec. 16, 2020. All told, 3,002,602 persons have been vaccinated, or 70.4% of all people living in Oregon, as reported to the state’s vaccine registry known as ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).
“Vaccines continue to be our most effective tool in our ongoing response to pandemic,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA. “All of the vaccines now authorized for people ages 5 and older in the United States provide protection from COVID-19 infection and illness, including the more transmissible variants. Thank you to everyone who has taken this important step to protect themselves, their families and loved ones. We continue to ask all Oregonians who have not received a shot to get vaccinated as quickly as they can, and for those who already started their vaccine series, to get their next shot or schedule a booster as soon as they are able.”
Along with increasing vaccinations and boosters, OHA continues to encourage Oregonians to wear masks in indoor public settings as the state continues to fight the impacts of the Delta variant and prepares to the face the even more transmissible Omicron variant.
COVID-19 illness remains the greatest threat to anyone who is not yet vaccinated.
The vast majority of Oregonians hospitalized or who recently died with COVID-19 illness had not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The overall incidence of COVID-19 also continues to be lowest in the five counties where vaccination rates are more than 70%.
Note: Data updated daily on OHA vaccine trends dashboard from the ALERT IIS registry does not include some doses administered from federal providers, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The total number of persons who are vaccinated in Oregon is likely to be greater than the current figure showing the total number of people vaccinated.
This week’s Omicron estimate not accurate, OHA believes
The estimates on OHA’s Daily Data Dashboard and Variant Dashboard that Omicron represents 50% of Oregon’s specimens from Dec. 5 to Dec. 11 is much higher than expected due to a small number of specimens (n=6) available in GISAID during that week.
OHA epidemiologists do not believe this estimate to be accurate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker Nowcast model estimates that about 2.9% of SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating in the U.S. during the last week were Omicron. OHA believes the state’s true Omicron estimate to be similar to the national figure.
Oregon Wildfire Recovery Update
The Oregon Office of Emergency Management has posted the Oregon Wildfire Recovery Update for Dec. 15, 2021, to the Oregon Wildfire Response & Recovery website. View today’s Wildfire Recovery update here.
Dark Horse Comics releases comic book exploring how to prevent and prepare for Northwest wildfires
The Oregon Office of Emergency Management and Dark Horse Comics have released a new comic book titled, Without Warning! Wildfire. Addressing what to do before and during a Northwest wildfire, the comic is third in a series of educational and entertaining comic books promoting emergency preparedness.
“The Without Warning! comic book series began because we found that many public education publications struggled to resonate with younger audiences,” said Althea Rizzo, OEM Geologic Hazards Program Coordinator. “The series has been a huge hit, helping us engage with youth while introducing and reinforcing the concept of readiness.”
Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time, often without warning. Empowering every Oregonian – including youth – to reduce their risk, be ready, and know what to do when disaster strikes is critical to staying safe. Kids and teens who are prepared often experience less anxiety and feel more confident during actual emergencies and disasters.
“Smokey Bear offers a variety of educational options for young children, but it’s been challenging to find engaging and creative resources to talk with teens and young adults about wildfire prevention,” said Kristin Babbs, President and CEO of the Keep Oregon Green Association. “This comic book fills that important gap.”
Without Warning! Wildfire features characters hiking and camping in a Northwest wilderness area who are forced to flee for their lives to escape a quickly moving wildfire. The comic helps teach readers how to protect themselves, their loved ones and wildlands when wildfires occur.
Without Warning! Wildfire is available to read for free at Dark Horse Digital, OEM’s website, and on iOS and Android apps. It is also available on Kindle, Comixology, Google Play and Apple Books. Printed copies are available in English and Spanish through county emergency management offices, Clackamas Community College and Keep Oregon Green.
The first two comics in the series, Without Warning! Earthquake (published in 2014) and Without Warning! Tsunami (published in 2016), have been distributed throughout the Northwest and adapted for other regions, helping support readiness in communities across the U.S.
The comic book series originated with OEM’s GeoHazards program, which works with partners to create tools and programs to make Oregon more resilient to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. This latest issue was produced in collaboration with OEM, Dark Horse Comics, Clackamas Community College, Oregon Dept. of Forestry and Keep Oregon Green.
Oregon Dentist Faces Federal Charges for Stealing Nearly $8 Million in COVID-Relief Program Funds
A federal criminal complaint was unsealed today charging an Oregon dentist with fraudulently converting to his personal use nearly $8 million in loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salwan Adjaj, 43, a former dentist residing in West Linn, Oregon, has been charged with aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.
According to court documents, in and around March 2021, Adjaj allegedly submitted dozens of fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in an attempt to obtain funds through the Economic Impact Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The EIDL program was one of several economic relief programs originally authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). It enabled SBA to issue low-interest loans to small businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic and associated mitigation measures.
Adjaj used the names and employer identification numbers (EIN) of fictitious business entities on the fraudulent EIDL applications. He further provided false information about the business start dates, number of employees, and locations, and the identities of the purported applicants and business owners. Most of the fraudulent applications were submitted in other peoples’ names, but with Adjaj’s personal residence as the business mailing address. All of the applications were submitted online from an internet protocol (IP) address associated with Adjaj’s dental practice.
After SBA rejected most of Adjaj’s EIDL applications, he shifted his sights to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), a pandemic economic relief program aimed at supporting restaurants, bars, and other food- and drink-related businesses. The RRF program was authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021. Adjaj had substantially greater success stealing RRF funds than he did EIDL. In May 2021, Adjaj submitted three RRF applications for restaurants allegedly located Sarasota, Miami, and Daytona Beach, Florida. Like his fraudulent EIDL applications, Adjaj’s RRF applications contained false business information and all listed his personal residence as the business mailing address. Together, Adjaj’s RRF applications generated nearly $8 million in fraudulent loan payouts.
Adjaj was arrested yesterday following alleged pretrial release violations. Today, he was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the SBA Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan W. Bounds is prosecuting the case.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A Bend Police officer charged with assaulting a man while on duty has pleaded not guilty
Kevin Uballez, 38, appeared by video Tuesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court, where he entered pleas of not guilty and was given future court dates. Uballez now has an address in southwest Portland listed with the court. He has been on paid leave since October, when he was charged with harassment and fourth-degree assault, both misdemeanors.
A call and email from reporters to Uballez’s attorney, Steven L. Myers, were not returned. Prosecutors said that in June, while attempting to take Caleb Hamlin into custody, Uballez slammed him into the ground.
Crab Boat Captain Criminally Cited
The captain of a commercial crab boat in Oregon has been criminally cited for ‘Taking Undersized Commercial Dungeness Crab’. Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers were inspecting catches at a seafood processing plant in Warrenton when they noticed many of the crab were too small.
The boat had 46-thousand pounds of crab. Nearly 12-thousand pounds were inspected and over 22-percent of the crabs were undersized. The illegal crab was worth 49-thousand dollars. Besides being cited for the illegal catch, the captain could also face restitution of twice the crab’s value, or nearly 100-thousand dollars.