Teens sentenced for car deaths

Two teens were sentenced in Hood River Circuit Court on Monday for their involvement in the vehicular-related deaths of others.

Both Uriel Lozano, 16, and Samuel Trejo-Rodriguez, 17, pled guilty to adult felony charges that they had violated safe driving practices. Judge Donald Hull ordered them both to prepare 45-minute orations that might warn other youth away from irresponsible behavior behind the wheel.

Lozano was given 180 days in jail for criminally negligent homicide related to the death of his friend, Bismar Guadarrama, in May. His license was revoked for eight years and he was ordered to pay $3,600 in compensatory damages to the victim's family. In addition, he has to complete a drug and alcohol treatment program, finish high school and make a personal appearance quarterly to report on his progress to Hull. He will speak at nine Mid-Columbia high schools to tell other students about what happened to his friend, his emotions about that incident and how it could have been prevented.

"I see three things here that contributed to the death of someone who probably had a bright future, dreams and aspirations: youth, speed and alcohol," said Hull.

According to police reports, Lozano and Bismar were returning to Hood River from a party in the upper valley when they began racing against Alonso Muro, 17, north on Highway 35. The speed of the vehicles reached up to 90 miles per hour, according to police, before Lozano lost control of the car he was driving and crashed into a guardrail just south of Odell a few minutes after midnight on May 20. When the passenger door flew open and the seatbelt failed, Guadarrama was thrown from the vehicle and sustained severe head injuries that caused his death two days later. Lozano received only minor injuries in the wreck and admitted to law enforcement officials that he had consumed three beers that evening.

Muro has been charged with Reckless Driving and is scheduled to enter a plea on Sept. 17. Three other juveniles attending that party have been cited for underage drinking and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

"The reason cops take the time and spend the effort to break up teenage drinking parties is exactly because of cases like this," said Hood River District Attorney John Sewell.

Speed also was a factor in the July 2 hit and run death of Patrick T. Edwards of Hood River. Rodriguez was ordered to serve 45 days in jail, followed by 36 months of probation and 240 hours of community service. In addition, he was given $405 in court fines and fees and instructed to complete his senior year in high school with satisfactory grades. He will deliver a speech to four area high schools to explain his criminal conviction and his drivers license has been taken away for five years.

"I want you to explain to people that negligent acts lead to tragedy," said Hull.

Rodriguez told Hull at his Aug. 27 court appearance that he had been driving down Eugene Street at a high rate of speed just prior to being confronted by Edwards, 50, who resided there, on the evening of June 30. He said that Edwards began to yell and swear at him when he stopped at a friends' house and then physically stood in front of the car as he was attempting to leave the scene. According to witness statements, Rodriguez was traveling between 5-10 miles per hour when he ran into Edwards after attempting to go around him several times. According to police reports, when Edwards fell off the hood of the car he struck his head on the ground and Rodriguez left the scene.

Two days later Edwards died as a result of head injuries received in that fall and Rodriguez was arrested after friends revealed his identity to investigating officers. At the time of the incident, Rodriguez' license was in the process of being suspended on an unrelated DUII charge and, since then, he has opted to participate in a diversion program available to first-time offenders.

"This was a tragic accident and clearly Samuel Trejo-Rodriguez shouldn't have left the scene, but it didn't rise to the level of criminal negligence as defined in the law," said Sewell.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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