‘Birthday hazing’


News staff writer

August 2, 2006

Eight teenagers have pleaded guilty to a “birthday hazing” in late May that severely injured a 16-year-old male — but two other accused assailants could hold out for a jury trial.

On Friday, the grand jury dismissed charges against an 11th suspect. But jurors determined that sufficient evidence existed for Hood River County Deputy District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen to pursue a second-degree assault case against the remaining two males.

By not pleading guilty to the lesser charge of third-degree assault as their peers have done, Rasmussen said the teens, if convicted, face a much stronger sentence. Measure 11 mandates that anyone convicted of that crime spend 70 months in prison and pay up to a $250,000 fine.

Rasmussen said it is unknown at this time whether defense attorneys will pursue a trial for their clients or seek a settlement.

Cruz Bolanos Guzman, 18, and seven minors at Hood River Valley High School quickly accepted the plea deal offered by Rasmussen. They have been put on probation for 24 months and given a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent. That condition can be modified by a probation officer if deemed necessary.

In addition, the teens were all directed to write a letter of apology to the victim that is approved by a court officer. They will each perform 120 hours of community service and pay a share of the victim’s medical bills.

“I’m happy that there’s been a somewhat speedy resolution on this case for the youth who have stepped up to the plate to take responsibility for their actions,” said Rasmussen.

She believes the students involved in the case are primarily “good kids who got caught up in a group mentality.” Rasmussen said it is admirable that Guzman, one female and the remaining six males immediately acknowledged that what they had done was wrong and sought to make amends.

The participants in the beating of a Hispanic male said the action had been intended as a birthday celebration. They said it had been a Latino tradition since middle school for them to lightly punch each other on the arm to mark a new age.

On May 25 that tradition went horribly wrong when the recipient of those punches ended up in the hospital. He underwent major surgery to repair internal damage sustained as a result of the severe beating. The victim is now reported to have recovered from his wounds.

In addition to the arrests that were made, Principal Steve Fisk said the students face disciplinary action when school begins in late summer. He said they are likely to either be given a five-day suspension or a full expulsion.

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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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