‘It’s a great example of how the actions of the few affect the whole.’ Hazing charges are filed


News staff writer

June 21, 2006

Ten juveniles and Cruz Bolanos Guzman, 18, were charged with third-degree felony assault on Monday related to a “birthday hazing” case.

The beating of the teenager on May 25 has also cost Hood River Valley High School an award for excellence in student life. In early June, KATU-2 was expected to reward the local school for outstanding academic and extracurricular programs.

However, the television station withdrew the honor after learning that a 16-year-old male had been hospitalized following a Latino tradition on May 25. According to the participants, it was a cultural rite of passage to lightly punch each other as a birthday celebration — a practice usually done off the school grounds.

In the recent incident, the group gathered in the wrestling room at the school prior to the start of classes. According to reports, the victim did not immediately appear to have serious injuries. By that night he began to exhibit signs of physical distress and was taken to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital for a complete medical examination. He then underwent major emergency surgery to repair internal damage sustained as a result of the beating.

The victim is now reported to be at home recovering from his wounds.

“This is absolutely tragic and has been very upsetting for all of us. It’s a great example of how the actions of the few affect the whole,” said Principal Steve Fisk.

The hallway of the Hood River County Courthouse was crowded with worried parents and family members of the suspects on June 19. They had not seen their children since the previous Friday when the accused assailants were arrested at school and transported to NORCOR.

To keep control of courtroom noise and activity, Judge Donald Hull had each of the parents take turns making an appearance.

Crying mothers and stoic fathers watched as their sons — and in one case a daughter —took a seat in the video conference room at NORCOR. The message that Hull delivered to each of the teenagers was the same.

“If you were an adult, this being a Class C felony, you would be subject to up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $125,000. However, since you are not being treated as an adult, you are not subject to prison or having a large fine imposed.”

He then asked Deputy District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen for her recommendation on whether each subject should be released or detained pending further court action. She said an investigation had been undertaken by juvenile authorities and the sheriff’s office that had identified key players in enactment of the crime.

“The state is making a distinction — given the evidence that we have right now — between the primary participants and what we see as secondary participants,” said Rasmussen.

Hull followed her recommendation to keep eight of the students behind bars for at least the next couple of days. Rasmussen made those picks based largely on the fact that they had reportedly inflicted the most bodily harm to the victim.

She also factored in previous criminal history. Three of the teens were charged in April with stealing gasoline from a Hays Drive farm. Another subject had been sanctioned for another assault.

All of the detainees will appear before Hull on Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m. He will confer with attorneys and decide whether to release each teenager or hold them until a later date.

The three subjects who were allowed to go home on Monday night were placed on house arrest. Hull warned them to not leave their respective residences without being accompanied by a parent. He will meet with each of them on Tuesday, beginning at 9 a.m., unless their court-appointed attorney has a conflict with that time. Meanwhile, school officials are determined not to have a repeat of the dangerous scenario. Fisk said it has been good news to learn that the hazing was not considered a tradition by the majority of the Hispanic student body population. He said it appeared to have been initiated by the group of students while they were in middle school.

“It was very troubling that no official knew that this behavior was going on,” he said. “I hope what can be achieved through all this is that it stops.”

Once the accused students have returned to school in the fall, Fisk said they could face a range of disciplinary actions, from a five- day suspension to a full expulsion.

“Our charge still is education and teaching and that’s what we need to focus on doing,” he said.

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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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