Covington man dies in crash near Issaquah

April 26, 2011

Police blamed reckless driving for a fatal crash near Issaquah late last week.

The three-vehicle accident on state Route 18 near Issaquah left a 36-year-old Covington man dead April 23 and prompted detectives to launch investigations into possible vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.

Troopers blocked traffic near the mangled vehicles along state Route 18 after a deadly crash April 23. By Washington State Patrol

Washington State Patrol investigators said the incident started as motorists in a red Ford Probe and a green Toyota Celica drove in a reckless manner in the westbound lanes at about 5 p.m. Then, just east of the Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast exit, police said the driver of the Celica, a 26-year-old Pullman man, attempted to pass traffic on the right road shoulder.

The driver lost control of the Celica, traveled across all highway lanes and struck a maroon Honda Pilot heading east.

The driver of the Probe, a 39-year-old Tacoma man, lost control. The vehicle rolled onto the shoulder and came to rest upside down.

Eastside Fire & Rescue medics transported the driver of the Pilot, Trung Ngo, and his passenger, wife Cheuk Chann, 37, to Harborview Medical Center with serious injuries. Ngo died at the hospital after 9 p.m. Chann has been released from Harborview and is expected to survive.

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Surprising spring snow dusts city in white

April 12, 2011

Snowfall blanketed the Overdale Park neighborhood in Issaquah late April 7. By Larry Lohrman

Sure, spring started last month, but Old Man Winter returned last week.

Snowfall blanketed Issaquah and surrounding areas — especially neighborhoods in the Issaquah Highlands and on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — late April 6 and early April 7. Surprised residents reported about 1 inch of snow accumulation in some places.

“We’re disappointed by the weather every April — and that can actually last into June, our disappointment with the weather,” said Chris Burke, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle.

Roads remained clear for the April 7 morning commute, although the rain-soaked ground resulting from the increased precipitation snarled Issaquah-area traffic.

Crews cleared a fallen tree from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast near Issaquah at about 8 a.m., after the large maple clogged traffic and forced motorists to detour.

King County Sheriff’s Office deputies directed traffic. Crews cleared enough of the tree to reopen the road just after 9 a.m. and then remained on the scene to continue the cleanup Read more

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Interactive map tracks junked cars, trash dumped on state forestland

April 5, 2011

State asks residents to help crack down on illegal dumping

The abandoned vehicle on state land near Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast and the dumped household garbage on eastern Tiger Mountain represent — as the Department of Natural Resource’s law enforcement chief describes the illegal dumping problem — “the tip of the iceberg.”

The agency has unveiled a Web-based map to show locations of more than 200 illegal dumping sites on state trust lands.

The state — through the departments of natural resources and ecology, plus other agencies — spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to clean up household trash, junked vehicles, and commercial and hazardous waste dumped on state trust lands.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” Larry Raedel, chief of law enforcement services for the Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. “For every one of the sites we investigated, mapped and cleaned up last year, there are two or three more out there that we haven’t found yet.”

Illegal dumping often occurs near forest roads on the 2.1 million acres of forestland managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Hazardous sites, such as discarded industrial solvents or meth labs, can cost thousands of dollars each to clean up. Sending trucks to remote locations to remove abandoned vehicles is also expensive.

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Executive offers bold plan in State of the County address

March 1, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine reflected on milestones from 15 months in office and outlined a bold agenda for the months ahead in the State of County address Feb. 28.

The top elected official in the county offered a plan to shore up aging infrastructure and the social safety net amid drastic budget cuts. The address to County Council representatives and community members also emphasized regional partnerships.

Dow Constantine

“The choices we make will have a lasting and profound impact. As our parents and grandparents did, we too owe it to those who come after us to be responsible, thoughtful and smart,” Constantine said. “If we do our jobs right — building on the commitment to partnership and collaboration that have created the many successes of the past year — we can translate our internal reforms to external results.”

The executive delivered the speech at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, in part to highlight efforts to shore up the aging Howard Hanson Dam. The dam, upstream from Kent along the Green River, required local, county and federal agencies to join together to secure funds for long-term repairs.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters tackle hot jobs

February 15, 2011

Capt. Steve Westlake with Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 71 walks toward an incident in downtown Issaquah, where a granddaughter checking in on an elderly woman in her home had found her deceased and called 911. By Greg Farrar

From adrenaline-charged emergencies to routine calls, firefighters share gritty details

Do you know if your co-workers snore? What about their eating preferences, or whether they prefer washing dishes to cooking?

“There are very few jobs where you know people’s sleep habits,” Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighter Pete Wilson said.

Firefighters are a tight bunch, and they know just about as much about each other as they do the areas they serve. They are viewed through a glamorous lens, with their heroics of saving people from fires and helping car accident victims — not to mention the steamy firefighter calendars published annually.

But the daily routines of firefighters are not always quite as dramatic. Aside from giving grade-school students tours of their stations, firefighters perform daily inspections on fire engines and study to renew their medical and rescue certificates.

Firefighters are held in the high esteem of many. Some people might have a beef with the police, but their firefighter brothers and sisters are usually excluded from public retaliation.

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Strong winds topple trees, force road closures

December 18, 2010

UPDATED — 9:25 a.m. Dec. 18, 2010

Strong winds downed trees and prompted road closures near Issaquah early Saturday morning.

Puget Sound Energy said the storm also knocked out power for more than 300 Issaquah customers.

The state Department of Transportation closed state Route 18 from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast to Interstate 90 at about 1 a.m. Saturday. The section reopened just before 8 a.m.

Crews also closed a section of the eastbound interstate due to toppled trees on the roadway.

The high wind warning remains in effect until noon Saturday. National Weather Service forecasters in Seattle said residents should expect east winds of 30 to 40 mph and gusts up to 65 mph.

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Forecasters: Issaquah Creek has crested but risk continues

December 12, 2010

Heavy rainfall caused Issaquah Creek to rise and spill onto roads and into neighborhoods Sunday. By Shawn Clark

NEW — 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12, 2010

Forecasters said rain-gorged Issaquah Creek has appeared to have crested by late Sunday afternoon.

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Issaquah Creek swells as residents face floodwaters in neighborhoods and on roads

December 12, 2010

Issaquah Creek swells near a building along Northwest Gilman Boulevard as rain continues to fall Sunday. By Heather Blume

NEW — 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12, 2010

Forecasters expect heavy rainfall to continue through Sunday night.

The deluge has turned Issaquah Creek into a roiling broth the color of chocolate milk and led to flooding on roads and in Issaquah neighborhoods.

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Issaquah on ice: Snowstorm snarls traffic, prompts school closures

November 30, 2010

Ryder Marin, 9, of Issaquah, starts to spill after becoming airborne on the Issaquah Community Center hillside Nov. 23. ‘All the snow comes straight up in my face and I can’t see very well,’ he said. By Tim Pfarr

The nightmare occurred long before Christmas — and before Thanksgiving.

Issaquah and the Puget Sound region slid to a halt during a fall snowstorm Nov. 22. The storm snarled commutes for Issaquah residents and prompted road crews to toil through Thanksgiving to clear streets. The poor conditions interrupted the regional transit system and left riders huddled in bus shelters. The fallout sent shoppers scrambling to stores for emergency supplies and Thanksgiving staples.

The mercury dipped into the teens and 20s — record cold temperatures — in the days after the storm and turned roads icy.

“People were very understanding of the situation,” Issaquah Police Patrol Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum said. “I think a lot of people were just trying to get home Monday night.”

Some motorists abandoned vehicles and turned road shoulders along Highlands Drive Northeast, Newport Way Northwest and Southeast Black Nugget Road into impromptu parking lots. Police impounded more than 30 vehicles in travel lanes as conditions deteriorated Nov. 22.

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Report: Issaquah commuters spent less time in traffic last year

November 30, 2010

Issaquah commuters spent less time on the road to Bellevue and Seattle last year.

The typical morning commute between Issaquah and Seattle shrank to 21 minutes — a decline from 25 minutes in 2007. The morning commute from Seattle to Issaquah also dropped, from 20 to 18 minutes. The trip between Issaquah and Bellevue declined to 15 minutes from 17 minutes during the same period.

The state Department of Transportation said the decreases represent a broader trend. Evergreen State drivers spent less time in traffic last year.

The information is outlined in the annual congestion report produced by the Department of Transportation.

Planners attributed the change to the economic downturn and the completion of major congestion-relief highway projects. The result: fewer delays and shorter travel times on high-demand corridors. Read more

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