St. George News Year in Review: Most read and notable stories

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — It’s one of the most optimistic days of all 365 when we stop, reflect and look back before taking that step forward into all things new. Here is our St. George News look back at 2017’s stories and topics that captured your interest and covered topics worthy of mention.

Top stories:

Composite image, St. George News

1. Utah bill allows 18-year-olds to concealed carry

A bill allowing 18- to 20-year-olds to carry a concealed firearm passed the Utah House and Senate following ardent debate, expanding their previous rights to lawfully open carry.

The primary argument for the bill was to give young adults a much better means of defending against sexual violence, particularly on college and university campuses. Previously, House Bill 198, Concealed Carry Amendments, passed 63-12 along party lines with all House Republicans voting for the bill and all House Democrats voting against it. It then passed the Senate 23-6, also largely on party lines.

Read more: House passes bill allowing 18-year-olds to conceal carry | Senate passes conceal carry bill lowering permit age to 18, reported by Mori Kessler.

Composite image | St. George News

2. Great American Solar Eclipse

The 2017 total solar eclipse was a much-anticipated event, and for those who made plans to travel to Idaho to experience it, one sheriff offered some unique, straightforward, useful tips regarding guns, ranchers, the weather, wildlife and more.

While most posts about the eclipse offered information to viewers such as the dangers of looking at the sun and proper eyewear, the Lincoln County Sheriff offered warnings about how tourists’ misbehaviors in his state could land them in some trouble.

“With the Solar Eclipse almost upon us, I have seen many helpful posts and public service announcements, but I feel they fall short in several areas,” Sheriff Rodriguez said. “I will try to cover some of those.”

Read more: Sheriff’s 7 tips for eclipse travelers: ‘Our wildlife will kill you, it will hurt the whole time you are dying,’ reported by Kimberly Scott.

Jose Rosemberg Martinez, of St. George, wanted for first-degree felony rape of a child. St. George Police posted photo February 2017 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

3. Man suspected of raping 10-year-old girl

A $100,000 cash-only bail warrant was issued in March for a 33-year-old man suspected of fleeing to Mexico after allegedly being caught raping a 10-year-old Washington County girl.

Jose Rosemberg Martinez, of St. George, was accused of three counts of first-degree felony rape of a child, according to a warrant issued by the 5th District Court.

The St. George Police Department asked for the public’s help in locating Rosemberg, who remains at-large and is now believed by authorities to be in Mexico.

Anyone with any information regarding Rosemberg’s whereabouts is asked to call the St. George Police Department at 435-627-4300.

Read more: Police ask public’s help locating man suspected of raping 10-year-old girl, reported by Kimberly Scott.

4. St. George family finds missing daughter

After more than a month of searching and a strenuous investigation, a St. George family’s 17-year-old daughter Sarah Dunsey was returned to them in February.

The family, who had believed Dunsey was abducted Jan. 15 from Las Vegas, Nevada, for sex trafficking, made the announcement that Dunsey had been found in California.

“Thank you all for sharing, getting Sarah’s face out there, and helping us to find her,” Dunsey’s mother, Amie Ellis, said in a February statement. “Thank you to the people that sent us the tips that found her.”

At the time, the family did not offer specifics about their daughter’s ordeal to the public, but they provided an update in November, stating they had been notified by the District Attorney’s Office in California that a suspect in the case had entered a guilty plea for his involvement.

Read more: St. George family finds missing daughter, reported by Kimberly Scott.

A woman found dead aboard an Alaskan cruise ship on July 25 was identified as 39-year-old Kristy Manzanares of St. George. Her husband, Kenneth Manzanares, has been indicted for her murder. | Composite photo, St. George News

5. Murder on Alaskan cruise

A federal grand jury returned an indictment in August charging 39-year-old Kenneth Manzanares with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Kristy Manzanares, on a cruise ship.

The St. George couple had been traveling with family aboard the Emerald Princess in July on a weeklong cruise along the Alaskan panhandle. Two days after the ship left Seattle, Washington, Kristy Manzanares was found dead in the couple’s cabin with a severe head wound.

When a family member asked Kenneth Manzanares what had happened, he allegedly replied, “She would not stop laughing at me,” according to the complaint. He then allegedly grabbed his wife’s body and tried to drag her to the balcony, but a family member stopped him.

Kenneth Manzanares pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge. A jury trial is set to begin April 23, 2018, before Judge Timothy M. Burgess. The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced its decision in November not to pursue the death penalty in the case.

Read more: St. George resident on Alaskan cruise recounts night Kristy Manzanares was murdered | FBI investigating after St. George woman murdered on cruise ship, reported by Kimberly Scott.

Amy Marie Crawford and her daughter, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Amy Crawford’s Facebook page, St. George News

6. Mother found dead near St. George river

The medical examiner’s office confirmed that a body discovered in a muddy wash Aug. 5 along the Santa Clara River near 1600 S. Dixie Drive was that of 32-year-old Amy Marie Crawford who had been reported missing in St. George.

A man had been out for a morning walk when he spotted the decomposing body and called police just after 7:30 a.m.

Crawford’s body was found lying in mud, tumbleweeds and debris next to the Santa Clara River Trail after a series of thunderstorms had passed over the area.

Crawford had been reported missing to the St. George Police Department in July. Police said the cause of Crawford’s death remains under investigation.

Read more: Officials identify mother found dead near river in St. George, reported by Kimberly Scott | Related: Police investigating body found near river in St. George, reported by Ric Wayman and Kimberly Scott

7. Teen dies in T-bone collision

Abbigayl Kraushaar, 17, of St. George, was killed in a T-bone collision on state Route 18 near Diamond Valley.

A Chevrolet passenger car sustains heavy damage after being involved in a fatal collision on SR-18, Washington County, Utah, April 2, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

On April 2, a 19-year-old man was northbound on SR-18 in a Dodge truck when Kraushaar, who was driving a Chevrolet passenger car, made a left turn from Diamond Valley Drive onto SR-18 in front of the oncoming Dodge truck.

“The Dodge pickup (driver) was unable to stop to avoid a collision and T-boned the small passenger car,” officials said.

Intermountain Life Flight was dispatched to the scene and landed nearby but left when it was confirmed the girl had died as a result of severe injuries.

Read more: Teen driver dies in T-bone collision near Diamond Valley, reported by Joseph Witham | Related: Victim’s name released in fatal Diamond Valley collision, reported by Julie Applegate and Joseph Witham.

8. Man found dead in his truck

James Garlick, 40, of Mona, was found dead in his vehicle Jan. 3 at the Washington Walmart.

A man was discovered dead in his truck Tuesday at the Washington Wal-Mart. Washington, Utah, Jan. 3, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Matt Thompson, St. George News

Authorities were called to the scene between 4-4:30 p.m. and found Garlick inside a gold truck with a black camper shell on the back.

Officials said there was no indication of foul play or of anything that could have caused the man’s death.

Prior to Garlick’s body being found, his sister, Carol Bullard, of Washington City, had posted on Facebook asking for the public’s help in finding her brother.

“We had been looking for him for days and my daughter happened to be at Walmart picking up a prescription,” Bullard told St. George News. “(She) saw the cops in the parking lot with the caution tape around a vehicle that looked like my brothers, so she immediately called me and I told her to go over and ask if it was him, so she did and it was so she ended up telling me then I rushed down there.”

Read more: Man found dead in his truck at Wal-Mart identified, reported by Ric Wayman.

9. Veyo bishop killed in crash

A Veyo man was killed when his truck drifted over the center line on state Route 18 and struck a semi head-on. Washington County, Utah, April 8, 2017 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

The bishop of the Veyo ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was killed on the morning of April 8 when his small truck reportedly crossed the center line on state Route 18 near milepost 13 and collided head-on with a semitractor-trailer.

The driver of the pickup was identified as 53-year-old Darrin Steve Ivie.

“It looks like (Ivie) was killed instantly,” Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Mower said. “The semi driver did say that he saw the driver of the pickup laying across the seat to the right. Don’t know if he had dropped something and was trying to retrieve it, or if he was having a medical condition or if he was falling asleep.”

Read more: Veyo bishop killed on S.R. 18 in head-on collision, reported by Ric Wayman.

10. K-9 Tess shot during police shootout with carjacking suspect

A carjacking at a St. George gas station on the night of Aug. 30 led to a police shootout in a residential neighborhood in Santa Clara that resulted in a police K-9 and the carjacking suspect being shot. Both the K-9 and the suspect subsequently underwent surgery for their injuries.

Washington County Sheriff’s K-9 Tess was transported via LifeFlight to a specialty veterinarian’s clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada, Aug. 30, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Authorities spotted the suspect heading toward Santa Clara from St. George, but terminated their pursuit. Although officers had disengaged, the suspect continued to flee and drive recklessly, ultimately crashing a second stolen truck into the carport of a residence near 2298 Santa Clara Drive.

When police arrived, the man – later identified as 55-year-old Alvie Jared Grover, of St. George – was still in the truck. As they tried to negotiate him out of the truck, former-Washington County Sheriff’s K-9 Tess was deployed.

When K-9 Tess got into the truck, Grover shot the K-9. One of the bullets entered through the K-9’s cheek and the other through the roof of her mouth. Both bullets exited out of the back of her neck just below her skull.

At that point, multiple officers from multiple agencies fired upon the truck and struck Grover multiple times in the lower half of his body. He was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George to undergo surgery. Grover was charged with multiple felonies relating to the incident.

After receiving treatment at a veterinarian clinic in St. George, K-9 Tess was transported by Life Flight to Las Vegas for emergency care. The Sheriff’s Office announced that Tess was predicted to make a full recovery in six weeks’ time.

Read more: St. George carjacking leads to multiagency police shootout; police K-9 and suspect shot, reported by Kimberly Scott.

Notables.

While there were a number of other crimes and crashes, fires and tragedies affecting lives forever and drawing considerable attention and response from the St. George News community of readers, other issues relevant to Southern Utah were addressed and progressed, some with ongoing and developing impacts. Following are a few highlights.

Brian Head fire

A forest fire was ignited in the Brian Head area, ultimately burning nearly 112 square miles with an overall fire-suppression cost estimated at $34 million. A Taylorsville man has been charged with starting the fire through reckless and unpermitted burning. Robert Ray Lyman pleaded not guilty in October and is expected to face trial on the charges in 2018. State and local officials pointed blame for the fire in part on environmental groups who sued to stop logging in 1993 and other actions that allowed beetles to overtake the forest.

The fire destroyed 13 homes, eight outbuildings, damaged or compromised watersheds, soils, wildlife and scenery. Though no lives were reported lost during the fire, in October, when aerial drops of straw mulch were being made on the burn scar as part of restoration efforts, Bryan Burr, of Alpine, was killed through blunt force trauma from falling debris. Reporting by Joyce Kuzmanic, Mori Kessler, Tracie Sullivan and Joseph Witham.

Northern corridor

St. George area officials continue to wrestle with federal agencies to establish a northern corridor to connect Red Cliffs Parkway and Washington Parkway. The county, city of St. George and the Washington County Water Conservancy District have all opposed resource management plans offered by the Bureau of Land Management, even appealing those plans to the Interior Department, although the appeal was dismissed by the administrative judge for lack of jurisdiction.

Those favoring the corridor maintain it was promised to the county in a 2009 lands bill that created the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash national conservation areas – which include the Red Cliffs Reserve – as well as increasing need in light of the county’s population growth. Officials and the state’s congressional delegation continue to pursue remedies and negotiate with the agencies involved towards a solution. Reporting by Julie Applegate and Mori Kessler.

Historic building burns

An abandoned building on Tabernacle Street in St. George caught fire and burned nearly to the ground in July. Although the building was slated for demolition to make way for a new development, Joule Plaza, the fire stimulated interest for the building’s history in downtown St. George having originally housed Wilkinson’s House of Lighting, founded in 1945.

“It’s hard to see it go this way, but anytime you lose part of your history it’s unsettling,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said. Reporting by Cody Blowers.

Las Vegas mass shooting

On Oct. 1, Stephen Craig Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas on a crowd of people attending the outdoor “Route 91 Harvest Festival.” The incident left 58 people dead, including Paddock, and nearly 550 others injured and has been cited as the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in the United States. Among those killed were Utahns Heather Warino Alvarado, of Cedar City, Cameron Robinson, of St. George, and Neysa Tonks, of Salt Lake City.  Reporting by Joyce Kuzmanic, Kimberly Scott and The Associated Press.

Cedar City temple

At the end of October, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints completed and opened its 17th temple in Utah in Cedar City. An open house was held for public tours through mid-November drawing more than 180,000 visitors, Mormon and non-Mormon alike. The temple was formally dedicated Dec. 10. Reporting by Jeff Richards and Paul Dail.

Elections

Perhaps the most remarkable municipal election in Southern Utah in 2017 was that held in Hildale, sister-city to Colorado City, Arizona, longtime home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But the once nearly closed community is evolving as former residents return and others assimilate into the community. The election saw four non- or ex-members of the FLDS sect voted into office for the first time in the town’s 100-year history, two of them women.

In a public panel event following the election, Hildale Mayor-elect Donia Jessop said she wanted everyone to know that “the town is now open.” For a community that has been a hotbed of legal and social controversies for years, transparency can only be a good thing. Continuing changes forthcoming? Something to watch in 2018. Reporting by Cody Blowers.

National monuments

Both state and national attention in 2017 focused on two national monuments in Utah designated by prior presidents, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears, leading to a visit to the state by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and ultimately by President Donald Trump, who issued an executive order reducing the size of the monuments.

The reductions were applauded by many, including state and local leaders, but drew the dismay of a variety of interest groups that have since filed lawsuits challenging the order. Concerns remain that monument designations may become political footballs to be designated, expanded and reduced by one administration after another – concerns legislators aim to address through congressional action. Reporting by Mori Kessler and others.

Lake Powell Pipeline

The viability of a long-proposed pipeline channeling water directly from Lake Powell to Sand Hollow Reservoir for the benefit of Kane and Washington counties continues to inch forward with federal regulators agreeing to an environmental study to determine the project’s feasibility. A 60-day public comment period is pending. The study comes in conjunction with negotiations begun between state and federal officials for an exchange that would allow Utah to use federal water facilities at Glen Canyon Dam to facilitate drawing water from Lake Powell rather than other facilities drawing water from the river.

“This is a major milestone toward meeting Southern Utah’s need to diversify its water supply and develop additional resources to meet anticipated demand,” Utah Division of Water Resources Director Eric Millis said. “Permitting a water project is a lengthy process and this is a significant step.” Reporting by Julie Applegate and Mori Kessler.

* * *

A note from the editor:

We at St. George News thank you for your interest and support throughout the year. With each new year comes renewed resolve on our part to ever improve, develop and enhance our news product for your benefit and enjoyment.

We cannot overstate the value of the contributions of our readers. You participate, you share ideas – you share our stories! Some of you submit articles for our consideration, others send letters to the editor offering opinion on matters relevant to the region. You offer us your photos, videos and news leads. And your provide us your critique and engage in our comment and social media forums.

All of this together makes St. George News a watering hole in Southern Utah where people of all viewpoints and all walks of life can meet, engage and interact productively with one another. This has been our goal from the beginning. Today, St. George News, a Canyon Media company, has easily grown into the most community-centric and most widely read news stop in Southern Utah, and we are entirely beholden to you, our community of readers – you are why we do this, you help make it happen.

It would be our great honor to receive your continued input and support in the coming year. We are at your service, Southern Utah.

Here’s to a dynamic and engaged 2018!

St. George News reporter Kimberly Scott contributed to this report.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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