From Wyoming News Exchange Newspapers 

Wyoming News Briefs


April 27, 2023

Man dies after rollover crash on I-90 near Rozet

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 37-year-old man died after rolling his car on Interstate 90 near Rozet Wednesday afternoon.

Jachob Irish was driving a Honda Civic eastbound on Interstate 90 when he failed to negotiate a left-hand curve in the road near mile marker 145, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol. He drove onto the shoulder, then overcorrected, causing the Civic to go into a ditch and turn over several times.

Campbell County Coroner Paul Wallem said Irish died from blunt force trauma, specifically trauma to the head and torso.

Driver inattention is being looked at as a possible contributing factor to the crash. The weather was clear and the road was dry. Irish was the only person in the car and was not wearing his seatbelt, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Man faints at wheel, drives family off road

JACKSON (WNE) — A Jackson man drove off the road near Teton Village this past Thursday after experiencing a medical emergency that caused him to lose consciousness at the wheel.

Law enforcement received the call at 8:46 p.m. after fellow drivers watched a Dodge Ram veer off the road as it was driving northbound toward Teton Village around milepost one.

The driver, a Jackson man in his early 50s, experienced a “medical issue” and fainted while driving, Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Adam Johnson said. Johnson could not provide more details about what caused the man to lose consciousness.

The man was driving with his two sons at the time the car veered off to the right and came to a stop at a fence, narrowly missing a gas line by about 4 feet, according to Johnson.

“His sons were able to kick into action and help the vehicle as it veered off by getting their dad’s foot off the accelerator,” Johnson said. “We were fortunate they didn’t hit the gas line which would have posed potential for a fire or explosion.”

Johnson was the sole trooper who arrived to aid alongside two Teton County sheriff’s deputies and several ambulances, and fire trucks from Jackson Hole Fire/EMS.

The driver and his sons all declined ambulance transport on the scene, however, the man who fainted was later taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

Johnson said he was especially grateful for one thing.

“I’m just grateful they were wearing their seatbelts,” he said. “It’s an example that you never know what can happen.”

Woman arrested for felony meth possession after driving suspiciously north of Gillette

GILLETTE (WNE) – A 37-year-old Gillette woman was arrested for felony possession of liquid meth after being reported as a suspicious vehicle early Thursday morning in northwest Campbell County.

At 3:41 a.m., deputies received a call about a white Ford Expedition driving slowly up Oedekoven Road. The SUV, driven by the 37-year-old woman, turned around and headed back to Highway 14-16, then stopped on Recluse Road and shut off its lights.

The woman then went north on Highway 14-16, traveling about 30 mph. She was going down random roads and turning off her lights. A deputy pulled her over and she was very anxious and couldn’t sit still, said Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

When asked what she was doing, the woman said she was trying to fix her door. The deputy saw a large number of bags and power tools in plain view in the SUV.

More than 50 milliliters of liquid meth was found in the center console, Reynolds said. The deputy also found a pink glass case with a blue meth pipe and three small plastic baggies with 0.45 grams of suspected meth. In a black backpack there was a round container with 17.2 grams of blue pills.

The woman said everything in the car was hers. The pills were hers, but she does not have a prescription for them, Reynolds said.

The woman was arrested for felony possession of meth and possession of pills, and there could be more charges coming, Reynolds said. The investigation continues.

Teen arrested after allegedly stealing, shooting grandfather’s guns

GILLETTE (WNE) — An 18-year-old man was arrested for aggravated burglary and ten counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm after he allegedly stole guns from his grandfather’s home and fired them into the air Friday night.

At 11:15 p.m., police officers responded to the 2300 block of Nogales Way after multiple gunshots were heard. At the scene, officers found ten casings.

Sheriff’s deputies later stopped a 1992 Chevy Astro near the Foothills Theatre. The 18-year-old driver said he didn’t know he was going that fast and that he was taking his 17-year-old passenger home. Police Cpl. Dan Stroup said guns and magazines were seen in the vehicle and it was found that the driver, Brayden Larson, had fired the rounds into the air.

Deputies learned Larson had a suspended license and arrested him for driving under suspension, expired registration, no insurance and speeding.

Saturday morning, Larson’s sister, 18, called officers to report several things missing from her grandfather’s home on Rockpile Avenue. The items included two handguns, one rifle and coffee cans filled with coins and currency. She suspected that her brother took the items. 

Stroup said the guns were recovered Friday night after the gunshots report and Larson has since been charged with aggravated burglary and ten counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm.

Antler poacher once again cited for poaching

JACKSON (WNE) — An antler tycoon with a history of run-ins with federal law enforcement has been sentenced for shed poaching. Again.

Joshua Anders Rae, 38, of Bozeman, Montana, pleaded guilty in July 2022 to a violation of the Lacey Act, a 120-or-so-year-old piece of federal legislation intended to combat illegal trafficking of wildlife, fish and plants.

The Bridger-Teton National Forest said that in April 2021, Rae violated winter wildlife closures northeast of Jackson, illegally collected 44 pounds of antlers at night and stashed them in the forest.

Rae was caught the day before shed hunting seasons opened and the day before wildlife closures lifted.

Rae was sentenced in October 2022 for the Lacey Act violations as well as two misdemeanors: entering a wildlife closure and collecting shed antlers out of season, misdemeanors. He received 90 days of “home confinement,” five years of supervised felony probation, a five-year ban from entering federal public lands and a five-year ban on hunting.

The Bridger-Teton announced his sentence Friday, roughly a week before May 1, when the 2023 shed hunting season typically start and the Bridger-Teton’s winter wildlife closures typically lift.

This is not Rae’s first run-in with law enforcement.

In 2019, Rae pleaded guilty to a similar violation, that time for illegally possessing and transporting 104 pounds of elk antler that he’d chopped into chew-size pieces and buried near the base of trees in 2016.

Authorities also found another 410 pounds of antlers they assumed Rae collected during wildlife closures.

In that case, Rae was sentenced to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and banned from entering the National Elk Refuge for five years, as well as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. He was given five years of probation and a five-year worldwide ban on hunting.

Powell couple charged with exposing child to meth, fentanyl

POWELL (WNE) – A Powell couple was accused last week of exposing a toddler to meth and fentanyl. 

Ashton Wollam, 26, and Makala Butz, 25, each face a felony count of child endangering, alleging they stored the drugs within the reach of a two- or three-year-old in their home. At a Friday hearing, a prosecutor also alleged that Butz appears to have smoked meth while pregnant. 

Deputy Park County Attorney Larry Eichele indicated that while searching the couple’s possessions, agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation found a video of Butz smoking. 

“There is some egregious conduct recorded, showing Mr. Wollam and his wife [Butz] smoking in the presence of their child — and actually one of them [the videos] looks like the child’s recording it,” Eichele said. “So this is a grave concern to us regarding the child present with fentanyl, given the dangers.” 

Butz and Wollam were arrested April 18 and remained in the Park County Detention Center on Monday, with their bails respectively set at $50,000 and $25,000, cash or surety. 

Butz reportedly told the agents that she knew Wollam was using drugs, but that she was not using them because she is pregnant. However, Deputy County Attorney Eichele said that account was undercut by the video footage that showed Butz smoking; he used that allegation to argue for a higher bond for Butz. 

“Apparently, she’s adamantly denied that she smoked while she’s pregnant, and that is a lie,” Eichele said. “And I don’t believe that we can trust her word, given she’s pregnant and knowing that addicts will continue to use.” 

Circuit Court Judge Joey Darrah scheduled both cases for a preliminary hearing on Friday morning. Charging documents say the Wyoming Department of Family Services took the child into protective custody.

Children taken into protective custody after two arrests

GILLETTE (WNE) — Police officers arrested a 43-year-old man for felon in possession of a firearm and a 41-year-old woman on multiple drug possession charges after responding to the 3700 block of Triton Avenue for a domestic violence call Sunday evening.

The man told officers he found meth on the woman’s property and confronted her about it. Officers found about 7.3 grams of meth, a THC vape pen, multiple pipes and used jeweler’s bags after receiving a search warrant, Police Cpl. Dan Stroup said.

Stroup said a six-year-old and 12-year-old live in the home.

During the search, officers found a loaded .40 caliber pistol belonging to the man, who cannot legally own a gun because he is a felon. Officers also found the man had punched the 12-year-old in the chest and pushed down on her chest, causing pain and redness.

The woman was arrested for felony possession of meth, felony possession of marijuana since it was her third or subsequent offense, and two counts of drug endangered child.

The man was arrested for felon in possession of a firearm. The abuse investigation is ongoing, Stroup said.

The children were taken into protective custody.


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