News Bites for Jan. 15, 2024

Jan. 15—COLUMBIA BASIN — Multiple government agencies have issued reminders that their offices will be closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Readers may wish to call ahead before visiting government offices or businesses that may also close for the holiday.

EPHRATA — Eric Applegate, 46, of Ephrata was arrested after an investigation by the Grant County Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team, also known as INET, in cooperation with the Ephrata Police Department on Friday, according to a Grant County Sheriff's Office statement.

At around 7 a.m., investigators served a warrant on room 214 at the Rodeway Inn located at 31 Basin St. SW in Ephrata and found an ounce of methamphetamine, an unspecified amount of fentanyl tablets and more than half a pound of marijuana packaged and ready for sale. Two digital scales and plastic baggies commonly used for drug sales were also seized during the search of the room.

Applegate was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and fentanyl with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. The severity of the possible penalties includes a school zone enhancement since the hotel is within 1,000 feet of a designated school bus stop.

"Fentanyl-involved deaths are on the rise in Washington. According to the Addictions, Drug, and Alcohol Institute at the University of Washington, 652 Washington residents lost their lives in 2023 compared to 321 in 2019," the GCSO statement said.

EPHRATA — The Grant County Health District issued a statement reminding area residents to check their carbon monoxide alarms monthly and to replace them according to the manufacturer's instructions. Carbon monoxide — or CO — is created when fuel-burning appliances such as heating devices, grills, clothes dryers and vehicles don't burn all of the fuel they need to function and can cause serious health risks, including death. Detectors should generally be replaced every ten years, but that schedule may vary and a replacement date is printed inside the cover or on the back of the device.

OTHELLO — Justin Yair Gonzalez-Luna, 18, of Othello, was sentenced in Adams County Superior Court to nearly 13 years in prison for the shooting death of a pregnant 16-year-old single mother Oct. 6, 2022, and injuring another young female victim in the same incident.

Gonzalez-Luna had fired eight rounds into a vehicle at the intersection of Sylvan and Rose drives in Othello that day, killing the young mom and injuring the other girl, who made a full recovery. Three young males in the vehicle were not injured. He then fled to Mexico for about three months and returned to Othello in January 2023 and was subsequently arrested.

Evidence indicated that Gonzalez-Luna was hiding in the attic and texting his family before surrendering to police. The firearm used in the murder was later found and recovered from Renton, Washington.

On Sept. 26, 2023, Gonzalex-Luna entered an Alford plea which allowed him to maintain his innocence while acknowledging he would like to be convicted at trial, according to a statement from the Othello Police Department. During the sentencing, he apologized for his actions prior to the judge handing down the sentence.

VANTAGE — Hazardous road conditions led to a shutdown of eastbound Interstate 90 just east of the Vantage Bridge Friday, according to a statement from the Grant County Sheriff's office. Two oversized load vehicles had spun out and required towing assistance to get unstuck as a result. Traffic was rerouted to State Route 26 while the issue was cleared up. GCSO also reminds area residents to keep a preparedness kit in their vehicles to ensure they can stay warm if something comes up while traveling in winter weather. Kits should include tire chains, a blanket, a jacket, gloves and other necessary items. GCSO also reminds drivers to remove all snow from vehicles, including frost on windows, before driving.

WARDEN — Grant County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Nicholas A. Boese, 31, of Richland at the Pheasant Run store at the intersection of State Route 17 and State Route 170 East, just west of Warden late last week, according to a GCSO statement.

Boese's son had gone into the store and stated he couldn't wake his father up who was inside a pickup in the store parking lot. Employees tried to wake Boese up, but were unable to and smelled something burning when they opened the driver's door.

Warden Police officers arrived and the man woke up. Officers report that Boese had been burning fentanyl on foil and inhaling the fumes while his son was in the vehicle.

Boese was arrested for child endangerment with a controlled substance and booked into the Grant County jail and his pickup was impounded pending a search warrant.

Boese's son was placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid roughly 50 times stronger than heroin and is a significant contributor to overdoses in the U.S.

Assisting agencies included MACC 911, Warden PD, Grant County Fire District 4, Child Protective Services and Lifeline Ambulance, Inc.