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Still recovering from 2020, restaurants pay close attention to omicron news

Thu, 12/02/2021 - 00:02

DENVER (KDVR) — Restaurants in Colorado are paying close attention to the west coast after word surfaced of the first confirmed U.S. case of the omicron coronavirus variant.

Over at the North Side Tavern Restaurant in Broomfield, they are taking the news in stride.

"We’re cautiously optimistic and gonna keep doing the right thing," owner Steve Bauer said.

Omicron variant not visibly changing testing, vaccinations in Colorado

Bauer said he had to close his doors for a couple of months at the end of 2020. He added, though, that once re-opened, North Side had its best month ever in October.

"The last two years have been a little bit rough," Bauer said. "2020 was a very challenging, learning time."

Bauer said his tavern continues to follow the lead of the City and County of Broomfield when it comes to COVID Guidelines.

Reports of tires being stolen off parked cars in Jefferson County

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 23:59

ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) — A handful of tires have been reported stolen off of parked cars in Jefferson County, with overnight thefts reported in Wheat Ridge and Arvada.

Near Interstate 70 and Kipling, Christine Wilson says she walked outside Tuesday morning to find one of her tires stripped off her Nissan Altima.

"As I approached the car, I noticed that my whole entire tire was gone," Wilson said. “The hubcap was laying there along with lug nuts, and I just thought, did someone just steal one tire off my car?”

Wilson is a fifth-grade teacher in Aurora Public Schools and had to teach virtually Tuesday with no way to get to class.

“I was just thinking I can’t believe this is something I’m having to deal with today," Wilson said. “It’s just upsetting, because everyone is struggling right now and it’s right before Christmas, and I just don’t have a lot of tolerance for people who steal.”

15-year-old girl missing in Lakewood since early November

Wilson says it's a major inconvenience and a major hit to her wallet.

“The tires weren’t even new, but they don’t sell just one tire, so you have to buy a pair," she said. She's estimating the cost will be close to $500.

Near 32nd Avenue and Saulsbury Street in Wheat Ridge, another driver reported all four tires being stolen. 

Arvada Police say Wilson's theft is the only reported theft this week in Arvada.  She's guessing someone specifically needed a new tire for a Nissan Altima but questions why her car was chosen.

Wheat Ridge Police say they've had a few thefts over the past two weeks but don't believe it to be cause for concern.

Experts recommend purchasing wheel locks if you're worried about your tires being stolen. They cost about $25 and require a special "key" to unlock the lug nuts, which can deter thieves looking to make a quick theft. 

Denver sees record heat at December's start, 108 years after the city's biggest blizzard began

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 23:19

DENVER (KDVR) — At the start of December 108 years ago, the biggest blizzard in Denver's recorded history was underway.

Ironically, Denver tied the record high temperature of 73 degrees Wednesday afternoon. The same day in 1913 could not be more different.

Record heat possible again Thursday, mountain snow chance moves in next week

Temperatures dropped to the 30s on Dec. 1, 1913, with an incoming storm system. Snow showers began and continued in the city through Dec. 5.

The showers were on and off through Dec. 3, with a total of 8 inches. But then, on Dec. 4-5, an incredible 37.4 inches fell.

The total over these five days was 45.7 inches, which is just under 4 feet of snow. It became the largest 5-day snowfall total in Denver's history.

The town of Georgetown, in Colorado's mountains, saw 86 inches of snow from the same storm.

This storm brought huge impacts to Denver. High winds, blizzard conditions, and large snow drifts shut down transportation for several days. There was also snow on the ground from this storm for 60 days after it ended.

Air tanker rolled before fatal crash near Kruger Rock Fire: report

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 23:09

ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — Federal aviation investigators on Wednesday released a preliminary report on the fatal air tanker crash near the Kruger Rock Fire.

On Nov. 16, pilot March Thor Olson flew the tanker from Fort Collins to fight the fire, which sparked amid high winds and low humidity. The single-engine aircraft, an Air Tractor 802A, crashed around 6:30 p.m. on its second firefighting run.

In the report, the National Transportation Safety Board shared witness accounts from the moments prior to the plane crash.

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"Video of the airplane showed the airplane wings rocking as it approached the intended drop location for the aerial firefighting of the Kruger Rock fire," the NTSB wrote in the report. "Two witnesses stated that they saw the airplane roll inverted and did not see it descend into terrain. One of the witnesses, who was in radio communication with the pilot, stated that he did not hear the pilot transmit any problems with the airplane nor make any distress calls prior to the accident."

Investigators found the wreckage "was upright and displayed features of a low-speed, nose-down impact with slowing and wooded terrain" and with no ground scarring ahead of it.

The NTSB said it retained the wreckage "for further examination."

CO Fire Aviation owned the plane. The company has aircraft outfitted with night-vision technology to help see through smoke and clouds during firefights — a tool new to Colorado.

Larimer County has said it asked the company for help attacking the fire that night, as ground conditions were too dangerous for crews. After one successful run, the pilot returned for a second and reportedly said conditions were not ideal for a second drop, according to the county.

Moments later, he crashed.

The NTSB will issue a final report at a later date.

With omicron in the US, do I need to change my holiday plans?

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 22:05

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Now that the omicron variant has been detected in the U.S., some people are wondering if they need to change their plans to travel or gather for the holidays.

 "I'm driving down to Sante Fe for Christmas," said Tracey Dunlap. But the Denver woman says she could change her mind if omicron becomes more of a risk.

"If all of the sudden lots of cases of omicron popped up, I might reconsider," Dunlap said.

Fauci: 1st US case of COVID-19 omicron variant identified

Right now, doctors say there is no need to change your holiday plans due to omicron.

"It's premature, again, to sort of know what this is going to do, but it shouldn't change your plans for the holidays," said Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth.

Dr. Barron says to apply all of the same precautions taken for the delta variant to this new variant, and continue on. Continue to wash your hands, mask up, socially distance, and get vaccinated and boosted.

Dr. James Neid, the director of infection prevention at the Medical Center of Aurora, agrees.

"There is still a lot of COVID out there, and taking the appropriate precautions really hasn't changed. You should be vaccinated, and even so, you should continue to protect those around you who may or may not be vaccinated," Dr. Neid said.

RTD union calls Denver Union Station a ‘lawless hellhole’

There are studies underway right now to determine the transmissibility of the omicron variant, the severity of the disease, and how effective the vaccine is against it. Those results should be available in about two weeks and could further inform any travel decisions.

This week the World Health Organization said people who are not vaccinated, or previously had COVID, and are at risk of severe infection, including people over age 60, should postpone traveling to areas with community transmission.

If you are traveling abroad there are other factors to consider. "It's difficult to predict if there will be more cases, more travel bans, more travel restrictions implemented, so that might be a risk if you are traveling internationally," Dr. Neid said. 

SUV stolen from repair shop, transmission missing — but company won't take responsibility

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 20:24

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A viewer is coming to the FOX31 Problem Solvers for help, saying her SUV was stolen at a local Pep Boys and now she’s stuck months later with nowhere to turn.

Arrelda Taylor said she is feeling extremely overwhelmed right now.

"I’m disabled. I have screws and plates throughout the whole right side of my body. It’s difficult for me to walk and pretty hard for me to get in and out of cars," Taylor said. "My whole life’s upside down right now."

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In addition to her health issues, Taylor hasn’t had her car for months.

"March of this year, and I’ve been fighting ever since," Taylor said. 

Taylor said the battle began after she dropped her Chevrolet Tahoe off at Pep Boys for suspension work back in March. When she didn’t hear from the shop for days, she said she called to check in.

"That’s when the Pep Boys manager told me the truck wasn’t there," Taylor said. 

Aurora Police officials said they were able to recover the stolen car in a neighborhood days later but couldn’t find a suspect. Taylor said this is all falling on her now.

"Pep Boys is refusing to take responsibility for it, and the transmission is gone," Taylor said. "The steering column is totally broken apart, the driver's side door is torn apart, it doesn’t lock and I just don’t have the money to fix it."

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Pep Boys provided the following statement to FOX31: 

This matter is in ongoing litigation. Pep Boys vigorously disputes Ms. Taylor’s claims. Pep Boys did not act negligently or improperly at any time. We are confident that as the facts come out through the legal process, the Court will determine that Pep Boys acted appropriately at all times.

Insurance expert weighs in

Insurance expert Carole Walker said if a driver doesn’t have comprehensive coverage, their insurance won’t foot the bill, and it’s important to find out if there’s financial responsibility on the repair shop. 

"To basically say we don’t bear responsibility, if I were a consumer, I would certainly push back on that," Walker, executive director of Rocky Mountain Insurance Association, said. "Did they do their due diligence in making sure your car was secure? Was it parked inside? Even if they did everything to protect your vehicle ... they do carry responsibility for your vehicle and they likely carry insurance."

Walker also suggested using the Colorado Division of Insurance as a resource to help investigate and act as a mediator between insurance companies for situations like this.

RTD union calls Denver Union Station a 'lawless hellhole'

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 20:16

DENVER (KDVR) — Trash, drug use and violence out in the open at Union Station's RTD train and bus stops have employees demanding something be done about it.

The union representing 2,000 workers for RTD and First Transit, RTD's largest fixed-route contractor, alerted the community of the conditions in a Wednesday press release, calling Union Station a "lawless hellhole."

WATCH: Full video of RTD employee catching drug use in Union Station

"It’s not safe to come to work when you have to inhale smoke from drug pipes," the union said. They join riders and even some who are homeless in calling for action.

'They have no respect'

Union Station is a staple of downtown Denver transportation and services shuttle buses, light rails and commuter and Amtrak trains. According to the union, RTD passengers and employees in recent months have faced loiterers, encampments and illegal drug use while boarding buses, trains and light rail.

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"I had another operator tell me that she considers it a great day when nobody is seen smoking methamphetamine or using heroin on her bus," Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001 President Lance Logenbohn said.

Videos obtained by FOX31 show an employee confronting drug users at the Union Station stop near the Chestnut Pavilion and another of a man fighting police.

These are the kinds of conditions RTD employees must face daily, Logenbohn told FOX31.

"We're here to do our job. We're not here to necessarily tell them how to fix it, but they need to figure it out," Logenbohn said

One homeless man, who said he lost his job during the pandemic, said that "because they closed down Civic Center, there's not many other places to go."

He agreed that an increased police presence is needed at the station to control trouble makers.

"They have no respect for themselves or for anyone else," he said.

Union Station has high crime concentration

The Problem Solvers also found the Union Station area has Denver’s second-highest concentration of violent crime.

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As do RTD's employees, who "heroically risked their own health to get first responders and other essential workers to work during a pandemic," Longenbohn said in a press release. "They now face an increased risk of being assaulted on the job and every day they have no choice but to endure Denver Union Station because that is where RTD forces them to be."

The union urged for more to be done for the safety of RTD passengers and employers.

"RTD passengers deserve better. The public that likes to enjoy lower downtown deserves better," Longenbohn told FOX31.

The union said this is not the first time the union has alerted RTD management of its concerns.

The union pointed to a Nov. 29 statement from RTD General Manager and CEO Debra Johnson, who acknowledged the "unwanted activities, including illicit drug use and the sale of those drugs, vandalism, prolific loitering, and acts of aggression and violence" that occur within Union Station and said she "witnessed these activities first-hand."

They also said that on Oct. 19, during a tour of the facility, Union Vice President Ronald Short and Chief Operations Officer Michael Ford "had to walk in very close proximity of a group of people actively smoking drugs in an aluminum foil pipe just to get into the bathroom to inspect the conditions" at Union Station.

How is RTD responding?

In a statement to FOX31, RTD said employee safety is a top priority, and they are stepping up security.

Johnson said RTD is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration in the deployment of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams to help detect and deter suspicious or dangerous activity.

RTD will also add increased transit police patrols during peak times on the Union Station platform, as well as along the 16th Street MallRide and along the Colfax Avenue corridor.

Here's the full statement from RTD:

Recognizing the safety and security of RTD’s employees and customers is paramount, the agency is enhancing security measures in response to an increase in unwelcome activities that are impacting Denver's central core, and in particular the area surrounding Denver Union Station. RTD is supplementing its transit police operations through strategic partnerships with the federal Transportation Security Administration's Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams and the Guardian Angels nonprofit organization. Leveraging these partnerships, and through increased transit police patrols during peak periods, the agency will significantly bolster the security presence at Denver Union Station, its bus concourse, and adjacent rail platforms and transit pavilions, as well as on 16th Street MallRide shuttles and other bus routes along the Colfax corridor.


Ski coach killed in collision was accomplished snow sports instructor

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 20:06

BOULDER, Colo (KDVR) — The skier who was killed Tuesday after colliding with a snowboarder on Eldora Mountain has been identified as Ron LeMaster.

The man from Boulder had been teaching ski techniques for decades. LeMaster was described as a coach's coach who was always trying to help instructors improve their craft, and he was renowned in the industry for his vast knowledge of the sport.

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"In our community, he was a huge contributor that offered a lot in terms of education that helped us love the sport and understand the sport," said Nicholas Herrin, CEO of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snow Board Instructors, based in Lakewood.

  • Ron LeMaster with his wife, Dee LeMaster. Photo courtesy of LeMaster family
  • Skier Ron LeMaster killed after colliding with snowboarder. Photo courtesy of LeMaster family.

Herrin said LeMaster often contributed to 32 Degrees, a magazine produced by the association.

For 32 years, LeMaster toiled at making others better, even moreso with pictures and video he took himself to help others improve techniques.

"He was able to break it down and make it simple for instructors to figure out how to communicate it clearly to others," Herrin said.

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Those who knew him said LeMaster had a wealth of knowledge as a coach and ski school trainer. He was described as an icon who focused on the efficiency mechanics so everyday people could enjoy the sport just a little more.

LeMaster also wrote several books, including "Ultimate Skiing" and "The Skier’s Edge."

"Ron pioneered the use of biomechanics in ski instruction," said Jason Muzinic, vice president of Human Kinetics, which published LeMaster's books. "His work advanced coaching within the sport and helped countless skiers around the globe. We are proud to have worked with him. He’ll be missed."

The ski and snowboard instructors association is now trying to plan how they will honor LeMaster.

Meanwhile, investigators say the snowboarder who collided with LeMaster is cooperating.

Boulder King Soopers announces January reopening date

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 18:56

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — It has been eight months since the South Boulder King Soopers tragedy, and the City of Boulder is announcing its next chapter in healing the community. King Soopers, in partnership with the city, will reopen its Table Mesa Drive location on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.

“We’ve always known that Boulder was a special place, but you’ve proven through your empathy, your strength, help, and support that Boulder is so much more than a place; it’s more than a community; Boulder is our family”, King Soopers President Joe Kelley said. “We know that the building is just part of what makes this store so special and that restoring it is another step in the journey as we continue to rebuild and heal.”

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Utilizing the feedback from the community and King Soopers' associates, the Table Mesa location will welcome back customers to a fully remodeled store.

Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett sees the reopening as an "important step forward as the community continues to process and heal" after the March tragedy.

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While the memory of that fateful March day remains, the city will continue to remember the 10 lives lost. The Museum of Boulder has preserved the artifacts and memorabilia from the makeshift memorial that once surrounded the store.

King Soopers is continuing to operate its Boulder Strong Resource center at 2935 Baseline Rd. The resource center is a safe place where everyone is encouraged to visit to find support from professionals and experts in mental health services.

Record heat possible again Thursday, mountain snow chance moves in next week

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 18:43

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver's high temperature hit 73 degrees on Wednesday, which tied the record high temperature set in 1973. Temperatures will be near record highs again on Thursday.

Thursday's forecast high temperature is 72 degrees with sunshine and dry conditions. The record high in Denver is 74 degrees, set in 1885.

Skier killed in collision with snowboarder at Eldora Mountain identified

Dry weather will stick around on Friday and through the weekend. High temperatures will be in the 60s Friday and Saturday and will cool to the 50s on Sunday.

A storm system will move through Colorado at the beginning of next week. This will cool highs to the 40s on Tuesday with a 20% chance for showers.

The mountains are expected to see snowfall Monday night into Tuesday and part of Wednesday.

21 charged in Denver-area drug ring with cartel ties; 110k fentanyl-laced pills seized

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 15:41

DENVER (KDVR) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration and local Colorado partners announced indictments and arrests after a major investigation into a drug network that had international reach.

You can watch the full announcement on FOX31 NOW.

Overall, 19 people were indicted, with two other people identified and arrested after the indictment. The Grand Jury indictment includes 20 counts, which outline how the enterprise distributed cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl throughout Arapahoe, Douglas, Denver and Jefferson counties.

Investigators said it is believed the drug trafficking ring in Colorado has ties to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. Law enforcement seized over 110,000 counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, 6 kilograms of methamphetamine, 8 pounds of heroin, 11 kilograms of cocaine and $450,000 in cash in the bust.

The investigation began in April and spanned eight months. It circled around Saul Ramon Rivera-Beltran, 30, of Thornton. He's accused of coordinating drug shipments and deals from Mexico, where investigators believed the fentanyl was manufactured, smuggled and brought to Colorado.

Rivera-Beltran is being held on $1 million bond.

Drug trafficking operation busted: 8 pounds of meth, 13,800 fentanyl pills, 3,800 Xanax bars and more seized

The charges range from racketeering and conspiracy under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act. They also include drug distribution and money laundering charges.

Denver Field Division Action Special Agent in Charge David Olesky from the DEA was joined by Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Executive Director Keith Weis and 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner.

Ketamine review: Chemical restraints may have been 'disproportionately' used on 'communities of color'

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 15:18

DENVER (KDVR) — More than a year after the state health department promised to do an "immediate and thorough" review of the program that allows paramedics to sedate patients with ketamine outside of a hospital setting, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Ketamine Investigatory Review Panel has found some people may have unnecessarily received the drug.

"The panel agreed that ketamine is a safe drug if used properly and monitored closely by properly trained and qualified paramedics," according to an executive summary of the review released to the Problem Solvers. "However, certain adverse events appear to have arisen primarily from the administration of ketamine and other sedatives to individuals who may not have a medical need for these medications and who could have been managed with a less assertive alternative.

"Further, other societal and systemic factors at play may have allowed chemical restraints to be disproportionately applied to marginalized populations and communities of color in Colorado and across the nation," the summary states.

Executive summary: Ketamine review panel's report State: COVID delayed ketamine waiver review

The state health department first announced it would review its waiver program in August 2020 after the Problem Solvers uncovered questionable cases in which the drug was used on patients involved in police situations.

However, the review panel did not convene until February, according to Dr. Eric France, the chief medical officer for CDPHE.

"It has been a while since we made that announcement, and there's been this thing called COVID that kind of crept in," France said.

France said he was unable to assign any other CDPHE staff member to handle the ketamine review panel while he was also managing the health department's response to the pandemic.

Denver Health paramedic sedates patient in violation of state rules and law

"I felt that this is a medical review, and as the chief medical officer, the work needed to be overseen by a physician ... I just didn't have anybody on staff who could take that lead and felt that I needed to be involved," France said.

The following people served on the panel:

  • Dr. Gene Eby, an emergency medicine physician,
  • Dr. Janetta Iwanicki, a medical toxicologist and emergency medicine physician,
  • Dr. Luis A. Verduzco, an anesthesiologist,
  • Dr. Lesley Brooks, a family medicine and addiction medicine physician,
  • Dr. Christopher T. Stephens, an anesthesiologist and former paramedic,
  • Dr. Scott Bourn, an RN, MSN, PhD in Health and Behavioral Sciences,
  • and Dr. Jamira T. Jones, MPH, an emergency medicine physician.
What did the ketamine review panel recommend?

The panel made several recommendations for improving how the medicine is used, but the state health department will continue suspending the use of the drug right now, France said.

"The panel recommends that Excited Delirium Syndrome no longer be used as a condition that warrants waivers for the administration of ketamine. While making this recommendation, the panel acknowledges that in the prehospital setting, a patient's agitation and disorientation can present a direct threat to the patient's safety as well as to the safety of the public and first responders," the executive summary said.

The panel also made recommendations for dosing, reviewing whether there is a disproportionate use of the drug on communities of color, monitoring of a patient and training.

"It was really important to me that the medical community speak to the inequitable diagnosis that is excited delirium — to the bias and to the subjectivity of a diagnosis that is largely found in the pre-hospital setting that is largely found in engagement with law enforcement, and that is so incredibly subjective," said Brooks, a family medicine and addiction medicine physician who served on the panel.

"That includes things like failure to respond to police commands," Brooks said. "That includes things like super-human strength. All of which can be misplaced, misassessed, misplaced and disproportionately applied to people of color, and if that biased diagnosis then leads to deployment of a drug in a way that is also inequitable, I wanted to make sure that the medical community spoke to those issues."

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Verduzco, an anesthesiologist on the panel, said he participated on the panel to make sure his own concerns, along with those of the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists, were also heard.

"I wanted to make sure (these medical concerns) were conveyed at the table when these decisions were being made," Verduzco said. He said he wanted to make sure his voice was heard as a person of color.

"I too share many of the concerns that minorities have," he said. "I wanted to be a part of the committee that put safeguards for the use of ketamine in a pre-hospital setting."

The Problem Solvers asked Verduzco whether he believes paramedics should be permitted to return to using ketamine in a pre-hospital setting now that the review has been completed.

"I don't know what's going to happen with the use of ketamine. I was part of the panel to help create a guideline that if that were to happen, this is our recommendation," he said.

"There's a lot of work to do still to see if there is a role for ketamine moving forward," France said.

The use of ketamine became controversial following the death of Elijah McClain. In 2019, he was confronted by three Aurora police officers who used the carotid hold to subdue him, and paramedics injected with ketamine before he went into cardiac arrest and later died. His family recently settled a civil lawsuit with the City of Aurora for $15 million.

This summer, the governor signed a new law spearheaded by Reps. Leslie Herod and Yadira Caraveo, which limits how the drug can be used by paramedics in law enforcement settings.

"Ketamine is a powerful drug that can have potentially fatal consequences if used improperly," Herod said. "I’m heartened to see CDPHE’s Ketamine Review Group establish a careful process for the oversight and administration of the drug and require data collection on its disproportionate use against Black and Brown Coloradans. I am particularly supportive of their rejection of 'excited delirium' as a basis for ketamine administration and the panel’s confirmation of what we’ve long known: that the use of excited delirium as a basis for ketamine administration is prone to racism. I’m proud of the work we did in the legislature last session to end the misuse of ketamine by law enforcement, and I expect better outcomes for Coloradans based on these recommendations."

The panel of experts who worked to review ketamine also relied on data and information from a variety of medical professionals from around the country, including Dr. Brent Myers, a ketamine researcher who is triple-board certified in emergency medicine, EMS and clinical informatics.

Spruce Mountain Road interchange closure begins Wednesday

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 15:06

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – The Spruce Mountain Road interchange (exit 173) will close on Wednesday for two weeks as the Interstate-25 South Gap project winds down. The Colorado Department of Transportation warns drivers to expect delays.

All lanes of I-25 South Gap will open in time for Christmas Spruce Mountain Road interchange closure (Credit: CDOT)

Overnight Lane Closures -  Wednesday and Thursday, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., Friday 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Single lane closures along northbound and southbound I-25, between Plum Creek Parkway and Monument, for guardrail and pothole repairs, guardrail removal, grading, traffic shifts, striping operations, pavement work, paving operations, fiber testing, emergency pull-out sign placement and barrier work.

Two-Week Closure of Spruce Mountain Road Interchange - Wednesday about 10 p.m. Immediately following the reopening of the Upper Lake Gulch Road on-ramp to northbound I-25 and lasting for two weeks, crews will close the Spruce Mountain Road interchange (exit 173) for final paving and striping operations. This work is weather-dependent and subject to change.

Impaired Colorado drivers can access a $15 ride credit to get home safely

Traffic detours:

  • For southbound I-25 access to Larkspur, motorists should continue south on I-25 and use the southbound I-25 off-ramp to Upper Lake Gulch Road (exit 172).
  • For northbound I-25 access, motorists should use the newly reopened Upper Lake Gulch Road on-ramp to northbound I-25 (exit 172).

Two-Week Closure of Spruce Mountain Road Interchange - 10 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 1 for two weeks, crews will close the Spruce Mountain Road interchange (exit 173) for final paving and striping operations. This work is weather-dependent and subject to change. https://t.co/0i7AXWdDZN

— Douglas County CO (@douglascountyco) November 30, 2021

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” CDOT resources include:

Skier killed in collision with snowboarder at Eldora Mountain identified

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 14:24

NEDERLAND, Colo. (KDVR) --  A 72-year-old skier who died following a collision with a snowboarder on the Windmill run at Eldora Mountain Tuesday has been identified as Ron LeMaster.

LeMaster's family spoke with FOX31 Wednesday and confirmed he died during the accident.

LeMaster was an avid skier. He also wrote multiple books about skiing and ski techniques, including "The Skier's Edge" and "Ultimate Skiing."

The Boulder County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating the deadly ski-snowboard collision.

Skier dies at Eldora Mountain after collision with snowboarder

According to BCSO, the snowboarder was interviewed and treated on scene for his injuries from the collision. As of right now, no criminal charges have been filed. The snowboarder has not yet been identified.

Fauci: 1st US case of COVID-19 omicron variant identified

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 13:56

WASHINGTON (AP) — A person in California who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant, the White House announced Wednesday as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new virus strain.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters that the person was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22 and tested positive on Nov. 29. Fauci said the person was vaccinated but had not received a booster shot and was experiencing “mild symptoms.”

Colorado professor advising World Health Organization in addressing the omicron variant

The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations.

“We knew that it was just a matter of time before the first case of omicron would be detected in the United States,” Fauci said.

Officials said they had contacted everyone who had close contact with the person and they had all tested negative.

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Genomic sequencing was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco and the sequence was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking steps to tighten U.S. testing rules for travelers from overseas, including requiring a test for all travelers within a day of boarding a flight to the U.S. regardless of vaccination status. It was also considering mandating post-arrival testing.

Officials said those measures would only “buy time” for the country to learn more about the new variant and to take appropriate precautions, but that given its transmissibility its arrival in the U.S. was inevitable.

Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious than previous strains, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said more would be known about the omicron strain in two to four weeks as scientists grow and test lab samples of the virus.

Watch full CDPHE press conference on omicron variant on FOX31 NOW

The announcement of the first U.S. case comes before President Joe Biden plans to outline his strategy on Thursday to combat the virus over the winter. Biden has tried to quell alarm over the omicron variant, saying it was a cause for concern but “not a cause for panic.”

Biden and public health officials have grown more urgent in their pleas for more Americans to get vaccinated — and for those who have been vaccinated to get booster shots to maximize their protection against the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was moving to tighten U.S. testing rules for travelers from overseas, including requiring a test for all travelers within a day of boarding a flight to the U.S. regardless of vaccination status. It was also considering mandating post-arrival testing.

Officials said those measures would only “buy time” for the country to learn more about the new variant and to take appropriate precautions, but that given its transmissibility its arrival in the U.S. was inevitable.

Impaired Colorado drivers can access a $15 ride credit to get home safely

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 13:09

DENVER (KDVR) - Colorado Department of Transportation and Uber is providing a $15 ride credit to provide safe rides from Dec. 1 - Jan. 3 with the “Ultimate Party Host” campaign.

15-year-old girl missing in Lakewood since early November

“Holidays are meant for celebrating. We want Coloradans to enjoy these special moments without worrying about how they’re going to get home safely,” Darrell Lingk, Highway Safety Office director at CDOT said. “Whether it’s a sober friend, a ride-hailing service or public transportation, there are plenty of options to plan ahead and secure a sober ride.”

The “Ultimate Party Host” campaign offers people hosting holiday parties free Uber ride credit for their guests.

Look for the $15 ride credit in the promotions section of the Uber app, use the “HOLIDAYSAFE” code. Credits can be redeemed from 5 p.m. - 5 a.m. 

Credit must be applied directly from a mobile device to the Uber app.

Ride credits are available while supplies last and are limited to one use per person.

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Colorado has $10,000 in ride credits from the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration campaign, part of a grant CDOT received to reduce impaired driving. 

Colorado has had 220 impaired-driving fatalities in 2021. Over 20,000 people are arrested for DUI in Colorado every year, an average of 54 arrests every day, according to CDOT.

“There are already too many families that will have empty chairs at the dinner table this holiday season because of the pandemic,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said.

17-year-old becomes 4th student to die from Michigan school shooting

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 12:46

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A fourth student, a 17-year-old boy, died Wednesday from wounds he suffered when a sophomore opened fire at a Michigan high school a day earlier, authorities said.

The other dead included a 16-year-old boy who died in a deputy’s patrol car on the way to a hospital. Eight people were wounded, some critically, including a 14-year-old girl who was placed on a ventilator after surgery.

Investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the shooting Tuesday at Oxford High School, located in a community of about 22,000 people roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Detroit, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

“The person that’s got the most insight and the motive is not talking,” he said at a news conference late Tuesday.

Deputies rushed to the school around lunch time as more than 100 calls flooded 911 dispatchers with reports of a shooter. They arrested the student in a hallway within minutes of their arrival. He put his hands in the air as deputies approached, Bouchard said.

The boy's father on Friday bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer used in the shooting, Bouchard said. He didn't know why the man bought the semiautomatic handgun, which his son had been posting pictures of and practicing shooting, Bouchard said.

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Authorities did not immediately release the boy's name.

The four students who were killed were 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling, who died Wednesday.

Bouchard said Myre died in a patrol car as a deputy tried to get him to an emergency room.

A teacher who received a graze wound to the shoulder left the hospital, but seven students ranging in age from 14 to 17 remained hospitalized through the night with gunshot wounds, he said.

The gun the boy was carrying had seven more rounds of ammo in it when he surrendered, Bouchard said.

Undersheriff Mike McCabe said the student’s parents advised their son not to talk to investigators. Police must seek permission from a juvenile’s parents or guardian to speak with them, he added.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in a statement that her office expects to issue charges quickly and that an update would be given Wednesday.

Authorities were made aware of posts on social media that said there had been threats of a shooting at the roughly 1,700-student school, but Bouchard said they didn’t know about the rumors until after the attack.

He stressed how crucial it is for tips of the kind to be sent to authorities, while also cautioning against spreading social media rumors before a full investigation.

McCabe also downplayed the significance of a situation in early November when a deer head was thrown off the school roof, which he said was “absolutely unrelated” to the shooting. The vandalism prompted school administrators to post two letters to parents on the school’s website, saying they were responding to rumors of a threat against the school but had found none.

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Bouchard said the student in custody had no previous run-ins with his department and he wasn't aware of any disciplinary history at school.

"That’s part of our investigation to determine what happened prior to this event and if some signs were missed how were they missed and why,” he said.

The campus was placed on lockdown during the attack, with some children sheltering in locked classrooms. They were later taken to a nearby Meijer grocery store to be picked up by their parents.

The district said in a statement that all of its schools would be closed for the rest of the week.

Isabel Flores, a 15-year-old ninth grader, told WJBK-TV that she and other students heard gunshots and saw another student bleeding from the face. They then ran from the area through the rear of the school, she said.

Authorities said they were searching the suspect’s cellphone, school video footage and social media posts for any evidence of a possible motive.

School administrators had posted two letters to parents on the school’s website in November, saying they were responding to rumors of a threat against the school following a bizarre vandalism incident.

According to a Nov. 4 letter written by Principal Steve Wolf, someone threw a deer head into a courtyard from the school’s roof, painted several windows on the roof with red acrylic paint and used the same paint on concrete near the school building during the early morning hours. Without specifically referencing that incident, a second post on Nov. 12 assured “there has been no threat to our building nor our students.”

Both the sheriff and undersheriff emphasized that Tuesday’s shooting was unrelated to the deer head or any earlier investigation by their office.

“That was a different incident, different student,” McCabe said.

A concerned parent, Robin Redding, said her son, Treshan Bryant, is a 12th grader at the school but stayed home Tuesday. Redding said her son had heard threats that there could be a shooting.

“This couldn’t be just random,” she said.

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Bryant said he texted several younger cousins in the morning and they said they didn’t want to go to school, and he got a bad feeling. He asked his mom if he could do his assignments online.

Bryant said he had heard vague threats “for a long time now” about plans for a shooting.

At a vigil Tuesday night at LakePoint Community Church, Leeann Dersa choked back tears as she hugged friends and neighbors. Dersa has lived nearly all of her 73 years in Oxford. Her grandchildren attended the high school.

“Scared us all something terrible. It's awful,” Dersa said of the shooting.

Pastor Jesse Holt said news of the shooting flooded in to him and his wife, including texts from some of the 20 to 25 students who are among the 400-member congregation.

“Some were very scared, hiding under their desks and texting us, ‘We’re safe, we’re OK. We heard gunshots, but we’re OK.’ They were trying to calm us, at least that’s how it felt,” he said.

Free COVID-19 vaccines for kids at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 12:22

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver's Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children is offering free COVID-19 vaccine clinics for children ages five to 11.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library expands in Colorado

A parent or legal guardian must accompany the child to the appointment. For children getting their second dose, the parent or guardian must bring their child's vaccine card from the first dose. If this is the child's first dose, information on their second dose will be provided.

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The hospital is offering the vaccines in the hospital lobby on Dec. 4, 11, and 18, with limited appointments available. Registration is required.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library expands in Colorado

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 11:41

DENVER (KDVR) – Llama Llama Hide & Seek, Milo's Hat Trick and Violet the Pilot are some of the free books available to young kids from Colorado's Imagination Library.

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"I'm so excited to be working with Governor Polis, the Department of Education, and our Colorado affiliate organization to bring my Imagination Library to more children and families across Colorado! Together we can gift a love of reading that will last a lifetime," Dolly Parton said.

Dolly Parton established the Imagination Library Program in 1995 to create a love of reading by giving books to kids from birth to 5-years-old.

The expansion goal is to get the program available in every zip code in Colorado. Currently, the state has 26 local affiliate programs in 22 counties. Only 4 % of eligible kids get books through existing programs. 

The Imagination Library sends high-quality, age-appropriate new books every month until age five. Go online to check availability and register your child.

When should you call 911 about COVID-19?

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 10:39

DENVER (KDVR) -- Are you feeling under the weather or concerned you might have COVID-19? At what point should you call 911?

The National Emergency Number Association said if you are experiencing the following symptoms, you should call 911:

  • High fever
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain/pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Bluish lips/face
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If you have symptoms, like a low fever and cough, or have been in a common space with someone who has COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider or visit your state or local health department about what to do.

Here are a list of COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea