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Wyoming News Briefs AUGUST 26

Man drowns after drift boat overturns

JACKSON (WNE) — A family was fly-fishing from their drift boat on the Snake River on Friday when their trip took a deadly turn.

The private drift boat hit a rock near the bridge just north of the Snake River KOA, first responders said.

Officials are now trying to determine how 69-year-old Greenville, Mississippi, resident George Roulhac died in the accident.

“The driver of the drift boat said they were coming down under the bridge where there is construction, and someone had told him to stay to the left to avoid a new wave, so he did,” Teton County Sheriff’s Office Master Deputy Kurt Drumheller said. “But he ended up hitting a rock, and it pushed them into the bridge support beam and it threw them sideways and it flipped the boat.”

Roulhac and two other men who were in the boat were tossed into the water and floated about a quarter-mile downstream.

As they floated toward the Snake River KOA, everyone, including Roulhac, was accounted for and alert, Drumheller said.

“One of the men said to Roulhac, ‘Hey, are you OK?’ ” Drumheller said. “And he said, ‘Yeah, I am good.’ ”

Witnesses said Roulhac seemed fine and was close enough to shore to stand up, but about 15 seconds later they turned around and he was “floating face down.”

Relatives pulled him to shore at the KOA and started CPR, which deputies and paramedics continued for an hour, but Roulhac couldn’t be revived. He was pronounced dead on scene.


Contest to help tribal startups

CASPER (WNE) — A new competition could net Wind River entrepreneurs thousands of dollars and guidance to help launch a business while encouraging economic development on the reservation.

The University of Wyoming is sponsoring a startup challenge to give away $25,000 each in seed money to two tribal entrepreneurs with innovative and sustainable business ideas benefiting the Wind River Reservation.

While all proposals will be considered, those related to microbial ecology, the environment and stewardship, land and resource management, or data science are preferred, according to a poster shared at a Wyoming Legislature Select Committee on Tribal Relations meeting last week in Fort Washakie.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t something that we innately have,” James Trosper, Director of UW’s High Plains American Indian Research Institute, said at the meeting. “It’s something that has to be taught and the best way to teach that is by going through the process.”

Those who are part of the competition will get business coaching and guidance. Trosper said they also are planning workshops for community members.

For indigenous people, including those on Wind River, their history with the federal government has added an extra obstacle when it comes to starting a business, he said.

In exchange for giving up their land and the opportunities that came with the land, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho people were confined to the Wind River Reservation, with the federal government providing rations. That helped create a “culture of dependency,” Trosper said, adding that “it’s time for us to change that.” Starting and owning businesses can help to reverse that mindset, he said.


Man sentenced to prison in overdose death

GILLETTE (WNE) — The man who injected a 27-year-old woman with a dose of heroin that killed her and abandoned her in a car after staging it to look like suicide will spend 12 to 16 years in prison for the two crimes.

Jacob G. “Wally” Wallentine, 28, was sentenced Friday afternoon to eight to 10 years for manslaughter and four to six years for disposing of a dead human body to conceal a felony. The terms are to be served consecutively, or back to back. But they are to be served concurrently with a three- to five-year prison sentence Wallentine received in June for possession of meth.

Tamlyn Delgado was found dead Oct. 3 in the driver’s seat of her car with a tourniquet around her right arm and a syringe in her lap. Campbell County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Henkes said Wallentine “staged” the scene to look like she had given herself the overdose.

Delgado’s mother, Sophia Allen, told District Judge Michael N. “Nick” Deegan that the last two years have been devastating for her family because of addiction. Fifty-three days before Delgado’s death, her brother died of an overdose, despite Delgado’s efforts to revive him before paramedics arrived.

She had vowed that the death of her brother Galen not be in vain, Allen said. She started attending recovery meetings to work on her habits and hangups.

But then Delgado, who was 80% wheelchair-bound because of a rare autoimmune disorder, got involved with Wallentine.


Hikers to pay for helicopter rescue

RIVERTON (WNE) — Two hikers are paying for the helicopter that flew them out of the Wind River Mountains after getting lost on a camping trip last week, officials said Friday.

The male subjects were uninjured, and they had food and water, undersheriff Mike Hutchison said, but they "bit off more than they could chew" and "realized they were in over their heads."

They called the Sublette County Sheriff's Office earlier this week via satellite phone, according to reports. That agency contacted the Fremont County Sheriff's Office at about 8:40 a.m. Thursday after confirming the hikers' location.

Coordinates listed on the sheriff's report indicate the hikers were at a lake along Bull Lake Creek east of Douglas Peak.

"They were in a pretty remote alpine area," Hutchison said. "They walked in somewhere around 30 miles (and) they didn't know where to go from there."

The spot in question is designated as wilderness, he said, so a helicopter was not able to fly to the men directly.

"We're not allowed to land helicopters in the wilderness if it's not a dire emergency," Hutchison said.

Instead, officials asked "some pretty experienced mountaineers" to give the hikers directions to a rendezvous point at the wilderness boundary where they could be picked up.

By Friday mid-morning Hutchison said the hikers had reached the designated spot and a helicopter had been dispatched to meet them.

The ride will cost about $1,800 an hour, Hutchison estimated, and the hikers will get the bill.