Community News

Fatal Crash on Highway-6

On Wednesday, July 3, 2019, at approximately 12:05 AM, NHP Troopers were dispatched to a serious injury crash on US-6 and Mineral County mile marker 4, near Montgomery Pass, involving two commercial vehicles.

Preliminary investigation shows that a red 2010 Volvo tractor-trailer was traveling east on US-6, approaching Mineral County mile marker 4, in the single eastbound travel lane. For an unknown reason, the commercial vehicle left the roadway, re-entered the roadway, and overturned. The commercial vehicle came to rest across all travel lanes on its right side.

Approximately three minutes later, a red 2017 Peterbilt tractor-trailer was traveling eastbound on US-6, approaching the overturned Volvo tractor-trailer. The Peterbilt struck the Volvo, splitting the Volvo into two. The driver of the Peterbilt (Dario Baez, a 53-year-old Madera resident) succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Due to the extent of the debris, US-6 was closed for an extended period of time. Traffic was rerouted to the outside shoulder until all travel lanes were reopened at 2:50 PM.

The Nevada Highway Patrol is seeking additional witnesses to this crash. If you were a witness to this incident or have any information regarding this collision, please contact the Nevada Highway Patrol Multi-Disciplinary Investigation and Reconstruction Team (M.I.R.T.) at ncwmirt@dps.state.nv.us and reference NHP Case #190700180.

Deceased Male Found at Big Pine Creek

BIG PINE CREEK, CA. June 9, 2019 – Yesterday evening at approximately 8:30pm, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Big Pine Fire Department, Inyo County Coroner’s Office, and a MINT (Major Investigation and Narcotics Team) Investigator responded to Big Pine Creek and the Big Pine Canal for a report of a possible deceased male in the waterway of Big Pine Creek.
Due to the swift current, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was dispatched to assist.  Once water flow was temporarily stopped, personnel from Big Pine Fire Department recovered the deceased male subject who was later identified as Jimmy Williams a 67 year old man from Big Pine, CA.
Foul play is not suspected. Please contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at (760) 878-0383 if you have any information that can assist investigators

Terry Lee Gardner Obituary

Terry Lee Gardner, 74, passed away June 21, 2019 at Riverside Community Hospital. Terry was born on November 24, 1944, in San Bernardino, California.  He was a public servant, a community leader, a beloved brother and father, and a friend to many throughout California and beyond.

Terry worked as a Police Officer in Los Alamitos and Mammoth Lakes.  He was also a Deputy Sheriff for the Mono County Sheriff’s Department. He was proud to be elected to the first Mammoth Lakes Town Council. After his retirement from law enforcement,  he worked as the Security Director for the Gas Company Tower, which was one of the tallest buildings in Los Angeles. He then served on the San Bernardino County Fire Department, as a Fireman/EMT at Havasu Lake station.  He was a graduate of Bishop High School, where he was a standout member of the 1962 football team. He graduated from C.S.U. Long Beach, with a degree in Health Science.. Terry served in the U.S. Army from 1968-69, as a Military Policeman.

During his careers in public safety and local government, Terry worked tirelessly with youth and athletic programs, as well as in many community and fire safety programs.

He leaves an older brother, Sidney (Nancy) of Mission Viejo, younger brothers Ted, of Bishop, and Bob (Karen) of June Lake, and sister Beth (Steve) of Torrance. His daughter Natalie Potesta lives in Chicago with her husband and three grandchildren. His longtime partner Holly Jenkins was a great support to him for many years and during his final illnesses.

A memorial service will be held at Orange First Methodist Church at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, August 10, 2019. and Terry will be interred at the Riverside National Veterans Cemetery at 11:00 A.M. on Friday August 9, 2019. Donations in his name may be made to the athletic programs at Bishop High School, to the Bishop First United Methodist Church Community Programs, or to the charity of ones choice.

Frank Andrew Bleggi Obituary

Beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, uncle and friend, Frank Andrew Bleggi, age 82 passed away on June 30, 2019 at Southern Inyo Care Center from Parkinson’s. The son of Charlie and Rose Bleggi, Frank was born on April 8, 1937 at Price City, Utah. As a child Frank lived in Mapleton, UT and graduated from Springville High School. He served 4 years in the Navy during the Korean Conflict as electronics’ technician, later choosing to become an electrician, a master electrician with licenses in five western states. He was a construction project estimator, electrician and supervisor living in Spokane, WA. He worked as an electrician and supervisor on construction projects in Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and California. In 1987 he quit construction and was hired as the electrician for the National Park Service at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with his home in Three Rivers, CA. He retired in January 2004 and relocated to Bishop, CA in 2008. A very active fisherman, hunter, backpacker, trap shooter, golfer, bowler, horse shoes, bingo, pool shark, air darts; cribbage, bridge, canasta, pinochle player; dominions, dice and word games, any game that was challenging. When the children visited he looked forward to hiking, swimming and enjoying game time with them. Frank would share a story or tell a joke which left you laughing. He was a person that never sat still was always up and doing something.

Frank was preceded in death by his parents Charlie and Rose, sister Charlene and daughter Lisa. He is survived by his wife of 36 years Cathy A. Haralson Bleggi; daughters and spouses, Laurie and Jay Williamson, Misty and James Trout, Ginger and Jason Jones, Cheri and Eduardo Bracher; son and spouse Kelly Bart and Jennifer Bleggi; son-in-law Timothy Anderson; grandchildren, Steven Keith, Jessie, Aleesha, Alexandra, Jaylee, Erica, Nicholas, Andre’, Lucas, Andrew, Danielle, Jasper, Josh; great-grand children, Elliana, Logan, Kinsley, Bella, Griffen; brothers and spouses, Rudy and Linda Bleggi, David and Judy Bleggi; brother-in-law Curtis Newenswander; brother-in-law and spouse William L. and Peggy Haralson; with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

As requested by Frank he will be cremated with no service. His ashes will be placed at the foot of his parent’s grave in Utah.

To Those I Love, “When I am gone, just release me, let me go – so I can move into my afterglow. You mustn’t tie me down with your tears; let’s be happy that we had so many years. I gave you my love, you can only guess how much you gave me in happiness. I thank you for the love you each have shown, but now it’s time I travel on alone. So grieve for me awhile, if grieve you must, then let your grief be comforted with trust. It’s only for a while that we must part, so bless the memories within your heart. And then, when you must come this way, I’ll greet you with a smile and a “Welcome Home”.

Lake Mary Road Closed Due to Broken Water Main

BISHOP, Calif. — The Inyo National Forest will be closing an approximately one mile long portion of Lake Mary Road from the junction of the road to Pine City Campground (also known as “Around Lake Mary Road”) to Pokonobe Marina for up to four hours during the day on Wednesday July 3rd and from 8:00 a.m. on July 4th until emergency repairs to the water main and the road are complete.

“All of the Lakes Basin can still be accessed by taking the road Around Lake Mary,” stated Mammoth and Mono Lake District Ranger Gordon Martin. “We are hoping the repairs will be completed quickly but delays may extend beyond the Fourth of July depending on the extent of the problem.”

The water main below the road is broken and emergency repairs will require the road to be closed. Crews are working hard to make those repairs and reopen the road for the busy Fourth of July weekend, but schedules will be dependent on the extent of the damage, which is yet to be determined.

Please contact the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center at (760) 924-5500 for the most updated information on road status or other needs this holiday weekend.

BLM Bishop Field Office Issues Seasonal Fire Restrictions

BISHOP, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office has issued seasonal fire restrictions for BLM-managed public lands in the Eastern Sierra effective Monday, July 1, due to increased wildland fire danger in the region. The restrictions will remain in effect until November 1, or until wildland fire conditions on public lands in the region improve.

Fire officials estimate that nearly 90 percent of wildland fires affecting BLM-managed public lands in California during the last decade have been human caused. Individuals who spark wildfires, intentionally or unintentionally, may be held responsible for fire suppression and property damage costs. Officials encourage the public to be extremely careful when recreating outdoors, to carry a shovel and water at all times, and to check weather forecasts and fire danger conditions before leaving home.

The following restrictions will remain in place until the risk of wildland fire in the Eastern Sierra subsides:

  • No campfires, charcoal or wood barbeques, or similar open flame fires, except within a designated campsite with a fire ring or fire pit specifically provided for such use in the following developed campgrounds: Tuttle Creek Campground, Goodale Creek Campground, Horton Creek Campground, Crowley Lake Campground and Pleasant Valley Pit Campground. Portable stoves burning gas, jelled petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed outside of developed campgrounds when used in accordance with a valid California Campfire Permit, available free at all BLM, Forest Service and Cal Fire offices or at www.preventwildfireca.org/Permits.
  • No tools powered by internal combustion engines off established roads, trails or parking areas (such as chainsaws or lawn mowers).
  • No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or within the developed campgrounds listed above, or while stopped within an area at least five feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  • No motorized vehicles off established roads, trails or parking areas.
  • Target shooters may not use incendiary, exploding, tracer, steel core or armor piercing ammunition. Shooting at steel or exploding targets that could emit sparks is not allowed. Target shooters must have a shovel or fire extinguisher on hand. Hunters may use steel shot and other non-lead ammunition as required by California State Law.
  • No fireworks, including “safe and sane” fireworks.
  • No welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame, except by special permit.
  •  No use of explosives, except by special permit.

BLM-managed public lands subject to these fire restrictions extend from the southern Owens Valley in Inyo County, north to Topaz Lake and the Nevada border in Mono County. These fire restrictions also apply to popular BLM-managed recreational areas in the region including the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, Inyo Mountains Wilderness, Volcanic Tableland, Long Valley, Adobe Valley, Mono Basin, Bodie Hills and Slinkard Valley. BLM seasonal fire restrictions for the Eastern Sierra Region are being implemented in close coordination with Cal Fire (https://www.facebook.com/1663811310523258/posts/2419842918253423?sfns=mo).

The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive by working closely with cooperating agencies, neighboring communities, and public land visitors to prevent wildland fires. To learn how you can do your part to prevent wildland fires visit www.readyforwildfire.org. A listing of fire restrictions throughout BLM California is available at https://go.usa.gov/xmUEG. For specific questions, please contact the Bishop Field Office at 760-872-5000.

NIH Auxiliary continues to invest in healthcare community

For more than 56 years, the Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary members have invested their time, talent, and treasure in the health and well-being of the residents of the Northern Inyo Healthcare District. As the Auxiliary recently gathered to install its slate of officers for the 2019-2020 year, President Judy Fratella was pleased to share just how committed the small but mighty group is to the communities NIHD serves.

In the last year, the Auxiliary raised almost $14,000 for NIHD healthcare services. The group raises funds through its popular Holiday Craft Boutiques, community donations, and the operation of the hospital’s Gift Shop. These sales of handmade quilts, baby clothing, flower bouquets, and See’s Candy often make the difference between a good and great fiscal year for the group.

Leading the organization for the next year will be President Judy Fratella, Vice President Vivian Mitchel, Treasurer Sharon Moore, recording secretary Judy Speed Castleberry and corresponding secretary Carole Sample.

In the past year, the Auxiliary members gave 11,990 hours of their time to NIHD. That’s 3,937 hours more than the previous year. In all, the additional 11,990 brings the group’s official recorded hours since 1982 to a grand total of 215,406 hours.

President Fratella awarded service pins to those members who reached a milestone in their hours of service. Those members included:

Sharon Moore with a Lifetime Hours of Service total of 16,366

Nona Jones with 11,500 hours

Judy Fratella with 7,500 hours

Vivian Mitchell and Shirley Stone, each with 3,500 hours

Diane Remick with 3,000 hours

Betty Dickey and Cheryl Underhill, each with 2,500 hours

Jacque Johnston with 1,500 hours

Betty Buckle and June Shaw, each with 1,000 hours

Newer members Darla Cummings, Pat Flanagan, and Vicky Spear, each with their first 100 hours.

The purpose of the NIH Auxiliary is to render service to the hospital and its patients through ways approved or proposed by the Northern Inyo Healthcare District Board of Directors. Founded in the early 1960s, the Auxiliary has raised and donated more than $600,000 toward equipment purchases for the hospital.

This year the group purchased a $12,000 bladder scanner for the Perioperative Department. The Auxiliary also put $25,000 toward the STERIS Clarity System, a digital imaging system that enhances the clarity of photos and videos captured during surgery, allowing for improved post-operation reviews and follow-ups. In recent years, the Auxiliary has helped provide the Automated Breast Ultrasound machine for early breast cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue; and, a Mini Immunoassay Analyzer for the Laboratory which increased the ability to diagnose and treat bacterial infections. The group also purchased an electrocautery machine for the surgical suites; and, five bedside bassinettes which keep newborns within the mother’s natural reach after delivery.

Membership in the Auxiliary is open to men and women. President Fratella reminds everyone that all help is welcome and appreciated and that there are no prerequisites for membership. General meetings of the Auxiliary are held the third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Birch Street Annex, 2957 Birch St., Bishop.

Anyone interested in making a financial donation, or interested in joining the Auxiliary, may call Sharon Moore at (760) 872-4198.

Inyo County Sheriff’s Office Recover Body in Panamint Valley

PANAMINT VALLEY/ DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, June 25, 2019 – On June 18 at 2:40pm the Lone Pine Sheriff’s Substation had a walk-in report of an overdue hiker. According to the reporting party and camping companion, 85-year old Neil Malloch of San Francisco, CA hiked to the Defense Mine from their camp location near the Minietta Mine on June 17 around 2:30pm and had not returned.

 

The reporting party said that he strongly advised Malloch not to hike in triple digit weather; however, Malloch did not listen. Malloch did not return from the hike. The reporting party attempted to search along the trail the morning of June 18, but could not locate Malloch.

 

An aerial search was initiated on June 18 by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and was provided by the Civil Air Patrol. On June 19 search efforts were provided by Bureau of Land Management Desert District Rangers (out of Ridgecrest), and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. Aerial support on June 19 was provided by CHP-Inland Division Air Operations. Ground search efforts were difficult due to extreme heat.

 

On June 20, China Lake Naval Weapons Center helicopter VX-31 joined in the search operation. At about 5:30pm, China Lake VX-31 located the subject deceased in Thompson Canyon. Due to the terrain and time of day the VX-31 was unable to recover Malloch.

 

The morning of June 21 CHP- Inland Division Air Operation and Inyo County Sheriff’s personnel conducted a hoist operation and recovered Malloch. He was flown to the Lone Pine airport where the Lone Pine Coroner took custody of his remains.

 

Death Valley National Park has summer temperatures that are well over 100°F (38°C), and often exceed 120°F (49°C).

 

Mono County Seek to Mitigate Wildlife Deaths With Grant Money

The Mono County Board of Supervisors expressed support in their letter to Caltrans District 9, and encourage the transportation organization to apply for funding which would help mitigate wildlife deaths from vehicles.

Proposition 68 is an ordinance that provides organizations with funding to help reduce the amount vehicle collisions with animals across the state.

Currently, Caltrans District 9 is requesting $2,000,000 from the state to complete the environmental planning report. In total, the cost of completing the entire project is estimated to cost between $50,000,000-$70,000,000.

Most of the funding would go toward the seven mile stretch from Crowley Lake and the Mammoth Lakes turnoff. “The seven mile stretch of US Highway 395 from Crowley Lake Dr. to the Junction with state route 203 accounts for more than double the number of deceased deer removed by Caltrans Maintenance forces compared to any other seven mile stretch of US 395 within District 9. The letter from the supervisors went on to say “This [area] accounts for 43% of reported collisions for this area of US 395, the stretch of highway also contains the largest hotspot of deer collisions within the district.”

Not only did the supervisors express concern for deer crossing the corridor, they also noted the presence of other species including the Bi-State sage grouse. The letter says, “The areas along these roadways host significant wildlife habitat, supporting populations of resident and migratory species, including the Bi-State sage grouse which is proposed to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and play a critical role for migrating mule deer in the spring and fall.”

In order to obtain the rest of the necessary funding, Mono County will seek money from other state and federal agencies. “If awarded, funding will also allow Caltrans District 9 and their partners to seek additional state and Federal Funding to support the completion of subsequent project development phases.”

Donna Vazquez Obituary

Donna F. Vasquez, 74, passed away surrounded by family on June 17, 2019 at Northern Inyo Hospital.  She lived with her family in Bishop, California, for 43 years.

She was the matriarch of her family, an environmental and community activist, a tribal leader and the most kind, giving and compassionate human being. She will be missed, not only by her family and friends but by her tribal community.

Donna was the first daughter born to Jessie and Johnny Manuelito. She grew up in West Bishop with her six brothers and sisters, Joe, Libby, Nonie, Dolly, Joey and Mark.  A proud member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe on her mother’s side and her father was Navajo of the Kinyaa’aanii clan from Sheep Springs, Navajo Nation, New Mexico.

Donna graduated from Bishop Union High School in 1962 and she later moved to southern California to attend Riverside City College. While living in Riverside, she met her future husband, Alex Vasquez Sr., and married that spring. They started their family of 5 by having three beautiful children, Alex, Paul and Sky.  

The coupled moved back to Bishop where Donna began many years of service to her tribal community,

She worked for many local organizations such as the Toiyabe Indian Health Clinic, Owens Valley Career Development, and was elected to the Bishop Paiute Tribal Council as Vice Chairwoman.  She also had a 20-year-long career as a Phlebotomist at Northern Inyo Hospital. She earned a reputation as “the one to call” for when there was a baby or challenging draw. All of the elders specifically asked for her when they came in looking for help.

Donna continued to live in Bishop with Alex into their retirement and was very dedicated to her family and community.  You could find her working in her garden or traveling to visit her children and grandchildren. She also continued her support of her Paiute tribal community participating on committees such as the Bishop Paiute Cultural Advisory committee, Tribal Scholarship Committee and Chair of the Tribal Environmental Protection Act Board. She was a true advocate.  

Donna Vasquez leaves her beloved husband, Alex Vasquez Sr., her son Paul Vasquez and his wife Wendy of Tokyo, Japan; and daughter Sky Vasquez of Portland, Oregon.  She is also survived by her brothers and sisters, John Manuelito II of Bishop, California, Elizabeth Manuelito of Bishop, Leanna Mojado and her husband Denny Mojado of Riverside, Dolly Manuelito of Bishop, Joseph Manuelito of Bishop, and Mark Manuelito and his wife Lisa Manuelito, also from Bishop.  She also leaves several grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her oldest son, Alex Vasquez Jr.

A Cry Dance will be held for Donna Vasquez on Friday, June 21, 2019, at 564 N. Winuba Lane, Bishop. It will begin at dusk (estimated time: 8:30 pm).  A Funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at the Barlow Lane Gym, 390 N. Barlow Lane, Bishop, that begins at 10:00 am. Lunch will be served following the service.  

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance. Donna was grateful to them for all of their support they provided her son’s battle with cancer.  

Best Regards,