News Briefs


Dead motorcyclist ID'd

Madera County sheriff's officials have identified a 35-year-old Fresno man who died Saturday when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a car west of Oakhurst.

The California Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash that killed Ian Raymond Lewis on Highway 49 at Road 601 shortly before 10 a.m.

Hit pedestrian identified

Fresno County coroner's officials identified Monday a 40-year-old man who died after he ran onto Highway 99 near Fowler Saturday evening and was struck by a car.

Raul Reyes Santos, who lived just south of Fresno, was standing on the right shoulder of the highway about 6:40 p.m. when he tried without warning to cross the three northbound lanes, the California Highway Patrol said.

He was struck by a Honda driven by a 27-year-old Fresno man. The driver of the Honda and other motorists braked and tried to avoid the man, the CHP said. Santos died shortly before 7 p.m.

Porterville man dies after truck hits trees

A 42-year-old Porterville man died early Monday when he was ejected from his pickup after it struck a pair of trees along Orange Belt Drive south of Avenue 208.

The victim, whose name was withheld pending notification of relatives, was driving alone south on Orange Belt Drive at a high speed about 1 a.m., California Highway Patrol officers said.

His truck drifted across the northbound lane and onto the east shoulder, where it hit two olive trees. He was ejected, and the truck rolled on top of him, officers said.

SoCal man who drowned in Hume Lake identified

The Fresno County Coroner's Office Monday identified a 25-year-old Southern California man who drowned Saturday afternoon in Hume Lake as Francisco Rosas of Orange.

Sheriff's deputies were called to the lake about 5 p.m., according to reports. Family members pulled Rosas from the water, but were unable to revive him.

Witnesses told deputies that the man was trying to swim across a cove when he began complaining that he couldn't finish and slipped under the water.

Authorities said he was visiting a Christian camp in the area.

Huron police arrest man with drugs during patrol

Huron police, responding to recent complaints of narcotics activity, arrested a 34-year-old man early Monday and jailed him on suspicion of drug charges.

The suspect, identified as Javier Montanyo of Huron, was found to have a concealed pocket in his shirt with 22 packages of a substance later identified as methamphetamine, police said.

Officers arrested Montanyo as they conducted high-visibility patrols near Cherry and Los Angeles avenues in the southwestern Fresno County town. They are asking anyone with further information about drug sales or drug manufacturing in the area to call police at (559) 945-2348.

Visalia bank robbery suspect found nearby

A suspected bank robber didn't get far after holding up a Visalia bank Monday.

Visalia police said Jesus Natividad, 21, of Visalia was arrested in a nearby mobile home park where he hid after allegedly robbing a teller at the Bank of America branch on the 2400 block of South Mooney Boulevard.

Investigators believe Natividad entered the bank shortly after 9:30 a.m. and handed a teller a note declaring he had a gun and demanding money. After getting about $320, the suspect ran from the bank.

Witnesses in a mobile home park that shares a back wall with the bank parking lot reported seeing a man jump over the fence. Police soon found Natividad in one of the mobile homes. Investigators said Natividad didn't live at the mobile home, but was visiting friends there.

Natividad was arrested on suspicion of armed robbery and booked into Tulare County Jail.

Motorcyclist killed in accident near Lindsay

One person was killed in a motorcycle accident about 8 p.m. Saturday on Highway 65 just east of Road 196 near Lindsay. The rider was identified Monday as Joe Manuel Macias, 47, of Porterville.

The California Highway Patrol said Macias was traveling eastbound on Highway 65 about 75 mph when he passed four or five other vehicles. He then swerved back into the eastbound lane to avoid an approaching westbound truck, but lost control.

The motorcycle crossed over the westbound lane and onto the shoulder, and Macias was ejected as he collided with an orange tree.


Wildfire closes trail into park's Tehipite Valley

A slow-growing fire in Kings Canyon National Park has forced rangers to close a trail into Tehipite Valley.

By Monday, the lightning-sparked Tehipite fire had covered about 76 acres in the western area of the park, near the park's borders with both the John Muir Wilderness and Monarch Wilderness of Sierra National Forest. The fire is west of Tehipite Canyon and east of Tombstone Ridge, and burning below the trail leading into Tehipite Valley.

"The fire is expected to spread over the trail in the next few days," said Deb Schweizer, a fire information officer with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. "Rangers will work with visitors to provide alternative backpacking options for those with itineraries that include Tehipite Valley."

Because of steep, rugged terrain, firefighters are not battling the fire directly, but are building fire lines and lighting backfires to eliminate potential fuel ahead of the fire.

Grain dust fire in Pixley stopped before disaster

A potentially explosive situation was avoided Monday when firefighters doused a grain dust fire in Pixley.

The fire broke out in a filter hopper tank shortly before 11 a.m. at the Cal-Bean & Grain Co-Op plant at Oaks Avenue and Cedar Street. Black smoke from nylon bags inside the tank -- used to filter grain and bean dust from the processing plant -- roiled from the tank until Tulare County firefighters were able to shoot water into the tank.

Plant manager Roger Ward said the plant is busy processing both wheat for seed use and garbanzo beans. The grain dust that gets sucked into the tank, or "bag house," is particularly combustible, Ward added.

"With those nylon bags, it's just like burning oil in there," he said.

Damage to the plant was contained to the tank, but officials didn't know if the fire damaged motors, blowers or other equipment that pulls the dust into the filters.

"We're lucky it was confined to the metal hopper," Tulare County Fire Division Chief Joe Garcia said, noting much of the shakers and other processing equipment in the adjacent building is made of wood.


Man gets life sentence in death of 16-year-old mom

A man convicted of murder for the death of 16-year-old Courtney Rice was sentenced Monday in Fresno County Superior Court to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 27 years.

Rodger Alley, 26, was convicted of murder in June after a one-month trial in which he represented himself. The jury found him not guilty of imprisonment and also found that allegations he committed the murder to further his gang -- the Bulldogs -- were not true.

Alley was one of seven defendants who were charged with various crimes in connection with Rice's murder in June 2006. Prosecutors say Rice, the mother of a 1-year-old baby, was lured to an apartment complex in northwest Fresno and suffocated by Bulldog gang members.