The Search for Sara Continues

It’s been nearly two months since Bend resident Sara Gomez was last seen, and even though the prime suspect in her disappearance is now dead, Sara’s family and friends continue to look for her.

Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed has been following this case from the beginning and caught up with the family today as they get ready for another search this weekend.

Bend police detectives are also still taking tips and hope to come up with any new clues in the case.

Affordable Housing Projects Break Ground

The communities of La Pine and Sisters are about to get two new housing options. 
Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed was at both of the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new townhomes on Tuesday and has the details on who will be eligible to rent them.

Property Management will take applications for the properties about two to three months before completion which is expected to be next Spring in 2019.

Explosion in NE Bend

Bend Police are investigating an explosion that rocked a northeast Bend neighborhood on Sunday night.

So far we known two residents of the home where life-flighted to a Portland burn unit Sunday night with third-degree burns. The Red Cross is currently helping the residents with housing assistance.

The home, located near the corner of Hidden Valley Drive and Weddell Street, sustained damage to the garage door and side yard. The damage was visible from the outside of the home and police have since posted that the home is unsafe to enter.

However, according to Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed, one resident of the home was allowed back into the house to collect some belongings and her dog, who was unharmed.

The Bend Police Department said they hope to release more information on what caused the explosion as the investigation progresses.

No other homes or people were impacted by the incident.

Threat Prompts Precautions at St. Charles

Officials Increase Security After Threat From ER Patient

There was an increase of security patrols at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend on Thursday due to a threat made about a month ago by a patient in the ER. St. Charles safety department and police interviewed the man who made the threat for March 8th. They did not believe the person posed any risks, but he does have a 60-day no trespass order.

However, with security and hospital staff on high alert, a staff member did report a suspicious package at a bus stop outside of the hospital. The box was checked out by security staff and turned out to be a thermometer for concrete that was being poured as part of an ongoing construction project.

There was also a small dumpster fire reported at the hospital on Thursday, but according to St. Charles staff, that was put out within about ten minutes. Bend Fire happened to be at the hospital for unrelated reasons, which allowed to respond within minutes.

The Search for Sara Continues

Friends and Family of Missing Bend Woman Conducting Coordinated Search on East Side of Bend

Friends and family of Sara Gomez met at Big Sky Park at 8am on Saturday morning with a group of more than 50 volunteers to conduct a coordinated search for the missing 24-year-old woman.


Organizers showed the group a map of possible areas to search, and everyone broke up into teams to look in different areas.
Gomez was last seen on Monday, February 19, outside her workplace at Albertson’s in Bend, and Bend Police have been supervising searches at the Knott Landfill on the southeast side of Bend and have asked residents who live east of the intersection of Hamby and Ward to search their private properties for any possible evidence related to the disappearance of Gomez.

See Something, Say Something

Students and parents all over the country are feeling the impact of the Florida school shooting and asking what is being done to protect them from another potential school shooting.

Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed joined us in the studio to look at what local officials and law enforcement are doing to remain vigilant in today’s climate.

The Bend-La Pine school district, along others in our area like Redmond, Prineville and Madras also take part in the statewide “safeoregon” public safety program.
Kids and teens are encouraged to use the app “safeoregon” to report bullying and school safety incidents.

Hands-On Learning For Students Looking For Careers Right Out of High School

Governor Kate Brown made a case Monday for increased education funding and a focus on technical education programs across the state. The governor said more apprenticeships and hands-on learning will help students learn skills needed for higher-paying jobs in industries like technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.

Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed visited one technical education class at Redmond High School and files this report.

Flu Cases on the Decline Locally

This years flu season has turned into an epidemic, killing at lest 30 children since October and closed schools across the county. While nationally the flu season shows no signs of slowing down, in Deschutes County reported flu cases are on the decline.

This year’s flu struck hard in 32 states, including Oregon, which reported record high numbers of emergency room visits due to the flu.

Part of that may have to do with this year’s predominant flu strain, H3N2, which tends to come with more severe symptoms.

In Deschutes County alone 102 residents went to the emergency room with the flu in the first week of January, but as the month goes on that number has dropped significantly. In the second week of January 86 people went to the emergency room with the flu and only 58 cases were reported between January 14th and 20th.

Children under 5 are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to the virus since their immune systems are still developing.  Elderly populations are also particularly vulnerable but officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

Even though the vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t catch the flu, it could lessen your symptoms and help you avoid complications like catching a secondary illness like pneumonia which commonly leads to hospitalization.

 

First Court Appearance for Woman Accused of Killing Cyclist

The woman who allegedly struck and killed a cyclist is now on house arrest and banned from consuming any alcohol until her arraignment in February.

Shantel Lynn Witt, 41, of Alfalfa had her first hearing today after she was arrested on Dec. 30 and charged with DUII, three counts of Recklessly Endangering Another, Reckless Driving and Manslaughter in the First Degree.

Witt was allegedly driving under the influence on the evening of Dec. 30 when her car crossed over into the opposite lane and struck 38-year-old Marika Stone who was biking with two other people near the corner of Dodds and Obernolte Road in Deschutes County. Stone was declared dead at the scene.

Roughly 30 local cyclists and community members attended today’s hearing to support Stone’s family.

Witt’s bail was set at $270,000. She posted 10 percent of this amount and, per Oregon law, was released from jail. During her first court appearance on Tuesday, the state attorney asked that Witt’s bail be increased, that she be put on house arrest, that she be given an alcohol monitor and that her driving privileges be revoked.

The judge did not raise Witt’s bail but he did agree to revoke Witt’s driving privileges. The judge also ordered Witt to wear an alcohol monitor, banned from purchasing or consuming alcohol and put on house arrest.

Witt will be back in court for her arraignment on Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. and many of the local cyclists said they’ll be back again to support Stone’s family and represent Bend’s biking community.