Truck hauling snowmobiles rescued on snowy highway

Wyoming highway authorities have rescued a semi-truck driver and a passenger stuck on a snowy mountain road closed for the season.

The truck was hauling snowmobiles on a Wyoming state highway before turning east on Highway 212 toward Red Lodge in Montana.

Authorities say the driver followed GPS directions and drove past warning signs that indicated the road was closed before the truck got stuck last Friday.

Wyoming Highway Patrol officers say the mountain road rises about 3,800 feet (1,160 meters) in altitude and can encounter snow mounds up to 40 feet.

A snow plow from Yellowstone National Park cleared the path for a wrecker from Wyoming to tow the semi.

Officers say they have requested road blocks for the road, which is maintained by the U.S. Park Service.

Man accused of $7,000 in ATM thefts

CODY — A Brazilian national is facing up to 160 years in prison on charges that he illegally withdrew more than $7,000 from Park County ATM machines in recent weeks.

Allisson Bebiano, 29, is in custody at the Park County Detention Center with $500,000 cash bond set. He is facing 14 criminal counts of forgery for alleged crimes that occurred from Oct. 29-Nov. 25. In addition, Bebiano is facing two charges for possession of a forgery device and a total of $160,000 in fines.

Over a few weeks, Cody police investigated surveillance footage from banks after being alerted of fraudulent withdrawals stemming from the ATM machines. In 13 videos, Bebiano can be allegedly seen attempting to use multiple credit cards and staying at the location for a “considerable amount of time,” according to Scott Burlingame, a Cody police officer.

On Nov. 25, Bebiano was spotted trying to draw money from the Sunlight Federal Credit Union ATM.

It was then Burlingame responded to the scene and arrested Bebiano near the 17th Street hill in Cody.

Bebiano was arrested when pulled over in his rental car. Inside the vehicle authorities allegedly found more than $4,000 in cash – all in $20 bills – along with 23 debit cards, two cell phones and two card readers associated with forgery transactions.

In total, $7,960 was stolen over the course of 14 different transactions.

Body of Texas man found in Wyoming

CASPER — Searchers have found the body of a 52-year-old Texas man who went missing after his truck caught fire in south-central Wyoming.

Authorities say Gerry Slusher’s vehicle caught fire on Wyoming 70 near the Colorado-Wyoming border on Nov. 25 and he got lost after leaving the vehicle.

The Carbon County Sheriff’s Office in Wyoming says Slusher initially was able to contact searchers, providing several different GPS coordinates. They found his body about 10:30 a.m. Nov. 26 in a deep ravine about a mile and a half from his vehicle.

A preliminary investigation determined that Slusher died from exposure.

Jackson man killed in two-car crash

JACKSON — A collision Sunday in Lincoln County killed Jackson resident John Joseph Koerber.

Just after 1 p.m. Sunday, the 22-year-old was driving north on Highway 89 in snowy, icy conditions, Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Matt Brackin said Monday. Koerber was about 4 miles south of Thayne, in “the Narrows,” when he lost control of his 2002 Ford Focus and collided with an oncoming 2007 GMC pickup pulling an empty horse trailer.

“They both went off the road,” Brackin said.

The driver of the truck and his passenger, both of Thayne, were taken to the Star Valley Medical Center, where they were evaluated and released. They were both wearing seat belts.

Koerber was wearing his seat belt but was pronounced dead at the scene. He died from “massive trauma from the impact,” Lincoln County Coroner Dain Schwab said.

Troopers said Koerber was driving too fast for the snowy conditions, which caused his car to spin out of control and enter the oncoming lane. They estimated that he was going 65-70 mph.

This marks the 142nd fatality on Wyoming highways this year. That’s an increase compared with 2018, when 106 had died by this date, 2017 (119) and 2016 (109).

Life flight company leaves Laramie

LARAMIE — Laramie is once again without a “life flight” company in town after Medical Air Rescue Company pulled both its helicopter and airplane from the city last month.

Patrick Currie, MARC’s regional clinical educator and Laramie base manager, told the Laramie Boomerang MARC’s majority shareholder decided to leave the helicopter business entirely.

The minority shareholder and CEO of the company, Monty Renfro, wants MARC “to get back into Laramie, whether it be fixed-wing or helicopter.”

MARC arrived in Laramie in June with a fixed-wing airplane, flying patients out of Laramie Regional Airport to other hospitals in the area as needed.

Seeing a need for even quicker transport, the company brought a helicopter to town at the end of October.

About a week after bringing the helicopter to town, the company pulled out of Laramie entirely.

In addition to the shareholder shakeups, Currie said costs associated with Laramie’s infamous weather was partly the reason.

“You’re going to need a special aircraft in Laramie with the weather, which is kind of why you guys have never had one before,” Currie said. “All the bigger companies aren’t willing to invest in that with the low population density.”

Laramie Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services division chief Michael Hotchkiss told the Boomerang last week without MARC in town, EMS crews must wait for helicopters out of Cheyenne, Casper, Rawlins or even Loveland, Colorado to fly Laramie’s patients in need of critical care to hospitals along the Front Range of Colorado.

Taco John’s opens satellite office in Minneapolis

CHEYENNE — Since its inception in 1969, Taco John’s has expanded to nearly 400 locations in 23 states. On Monday, President and CEO Jim Creel announced the company’s plans to expand even farther with a new satellite office in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Creel said although the fast-food company’s home will “always” be Cheyenne, the new office allows employees to be closer to more than 200 franchise locations in the Midwest. It is slated to open in March.

“The last couple of years have been really good for Taco John’s, so it’s allowing us to make this investment and to move forward,” Creel said at a news conference Monday. “We really believe this is going to be the start of tremendous growth for us in the Midwest.”

The new location will mainly house franchisee-oriented operations like marketing and research and development. Currently, Creel said reaching those Midwest stores is inefficient and involves a great deal of travel for employees. The move allows for more interaction with stores near Minneapolis.

“The more time we spend with franchisees, the better the operations get,” Creel said. “This truly is an opportunity to be able to do that in a way we haven’t been able to before.”

A handful of employees will transfer to Minneapolis, but the majority of the Taco John’s operation will stay right here in Cheyenne. Creel, who was born and raised in Wyoming, emphasized that the company has no plans to move its headquarters.

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