Lei burial honors 1908 Cheyenne Frontier Days roping champ

CHEYENNE (AP) — Ikua Purdy might not have known a soul in Cheyenne when, after travel by steamship and train, he arrived in the frontier town from Honolulu in 1908.

But by the time he was done at Cheyenne Frontier Days, Purdy was well-known by most, if not all, of the rodeo’s 10,000-plus attendants.

As a paniolo, which refers to the Hawaiian cowboy tradition that traces back to Mexican-Spanish vaqueros, Purdy won the top steer roping prize at that year’s rodeo, becoming the first non-Wyomingite to come out victorious in the competition.

Though already inducted into the CFD Hall of Fame, Purdy was further honored Monday afternoon when a lei brought by Purdy’s grandson was buried near where the Hawaiian won the 1908 competition at the arena.

Mike Kassel, the assistant director of the CFD Old West Museum, conducted the burial, which is one of several ways to dispose of a lei in honor of someone. Purdy’s grandson, who made the lei with leaves from Hawaii, brought it to Cheyenne in 2018, hanging it at Purdy’s portrait in the museum gallery, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports.

“As it started falling apart, we thought it would be a good idea to dispose of the lei in an honorable and purposeful way,” said Kassel.

The 1908 rodeo that Purdy won was also the first CFD at Frontier Park, after about a decade of it being held at Pioneer Park. Purdy was joined by two other Hawaiians, one of whom – Archie Kaaua – placed third in the same competition.

“The Hawaiians did an amazing job of demonstrating the paniolo skills of how they did roping,” Kassel said.

Though this year’s CFD has been canceled due to concerns about spread of COVID-19, Kassel said the rich history of Cheyenne’s world-famous rodeo is a good reminder of why CFD will bounce back.

“We’re going to be doing (Frontier Days) again next year, and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever before,” Kassel said. “We still have a great legacy that means so much to so many people. Any chance to remember that is worthy.”

Day care manslaughter case moved to district court

CHEYENNE (WNE) —  A Laramie County Circuit Court judge advanced a felony manslaughter charge Friday afternoon against a local day care owner over the death of an 8-month-old girl.

Kristina Croy, 37, of Cheyenne was first arrested on a warrant for voluntary manslaughter June 16 by the Cheyenne Police Department. She was later charged with a single count of reckless manslaughter in the death of an 8-month-old child that was at her day care.

If Croy is convicted, the maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.

The case centers on the events of Sept. 25, 2019, when CPD officers were dispatched to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center on a call for a dead infant. The 8-month-old, identified as M.G., was not breathing and lacked a pulse upon her arrival via ambulance.

After an autopsy, it was discovered M.G. died due to positional asphyxia, meaning she died because she couldn't breath in the position she was placed in. Before she was taken to the hospital, M.G. was at Croy's day care.

CPD Detective Allison Baca said she spoke with Croy that afternoon at CRMC. Croy told Baca that after feeding M.G., she had placed the infant in a "little sleeper," a device that zips up to a child's neck and restricts arm and leg movement.

According to Croy, M.G. was then placed on the floor of the living room, while Croy went back and forth between there and the kitchen, where she was cleaning and doing paperwork. Croy told Baca that she then found the infant face down without a pulse on the living room floor.

Coronavirus detected in Jackson plane passengers

JACKSON (WNE) — Air travel is picking up in Jackson Hole, bringing with it economic opportunity — and new COVID-19 cases.

As of Friday afternoon’s community update with elected officials and public health representatives, five people who have landed at Jackson Hole Airport have tested positive for the coronavirus after deplaning.

“Some of those people were wearing masks on their flights, and some of those people were not symptomatic at the time they departed and became symptomatic midflight,” Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell said during the update.

According to Riddell, Teton County has seen an “uptick” after several weeks in late May and early June without a new case recorded.

Since June 9, the day the first case was reported after that lull, the county has seen 19 cases, with 11 active and the others recovered after at least 10 days in isolation. One person is currently hospitalized at St. John’s Health due to the virus.

Thirteen of those 19 cases are related to travel, whether a tourist or resident bringing the virus from elsewhere. One is from a contact with a known infected person, and five are attributed to community spread, meaning the origin can’t be traced.

“Until a week ago there was no evidence of community spread or transmission from known cases to other members within our community,” Riddell said. “But in the last week we are now starting to see both of those things happen.”

Bat found in Rock Springs tests positive for rabies

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — A bat found in a backyard near Pilot Butte Avenue in Rock Springs has tested positive for rabies. 

On Sunday, June 14, Rock Springs Animal Control responded to the 1000 block of Pilot Butte Avenue for a report of a bat found in the backyard of a residence. The bat had died and remains were sent to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory for rabies testing. The bat tested positive for rabies. 

Transmission of rabies from bat to human may occur from bites, even if the bite is not recognized, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. 

Rabies can also be transmitted from scratches or other physical contact that results in a break of a person’s skin or mucous membrane exposure. 

Rabies is nearly always a fatal disease in humans. However, it can be successfully prevented if treatment is started promptly after exposure. 

The Department of Health recommends that anyone who experiences direct, physical contact with a bat should immediately contact their healthcare provider or their local public health nursing office for help and further information. If possible, any bat that comes into contact with humans should be carefully captured so that rabies testing can be performed.

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