Rogue Valley Magazine News Update, Friday, July 26th – Wildfire Smoke Fills The Skies

The latest Rogue Valley News from RogueValleyMagazine.com

FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019

Weather for the Rogue Valley

Friday
Widespread smoke. Clear, with a low around 64. North northwest wind 8 to 13 mph becoming light northwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

Saturday
Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 95. Calm winds.

Sunday
Areas of smoke. Sunny and hot, with a high near 96. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Monday
Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 92.

Tuesday
Sunny, with a high near 90.

Wednesday
Sunny, with a high near 92.

Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 92.

ROGUE VALLEY HEADLINES….

Grants Pass Shooting Suspect Arrested

The Threat in Grants Pass is Neutralized – Suspect in Recent GP Drive-By Shootings in Custody as of Friday Morning

At approximately 2 a.m. Friday morning, Grants Pass Department of Safety say they took 26 year-old Joshua Ashley into custody. After a 5 day investigation, police were able to locate Ashley on Vannoy Creek Road, near Merlin.

Ashley was lodged at the Josephine County Jail on the charges of Attempted Murder/Several Counts of Reckless Endangering/3 Counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Police were able to use video surveillance, witness statements and the license plate of the vehicle to piece together who the suspect was.

Twice in under a week, someone had opened fire on businesses in Grants Pass. One person was hit but not seriously injured Wednesday when, around 2:40 p.m., police received reports of a shooting at Johnston Dental. Someone driving by the business fired off multiple shots, hitting the building. The person hit inside did not sustain serious injuries.

Just Sunday, another drive-by shooting happened at Parkway Christian Center while Sunday service was in session.  With the suspect Ashley arrested, Grants Pass can rest more easily for the weekend.

Unhealthy Air Quality Alerts as Smoke settles in on top of the Rogue Valley

Air quality in the Rogue Valley is listed as 166 parts per million today; or in the red and unhealthy category, according to the current index reports. The smoke is coming into the valley from the I-5 Milepost 97, North in Douglas County.

Currently, Grants Pass is registering in the unhealthy category as well, with pollution at 154 PPM. Cave Junction is in a slightly better position with index readings at 111 PPM; that falls in the “unhealthy for certain groups” category.

He Owes His Life to “Ride with GPS” – Stranded Southern Oregon Man Found Alive!

It was improbable; but most miracles are. 72 year old Greg Randolph was found barely alive in the remote Southern Oregon Outback; having walked 14 of the 20 miles that would lead him to safety before collapsing on the dirt road where back country biker and GPS coordinate developer Tomas Quinones just happened upon him.

Quinones works for Ride With GPS, a Northeast Portland company that makes route-planning software for cyclists. Finding Randolph unable to move or communicate and knowing they were two days from cell service, Quinones, activated his GPS emergency signal and an ambulance arrived at the GPS coordinates in an hour. Randolph and both his dogs, stranded 4 days, are doing well.

And, For Now, the Show Must Go On

Even with the smoke in the valley, Britt Music and Art Festival outdoor performances will continue, officials say. Last year, “very unhealthy” air quality levels prompted the Britt Festival to move the location of some outdoor orchestra concerts to an indoor venue at North Medford High School.

This year, skies were clear up until July 25, when smoke from the Milepost 97 Fire south of Canyonville moved into the Rogue Valley. As of 11:00 Friday, air quality in the Medford area was classified as “unhealthy” by the DEQ with Saturday showing slightly lower levels in the “unhealthy for certain groups” ranking.

Medford Police Arrest Suspected Child Predator

Detectives arrested 32-year-old Derrick Christopher Estrada on Wednesday at a house in the 700-block of Stevens Street after a 9 month joint investigation that began back in October, 2018. The DOJ had reported images of child sex abuse being shared on Facebook. Those investigators had narrowed down the search to someone located in Jackson County. That person was Estrada.

Wednesday “Detectives served search warrants at Estrada’s home and a second Medford residence associated with Estrada,” the Sheriff’s Office said. Estrada has been lodged at the Jackson County jail on $180,000 bail. Anyone with information about the case can contact Detective Steve Bohn at (541) 774-6168, refer to case #18-22083.

Early morning crash claims young life

The right lane of I-5 NB was closed for several hours Wednesday morning, while crew investigated a terrible accident. OSP reports 25-year-old Tyler Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Nelson was driving a Honda Civic northbound on I-5 near milepost 26 when a Freightliner with loaded trailer, driven by 45-year-old Baljinder Singh, hit the sedan from behind.

Police believe Nelson had either stopped or was driving slowly in the right hand lane for unknown reasons when his car was hit and pushed off the road near milepost 26. The driver of the semi-truck was not injured.

Well Loved Doctor, Husband and Father Dies in Fishing Accident on the Rogue

Fishing in a raft with his grown son, Dr. Jon Van Valkenburg lost his life tragically Monday after his hand became tangled in the anchor rope and the current held him under. Marine Patrol says Van Valkenburg tried to pull up the anchor from the raft when the rope became wrapped around his hand. Deputies remind people that it is best to use inherently buoyant Type I PFD’s when boating on rivers.

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