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UHP sergeant OK after patrol car struck on I-15

A Utah Highway Patrol sergeant escaped with only minor injuries after his patrol car was hit with him inside while responding to a crash in rainy weather in Box Elder County last Saturday.

Shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, Sgt. Brian Nelson was making his third vehicle accident response of the day on the freeway near Portage, about three miles south of the Utah-Idaho border on I-15.

According to a report from UHP Lt. Lee Perry, Nelson arrived at the crash scene and advised the driver to remain in his vehicle in case anyone else lost control in the wet conditions. A truck from the Plymouth volunteer fire department was set up behind him with flashing lights to provide an early warning until a second trooper could arrive.

Sixteen minutes after Nelson arrived, a white 2017 Dodge pickup truck lost control as it passed the fire truck in the northbound lanes, sliding into Nelson’s patrol car and sideswiping it while Nelson was inside. The Dodge truck continued to spin and struck the driver’s side of the vehicle Nelson had been called to assist, finally coming to a stop about 50 yards away.

Nelson was reporting serious neck pain after the incident and a medical helicopter was initially requested, but due to heavy rain he was taken by ambulance to Bear River Valley Hospital in Tremonton.

At the hospital it was determined he had no broken bones or other serious injuries, and Nelson was treated and released.

With the winter driving season around the corner, UHP used the incident as a reminder for motorists to slow down during inclement weather, especially when approaching the scene of an accident. Col. Michael Rapich posted a picture of Nelson’s damaged vehicle on Twitter, writing “Please, when you see emergency lights, Slow Down, Move Over, and remember there is someone out there trying to keep you safe.”

Magnitude 3.9 earthquake felt around Box Elder County

An earthquake centered near Howell was felt across much of Box Elder County one morning last week, rattling buildings and jolting people to attention, but there were no reports of any significant damage or injury in the area.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Utah Seismograph Stations, a magnitude 3.9 earthquake occurred at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24. It was centered just south of I-84 about three miles northeast of Howell.

USGS data suggest the temblor could have been felt as far away as Logan to the east, Brigham City to the south and Malad, Idaho to the north.

Box Elder County Public Information Officer Mitch Zundel said county offices received “many” reports Tuesday from people who felt the quake, but no reports of damage or injuries as a result.

Reports from around the valley suggested that many people who were indoors felt the disturbance, but most who were outdoors at the time didn’t, as is common with earthquakes registering below 5 on the Richter scale.

According to the USGS, a magnitude 3.9 quake can be “felt quite noticeably by persons indoors, especially on upper floors of buildings. Many people do not recognize it as an earthquake. Standing motor cars may rock slightly. Vibrations similar to the passing of a truck.”

In Howell, the community closest to the epicenter, Mayor Brad Hawkes said he received a call from his wife reporting that she had felt it, but he was outside and didn’t immediately recognize an earthquake.

“I heard a noise, but I thought it was just a jet breaking the sound barrier,” Hawkes said.

He said he hadn’t heard any reports of significant damage or injury in town, although he had heard of at least one residence where an item broke after falling from a shelf.

Tim Douglas, a farmer and rancher in the Howell area, said he was also outside at the time and didn’t feel any movement, but noticed some unusual activity.

“The pheasants started cackling and flying, and I could hear a shed rattling,” Douglas said.

Douglas’s father, Arthur, said an earthquake in 1975 resulted in a big increase in the flow from the Blue Creek spring, which is the main water supply for Howell and the surrounding farms and ranches. Tim Douglas said he was planning on monitoring the flow from the spring to determine if Tuesday’s event had any impact.

Howell resident Rauna Morris commented on a Facebook post seeking reports from the area that “it shook my house really good.

“Stuff was knocked on the floor,” Morris wrote. “Scared me and my animals pretty good.”

Many students and employees at Bear River Middle School in Garland felt the quake and could hear windows rattling, Receptionist Sandra Thompson said.

The quake was felt at Bear River Valley Hospital in Tremonton, but there was nothing reported as a result that had any impact on the facility, said Chad Hunt, communications specialist at the hospital.

Responses on social media were varied. Several people from West Corinne to Thatcher reported strong shaking, as did some to the north in Plymouth, Portage, Snowville, and across the Idaho border in Samaria, an unincorporated area southwest of Malad. One person reported feeling it in Petersboro near the Cache County line.

Several people at large employers in the area, including Northrop Grumman and Autoliv, reported feeling it while working.

Tuesday’s quake originated 4.1 miles underground. Several aftershocks were recorded later Tuesday, but none strong enough to be felt above ground.

University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports a total of 45 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater have occurred within 16 miles of the epicenter of Tuesday’s event since 1962. The largest of those was a magnitude 4.5 on July 5, 1989, in the Blue Spring Hills northwest of the Northrop Grumman facilities.

'It's OK to ask for help': Town hall meeting focuses on suicide problem

Paul Newman has dedicated his career to helping couples and families find and maintain happiness in their lives, a choice due in part to his own struggles with depression.

“I’ve been sad to the point where I wanted to take my own life,” Newman told a group gathered to listen to his perspective at an event last Thursday in Tremonton. “I choose not to dwell on that. I’ve developed coping skills.”

As local health professionals and others continue their ongoing work to address the growing problem of suicide in the Bear River area, a coalition of volunteers organized an event for the community to to see what support systems are available, and to give feedback about what is still needed to address the issue.

The Northern Box Elder County Suicide Prevention Coalition held a town hall meeting in the evening last Thursday, Sept. 26 at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds. Held under the theme “From Hope to Cope: Come Curious and Leave Empowered,” the meeting covered a variety of topics including suicide prevention, hope squads, grief, yoga, community health centers, focus groups and sand therapy.

Newman said he gives all of his clients in therapy two homework assignments, which he said can help people who are struggling and may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. First, he has them keep a “gratitude journal.”

“You write down three things you’re grateful for every day,” he said. “If you start to seek positive things, things that make you happy, it actually changes your brain. It makes you look for those things.”

Newman said there’s an important difference between being grateful and being thankful.

“Gratitude is something you work for, that you are invested in,” he said. “I’m thankful that I’m able to go out to lunch with my mom, but I’m grateful for the relationship we have.”

The second homework assignment he gives is meditation exercises.

“When the mind starts to wander, you gently bring it back,” he said.

He said there are numerous smartphone apps available these days to assist with guided meditation. He specifically suggests Virtual Hope Box, a popular YouTube channel and app that has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Newman said it’s important for people who are struggling to realize they’re not alone.

“Nobody’s immune from this,” he said. “I’m a therapist, and my kids are still struggling. I’m still struggling.”

Newman also gave a presentation on sand therapy, a technique that uses sand trays and miniature objects for people to express to emotions that can be difficult to talk about.

Tiffany Palmer, who became a suicide prevention and awareness advocate after her brother took his own life three years ago, shared her experience in the hope of breaking down the stigma associated with suicide.

“I was surprised to feel the stigma from my own family after (my brother’s) death,” Palmer said. “They didn’t want an obituary or a funeral. They just wanted to bury him quietly.”

She joined the coalition to fight that stigma.

“Stigma is an ugly thing. It blinds us to what is truly important in this life,” Palmer said. “One of our goals is to take the stigma away from suicide and all mental health issues, so more people feel comfortable seeking the help they need.”

Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness was there to talk about support for people in the long-term recovery process from addiction, a major contributing factor to suicide.

Jason Williams, a psychiatrist based in Brigham City, was on hand to talk about helping people cope with grief, which can be especially challenging for those affected by suicide.

“It’s tough under normal circumstances, but with suicide, there’s an addition stigma that goes with it,” Stever said.

Tim Keaty of USU Extension led focus groups for people to brainstorm and give feedback about what resources are still needed in the community.

Also in attendance were representatives of local “hope squads,” groups made up of community members who go into local junior and high schools and provide a safe place for students to talk about their feelings and problems.

Jordan Miller of the Bear River Health Department was there to provide information on available resources.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of what’s out there,” Miller said.

Dorene Stever, a member of the coalition and one of the event organizers, got involved in the cause of suicide prevention and awareness through her own work experience as emergency coordinator at Bear River Valley Hospital.

“We had people come in and family members asking ‘where do I get help?’” she said. “It’s always been hard in our community, and we thought it was important to get a coalition going. We started inviting people from the community, and we had such a good response. We have a good core in our coalition now, and I’m happy it’s still going after 10 years.”