Category: colorado

Colorado firefighters pull 3-foot snake from driver’s car

FOXFIELD, Colo. – A driver in Arapahoe County got quite the surprise when firefighters say a snake popped out from under the hood.

South Metro Fire Rescue says the woman was driving when she saw the snake pop out from the grille. According to SMFR, she tried using the heat, the air conditioning and driving faster to get the snake to drop out of the engine compartment. None of it worked.

“They came to us at Station 42 off of Parker Road,” South Metro Fire Rescue’s John Cronin told KDVR.

He says he could see the head poking out from the front of the vehicle and assumed it was a small snake due to the size of its head.

“It was hard because it was in a spot that we couldn’t reach our hands into, so we were poking it with our tools and so it finally crawled the other way and I was able to grab it,” Cronin said.

While he didn’t hesitate to help the people in need, Cronin says on the inside, he was a little freaked out by the incident.

“I hate snakes,” he said. “We get snakes at my mom’s house all the time. I usually grab them with like barbecue tongs and everything but since I’m in the public eye I’ve got to be tough.”

Cronin only held onto the snake long enough to pose for one photo before releasing the serpent into a field next to the firehouse.

“Good thing I didn’t get a video because it did turn around at one point and look at me and I kind of jumped off and ran,” he said. “I threw it out into the field, which I later pulled hose out into and I was like, ‘It’s probably coming for me.'”

He says he hopes his first snake rescue is also his last.

“My lieutenant was even like, ‘This is going to be one of those calls that you’re not going to forget for the rest of your career,'” Cronin said.

Snakes gravitate toward engine compartments because it is a dark space and the engine block can be warm if the car was recently running. To help prevent snakes from using your vehicle as a resting spot, experts suggest parking far away from tall grass or wooded areas.

They are not likely to end up inside the vehicle’s interior unless windows or doors are left open.

If you do see a snake under your hood, you can use a long-handled broom to try and brush it out or simply call animal control.

Colorado teacher adopts sick student to help him get kidney transplant

AURORA, Colo. – They started the school year as strangers and they are ending the year as family.

“I started this school year like a regular school year and Damien like a regular student,” AXL Academy math teacher Finn Lanning said.

Lanning said the 7th-grade student is exceptionally bright.

“One day, he showed up and just said he wasn’t going to be back anymore. And when I questioned him about that, he told me that he was going back to live in the hospital,” Lanning said.

Damien has a kidney disorder called FSGS, which requires dialysis for 12 hours each day. He is in desperate need of a new kidney.

According to Lanning, the 13-year-old wasn’t eligible for a transplant because he is homeless.

“When you’re living in the hospital, you’re not able to be on the transplant list because folks who don’t have stable housing are considered high risk for their organ not to work,” Lanning said.

Damien ended up in the foster care system due to his medical needs. When a suitable homestay can’t be found, he is forced to live in the hospital. During that time, he can’t leave to attend school.

“He spent, at that point, three or four months living in the hospital waiting for a placement. And over that time, I started out going in to give him his work and just hang out with him a little bit, keep him caught up in the classroom. And as I learned more about his story and what he was facing and what his needs were and why they weren’t being met, it just became really hard for me to look the other way,” Lanning said.

Lanning decided to step in, and despite not having any child of his own, he offered to take Damien in.

“It’s going good. Like, I got my own room now,” Damien said.

He has also been moved to the top of the waiting list for a new kidney. He is hoping he can have the transplant within the next two weeks.

In addition to a second chance at life, he is also getting a second chance at having a family.

“We’re planning on just staying together. Hoping for adoption, probably,” Damien said.

Lanning was not fully financially prepared to suddenly take on a teenager. Due to Damien’s strict diet, their food bill is between $200 to $300 per week. He has had help from the community getting Damien basic things like bedroom furniture.

The new family could still use help with the extra expenses. If you’d like to donate, they have set up a GoFundMe account.

Dad charged in death of 7-year-old boy found encased in cement in Denver storage unit

DENVER — Charges have been filed against the father of 7-year-old Caden McWilliams, the boy who was found dead in a southeast Denver storage unit in December.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that Leland Pankey, 39, faces three counts: first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death and tempering with a deceased human.

A hearing is scheduled for June 27.

McWilliams’ mother, Elisha Pankey, was already charged in the death in January. She was charged with child abuse resulting in death and abuse of a corpse

The boy’s body was found encased in cement in a dog carrier inside a storage unit in the 5000 block of East Evans Avenue on Dec. 23, 2018.

“What began as a domestic violence call to the Aurora Police Department rapidly evolved into a homicide investigation because responding officers cared enough to ensure the involved children were safe,” said District Attorney Beth McCann in a statement. “We have now implicated both parents in this truly horrific crime.”

McCann added that McWilliams’ younger sister is “safe and adjusting well.”

Teen killed in Colorado shooting charged gunman, is credited with saving classmates’ lives

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — The student who died in Tuesday’s shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado has been identified and is being credited with helping save the lives of his classmates.

Douglas County Coroner Jill Roman has identified the deceased victim as 18-year-old Kendrick Ray Castillo. He was a senior at the school.

“Kendrick lunged at [the suspect], and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape,” senior Nui Giasolli said in an interview Wednesday morning with NBC News.

Giasolli said it began when one of the suspects arrived late to class on Tuesday. “The next thing I know, he is pulling a gun and is telling nobody to move,” he told NBC News.

Castillo’s parents said his heroic actions were unsurprising.

“We’re not surprised because that was in his make up. You know, Kendrick was a giving kid. He would do something to save his friends if he knew he had to do it,” said his father, John Castillo.

“If he didn’t do it, what would this mess look like?” John Castillo said. “He gave up his life for others.”

Kendrick’s parents said their son and another student tackled one of the shooters. They were told Kendrick probably did not suffer, as his death was likely instant.

They said Kendrick planned to attend Arapahoe Community College.

“Life’s not fair, it’s dangerous.” John Castillo said. “My son paid the ultimate price.”

The Castillo parents said they have a message for the community.

“I want families to get back to being families and engage with their kids. You know, we did that successfully with our kid. We lost him because he was selfless and he gave up his life,” John Castillo said.

An 18-year-old man and a juvenile female, both students, are accused of going into the school through an entrance without metal detectors, then opening fire at two locations.

Castillo was killed and eight other students were wounded in the shooting on Tuesday afternoon. Three students remain hospitalized.

Marine Hopeful Helped Subdue Shooter at Colorado School

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. – A high school senior who plans to join the Marines helped in subduing one of the shooters at STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday.

The U.S. Marine Corps said Brendan Bialy is a poolee in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program.

On Tuesday, an adult male and a juvenile female opened fire at the K-12 charter school, killing one student and wounding eight others.

“Brendan’s courage and commitment to swiftly ending this tragic incident at the risk of his own safety is admirable and inspiring,” the Marines said in a statement.

“His decisive actions resulted in the safety and protection of his teachers and fellow classmates.”

Bialy joined the delayed entry program in July out of a recruiting substation in Parker. He is scheduled to go to recruit training in the summer.

Vietnam veteran battling brain cancer wants to become U.S. citizen

LONGMONT, Colo. – Werner Trei is accustomed to being on a man on a mission.

This time around, the decorated Vietnam War veteran is on a mission to gain U.S. citizenship.

The 71-year-old said his family moved from Germany to Lincoln, Nebraska, when he was just 2 years old.

After he graduated from high school, he was drafted into the Vietnam War, defending a country in which he could not vote and returning home with three Bronze Stars.

“Every man that ever went out with me I brought back. Never lost a man. I can be proud of that,” Trei said.

He has qualified for green-card status over the years and was under the impression that once he served in the Army, he would gain citizenship.

But it never happened.

Now. Trei has brain cancer and is in hospice care. His caregivers at The Peaks Care Center in Longmont are reaching out to Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. Cory Gardner to help him finally become a citizen.

When asked what his favorite part about America was, Trei’s answer was simple.


Denver father questions policies after 7-year-old son is handcuffed at school

DENVER – A Denver man is now speaking publicly about his 7-year-old son being handcuffed inside his elementary school.

It happened April 19 at Florida Pitt Waller K-8 School in Green Valley Ranch.

Brandon Pryor said he received a phone call from the school that his son had been handcuffed after getting into an altercation with another second grade student.

“My son was really upset, and they were trying to calm him down and remove him from the classroom. He said he was in handcuffs for 30 minutes or more. That’s scary for an adult, let alone a 7-year-old kid,” Pryor said.

Denver Public Schools isn’t disputing the boy was handcuffed, and the incident is now sparking a broader discussion about the district’s handcuff policy.

KDVR said the incident isn’t isolated. According to numbers obtained through a public records request, 58 students have been handcuffed in Denver Public Schools over just the past two years. During the 2017-2018 school year, 31 students were handcuffed by Denver Public Schools Department of Safety employees. In 2018-2019, 27 students were handcuffed.

“A kid shouldn’t have to experience being placed in handcuffs like a criminal. School should be a safe place,” Pryor said.

Pryor hasn’t decided his family’s next move, but is hoping his son’s experience leads to big changes in district policy. The family is currently homeschooling their two sons. Pryor also said a lawsuit is still a possibility.

“If they don’t do the right thing, that’s definitely going to happen,” he said.

Denver Public Schools released this statement regarding its handcuff policy:

“Denver Public Schools is committed to providing learning environments where all students are treated with dignity and respect. Under our current policies, restraints such as handcuffs can only be used by Department of Safety personnel and only as a last resort to address imminent danger of serious harm to a student’s self or to other students or staff. We have a rigorous process to review allegations that we are not living up to this policy, including a Force Review Board. There is also a process with the Colorado Department of Education that provides external and independent review if parents choose to file a complaint.

We cannot comment on any pending investigation due to student privacy concerns.  However, District officials are in the process of reviewing both the use of restraints and the training for our security officers. Our Board of Education will review and provide recommendations on any changes.”

No jail time for school bus driver who admitted raping 14-year-old girl he met on route

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — A school bus driver in New York who admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl who was on his bus route has avoided jail and was sentenced to probation.

WWNY reported that 25-year-old Shane Piche will be on probation for 10 years and must register as a sex offender.

Piche pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in February and was sentenced on Thursday.

The judge noted Piche had no previous arrests and there was only one victim, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

“I wish Shane Piche would have received time in jail for the harm he caused to my child,” the victim’s mother said in a statement.

“He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.”

“He’ll be a felon for the rest of his life,” defense attorney Eric Swartz said. “He’s on the sex offender registry for a long time. Maybe not the rest of his life because of the level but this isn’t something that didn’t cause him pain and this isn’t something that didn’t have consequences.”

YouTuber captures semitrailer speeding by cars before deadly crash, fire in Colorado

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Video appears to show a semitrailer speeding down the shoulder of eastbound Interstate 70 in Colorado before a massive crash and fire Thursday afternoon.

The crash occurred near the Denver West exit in Lakewood. At least one person was killed. Several were injured.

The Lakewood Police Department said the crash began when a semitrailer traveling at a high rate of speed on the eastbound side of the highway collided with other vehicles, starting a chain reaction and fire.

An estimated 12 passenger vehicles and three semitrailers were involved in the crash.

The video, from Burger Planet on YouTube, appears to show the speeding semi passing stopped vehicles. The camera is then turned to show a large smoke plume rising from where I-70 goes under Denver West Colorado Mills Parkway.

The accident was still under investigation Thursday evening.

This is a developing story.