CHRISTOPHER LEE RETURNED TO CALIFORNIA SUNDAY

Christopher Lee, the man accused of murdering Erin Corwin of Twentynine Palms, and dumping her body in a 140-foot mine shaft east of the city, returned to California late Sunday. The 24-year-old murder suspect was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail and is being held without bail. Christopher Lee will be arraigned in Joshua Tree Superior Court Tuesday. Lee, a former Marine who was stationed at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base but moved to Alaska in July after his honorable discharge, was Corwin’s neighbor on the Twentynine Palms Marine Base and her alleged lover. Corwin’s body was discovered by Sheriff’s investigators August 16, and Lee was arrested by Alaska police August 17. If convicted of Erin Corwin’s murder, Lee could be sentenced to life without parole or the death penalty.

MOTORCYCLE CRASH ON THE MORONGO GRADE SATURDAY NIGHT KILLS TWO

A motorcyclist and his passenger are dead after a crash coming up the Morongo grade Saturday night. The CHP said the motorcyclist lost control and collided with a vehicle on highway 62 shortly after 7:30 p.m. Responding emergency personnel found the 48-year-old female passenger dead at the scene, the rider, a 62-year-old man, was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center, where he died of his injuries shortly after. Neither of the victims has been identified. The crash occurred just up the grade from Indian Canyon Drive, according to the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department. Traffic waited up to three hours while emergency response crews cleared debris and the CHP investigated. Traffic was backed up all the way down the grade and on State Route 62 almost to I-0; traffic on Indian Canyon was backed up for about 2 miles. The California Highway Patrol could not be reached for additional details on Sunday.

THREE INJURED IN A FRIDAY NIGHT TWENTYNINE PALMS CRASH

Three people were injured, two critically, in a crash Friday night in Twentynine Palms. According to Sheriff and Twentynine Palms Fire Department reports, Tammy Owen, 50, of Valparaiso, Indiana, was driving a black 2013 Ford Raptor pick-up truck westbound on the highway when about 10:20 p.m. a gray, 2008 Nissan Altima, driven eastbound on the highway by Henry Casimir, 21, of Twentynine Palms, crossed the center line and crashed head on into Owen’s truck between Alfalfa and Timothy Avenues.

Accident Hwy 62

Accident Hwy 62-2

Witnesses told 9-1-1 the truck had flipped over from the impact, but bystanders were able to push the truck upright. Both vehicles were blocking the highway’s westbound lanes and traffic was diverted onto Two Mile Road for several hours. Fire fighters had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate Casimir from his car. He was flown by Mercy Air to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs with major injuries. Owen also sustained major injuries; her passenger, Ronald Owen, 52, also of Indiana, suffered minor injuries. They were both taken to Desert Hospital. Neither alcohol nor drugs appear to be a factor in the crash.

COUNTY EMPLOYEE CRITICIZES SUPERVISORS ON WONDER VALLEY ROAD TAX

At its August 19 meeting, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to continue to a later meeting a public hearing related to a road tax vote in Wonder Valley. A measure to increase the annual tax for a restricted zone within Wonder Valley had been approved by more than 2/3 of the registered voters who returned their ballots by mail. Reporter Dan Stork says a County employee sent an email to Z107.7 criticizing the Supervisors’ behavior…
Starlene Javier—who is employed by the County’s Special Districts office to conduct road inspections, in addition to overseeing operations of Wonder Valley’s community center and parks programs—sent an email to z107.7 in which she took the Supervisors to task. She wrote, “In the voting packet sent to the registered voters was a notice telling them they had until August 19, 2014, deadline to protest with a count of 50 percent of registered voters. They did not have 50 percent yesterday and the Board of Supervisors illegally surpassed the deadline by postponement and changed their minds on the election procedures that they had previously approved before the ballots were mailed out.” The issue is supposed to be revisited at the September 23 meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

NAPA EARTHQUAKE A WAKE UP CALL, REGISTER FOR A STATEWIDE DRILL

Yesterday 6.0 earthquake in Napa is a stark reminder that we live in Earthquake Country. There are many faults throughout the state capable of destructive earthquakes, and there are things we can all do to be prepared to survive and recover. The Great California ShakeOut on October 16 is part of a worldwide earthquake preparedness drill when more than 10 million people in California¬–-along with many more worldwide–-will practice a basic “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill. It’s also a great opportunity for you to review, revise and update your plans to prepare for, survive and recover from a major earthquake. We urge you to register for the ShakeOut drill now at www.ShakeOut.org. It is essential that people prepare their homes and places of business for survival and prompt recovery. Find out more at www.ShakeOut.org.

A FIRE IN JOSHUA TREE FRIDAY NIGHT

A Joshua Tree home under renovation sustained serious damage during a fire Friday night. According to County Engineer Jeff Allen, numerous 9-1-1 calls were received about 9:30 p.m. that a home in the 61000 block of Ala Vista Drive was on fire, with flames coming from the roof.

Photos courtesy San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Photos courtesy San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Photos courtesy San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Photos courtesy San Bernardino County Fire Department.

After determining that no one was inside the home, fire fighters went into attack mode and knocked down the fire in about 30 minutes. The Twentynine Palms Fire Department sent a brush engine to ensure that embers from the fire did not ignite nearby vegetation due to strong winds. Allen estimated the damage to the home at $30,000. The cause is under investigation. Allen reminds residents that California law requires that vehicles be parked a minimum of 15 feet from fire hydrants, and that hydrants must remain accessible to fire personnel.

OFF-ROADER BREAKS LEG IN SATURDAY CRASH

A man broke his leg during an off-road crash in Joshua Tree Saturday evening. About 7:30 p.m. Joshua Tree fire fighters were called to the Sunfair Dry Lake bed after receiving a call that a man had wrecked his quad and flown over the handlebars. The unidentified man sustained a broken right femur, and he was air lifted to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.

Medic Engine 36 set up a landing zone for Mercy Air 22.

Medic Engine 36 set up a landing zone for Mercy Air 22.

TWO ARRESTED IN THEFT OF DIRT BIKE IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

Two people were arrested Friday in Twentynine Palms, after a man accused them of stealing his dirt bike from his garage. According to a Sheriff’s report, a resident in the 74300 block of Pinon Drive opened his garage door about 6:30 Friday morning, and then went back into the house for a few minutes. When he came back into the garage, he discovered his dirt bike was missing. The owner heard the bike’s engine being turned on a few blocks away. The owner followed the tracks from his bike to a location on Adobe and Amboy Roads. He told Sheriff’s deputies that the suspect, later identified as Aaron Jones, dropped the bike and fled through the desert on foot. Deputies located Jones in the Hacienda Mobile Home park, where he was arrested for investigation of burglary, vehicle theft, and on two warrants. He was booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with his total bail set at $107,500. Also at the location with Jones was Stephanie Monje, who had warrants out for her arrest on several drugs charges. She was booked at the Morongo Basin Jail with her total bail set at $1 million.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MAN HELD FOR FELONY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A Twentynine Palms man was arrested early Friday morning after his roommate said he was beating a woman. According to a Sheriff’s report, the roommate called about 1 a.m. and said Travis Thompson, 24, was knocked an unidentified woman to the floor, where she may have been bleeding. After an investigation, Travis Thompson was arrested on suspicion of felony spouse abuse. He was booked and released on $50,000 bail.

JOSHUA BASIN ADOPTS WATER CONSERVATION ENFORCEMENT ORDINANCE

Water conservation efforts in Joshua Tree just got some teeth. Reporter Taylor Thacker says the Joshua Basin Water District just made strict state standards an enforceable local ordinance…
The Joshua Basin Water District met Wednesday, August 20th to discuss the new water conservation ordinance presented by the state. The ordinance included water use restrictions such as the application of potable water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff water onto other property or non-irrigated areas. Other restrictions included the use of a hose to wash vehicles that does not have a shut off nozzle, and the use of potable water in a fountain unless the water is part of a recirculating system. The ordinance also included ways the water district is required to promote water conservation such as making laws to limit outdoor irrigation of ornamental landscapes or turf. The Board adopted this ordinance as presented and without much discussion from the citizens present. The Joshua Basin Water District encourages everyone to conserve as much water as possible during this time of drought. For more information on how you can conserve water, call 760-366-8438.

FREE PARK ENTRANCE TODAY FOR PARK SERVICES BIRTHDAY

The National Park Service is 98 years old today, and to celebrate, Joshua Tree National Park, along with the other 400 national parks, are waiving their entrance fees today. Joshua Tree National Park was established as a monument in 1936 to preserve the desert and its iconic trees, and then created as a park 60 years later. More than 1.4 million people visit the park and surrounding communities every year.

FOOTBALL INJURY BILL WOULD AFFECT LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES

A new state bill, designed to reduce brain injuries and concussions, should soon be signed into law. Local school officials say they have already been using the proposed standards…
Seeking to reduce brain injuries and concussions, the legislature has passed a bill to become effective January 1, 2015, limiting full-contact practice for California middle and high school students. Assemblyman Ken Cooley explains: “What this bill does is, within that 18-hour framework it provides for three hours of contact practice, meaning game-like conditions. So, three hours total on two days, 90 minutes apiece, within the 18-hour framework.”
Athletic Director Jeremy Johnson of the Twentynine Palms Wildcats Athletics supports the bill and reports that the Morongo Unified School District has implemented these standards for several years.
“Another thing we’ve implemented here in our program before it’s even become law was if you’ve been deemed with a concussion, you were out for an automatic week, you had to go to the doctor, you had to go through all the protocols to be able to come back to play and I think it helps. I definitely think it helps.”

OPEN HOUSE AT MORONGO VALLEY FIRE TONIGHT

The Morongo Valley Fire Station will hold an open house Monday, August 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. Fire fighters and paramedics will be serving hot dogs, compliments of the Fire Fighters Auxiliary. Visitors will be able to take a tour of the fire station and ask questions. Kids will get a sticker from Sparky. The fire station is located at 11207 Ocotillo Street. For more information, call Charlie at 760-363-6454.

DRUM CIRCLE TONIGHT

A new moon drum circle will be held 7 to 9 p.m. tonight on the patio of the sanctuary at Joshua Tree Retreat Center. Participants are encouraged to bring drums, shakers, and tambourines. The drum circle is free, although donations of $5 for individuals or $10 per family are requested. For more information, call 760-365-8371.

ACCUSED MURDERER RETURNS TO CALIFORNIA LATE SUNDAY

Christopher Lee, the man accused of murdering Erin Corwin of Twentynine Palms, and dumping her body in a 140-foot mine shaft east of the city, returned to California late Sunday. The 24-year-old murder suspect was booked into the Morongo Basin Jail. The Desert Sun newspaper reports that Lee’s lawyer said he advised Lee not to fight extradition from Alaska because the end result would be the same: he would be returned to San Bernardino County sooner or later. Christopher Lee is scheduled to be arraigned in Joshua Tree Superior Court within the next few days. Lee, a former Marine who was stationed at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base but moved to Alaska in July after his honorable discharge, was Corwin’s neighbor on the Twentynine Palms Marine Base and her alleged lover. Corwin’s body was discovered by Sheriff’s investigators August 16, and Lee was arrested by Alaska police August 17. If convicted of Erin Corwin’s murder, Lee could be sentenced to life without parole or the death penalty.