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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man dies in fall from 'party bus'

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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man dies in fall from 'party bus'
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North Dakota

Walhalla campground evacuated; Crystal conserving water

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The fast-rising Pembina River forced campers to evacuate the city park in Walhalla on Monday, as heavy rain prompted flood warnings across the region.


While the majority of campers managed to escape to higher ground before being inundated, it took some heavy equipment to pull out some of the recreational vehicles, according to local officials.

"The river's risen about 7 feet in the last 24 hours in the town of Walhalla," Pembina County Emergency Manager Andrew Kirking said Monday afternoon. "The town did a good job of getting some Canadian visitors out of the city park."

Meanwhile, residents of Crystal were asked Monday to voluntarily conserve water because the local lift station was unable to keep up with flooding, Kirking said.

Crystal residents began sandbagging the community Monday morning for the second time in a month.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings Monday for Pembina, Walsh and eastern Cavalier counties. The warnings were expected to last until 3 p.m. today, as another inch or more of rain is expected in the region, which has recorded as much as 5 to 6 inches of rain since Friday.


Red River at Fargo expected to hit minor flood stage

FARGO -- Rains that began over the weekend are expected to continue in the Red River Valley through at least tonight, leading to a National Weather Service flood warning for creeks and rivers in the region.

There's also a chance for spotty, overland flooding.

From late Friday evening through Monday morning, Fargo received 1.44 inches of rain.

The Red River was below the flood stage in Fargo of 17 feet Monday, but the weather service expected the river to reach minor flood stage of 18 feet by Wednesday morning.

The river is expected to reach 18.5 feet by Friday before starting to fall, according to information on the weather service website, which said other rivers in the area are also expected to rise, including the Buffalo River in Clay County, Minn., and the Wild Rice River in Norman County, Minn.

The weather service provided the following rain totals for Friday evening through early Monday morning for the following cities (totals are in inches):

Fargo, 1.44; Osage, Minn., 3.71; Park Rapids, Minn., 1.65; Richville, Minn., 1.65; Cavalier, N.D., 5.5; Bisbee, N.D., 2.57; Colfax, N.D., 1.84.


Fifth person arrested in musician's death

FARGO -- The number of people accused in the heroin overdose death of a Fargo blues guitarist has grown to five.

Kimberly Wright was arrested Friday in Minneapolis. She is charged in federal court with conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance resulting in the death of 30-year-old Cody Conner.

Investigators say Conner was addicted to heroin but disliked needles.

Seth Lund, Nicole Wadsworth and Nathan Evenson were charged earlier and pleaded guilty in the case. Emily Lund pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial June 11.

Authorities say members of the conspiracy traveled to Minneapolis to obtain the heroin. Conner died last June.

Wright's arraignment is scheduled for May 31.



Man pleads guilty to molesting two girls

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A Willmar man pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree criminal sexual conduct for molesting two young girls over several years.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, Jose Luis Ramos, 54, will have eight additional counts dismissed, including seven felonies and one gross misdemeanor. Sentencing is scheduled for July 8.

According to the complaint, the investigation began when a now 21-year-old woman reported to Willmar police that Ramos had sexually abused her from the time she was 7 to when she was 14. The woman reported that Ramos gave her a dollar or two and told her not to tell anyone. The woman said all of the incidents, except for one that occurred in Chippewa County, took place at a Willmar residence.

A now 17-year-old girl also reported that Ramos abused her at a Willmar residence from the time she was 7 to age 16. She also told the investigator that Ramos offered her money.

Court records show he was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in February 1998, with a stayed prison sentence, 180 days in jail, five years of probation and a $990 fine and was discharged from his probation in March 2003.


Still time to apply for energy assistance

ST. PAUL -- The deadline to apply for help from the low-income Energy Assistance Program is May 31.

According to a release from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, grant funds are still available to help pay heating bills for low-income Minnesotans -- especially seniors, people with disabilities and families with children.

The average energy assistance grant is $500 per household. Low-income households that qualify are served on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apply for energy assistance through local energy providers. The program pays utility providers directly. A list of the 34 providers around the state is available by calling (800) 657-3710 or at

Other forms of assistance may be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies. See for a list of resources.


Worthington boy killed in auto accident

LAKEFIELD, Minn. -- A 5-year-old Worthington boy died Saturday after being hit by an SUV.

The accident occurred at 11:22 a.m. Saturday on Jackson County 4 at the south end of Loon Lake in Minneota Township, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said Monday in a news release.

Marjorie Svoboda of rural Jackson was driving a 2011 Ford Explorer and struck Yomi Alexis Castillo of Worthington when he ran across the road directly in front of her, the release said. Castillo was transported to Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake, Iowa, where he was pronounced dead.

Svoboda was not injured, and the vehicle sustained minor damage.

The Minnesota State Patrol is assisting the sheriff's office in the ongoing investigation.


Suspect's dog helps police in chase arrest

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Moorhead police nabbed a suspect in a Sunday morning car chase with a little help from the suspect's canine companion.

According to a Moorhead police report, an officer tried to make a traffic stop on an SUV about 1 a.m. when the SUV fled and the officer gave chase. The SUV became stalled after striking a floodwall, and the pursuing squad car collided with the SUV, disabling the squad car.

The SUV then fled again, the report said.

Several hours later, an officer spotted the suspect from the pursuit standing outside an apartment building with a dog. The man ran, leaving his dog behind.

However, the dog followed the man, leading officers to the suspect's hiding place in a group of trees, the report said.

Police arrested Nathan W. Carr, 35, of Moorhead.

He was being held in the Clay County Jail on a warrant for a probation violation from a DWI charge and on a gross misdemeanor warrant for driving after cancellation.

Reports have been forwarded to the Clay County Attorney's Office for review and consideration of charges, including fleeing in a motor vehicle and first-degree controlled substance possession.



Man dies in fall from 'party bus'

ELLSWORTH, Wis. -- A River Falls man died late Saturday after he fell from the rear door of moving bus as it came into Ellsworth on U.S. Highway 10.

Joel K. Velure, 23, apparently fell from the rear fire escape door of a "party bus" operated by Kilimanjaro Taxi Service of Hudson. He struck the pavement and reportedly received immediate medical attention but died before he could be airlifted.

The accident remains under investigation by the Ellsworth Police Department with assistance from the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Ellsworth Officer Darren Foss said the bus was impounded after the accident.

Foss declined to release any further details, such as whether an autopsy was ordered, how many passengers were on the ride, or where the group was coming from or heading.

The vehicle was an old school bus, repainted and converted to haul passengers to and from wedding receptions, bar crawls and other private events.

"A party bus is a cost effective way to organize your night out on the town without leaving anyone stranded and also saves you coordinating your guests through streets they aren't familiar with," the Kilimanjaro website says.