News Briefs: South Fork fatality, new TRUS teacher, barn owl rescued

South Fork fatality has lots of unknowns

When neighbors hadn’t noticed any activity for several days at the Three Rivers homeplace of Micheal Wright, they became more than a little concerned. After taking a closer look, they discovered Wright’s overturned pickup in a gully and detected the odor of decaying flesh.

They immediately called 911 and emergency responders arrived at the scene at 47777 South Fork Drive. What they found was an overturned 1997 Chevy pickup, and in the brush nearby was the badly decomposing body of Wright. It’s possible that Wright had been ejected from the vehicle or, the investigating officer speculated, Wright could have crawled out of the wrecked vehicle and died nearby. News Briefs: South Fork

According to the California Highway Patrol’s incident report, Micheal Allan Wright, 75, was on a private roadway headed toward his property. It is reported that Wright was traveling at a high rate of speed and lost control of his vehicle, running off the roadway.

The time of the accident was sometime between Wednesday, July 8, when Wright was last seen, and Monday, July 13, when his remains were discovered. CHP investigators are hoping that autopsy results will provide some clues to what led to the fatal crash. Investigators are not confident they will learn much from the autopsy because the body rapidly decomposed in the extreme heat and had been scavenged by animals. News Briefs: South Fork

Last month, a 130-acre fire on South Fork Drive was accidentally caused by Wright, attributed to a spark from a power tool. There are unconfirmed reports that the house that Wright was living in near where the fire started was destroyed in the blaze.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.   

New teacher hired at Three Rivers Union School

At the Wednesday, July 15, TRUS board meeting, the trustees voted 3-1 with Jason Hawes abstaining to approve Katie Warner
News Briefs: South Fork
Katie Warner. (Submitted photo)
to fill the vacancy of seventh-grade teacher. The lone dissenting vote was Mark Frick. 
“It was a vote for change at the school, not against Mrs. Warner, who I personally like,” said Frick. “We can never get new ideas if we draw the water from same well.” News Briefs: South Fork fatality
Katie Warner was raised in Orange County. She met her husband, Isaac Warner, who was raised in Three Rivers, while both were students at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Warner started her teaching career in Ridgecrest, obtaining her credential from Fresno State.
She returned to work in 2018 after spending a few years at home raising the couple’s two children, Alice Rosemary, 10, and Ira Douglas, 8. Katie has worked in various part-time positions since returning to work at Three Rivers School, including as substitute teacher, intervention aide, math teacher, and secretary to the TRUS school board.
“I am dedicated to the students, staff, and the families at TRUS,” Warner said. “I love Three Rivers and am building my roots in this town and amazing community.”
The rest of the teaching staff  for the 2020-2021 school year will be as follows: 
Kindergarten/pre-kindergarten – Liz Harrelson   
Grades 1/2 (combination class) – Jami Beck
Grade 3 – Linda Warner
Grade 4 – Katie St. Martin
Grade 5 – Laura Himm
Grade 6 – Megan Thorn
Grade 7 – Katie Warner
Grade 8 – Diane Garcia

Barn owl rescued
On Monday, July 13, this bit of good news in the current climate of so much bad: Dennis Villavicencio of Three Rivers, a volunteer firefighter with Tulare County Fire Department, answered the call to rescue a barn owl that had became ensnarled in a utility pole’s electrical line connector.
The pole was located on Redbud Lane near the intersection with South Fork Drive.  After neighbors made several calls for “official help” to no avail, Villavicencio arrived at the scene. Donning safety gear, Villavicencio climbed up the pole more than 25 feet from ground level and freed the frightened owl, which flew off apparently uninjured. 
One witness remarked: “Every community needs a guardian Dennis.” ews Briefs: South Fork
News Briefs: South Fork
A frightened barn owl awaits rescue from a precarious predicament.
News Briefs: South Fork
Dennis Villavicencio scaled the utility pole to free the ensnared barn owl. 

5 thoughts on “News Briefs: South Fork fatality, new TRUS teacher, barn owl rescued

  • July 17, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Yay, owl rescued! I love happy endings when it comes to animals in distress! <3

  • July 17, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks Dennis! There was some risk to helping this owl. You demonstrated great courage and care.

  • July 17, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Great story. Always appreciate the positive stories.

  • July 18, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Dennis, not only are we humans lucky to have you as a neighbor but now our bird friend is added to the list of grateful who have been rescued by your capable And brave self. Thank you!
    Shirley Keller’s

  • August 12, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    That’s a wonderful act of kindness! Thank you!


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