Marine a casualty of Afghan combat

A U.S. Marine based at Camp Lejeune has died during combat operations in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense announced Thursday that Sgt. Jacob M. Hess of Spokane died Wednesday in Helmand province.

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The 22-year-old Marine was assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

The military provided no details of how Hess was killed. The DOD release said his death is under investigation.


License plates for sports fans

Specialized license plates for Seahawks and Sounders fans went on sale Thursday and football fans were especially eager.

The state Department of Licensing said 1,810 Seahawks plates had been issued by about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, along with 148 Sounders plates.

The plates feature the 12th Man flag for the Seahawks and a team scarf for Sounders FC.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune reported the first 25 plates were auctioned off last month.

The Licensing Department has said demand will determine how many plates will be sold. Proceeds will benefit three nonprofits.


Car-crash victims are identified

Two men killed on New Year’s Day when the car they were in veered off Lakeview Boulevard East and struck a fire hydrant were identified Thursday.

Arthur Sawe and Julian Gray-Florance, both 24, were killed, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office

According to Seattle police, Sawe and Gray-Florance were headed north in a Ford Mustang convertible around 3 a.m. when the driver lost control for an unknown reason. The car left the road, hit a fire hydrant and rolled, police said. The two men were pronounced dead at the scene. A woman in the car suffered minor injuries and was taken to Harborview Medical Center, police said.

Police say the cause of the crash is under investigation.


520 lane to shut a few hours for fix

The right westbound lane of the Highway 520 floating bridge will close Saturday morning, to repair part of a safety barrier.

When the drawspan opens for boat passage, concrete blocks approaching cars. That barrier hasn’t been fully extending, so it requires repair, said spokeswoman Harmony Haveman Weinberg. The one-lane closure is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to noon, but could end earlier, she said.


Bertha inspection is postponed

Highway 99 tunnel officials don’t yet have an answer as to what is blocking Bertha, the giant drill that’s been stalled 60 feet below waterfront Alaskan Way since Dec. 6.

Early this week, the state Department of Transportation had said an inspection would happen Thursday. But Thursday morning, DOT said workers might not accomplish that until perhaps Friday.

Meanwhile, pumps are in place to reduce groundwater levels around the front of the machine, allowing crews to approach the rotary cutting face under normal air pressure.

It could be a few days before DOT announces a suspected cause of the blockage. Possibilities range from a giant boulder, to debris stuck between moving cutter parts, to mechanical damage.


Health-exchange head is quitting

The man who led Oregon’s problem-plagued health-insurance exchange has submitted his resignation.

Rocky King has been on medical leave since Dec. 2. His resignation is effective at the end of his leave, March 5.

The news came in a letter sent by King to the board of Cover Oregon on Wednesday. The board said Thursday it would begin looking for a permanent director.

King came under fire when the online-enrollment system failed to go live in October. The state’s online exchange still hasn’t launched and Oregon has had to rely exclusively on paper applications.

Oregon Health Authority Director Bruce Goldberg remains Cover Oregon’s interim director.


Boy, 5, who died in crash named

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office released the name of a 5-year-old boy who died as a result of a car crash in Auburn over the weekend.

Stacey Holmes died at Harborview Medical Center on Monday after a collision at 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Auburn Way South near the Muckleshoot Casino.

Auburn police said the boy and his 9-year-old sister were in a car driven by their mother’s 21-year-old boyfriend, who was driving up to 90 mph when he lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a large tree. Police said the mother was not in the car.

The driver remains at Harborview in critical condition, police said. The girl was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening injuries, police said.

Times staff and news services