Other items: Coast Guard copter's black box not found in Alaska; a panel says DSHS failed to protect toddler in Bellingham; and sexual-abuse charge against teen dropped in Everett.

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A 25-year-old Utah man was shot and killed yesterday when his brother apparently tripped, causing a gun to fire.

The shooting happened around 3:30 p.m. in the 28200 block of Cherry Valley Road. The victim and his 30-year-old brother had gone out to a field to either shoot targets or hunt, said King County sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Fuda said.

“The brother tripped, the gun was discharged and the younger brother was deceased,” Fuda told KING-TV.

The older brother reportedly used a cellphone to call for help, saying the victim had been shot in the neck, KIRO-TV reported. The station said the man waited for the sound of ambulance sirens and helped direct paramedics to the scene by firing shots toward the ground.

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Heavy fog and a large drainage ditch between the brothers and the ambulance reportedly hampered rescue efforts.


Coast Guard copter’s black box not found

Divers yesterday failed to retrieve the black box of a Coast Guard helicopter that crashed into the Bering Sea during an attempted rescue of a grounded freighter’s crew.

A commercial diving team spent hours searching for the data recorder after its transmitter was detected in the water near the stern section of the remains of the 738-foot Selendang Ayu. The divers plan another recovery attempt at the next weather break, which may not occur until Tuesday.

The helicopter with 10 people aboard crashed shortly before the soybean freighter ran hard aground and split in two on Dec. 8 off Unalaska Island, 800 air miles southwest of Anchorage.

Four people were rescued by another helicopter; six crewmembers were lost at sea and are presumed dead.

Meanwhile, oil spilled from the wreckage of the freighter is leaking too slowly and spreading too thinly to skim or break up with chemicals, spill responders said yesterday.


Panel: DSHS failed to protect toddler

A review board has found that the Department of Social and Health Services’ office in Bellingham did not adequately respond to an abusive situation that resulted in a toddler’s death in 2003.

Emerald Champagne-Loop died at age 2, after being beaten by a family friend now serving 13 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. In the months before Emerald died, social workers received five reports of missing teeth and bruises on her body.

A panel of outside professionals assembled to review the case concluded in a report released this week that DSHS workers failed to adequately document the injuries, didn’t communicate well with other agencies, and lacked training in some areas.

DSHS Regional Administrator Gia Wesley said the Bellingham office had been understaffed and overwhelmed. In the past year, staffers from across the state have traveled to Bellingham to reduce a case backlog, she said.

Several workers involved with the case have been reassigned, she said.


Sexual-abuse charge against teen dropped

A judge has dropped a sexual-abuse charge against a pastor’s 14-year-old son, ruling that the chief prosecution witness, a 5-year-old girl, was not competent to testify. Judge Thomas J. Wynne halted the trial Thursday in juvenile court.

The pastor began a campaign to change state law after his son, then 13, was questioned by a detective for more than two hours in January without the teen’s parents or a defense lawyer present.

The boy was charged with first-degree molestation for allegedly improperly touching the girl, age 3 at the time, while she was staying with his family in 2002.

Police said the teenager confessed, but last month Judge Ronald Castleberry barred use of his statement as evidence, ruling it was coerced and that the boy did not understand his rights.

The pastor said his son, who did not try to leave or ask for a lawyer, was wrongly accused and made a false confession only to get away from an aggressive police interrogator.

State law requires that parents be notified before children younger than 12 are questioned by law-enforcement officials.

The Seattle Times does not usually name minors charged with crimes.

The pastor said he would continue to press the Legislature to raise the parental-notification age to 17.

Times staff and news services