A look back at some of this week's top stories:
Authorities say there were no fatalities when the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River near Mount Vernon collapsed Thursday evening, dumping vehicles and people into the water below.
The failure of a bridge with a similar design to the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River brought new attention to the issue of bridge safety as the Washington Legislature considers committing $450 million toward the Columbia River Crossing project.
“I presume its going to intensify the debate over the safety of the bridges. That’s been one of the principal issues with the bridges to begin with,” said Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver.
Moeller, who learned about the collapse when contacted by The Columbian for comment, said he hoped no one was hurt or killed in the collapse.
“I think it raises the question over the whole aspect of bridge safety — not only with this bridge, but also with the infrastructures of this state,” he said.
“It is extremely tragic and very unforeseen,” said Rhona Sen Hoss, a Vancouver resident and member of the group Washington for CRC, when contacted for comment. “That’s why we need to build a bridge. We need to advance the CRC, so that something like that will never, ever, happen to our citizens and families here in our region.”
Read the full story here.
Moore, Okla., hit hard by tornado
The community of 56,000 people, 10 miles south of Oklahoma City, braced for another long, harrowing day.
OKLAHOMA CITY — A mile-wide tornado churned through the Oklahoma City suburbs, destroying homes for the second day in a row Monday, as part of a severe weather outbreak that was expected to spread in other parts of the Plains and Midwest.
A massive black-and-blue cloud dragged across the landscape just south of Will Rogers World Airport.
Television video showed debris from homes and businesses being carried aloft as the twister rolled through Moore, a community on the south side of Oklahoma City. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
In advance of the storm, the Oklahoma House of Representatives stopped work so Capitol employees could take shelter in the basement. Television and radio broadcasters urged residents to take shelter because the storm’s strength and size.
“We’re just waiting to see what happens. It’s a mile-wide tornado. It’s still grinding out,” said Mark Meyers, a spokesman for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. “We are currently on standby for tornado response. Whatever happens, we’ll be ready to respond.”
The strongest winds on earth — 302 mph — were recorded near Moore during a tornado May 3, 1999.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman had predicted a major outbreak of severe weather Monday in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Storms on Sunday killed two people near Shawnee, about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Gov. Mary Fallin earlier Monday took a tour of the areas hardest hit and she expressed concern that, with power out, Oklahomans might not receive warnings about the new round of storms.
Read more coverage here.
Someone has beheaded "Wendy Rose."
The large, metal statue, which normally stands about 10 feet tall on the Columbia Waterfront Trail, stands a little shorter now.
"The head, somehow, was stolen," city of Vancouver spokeswoman Barb Ayers said. "I can't fathom how this happened, frankly."
Although the statue doesn't technically have a head, it was originally built with a bandana — red and white polka dotted glass welded between metal — similar to the one worn by the iconic "Rosie the Riveter."
The bandana was taken sometime between May 7 and Saturday, when one of the sculpture's artists noticed the piece of the artwork missing.
The city reported the theft to Vancouver police Monday morning and sent a photo of the statue to patrol officers. Neighbors on Watch volunteers were also told to keep a lookout and police are contacting local recycling and trash companies of the theft, Ayers said.
Ayers said the city has also started filing an insurance claim for the statue, which, along with the James and Joyce Harder Memorial Plaza it stands on, cost the city $140,000. The statue was built by six artists who called themselves the Women Who Weld and was completed in 2005. It was unveiled to residents in 2007.
Some things you may have missed:
Luke Ashe's life suddenly became dark, surrounded by nothingness.
Then, just as abruptly as it left, the light came back.
"It was just black. It was a dark space," Luke said Monday. "Then one day, it came back to me. It got clear."
What the Vancouver man didn't know was months had passed during that time of darkness. While the 27-year-old felt like he had just awoken from a night's sleep, he'd actually been in an unexplained coma for months.
The darkness began in January. Nobody knows exactly when.
Luke's employer called his grandmother on the morning of Jan. 15 after he missed two days of work. Myrna Brown went to check on her grandson and found him lying in bed, breathing but unresponsive. He hadn't spoken to anyone since the evening of Jan. 13. Nobody knows when Luke slipped into the coma.
He spent three weeks at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center while doctors ran a litany of tests, trying to determine why the otherwise healthy 27-year-old was in a coma. Tests revealed Luke experienced several strokes and suffered from a lack of oxygen, but they never explained what caused the coma, said Gwenn Ashe, Luke's mother.
Read his story here.
On Sunday, the active and amusing Twitter account belonging to Ashley Corral had gone dark. Pretty strange for someone who had no problem with sharing video of the aftermath of her bloody leg-shaving session.
Then by Sunday evening, all the silence had made sense. Corral, a former Prairie High basketball standout, had been released from the WNBA Washington Mystics.
"I'm not 100 percent sure what's coming up next," Corral admitted Thursday. "It's kind of up in the air. It's something (that) I was not expecting."
You never see the pothole in the road when your eyes are gazing at the stars. So, Corral never saw this one coming because she has only pictured herself wearing a WNBA jersey.
Corral, 23, needs no long-winded adjectives attached to her name. Vancouver should know by now about her competitiveness and skill. How she won the 2008 Gatorade Washington Player of the Year as a senior and also made the McDonald's All-American team. Or how she set state tournament records in points, 3-pointers and steals.
But if you're still wondering about her, let's make this easy: Corral is the most accomplished high school basketball player from Clark County.
And this is only the second time in Corral's long and distinguished basketball career — which includes four years at the University of Southern California — that she had been cut. The first time happened last year with the Seattle Storm, and it was that humbling moment that had pushed and possessed her to try again.
It's kind of like what Tony Davis did a few years ago, as a Navy helicopter crewman. His job could mean plunging into the sea as a rescue swimmer, or manning a machine gun as his helicopter swooped down to check out a possible threat.
Things changed when the La Center resident was driving home after finishing his Navy hitch. He was injured in an automobile accident in California.
"I wasn't supposed to walk again," Davis said recently on a dock at Vancouver Lake.
After a long struggle, Davis is walking again. And the lake is where he pursues another target in the water: the finish line.
Davis has become an accomplished rower, with ambitions of competing in the 2016 Paralympics, to be held in conjunction with the Summer Olympics in Brazil.
"When I was hurt, I still wanted to play sports," Davis said.
Through the military's Wounded Warrior program, he was introduced to several possibilities — including "adaptive" versions of basketball, swimming and volleyball. And then he discovered his sport.
"I found rowing," Davis said. "When I got on the water, it felt like I was on a helicopter again. It was like flying."
Read the full story here.
If you're an animal-lover, you might want to check out some of the new pets blogs, including:
Mother Bird - http://bit.ly/18cttfH
Cat Tales - http://bit.ly/1ag2gpe
A Dog's Life - http://bit.ly/10RHrer
Pet Care, Health and Rescue - http://bit.ly/ZiS7bG
Dog's Eye View - http://bit.ly/10R5dYY