Category Archives: Peninsular People

SKHS grad flips out as L.A. stuntwoman

Coming up later tonight at www.kitsapsun.com, we profile a 2011 South Kitsap High School grad who is now a stunt woman in Los Angeles.

Sydney Olson, who started in gymnastics at Mile High Gym in Port Orchard and spent most of her time at Olympic Gymnastics Center in Silverdale, will appear Monday on “American Ninja Warrior.” I had never heard of it, but I learned that contestants have to navigate a strenuous obstacle course.

Olson’s skills in freerunning and parkour — both explained in the article which runs Sunday in the Kitsap Sun — helped her earn a spot on the show out of 10,000 people who auditioned.

You can read Olson’s story in print tomorrow or online tonight/Saturday when it posts at www.kitsapsun.com (I would expect by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m PST). You can see how she did in the competition by tuning in to “American Ninja Warrior” at 8 p.m. PST Monday on NBC.

You can see Olson in action in these YouTube Videos.

Wins, Fails and Grunts … in which Olson shows how much work it takes to master the moves.

BODYPOP, Official Music Video, in which she appears with social media entrepreneur Cassey Ho. That’s her on the right in the first frame.

Red Bull Art of Motion Submission 2014, in which she shows her stuff, like running up trees and flipping over backwards.

This post has been edited. The original version misstated Sydney Olson’s last name on first reference.

An unsympathetic autobiography from a Klahowya grad

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 6.39.50 PMAbout two-thirds of the way through “Smoke: How a small-town girl accidentally wound up smuggling 7,000 pounds of marijuana with the Pot Princess of Beverly Hills,” 2004 Klahowya High School grad Meili Cady confesses:

“…I’d hung my last hope for happiness on my future with Ben. But I knew that he would leave me. If I’d had the choice, I’d leave me too. I couldn’t stand what I’d become. I was stuck with me and this bizarre, unbearable reality that was suffocating me.”

Having read the previous 186 pages, seeing Cady come to the conclusion, “I’d leave me, too,” might inspire you set the book down for a moment and, if you’re a demonstrative type, yell out, “You think?” Yelling at a book doesn’t count for normal activity in most settings, but page after page Cady gives you reason.

For the uninitiated, Cady moved to Los Angeles after high school to pursue her Hollywood acting dreams. Over the years she landed some screen work, but not a lot. Finding a friend was tough, too. A mutual friend introduced her to Lisette Lee, the “Pot Princess” in question.

The story of what happened over the next few years was first revealed in a 2012 Rolling Stone story, “The Gangster Princess of Beverly Hills.” That was the first time many of us were introduced to Cady, who was Lee’s unlikely friend. When we did our story on Cady I was somewhat sympathetic to her, because in five decades I can count a few times when I’ve done things despite my suspicions because I wanted to believe those suspicions were off base. Wanting to believe can be a real hazard.

Reading Cady’s own written version in “Smoke,” I was less sympathetic, and that might be a compliment to her. Cady tells us what happened, what she did, without much effort to justify it. It’s a gutsy move. It’s also the most accountable way to tell a story.

The book is a fast read, reveals much that you didn’t know from the earlier stories and could be the last we ever hear of this tale, unless Lee starts talking or there is a movie. I don’t know about Lee, but the movie is a real possibility.

Another Kitsap crew runs in Boston

BostonCompactOn Monday 19 of our ambitious, dedicated and skilled friends will run the Boston Marathon. Bib No. 18775 is a friend of ours. Who you see here as Luz M. Rodriguez is someone my wife, Diana, and I know as Marcela.

We met Silverdale’s Marcela when she and Diana were teammates in a relay that runs essentially from the Canadian border in Blaine to somewhere on Whidbey Island. Those relays are a tough haul. Diana had to run two extra miles when she missed a turn. Marcela herself wasn’t sure she could tough out the last of three legs each runner agrees to run, but she did it, making it look like it was easy. Diana has since run the Portland Marathon and from what I can tell is not eager to run another one.

Marcela, on the other hand, set her sights on Boston some time ago. We’ve celebrated her progress. And since Boston is something you have to qualify for, we’ve been especially proud of her work. So has her home country of Chile. Marcela comes from the southern quarter of that country and on Friday was featured in her hometown paper. At the end of the story she’s telling anyone that if they want to, they should go after a goal like this one, repeating the Spanish version of the common English saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”

The view from Chile of Silverdale's Luz Marcella Rodriguez.
The view from Chile of Silverdale’s Luz Marcela Rodriguez.

While I don’t agree that anyone can qualify for Boston, if it’s not a marathon that’s in your dreams, there is something. And in that sense, Marcela is right. If she can achieve this dream, you can achieve yours. I have a few things I dream of accomplishing, and finishing a marathon is one of them. Aside from the fact that it’s hard for anyone (Well, a few people make it look pretty easy.) to run 26.2 miles, for me to do it would prove that I had accomplished so much more. If you’ve met me, you know what I’m talking about. Any marathon would be my Boston.

So maybe that’s the question. What is your Boston?

Good look to all our Kitsap runners. Thanks for inspiring us to pursue our Bostons.

Note from Esteef: I tidied this thing up quite a bit since its initial publication.  I normally give these things at least another read or two before hitting the “publish” button, but it was late on Friday and I spent most of the week coughing, so I was tired and ready to go home. Had I read it at least one more time I might have noticed a few things that needed changing, including the fact that I misspelled Marcela’s name throughout. I also forgot to mention that of all the Spanish or Portuguese-speaking nations in the world, Chile is the best. It’s not even a close contest. Some of it is the dramatic variety in the nation’s landscape, going from the driest climate on Earth to a point where the next neighbor to the south is a penguin. It’s also got great beaches, mountains and enough earthquakes to satisfy even the thirstiest of thrill seekers. I hear the wine is quite good. The shellfish is excellent and plentiful , Chileans have perfected the art of dressing up a hot dog and the empenadas should be part of every death row inmate’s last meal as a testament to our compassion for even the most vile among us. The best parts of Chile are probably the Chileans, except for the one in charge when I lived down there. He was a jerk.

Anyway, all this to say that most American of explanations, “Mistakes were made.” 

 

South Kitsap sisters are the Siskel and Ebert of children’s books

With a mom who’s a school librarian, how could Kai and Kiki Wilson not love books? Well, it’s not as if their mom Heather Wilson had to drag them kicking and screaming.

I interviewed the girls, 9 and 7, last week about their YouTube channel, Follow the Readers, where they review their literary picks and pans.

In our Features story Sunday, find out how the girls got their start … and their reading recommendations.

To find the Wilsons on YouTube, search Follow the Readers, and on Facebook, see https://www.facebook.com/followthereadersbookclub. Their blog is at http://followthereaders.com/.

While you’re waiting for the story, here are a couple of samples of their work:

CK grad and Kitsap 12 represents at his home in Super Bowl country

Note: When I first posted these photos earlier in the week, I left out most of the details because I wasn’t sure if I might include Ashtin Fitzwater in the story about 12s going to Arizona without game tickets. I posted it early because other news agencies were already getting the photo out there and I didn’t want to be too far behind them.

So here is an expanded version of Wednesday’s post, with more information I had then, and updates, including one that’s humongous! And I don’t use that word or exclamation points liberally.

Central Kitsap High School grad (as well as Ridgetop Junior High School and Emerald Heights Elementary School) represents the 12s at his home in Chandler, Ariz.
Central Kitsap High School grad (as well as Ridgetop Junior High School and Emerald Heights Elementary School) Ashtin Fitzwater represents the 12s at his home in Chandler, Ariz.

Ashtin Fitzwater left the Northwest in 2004 following his graduation from Central Kitsap High School, but remains a 12, representing in his new hometown of Chandler, Ariz.

We first posted this Wednesday, but a lot has happened since.

Fitzwater took about five hours on a Saturday to paint the home he and his girlfriend rent from her mother. I was skeptical, and so was one of my editors, that a house could be painted in five hours, but Fitzwater has skills. He graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in housing and community development and has worked in construction since. “I’ve painted a lot of houses,” he said.

The Seahawk logo on the lawn was done by hand. He set himself up to do it well, applying math to the Seahawk logo from his construction helmet to measure out a 20-foot-by-7-foot rectangle with corners staked with rebar. (And you kids say math won’t help you in life.) He used string to create the box for the bird and went to work, looking at his helmet and spraying the lawn.

This week, as you can imagine, there has been a crush of media in Arizona, including lots from Seattle. KING-5 TV was, I think, the first media outlet to post pictures of Fitzwater and his house. Fitzwater’s brother, Jeremy Hunt, re-Tweeted a KING-5 photo and mentioned he’s a CK alum, so I got him on the phone. Since then, other Seattle news agencies have been by and the Fox affiliate in Phoenix paid attention. A Spokane station, KXLY, has given him the most attention, which we’ll get to shortly.

Fitzwater said he’s seen lots of people driving by to get a look. A neighbor counted 30 cars one day. One family came by and the mom had a Patriots jersey on, so the 12s that were with her had fun and put duct tape over her mouth and wrapped a Hawk flag around her as they took pictures. The mom was a willing victim, so save the nasty letters.

Yesterday when Fitzwater arrived home he found someone had left him a jumbo bag of Skittles. He set up a camera to see footage of people responding to the setting. A lot of people have taken selfies, some of them looking around nervously as if a house that’s begging for attention is also demanding privacy. One day Fitzwater heard a woman yelling “We found it!” to her friends. They’d been out scouring Chandler neighborhoods looking for the Seahawk house.

As Fitzwater and I were talking Friday a mailman stopped across the street to get a selfie with the house behind him.

And so it has gone, but that’s not the biggest news yet. Hunt is, as of this writing, traveling down to Arizona to watch the game with Fitzwater, but that’s not the biggest news either.

KXLY caught the big news, Fitzwater proposing to his girlfriend, Melissa Duke, at night as both are standing on the Seahawk logo. The two have been together eight years and have been talking about marriage. They’ve been talking about it so much, in fact, that Duke kept telling Fitzwater that he couldn’t surprise her.

She was wrong.

A friend asked Duke on a scale of 1-10 how surprised she was by the proposal.

Can you guess her answer?

Hint: She’s a Seahawk fan, too.

Second hint: Look to the roof of the house, or any car with a flag waving anywhere near Seattle.

Standing behind them in the KXLY video were a pair of friends, Adam Collins (also a 2004 Central Kitsap High School grad) and Christina Adams. They’ve been engaged two years and have been having trouble figuring out where to get married and what kind of arrangements to make. According to Fitzwater they now plan to get married Sunday morning, on the Seahawk lawn.

Duke, for her part, has always dreamed of a destination wedding, so she and Fitzwater are beginning to make their plans for sometime in the future.

My suggestion: San Francisco, early February 2016. If all goes well they could be there to witness the birth of the Three-Hawks.

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How we got the river rescue story

Maddy Herring at the Skokomish River in Olympic National Park. Photo by Meegan Reid, Kitsap Sun
Maddy Herring at the Skokomish River in Olympic National Park. Photo by Meegan Reid, Kitsap Sun

On Sunday we told the story of Maddy Herring, a local 21-year-old who nearly lost her life in the Skokomish River. The story itself was certainly worth telling, but every once in a while the story behind the story is worth revealing to some degree. That is the case here.

Every morning and every evening we make calls to the local fire agencies, Washington State Patrol, the coroner’s office and to Central Communications to ask them and other local police agencies if anything happened worth reporting. It’s just one way we learn about things. Other times it’s people calling us, messaging us on Facebook or Twitter or we hear something on the scanner. It’s not the only way we learn things, but sometimes it turns into something newsworthy. The vast majority of times there is nothing new to report that comes from these calls. But they are worth making because of the times there is something worth reporting.

On Monday, Aug. 25 it was my turn to make the night calls. Included on our list of calls are three Bremerton Fire stations. My recollection is that I called one station and the officer who answered said there was nothing to report from the department, but that I ought to talk to Kevin Bonsell at Station 3 because of something he experienced while out with his family at Staircase the day before. When I called there and talked to another department officer I asked if Bonsell was available. I told him I had heard he had experienced something unique on Sunday and he told me the entire story.

After hearing what happened I was eager for someone here to get the story in the paper for a couple of reasons. One was that there was a public service element to it that reminded people of the dangers rivers can pose. The second, though, was that the story had that element of danger, but ended well for everyone. People showed up and did what they could and Maddy Herring is alive because of it. Bonsell said he would see if the family was willing.

My understanding is the Herring family found him again by reaching out through someone at the Central Kitsap Fire District, and that word got over to Bremerton through them. No one who was directly involved was advertising a story. That makes it even more attractive, because no one was looking for publicity just for themselves. Bonsell didn’t reach out to me, but once I asked him to tell the story he saw the public service benefit as well.

It took a few days but eventually Bonsell called me back with phone numbers for Maddy and her mother. By the time I spoke with Maddy it was a week and two days after the event. I was hoping I could get Bonsell to go out to the site to point out where it happened and talk on video. I had very little hope that Maddy herself would be willing to go. When I spoke to her, though, she was up for it, again recognizing the public service aspect of the story. So we made plans to meet her out there on Friday with a photographer, Meegan Reid.

The video setting is not far from where it all happened, but it’s not exactly there. When we first got there she tried to recognize the spot and could not right away. We eventually figured that the river was running lower than it was the Sunday almost two weeks before. So we filmed from a nice place to provide a good setting for the story. As you can see, Maddy was quite good at retelling it.

After we finished filming Maddy, Meegan and I began walking back to our car as Maddy decided to hike further up the trail. Meegan and I kept thinking that we had missed a turn on the trail so we hiked a little more than we’d planned before making it back. I decided to go the ranger’s station and see if we could get an incident report, which was when Maddy returned from the trail. In the interim she had found the actual spot where she was stuck and took some pictures. She said it looked more or less the same as it had that Sunday, but there would have been no way we could have gone down there with our cameras. She said seeing it made her heart race a little and she was careful not to get too close. The other bonus was the Herrings had left two pair of flip-flops and a T-shirt behind in all the chaos, and that they were still there two weeks later.

A man described as a political science professor also played a role in the rescue. I reached out to several at the different colleges in the area and struck out. Maddy’s mother, Theresa, called me on Friday and we spoke that day. I wrote the story and edited the video that night.

This whole thing came about because of a regular phone call we make in which we essentially ask, “Anything happening?”

My guess is the crews at the fire stations are not glad we interrupt their mornings and evenings to ask that question. I’m always glad when they tell me the calls have been routine. Some of that is because when the calls are not routine it usually means something bad happened to someone. The other part is if something happened it means more work. We’re like NASCAR fans who don’t necessarily want there to be a wreck, but if there is one we don’t want to miss it.

Most local fire agencies, the ones who still welcome our calls, have been very good about sharing what’s happening with us. Maybe it’s because they see the public service element in what they tell us. I’m sure sometimes they get disappointed in how we write what happened. That’s the risk, I suppose. But I think the public is well served in that relationship. And it’s because of that relationship that we were able to tell Maddy Herring’s story.

On Saturday, memorials for two young people

A summer of loss.

This is how it feels. Three young people in Kitsap County died within a month of one another.

On July 4, Josh Osborn, 17, of South Kitsap, was on an outing with friends when he fell into the Ohanapecosh River. His body was recovered on July 28.

On July 14, JJ Hentz, 12, also of South Kitsap, was found floating in Island Lake. He died two days later at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma.
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Jenise Wright’s parents reported her missing on Aug. 3. The last time the 6-year-old was seen was around 10 p.m. the night before. On Aug. 7 her body was found, partially submerged in a muddy bog near Steele Creek Trailer Park in East Bremerton, where her family lives. On Aug. 9, Gabriel Gaeta, a friend of the Wright family, was arrested on suspicion of raping and killing Jenise.
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A memorial for JJ Hentz was held several weeks ago. JJ was “a bubbly and energetic boy with an old soul,” said cousin Jaime Wainwright, whom JJ called “Aunt Jaime.”

On Saturday, Josh Osborn and Jenise Wright, will be mourned at memorial services a couple of hours apart. Both are open to the public.

Jenise’s service is at 1 p.m. at the Silverdale Stake Center, 9256 Nels Nelson Road NW.
Jenise was outgoing, always at the center of activity at the mobile home park. She loved the colors pink and purple.
The Wright family is accepting donations to help offset expenses. Donations can be made online at a gofundme account or at Chase Bank branches, under the “Jenise Wright donation account.”

Josh Osborn was “every parents’ dream” according to his obituary, written by his family. “He was kind, handsome, smart, funny, but most of all he had the biggest, most loving heart. Josh loved life and he lived every day to its fullest. He had many passions and dreams.”
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A memorial for Josh is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at the South Kitsap High School gym. In honor of Josh, the family asks that you wear your Seahawks or South Kitsap gear.

Josh Osborn’s body recovered by Kitsap-based mountain rescue group

Through a series of chance circumstances, the group that recovered Josh Osborn’s body Monday on a river near Mt. Rainier was the Bremerton based Olympic Mountain Rescue.

Josh fell into the turbulent, glacially fed Ohanapecosh River on July 4 during an outing with friends. Warm weather that led to snow melt made the river especially high, hampering search efforts. On Sunday, however, the Port Orchard teen’s body was spotted by kayakers, who alerted authorities.

But getting to him was no easy matter.

Josh lay in a foot of water between a mile and a mile-and-a-half from where he fell in, according to Roger Beckett of Olympic Mountain Rescue, who got the call about 2 a.m. Sunday from the state’s Emergency Management Division. Beckett coordinates rescue efforts for the group.

Typically, a mountain rescue group from Tacoma would have been called first, since they are closer, Beckett said. But because rescue groups are staffed by volunteers, the matter of who responds depends on who can most quickly rally a group of people with the technical skills required for the situation.

Josh’s body was reported to be in or near a rocky gorge kayakers call the “elbow room,” a particularly challenging stretch of the river, with narrow chutes of foamy white water and deadfall trees littering the route. Beckett expected rescuers would need to rappel into the gorge.

“This isn’t a place where anybody goes unless they go down to fish and kayak. It’s a rugged part of the river system,” Beckett said.

This picture, courtesy of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, gives a visual of the river.
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By 8 a.m. Monday a team of six Olympic Mountain Rescue members arrived at Packwood to receive a briefing from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, which was leading the search and recovery. Beckett did not go along, but he got a briefing later from team members. They split into three groups from the base of operations near the intersection of highways 12 and 123 and combed the riverbank at the bottom of a steep grassy ravine, according to Beckett.

Finally, they located Josh and were able to reach him, placing him in a stretcher, which they lifted to the road in several pitches, using a 600-foot rope.

Olympic Mountain Rescue, established in 1959, is made up of 25 to 30 members familiar with alpine climbing and specially trained for rescue and recovery in rough terrain, where even first responders are hard put to go.

OMR members participate in a couple dozen rescue or recovery efforts most years, and they took part in the search for missing outdoors writer Karen Sykes in June on Mt. Rainier. Sykes, an experienced mountaineer, died of hypothermia on the mountain. The group did not participate in rescue Tuesday of a 25-year-old Bremerton man who fell down an embankment under High Steel Bridge on the Skokomish River.

When teenagers defy our expectations

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On Monday when we heard the scanner call of a drowning at Island Lake my heart stopped a bit. My family had been there the evening before. My youngest, Apollo, he who cuts his own hair, had been swimming. It’s what you do when it’s warm out.

The picture on the left was taken that night from Island Lake Park. Sunset pictures were all over Facebook that night. This one is far from the best one.

There is no joy in learning it’s not your kid. There is no celebration in any of it.

Even learning that a group of about nine kids who were there swimming did all they could to save the boy’s life is overshadowed by the fact that as of Tuesday night that 12-year-old boy is in critical condition. I am, like much of this region, so impressed with what those kids did. That this boy has a chance to survive at all is because of them, and because of some adults who also happened by at the same time.

And yet, like everyone else, I want more than anything to hear that the boy will be OK. Then we can really celebrate what teenagers did. I think I can cast aside my job-mandated Olympian objectivity in saying that.

This, too. Today I got to talk to the mother of one of the kids. I said what I think anyone else would say, that no matter how this turns out those kids did the right thing.

Even if celebration is not in order, it’s comforting to know what happened. Anyone who has ever been a parent knows that stuff happens beyond your control. We obsess over details and still miss things. Life happens at a pace that sometimes outruns us. There are times we need the village to step in. We don’t necessarily plan for it. We try to live like we don’t need it. And yet there are times we find ourselves thanking whatever god we acknowledge for the times angels in the form of other humans appear to save us.

Or to save our kids.

This time it was teenagers. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to give up on them, maybe even your own. Most times we find ourselves wondering what they’re capable of it doesn’t occur to us that they might be capable of saving a life.

UPDATE: Most of you know by now that things did not end as we hoped. Jeffrey Hentz died Wednesday morning.

Osborn family expresses gratitude for support following son’s death

On Thursday, hundreds gathered to celebrate the all-too-short but amazing life of Josh Osborn, the 17-year-old South Kitsap High School student who drowned July 4 in a river near Mt. Rainer.

Josh’s mother Jennifer Osborn sent a statement on behalf of the family following the candlelight vigil, which I share here with you, along with information about fundraisers for the family (below).
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“There really are no words to express the pain our family is feeling. A piece of our hearts is gone and no amount of time will ever heal that.

“Josh was the most amazing son who touched everybody he met in some way. He lived his life to the fullest and put 100 percent into everything he did. His family, girlfriend Gianna and his friends were the most important things in his life. He held those relationships close to his heart and was fiercely protective of those he loved.

“His other love in life was football, he ate breathed slept football. I remember how excited and proud we all were when he was one of only a few sophomores to make the varsity roster at South Kitsap High School.
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“Our time with Josh will always be cherished and the sadness we feel because of everything we will miss out on is unbearable. He meant so much to so many people and will be deeply missed by all who had the priveledge of knowing and loving him.

“His dad Brian, brother Jacob stepmom Mary Jo and myself would like to say thank you for all the love and support we have received from family, friends and the community. You have lifted us up in our time of need and for that we are forever grateful.

“Josh’s legacy will forever live on in our hearts. His sweet soul and beautiful smile will never be forgotten. We all feel his presence every minute of every day.

“Thank you all that came to the candlelight vigil. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, and in that moment, as much as our hearts are hurting, we felt a sense of peace and joy.

“RIP my sweet little man cub. Our angel here on earth now our angel in heaven. No words can ever express how much you were loved but I know you knew that every day you were on this earth.”
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— Faith Fulsoul, a family friend, is hosting an online fundraiser at GoFundMe.com, www.gofundme.com/b4bag8. The goal is $25,000. The site has more than 100,000 shares on Facebook.

— A spaghetti feed fundraiser is planned 4-8 p.m. Sunday at Christian Life Center, 1780 Lincoln Ave. SE, Port Orchard. It is $6 a plate with $1 a ticket raffle.

A car wash is planned 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 26 at The Frozen One frozen yogurt shop, 1800 Mile Hill Drive, Port Orchard.

— The Route 16 Running Club has included a memorial for Josh Osborn in beneficiaries of its annual Miracle Run 5K on Aug. 9 in Gig Harbor. At www.miraclerun5k.com, click “online registration” to designate a donation. The run begins at 9 a.m. at South Kitsap Regional Park, 2841 SE Lund Ave., Port Orchard.