South Dakota News

Driver in crash that killed SD boy pleads not guilty
MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — The driver in the crash that killed a 14-year-old boy in Mitchell last month has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges stemming from the incident. Twenty-two-year-old Karla Martinez entered not guilty pleas Tuesday to charges including third-offense drunken driving and vehicular homicide. Martinez's sports utility vehicle rolled in the ditch off a gravel road west of Mitchell June 25. The boy, identified as Lenard Boyer, of Mitchell, was a front-seat passenger. Two 14-year-old boys and a 12-year-old boy sitting in the backseat suffered minor injuries. Court records show the blood alcohol level of the Mitchell woman was 0.148 when the crash took place. The legal limit is 0.08. Vehicular homicide, the most serious charge against Martinez, carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

7 cases of rare infectious disease reported in South Dakota
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — State health officials say seven cases of a rare infectious disease that humans can catch from animals and insects have been reported in western South Dakota. State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says the cases of tularemia, sometimes called rabbit fever, have been reported in the Black Hills since June. He says the disease is "fairly uncommon but potentially severe." Tularemia symptoms in humans vary depending on how the infection was acquired. They include fever, chills and muscle ache; an ulcer may appears were the bacteria entered the skin. Six of the seven cases were adults over the age of 50 and one was a child under 5. Five were hospitalized. Kightlinger says one of the ill individuals had direct contact with a pet cat that tested positive for tularemia.

4 cases of West Nile virus reported so far this year in SD
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota health officials have confirmed four human cases of West Nile virus disease so far this year. The state Department of Health says the cases have been reported in Brown, Butte and Spink counties. The ages of the ill individuals range from 20 to 59. The virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The symptoms range from mild and flu-like to severe neurological issues. State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says about 20 percent of people who have the virus get sick, and only 1 percent develops severe complications. An individual trying to donate blood in Codington County tested positive for the virus when the fluid was screened. Kightlinger says officials will monitor whether the person becomes ill.

Only 40 gay couples apply to be married in SD in first month
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Forty gay couples have applied to be married in South Dakota during the first month following the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing such unions across the country. The state Department of Health provided The Associated Press with data detailing marriage licenses issued across the state from June 26 to July 27. Overall, gay couples in South Dakota make up less than 5 percent of all the couples that applied for licenses during that period. In Pennington County, which includes Rapid City, there were 20 issued; in Minnehaha County, which includes Sioux Falls, there were five. All other counties issued no more than three licenses. Advocates say the numbers are promising and reflective of the state's LGBT community but also the barriers its members still face in South Dakota.

Park fire probe concludes conditions were underestimated
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A report on a wildfire in Wind Cave National Park in April concludes the park underestimated how dry conditions would affect efforts to control an escaped fire. The Cold Brook Fire began as a prescribed burn. It escaped containment in high winds and grew to about 10 square miles. There were no injuries, and no damage to structures or private property. Chief Interpreter Tom Farrell said at the time that weather conditions were appropriate for a prescribed burn. The report by an interagency team at the request of the National Park Service acknowledged that and said staff had necessary training. But investigators also found there weren't enough resources on the fire's eastern side to control the escaped fire. Park Superintendent Vidal Davila says officials want to learn from the incident.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press