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PM News Brief: Bryce Canyon Tour Bus Crash Investigation, Bird Migration & USDA Discrimination

A photo of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Jerry and Pat Donaho
/
Flickr
In 2019, a tour bus crashed near Bryce Canyon National Park, killing four Chinese tourists. New investigative documents reveal the bus had engine problems earlier that day. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, March 31, 2021

State

Marking Transgender Day Of Visibility

Wednesday marked Transgender Day of Visibility, which comes at a time when trans youth are being targeted by controversial legislation across the country. The bills have ranged from barring trans youth from sports to preventing them from some healthcare services. Two such bills introduced in the Utah Legislature earlier this year failed. Sue Robbins is on the transgender advisory council with Equality Utah. She said this kind of legislation has turned transgender people into a “wedge issue.” Nick Arteaga is with the Utah Pride Center. To them this day is about celebration and helping marginalized people thrive. Read the full story. Lexi Peery, St. George

Judge Says The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Didn’t Interfere In Case

A Utah judge has ruled that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not interfere in a death row inmate's 2015 trial. Doug Lovell was sentenced to death for killing Joyce Yost three decades ago to silence her after she reported a rape. During the trial, the Church laid out ground rules for what local church leaders could say before they testified as character witnesses for Lovell. He claimed witnesses were silenced, or never contacted at all by his court-appointed attorney. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Judge Michael DiReda denied Lovell's verdict appeal. The Utah Supreme Court will hear the case next. — Associated Press

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah’s Department of Health reported 514 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. The week-long average of positive tests is 418 a day. The department also reported four new deaths — all happened before March. New case counts have come down dramatically in the last two months but infectious disease expert Dr. Andrew Pavia said the state should be aiming for 100 or fewer cases a day to truly get the virus under control. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Salt Lake Tribune Accepting Redaction Requests

The Salt Lake Tribune is accepting requests from people who want their name or image removed from past coverage. Lauren Gustus is the executive editor of the paper. She said people featured in past stories — especially those involving minor crimes — can submit Redaction Requests online. Then a committee will review them on a case by case basis. Gustus said local journalism should be constructive and help build stronger communities. The Utah Justice Coalition said mugshots can have lasting impacts on someone’s reputation. They can also affect a person’s ability to get a job or housing. However, Gustus says they won’t remove entire stories. — Ivana Martinez

Southern Utah

Investigative Documents Released About Tour Bus Crash Near Bryce Canyon

In 2019, a tour bus crashed near Bryce Canyon National Park, killing four Chinese tourists. New investigative documents reveal the bus had engine problems earlier that day. The National Transportation Safety Board released the documents Wednesday. They show the driver had to video call with his boss, who told him to crawl under the bus and give the starter “two good hits.”' That worked, and the bus started. Soon after, the driver lost control and veered off the road. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Rep. Burgess Owens Plans To Introduce ACRE Act

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-UT, plans to co-sponsor a bill he said will prevent discrimination in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It comes after the latest federal covid relief package which includes $5 billion to help non-white farmers. Owens says he’s “deeply concerned” Congress is perpetuating modern-day racial segregation. He said his Black grandfather was a farmer and would be horrified by this type of policy. The legislation would ban officials with the USDA from giving preferential treatment to people based on race, gender or national origin. The protections would be in place for things like hiring and contracting. — Ross Terrell

How People Can Help Or Harms Bird During Migration

Spring bird migration is underway, and will last through May. That said, there are some things people can do to help birds on their long journey — like keeping cats indoors and turning off outside lights at night. People can also put out water or bird baths, but make sure the area hasn’t had any bird salmonella outbreaks before doing so. Otherwise, that may contribute to a spread. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau