Firefighter killed in car crash

CHEYENNE – A Laramie County firefighter was killed in an off-duty accident around 3:43 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 80 near mile marker 342 west of Cheyenne.

Firefighter John L. Kennedy, 22, of Cheyenne died at the scene due to injuries suffered during the crash. He was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident, according to a Wyoming Highway Patrol news release.

Kennedy was driving a 2006 Kia SUV and was traveling westbound on I-80 when he merged from the left lane, across the right lane and into the merge lane. When the Kia entered the merge lane, it hit the back of a 2016 international commercial vehicle.

The driver of the 2016 commercial vehicle has been identified as Joseph Philip, 48, of Ontario, Canada. He, too, was wearing his seat belt, and was not injured in the crash.

Kennedy may have been using his cellphone and speeding at the time of the crash, and both are being investigated as possible contributing factors. He is the 134th person to die on Wyoming roadways in 2019.


Man convicted of abusing 9-year-old

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 21-year-old Laramie man was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor last week after taking an Alford plea, a legal term meaning the defendant retains his assertion of innocence while pleading guilty because he acknowledges a jury is likely to convict him.

Zachary Skagen was charged with the crime for inflicting penetrative sexual abuse on a 9-year-old girl during at least three separate incidences in July 2018.

Second-degree sexual abuse can carry a prison term of up to 20 years, but Skagen’s plea deal means prosecutors will limit their recommendation for a sentence to 13-15 years imprisonment.

Skagen was arrested in November 2018, but has since been released on a partial house arrest after a $25,000 cash bond was posted.

He is not allowed to leave the house without the supervision of the adult who’s supervising him.

Since his initial release, he’s been living on Garfield Street near the University of Wyoming’s campus, but he’s now set to move into a different house in West Laramie.

James Pracheil, an officer with the Laramie Police Department, conducted an interview with the victim in October 2018. Skagen corroborated the details of the sex abuse to Pracheil.

“I don’t know why I did it,” he reportedly told a family member.

The first incident of abuse took place in Las Vegas, while the rest occurred in Laramie, according to court documents.


From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers