YUCCA VALLEY WOMAN KILLED IN INDIAN WELLS CRASH

A 22-year-old Yucca Valley woman was killed Friday when she was hit by a minivan in Indian Wells. Leah Meyers-McCracken, was hit by the minivan near the intersection of Highway 111 and Cook Street about 9:44 p.m. Leah Meyers-McCracken was pronounced dead at the scene. The 41-year-old Palm Desert driver, who was not identified, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators. Neither drugs nor alcohol are believed to have played a factor in the crash.

TWENTYNINE PALMS MAN EXTRADITED, ACCUSED OF SENDING PORNOGRAPHY TO A MINOR

A Twentynine Palms man was extradited from Chicago and now faces charges of distribution of pornography to a minor. According to a Sheriff’s report, deputies learned in December 2017 that Xander Banda, who was then 20 years old, had befriended a 13-year-old girl at a church event a few months earlier. Banda began messaging the girl, requesting nude photos from her, and he texted her nude photos of himself. When detectives completed their investigation and the District Attorney’s office issued a warrant for Banda’s arrest in January 2018. Banda was arrested in Chicago for investigation of distribution of pornography to a minor and extradited back to San Bernardino County on Thursday, January 30. Xander Banda was booked into the West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $25,000. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in a Joshua Tree court Friday.

SCHOOL DISTRICT CRACKING DOWN ON USE OF VAPING PRODUCTS

The Morongo Unified School District is cracking down on student use of vaping products in schools. According to school District Superintendent Tom Baumgarten, the use of vaping products by MUSD students is strictly against District policy and must be addressed for the safety of students. Reporter Andrew Dieleman shares the School District’s message on vaping…

The Morongo Unified School District’s message on vaping: “Don’t let your future go up in smoke.” As of January 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 60 deaths and more than 2,700 people hospitalized nationwide due to illnesses related to numerous different vaping products. To provide a healthy environment for students and staff, MUSD is cracking down on student use of all vaping products in District schools. The school District is urging students to not give in to the peer pressure when offered any vaping product.

25-YEAR-OLD WOMAN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN TWENTYNINE PALMS FIRE

A 25-year-old woman was seriously injured in a suspicious fire in Twentynine Palms Sunday evening. Firefighters were called to the blaze in the 73700 block of Desert Trail just before 8 p.m. and witnesses reported they heard screaming coming from the house. Crews reported seeing smoke and fire coming out of the front of the single-story home. County Fire Battalion Chief Donnie Viloria said that fire crews rescued a woman who was unconscious next to a bed in a bedroom from the fire; a dog was also rescued from the home. A 10-year-old girl was able to get out on her own; the husband was at a neighbor’s house. Morongo Basin Ambulance transported the woman to Hi-Desert Medical Center where she was to be flown by Mercy Air to another hospital. However, due to the strong winds, the helicopter was unable to fly. The woman suffered from smoke inhalation and other unspecified injuries. The house suffered serious smoke and fire damage, but firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating.

Sheriff’s deputies say that arson is the cause of this house fire in Twentynine Palms that seriously injured a woman.
Tami Roleff photo

MOBILE HOME A TOTAL LOSS IN JOSHUA TREE FIRE

A mobile home in Joshua Tree is a total loss following a fire Sunday. Firefighters from Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, and Yucca Mesa were called to the 61600 block of El Reposo Street just after 1 p.m. They arrived to find the double-wide mobile home well involved with flames and smoke. Crews, who were hampered by the strong winds, made an aggressive interior attack against the home and managed to keep the fire from spreading. The residents were not home; however, a pet lizard died in the blaze. The residents said they had gone to brunch and had turned off all appliances before leaving. There were no other injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

This home on El Reposo Street in Joshua Tree was completely destroyed in a fire Sunday afternoon.
Tami Roleff photo