Wyoming news briefs for November 5

GoFundMe campaign started for man injured in explosion

GILLETTE — A GoFundMe has been created to help the 34-year-old man who was hurt in an explosion Sunday.

Antonio Soriano was working at an oil production site Sunday morning when there was an explosion. A pump house and two empty 400-barrel tanks caught fire.

Soriano was taken to the hospital and was “immediately transferred” to the Banner Rehabilitation Center in Greeley, Colorado, according to the GoFundMe page.

He had injuries to his face and hands, and Wednesday afternoon, a family friend, Samantha Perez, said Soriano was in surgery for his hands. The extent of his injuries was not known at the time.

His wife, Isabelle, is “devastated,” Perez said.

Isabelle is with Soriano right now, but she’ll have to eventually commute between Gillette and Colorado to work and take care of their three kids, ages 16, 13 and 8.

“We’re just doing what we can to help out, because the mom has to be over there with their dad, they don’t really have family here, just close friends,” Perez said.

The campaign has a $5,000 goal, and it’s to pay for travel expenses and any unforeseen expenses that come up, Perez said.

“She works at a hotel, and she’s worried about having enough to pay the rent this month without her husband working,” Perez said.


Woman charged in theft of opioids

RIVERTON — A Riverton woman is accused of stealing 1,200 opioid pills from SageWest Health Care, where she worked in 2020. 

Maria Peterson, born 1973, now is charged with three counts of felony drug possession — each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines — one misdemeanor drug possession charge and another misdemeanor theft. Peterson was transferred to Fremont County District Court for felonylevel prosecution on Oct. 1. 

Court documents assembled by a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agent and filed in Riverton Circuit Court Sept. 3 allege that Peterson was responsible for transferring medications within the hospital, such as to different dispensers, or to disposal for expiration, but that about 1,200 of the pills in her care did not make it to their slated destinations. 

The SageWest Health Care pharmacy department director had reported to Riverton Police Department in January 2021 that Peterson had been stealing prescription medications from the hospital. 

In 2019 and 2020, Peterson worked as a pharmacy technician for the hospital, court documents state. 

“Her job description did not involve providing medications for patients,” the affidavit reads, noting that she transferred medications from one location to another within the hospital using dispensing machines. 

The hospital tracks medications from place to place using paper and electronic logs. 

Court documents allege that tablets of “varying weights” were removed from the pharmacy or medicine cabinets at the hospital and that Peterson signed them out electronically or by initialing a paper log. 

“Rather than placing them in another location, the medications would become unaccounted for within the hospital system,” documents continue. 


Grand Teton elk hunt begins this weekend

JACKSON — Grand Teton National Park’s elk reduction program will begin Saturday.

The only area open to hunters admitted to the program is Wyoming Game and Fish elk hunt area 75, located east of U.S. Highway 89. The Antelope Flats section of the area will close Nov. 22, and the remaining portions will close Dec. 12.

The Snake River bottom between Deadman’s Bar and Ditch Creek is closed. Also, Wyoming Game and Fish Elk hunt area 79 is closed “to limit harvest pressure on northern migratory and resident elk,” according to a park press release regarding the hunt.

Four hundred permits have been issued for the program.

Admitted hunters must carry their state license for elk hunt area 75, conservation stamp, elk special management permit and 2021 elk reduction program permit. They can use only non-lead ammunition and will also be limited in the number of cartridges they can carry per day.

The use of archery, handguns and other non-centerfire ammunition rifles is not permitted. Harvest is restricted to cows and calves.

The park encourages visitors to wear bright colors while the elk reduction program is underway.