McDonough deposition scratched again

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The Prescott Courier is reporting that Granite Mountain Hotshot survivor Brendan McDonough’s deposition scheduled for earlier this week to discuss details of the moments leading up to the deaths of 19 of his fellow crew members on June 30, 2013 was canceled.

The Courier states that McDonough was prepared to be deposed but that a disagreement between attorneys over who should be present for the sworn interview led to the cancellation. This marks the third time that McDonough’s deposition has been scheduled but not held.

Slow Response, Predictable Path of Thunderstorms, Were Precursors to Yarnell Hill Firefighters’ Deaths

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InvestigativeMedia is reposting the following story that was first published at 9:26 a.m., July 6, 2013. The story includes a series of bulletins issued by the Yarnell Fire Department that were removed from its website shortly after this story was first posted. The bulletins show that department recognized the threat posed by the thunderstorms by early on the afternoon of June 30, 2013, hours before 19 members of Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed in a box canyon west of Yarnell. In fact, the department warned the community to be on “high alert”  in an early morning bulletin on June 30.

By John Dougherty

Peeples Valley, AZ–Ninety-four-year-old Barbara Kelso was having dinner in a restaurant in this small ranching community 90 miles northwest of Phoenix on Friday, June 28 when she saw a lightning bolt strike the hills a few miles away. Moments later, smoke started billowing skyward.

Kelso, who retired in December as chairman of the Yarnell Fire District Board after serving seven years, immediately called 911.

“They said they heard of the smoke and someone was checking,” Kelso said during an impromptu interview at the Southwest Incident Management Command center where officials are directing firefighting operations for the Yarnell Hill fire that has burned more than 8,200 acres.

Kelso works as a volunteer for the Command, which is based in a local middle school. “I think I saw the lightning bolt that started the fire,” she said during a July 5 interview.

[Read more…]

Forestry division seeks subpoena to compel McDonough’s testimony

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The Arizona State Forestry Division has requested that an administrative law judge issue a subpoena compelling Brendan McDonough to be deposed on May 26.

Two previous efforts to depose McDonough about what he heard in intra-crew radio communications in the minutes leading up to the June 30, 2013 deaths of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were unsuccessful. McDonough was not with the rest of the crew when they were trapped in a box canyon west of Yarnell.

The forestry division is contesting three citations and a $559,000 fine levied by the state Division of Occupational Safety & Health for its alleged gross negligence in managing the Yarnell Hill Fire. The proceedings are before Administrative Law Judge Michael A. Mosesso.

“Although this Tribunal normally does not issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses at depositions, in this situation ASFD believes that it is necessary to do so,” a May 1 legal brief filed by forestry division attorney David Selden states. “ASFD has been actively attempting to take Mr. McDonough’s deposition for six months.”

McDonough was scheduled to be deposed last November, but that deposition was postponed because of a scheduling conflict with his attorney. The deposition was then set for Feb. 26.  Selden’s May 1 filing states the February deposition didn’t occur after McDonough’s attorney, David Shapiro, sent a copy of a letter from McDonough’s therapist stating “that deposition would be detrimental to the treatment of Mr. McDonough for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Selden noted that during the same period McDonough “avoided being deposed” that he had “been collaborating with an author on a book about the Yarnell Hill Fire.”

The forestry division is requesting the deposition occur before June 1 when another round of mediation talks  is scheduled seeking to reach a global settlement on the ADOSH citations and civil suits filed against the forestry division by surviving family members.