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K-9 officers help rescue canine from South Umpqua River

John Seward regularly takes his neighbor’s golden labrador retriever Peyton for an afternoon stroll around Stewart Park.

“It’s good for him to get some exercise, and it’s good for me, too,” Seward said of the 6-year-old Peyton.

Except for Tuesday, when a leisurely jaunt along the South Umpqua River turned out to be anything but a walk in the park.

Seward said as the two were walking along the bike path near the Fir Grove soccer fields, Peyton decided to stroll down the hillside to the South Umpqua River below.

The problem was that after a few feet, that adventure led to a roughly 8 foot drop into the river.

“I didn’t see him jump in,” Seward said. “I went to look for him, and there he was paddling around. He kept trying to get back up the bank, but he couldn’t.”

Instead, Peyton was standing in the river atop a rock shelf near the bank. Seward surveyed the situation, ditched his shoes and worked his way down the embankment toward Peyton. Once he reached the dog, he put on Peyton’s leash and attempted to lead the 100-pound canine back up to dry land.

“His collar slipped off his neck and I’m thinking, ‘this isn’t good,’” Seward said with a laugh.

Seward said his attempts to help push the massive pup up the embankment also failed. So there he was, shin-deep in the river with a soaking wet dog and no clear way back up to the bike path.

So, Seward swallowed his pride, grabbed his cell phone and called the Roseburg Police Department’s non-emergency number, explaining his situation to the dispatcher.

“She wasn’t laughing at me, at least not overtly,” he joked.

Shortly after, Roseburg K-9 Sgt. Ryan Dingman arrived and took a look at the precarious situation.

“It’s a gradual bank, but then it drops off pretty steep,” Dingman said. After a few minutes, Dingman reached out to Roseburg K-9 officer Chris Bonebrake, who arrived shortly after with a 20-foot leash and harness.

The harness was tossed down the bank to Seward, who was able to collar Peyton, and then Bonebrake and Dingman were able to pull both man and dog up onto flat ground.

Now that both had been rescued, there was still one matter of business: Seward explaining to Peyton’s owners what had happened.

“I just started laughing,” Peyton’s owner Duane Rose said. “Once we got done laughing, we wanted to make sure (Seward) wasn’t hurt trying to lift that dog.

“We’re just appreciative of the officers that helped out and are happy to have them in our city,” Rose said.

Seward and Rose have been neighbors in the Hucrest area for years, and that, while eventful, he was thankful Tuesday’s adventure came with a happy ending.

“It’s not how I wanted to get my 15 minutes of fame,” he said, “but there are worse ways.

“The dog had a good time, though.”

On the road again: Driver education resumes with plenty of coronavirus protections in place.

Charis and Corinne Childers turned 16 a few months ago, but they had to wait to get take driver education classes until early March.

“My parents wanted us to take it for the experience driving,” Corinne said. Charis added that their older sisters took the course as well.

Mike Pardon, driver education coordinator at Roseburg High School, said students taking the class are shown to have fewer accidents and be safer drivers. However, because of COVID-19 the program was shut down for nearly a year.

“We shut down March 13 last year,” Pardon said. “That was our last day, and we weren’t able to continue. We had already started our spring session, and so that stopped cold. And then we started back up a year later, really.”

One of the reasons the program was stopped and took a long time to restart, was because the school district did not have insurance in case a student, or staff member, did get sick with COVID-19. In early 2021, the Oregon Department of Education created guidelines for school districts offering driver education.

While many driver education programs across the state stopped offering classes during the pandemic, Umpqua Community College was able to get approval to resume driver education in June 2020 — one of the few in the state to do so.

Charis and Corinne said they thought about going to the community college to take the course, but found the location to be less convenient. Instead, they opted to start driving with their parents and enroll in the high school program when it opened back up.

“A lot of my friends did go through UCC, so it’s been hard to wait,” Charis said.

Robin Van Winkle, dean of community education and partnerships at Umpqua Community College, said demand has increased since the start of the pandemic. Umpqua Community College has had nine sessions and served 132 students since June 2020.

At Roseburg High School, 63 students enrolled when the class was offered in March 2021 after a yearlong hiatus due to COVID-19. A change from the usual 75, but that was all due to guidelines put in place by the state to try to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Van Winkle said students still require 12 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, six driving and six observing. An instructor will be in the car with two students at one time, with all of them wearing face coverings and the inside of the car is cleaned before, between and after driving instruction.

Roseburg High School and Umpqua Community College are the only two places in Douglas County that offer Driver Education approved by the Oregon Department of Education, There are 46 providers throughout the state.

Jody Raska, driver education program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said 30 sites statewide had been reopened as of March 30. All providers have to undergo an approval process and receive regular compliance visits, instructors also receive training and must meet requirements to become certified.

“We found from ODOT research is that as (students) get the foundation and they continue to drive, by the time they’re 18 and 19 years old: They don’t get as many tickets, and they aren’t in as many accidents,” Pardon said. “All those things as they get older are really pivotal. I think the big thing for us is getting students to make the right choice.

“We can teach them how to drive a car, but they’ve got to make the right choices — like not to speed, to drive defensively, to make sure they see things before they act. I think those are critical and that’s what I try to do.”

At Umpqua Community College, Zoom classes allowed for more students, but getting additional qualified instructors would take time. Van Winkle said all instructors have to complete a three month course at Western Oregon University in order to teach.

Another problem came when the Department of Motor Vehicles was closed in Roseburg for several months and students had difficulty making appointments to take their permit test.

“Some families traveled to Medford or Eugene to this,” Van Winkle said. “Getting an appointment at the DMV is the most challenging part for parents and students.”

Oregon’s ODOT-approved driver education program is limited to students ages 15-17. Those taking the course have the ability to waive the drive test at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Between 2015-2019, the number of 14 to 17-year-olds who applied for a driver’s license was right around 2,000 while that number was around 4,300 for 18 to 21-year-olds.

Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson David House said the data for 2020 was not yet available. The data is usually compiled in March, but due to the impact of the pandemic and the transition to a new driver licensing system it would take longer this year to compile the data.

Umpqua Community College also offers adult driving instruction which allows one student in the vehicle with one instructor.

Van Winkle added that because of the pandemic, instructors became comfortable teaching online and the college will continue to use this option in the future.

“The classroom instructors stepped up to learn and implement remote learning so that the students would have the opportunity to complete Driver Education,” she said. “UCC will continue the use of a remote option for Driver Education, even when classroom is offered again.”

DCSO deputy dies from line-of-duty injuries sustained in 1980

A retired Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputy has died from duty-related wounds suffered in 1980, Sheriff Jon Hanlin announced Friday night.

Stanley “Allen” Burdic died at his home on March 11 from complications of the injuries he sustained in the line of duty working for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in 1980.

In October 1976, Allen Burdic was hired by the Canyonville Police Department where he served until July 1979 when he accepted a deputy position with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

On Aug. 12, 1980, Burdic responded to a reported shooting at the Nutshell Tavern in Myrtle Creek. Some time in the early morning hours of Aug. 13, Burdic located the suspect, Jack Flack, at a gravel turnout north of the Myrtle Creek Bridge near Interstate 5. Flack opened fire on Burdic, striking him twice. He then stole the deputy’s patrol car. As the suspect left in the stolen patrol car, he ran over Deputy Burdic’s legs.

Burdic sustained serious injuries from the gunshot wounds, including from a bullet that injured his spine. He developed a limp and was partially paralyzed in one arm after the incident. The injuries prevented his return to his position as a deputy, and he medically retired from the sheriff’s office in 1982.

Flack was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1981 for attempted murder, first-degree assault, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and being an ex-convict in possession of a firearm, according to newspaper reports from the 1980s.

Burdic briefly returned to the Canyonville Police Department as a police officer from July 1984 to November 1985.

But according to the obituary submitted by his loved ones to The News-Review, he continued to suffer from his injuries and the pain was at times unbearable.

Even so, he was remembered as a funny, kind and gentle man, the obituary said.

Burdic was born and grew up in Myrtle Creek, and wanted to be a police officer for his entire life, his obituary said. He was 25 at the time of the shooting.

“Deputy Burdic’s sacrifice while in service to the citizens of Douglas County, no matter the span of time between the shooting and his death, cannot go unmentioned,” Hanlin said in a statement. “We will honor him, his family and his memory and never forget what happened to this deputy on Aug. 13, 1980.”

Deputy Burdic’s memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, April 17 at 2 p.m. at the Tri City Baptist Church. Burdic will be afforded law enforcement honors at the service.