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Wednesday AM headlines: USU football player arrested, 56 abandoned mine openings closed

 Aerial view of workers on a grate over a large mine opening.
Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining
Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining crews work to close Tintic Standard Mine No. 2 on May 15.

Volunteers are helping develop heat index maps of SLC

A team of scientists and volunteers are helping develop heat index maps of Salt Lake City this weekend. Salt Lake City is one of the hottest urban heat islands in the U.S., and the project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), aims to understand the distribution of extreme heat in the city and which communities are most subject to heat.

Volunteers will collect data this Saturday, when it will be close to 100 degrees, by driving along specific routes over three separate one-hour periods using a data collection device attached to their car.

The data will then be used for things like urban planning to address heat-related inequities across the country. Dr. Daniella Hirschfeld, an assistant professor of environmental planning at USU, told FOX13 she expects to see the neighborhoods with the highest heat also be the ones with the lowest income brackets and a lot of minority populations.

Salt Lake City is one of several cities involved in the NOAA’s global effort to address heat inequities across the country.

Utah closes off 56 abandoned mine openings near Eureka

Utah mining crews recently finished a project that closed off dozens of abandoned mines near Utah County, including a mine shaft where the bodies of two Utahns were recovered in 2018.

The project focused on abandoned mines on private land near Eureka. The mines were reportedly easily accessible and close enough to popular off-highway vehicle trails to cause concern. In total, crews capped fifty-six abandoned mine openings.

The most notable mine is Tintic Standard Mine No. Two, where the bodies of Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson and Riley Powell were recovered in 2018 after going missing months prior. Jerrod Baum was convicted of the couple’s murder last year. There is a permanent memorial just outside of the mine in Otteson and Powell’s honor.

The closures are part of Utah's Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, which has closed about 7,000 openings since it was created 40 years ago. Most of the mines were built before 1970, as Utah legislators passed a law in 1975 that makes it illegal for companies to abandon mines without reclamation work first.

USU football player arrested for rape and selling pills

A Utah State University football player was arrested Monday by the North Park Police Department (in Cache County) for allegedly raping another student near the Logan campus in September 2022, and for selling prescription stimulant pills.

He was booked into the Cache County jail, where he is being held without bail. He faces multiple first-degree felonies and is expected to be arraigned on formal charges in First District Court later this week.

According to arresting documents, a woman in the emergency department last fall reported that while at an event, she was taken against her will by a man unknown to her and dragged to a separate location across the road, where she was forcibly sodomized and raped. Investigators report that witnesses placed Holliday at the scene and DNA evidence collected from the victim matched with the suspects.

In a statement issued by USU on Monday, after the university was made aware of the arrest, the university said that USU officials were not previously aware of the allegations. The university also said that Holliday was a walk-on football student-athlete during the 2022-2023 academic year and that when USU Athletics learned of the arrest, he was immediately dismissed from the team.

USU Interim Athletics Director Jerry Bovee said “Our student-athletes are trained and educated numerous times annually as it relates to sexual conduct, and we unequivocally will not tolerate any violations of the law.”

In the statement, the university also said that “whenever a USU student is arrested for a sex crime, a report is filed with USU’s Office of Equity and officials then assess potential threats to the campus community and take appropriate actions.

USU also encouraged anyone to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Office of Equity. You can earn more about resources and how to report these incidents at:

Duck is a general reporter and weekend announcer at UPR, and is studying broadcast journalism and disability studies at USU. They grew up in northern Colorado before moving to Logan in 2018, so the Rocky Mountain life is all they know. Free time is generally spent with their dog, Monty, listening to podcasts, reading or wishing they could be outside more.