After a year of sorrow, a day of joy for the Yantis family

Donna Yantis laughs as she talks with Michael McLaughlin at a Justice for Jack event in Council Saturday.
Donna Yantis laughs as she talks with Michael McLaughlin at a Justice for Jack event in Council Saturday. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Donna Yantis and her daughter, Sarah, probably smiled and laughed more on Saturday afternoon than in all of the days combined since Nov. 1, 2015.

“It’s been a rough year,” said Sarah Yantis, who has been living and working at the family ranch since her father, Jack Yantis, was shot and killed by two Adams County sheriff’s deputies.

There’s reason for joy: A new buckaroo.

Sarah is pregnant with her second child, due on Nov. 7 — so a baby shower was squeezed in before hunting season and the return of the cows from the mountains.

“We’re scheduling a C-section around when the cows come home,” Sarah said. The Yantises have 56 head of cattle on 680 acres.

About 25 family members, friends and supporters gathered for the baby shower Saturday in a back room of Council’s Seven Devils Cafe, owned by Sarah’s aunt and uncle.

The table decorations included tiny cowboy hats and boots on hay bales. There were nine pies, a cake and a pound of whipped cream. Also, Donna’s famous sweet-and-sour meatballs.

“I want people to know that I appreciate all their love and support — people I know and people I don’t,” Jack’s widow said.

Zerry Greenwood, a lifelong neighbor and friend of Sarah’s, handed out red Justice for Jack bracelets.

“They are the latest in maternity wear — they stretch,” she joked.

Sarah, who has suffered from daily morning sickness, took maternity leave from her job as a paramedic in Payette County last week.

She and her husband, Mike Armistead, moved in with Donna to care for her as she continues to recover from the heart attack she suffered the night that Jack was shot.

I can’t stand by and do nothing.

Yantis supporter Audrey Bath, of Boise, who distributes Justice for Jack bracelets

“One day I feel good, and then it takes two days to get back there,” Donna said.

In addition to the Justice for Jack bracelet she wears on her left wrist, she’s got a pulse monitor. She tries to keep her pulse below 100.

Sarah learned she was pregnant with her second child a few months after her father died. The parents haven’t settled on a name for the boy yet.

“We’re working on it. There’s lots of things that have been thrown out there,” Sarah Yantis said. “We’ve told everybody it’s going to be a surprise when he’s born.”

Following the shower, about 70 people turned out for a barbecue organized by Justice for Jack supporters. Michael McLaughlin, one of the organizers, said the barbecue was to honor the life of Jack Yantis — with his widow present.

Donna Yantis had not been able to attend a memorial service for Jack held at the high school last November because she was still in the hospital.

Audrey Bath, a New Jersey native who has lived in Boise for about a decade, carpooled to Council with two friends from Middleton. Bath is the person behind the red bracelets. She’s distributed 1,200 to people all over the world.

Bath, who works at a call center in Boise, has attended 10 rallies in support of the family at the Capitol and in Council.

“I don’t believe that justice has been served,” she said of why she remains committed to the Facebook group that now has more than 3,400 supporters.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

About Jack Yantis’ death

Jack Yantis died after being shot by Adams County Sheriff’s deputies Brian Wood and Cody Roland on the highway next to his ranch on Nov. 1, 2015, as Yantis held a rifle he had brought to euthanize a bull that had been struck by a car.

Yantis’ wife, Donna, witnessed the shooting and had a heart attack at the scene. She spent several days in a Boise hospital.

Following nine-month-long state and federal investigations, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced on July 29 there was not enough evidence to charge Wood or Roland with a crime.

Justice for Jack is a grassroots group that formed shortly after Yantis’ death.