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What were you reading on Noozhawk this week?
A motorist was seriously injured the night of Oct. 18 when she drove her car into the trailer of a big rig that was blocking traffic on Hollister Avenue west of Santa Barbara.
The driver, described by witnesses as an older woman, apparently did not see the big white tractor-trailer that was parked across all of Hollister's lanes at the Modoc Road intersection about 8 p.m.
Santa Barbara County firefighter Paul Christensen said the collision left the driver trapped inside her sedan and she had to be extracted by firefighters.
The woman was transported by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she was listed in serious condition, Christensen said. Her name was not disclosed.
There were no other injuries in the crash, which remains under investigation.
The June 6, 2012, "car-surfing" incident that killed one woman and seriously injured another has been closed followed by readers since Noozhawk broke the story just hours after it happened.
According to the initial account, two young women appeared to have been struck by a hit-and-run driver on a remote Montecito road in the middle of the night. A pair of good Samaritans happened upon the scene and, oddly, instead of calling 9-1-1, opted to load the bleeding victims into their SUV and drive them to the hospital.
The story sounded implausible and further investigation revealed it to be an outright lie. The truth is the women were car surfing on the hood of the SUV as it raced back and forth on East Valley Road east of Sheffield Drive. During one 70-mph pass over a bump in the road, they were propelled into the air and onto the pavement. The driver of the vehicle? The self-proclaimed "good Samaritan."
Allison Meadows, 26, of Santa Barbara, died of her injuries, which included severe head trauma. Her companion, Lindsay Keebler, 25, also of Santa Barbara, was seriously injured.
The driver — Lanie Tyrone Richardson, 29, of Santa Barbara — pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in Meadows' death, and is facing 14 years in prison when he's sentenced early next year.
As is so often the case in such tragedies, the pain, grief and bewilderment that family and friends must confront are easily forgotten by the rest of us. In the course of his reporting just a day after Meadows' death, however, Noozhawk's Tom Bolton crossed paths with her housemate, Janet Carroll. He recently checked in with her and discovered a touching story of friendship and devotion.
Carroll, old enough to be Meadows' mom, took her in as a boarder just a few months before she died. The two women bonded immediately.
There was nothing particularly unusual about their last conversation on that fateful night, before Meadows and Keebler hit the restaurants and bars of Lower State Street, but Carroll intuitively knew something was wrong when she awoke the next morning. Her worst fears were confirmed when a California Highway Patrol officer arrived at her Eastside home with the grim news.
"When he told me to sit down, and watching his body language, it was like the life went out of me," she told Tom.
In the weeks and months that followed, Carroll went through a period of intense grief and anger. Eventually she began to question what her purpose had been. It was only then that she began to understand that God had placed her in Meadows' life for a reason.
"It was the first time in a long time that she felt like she had peace in her life," she said. "Maybe my whole role in all this was to provide her a home in the last months of her life."
Today, thoughts of Meadows are never far from Carroll's mind, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Allison is, was and always will be an important part of my life," she said. "We both believed that God had crossed our paths because we needed each other during that period of our lives. And it's true."
A representative of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians said it wasn't the tribe's intention to create a community uproar when it filed a land-acquisition application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs claiming ancestral title to 11,500 acres of the Santa Ynez Valley. The tribe withdrew its application Oct. 15.
A public furor had ignited over the filing, which many viewed as a cover for the tribe's attempt to annex a 1,400-acre parcel known as Camp 4. The property is a few miles east of the Chumash reservation, at the intersection of Highway 154 and Armour Ranch Road.
The Chumash had purchased the property in 2010 and officials have said they planned to build tribal housing on it.
Sam Cohen, the Chumash tribe's government and legal specialist, said Oct. 21 that the withdrawal of the BIA application was the act of a "good neighbor," and tribal officials vowed to provide public notice of any similar future filing.
In an awfully curious twist two days later, a Northern California congressman — Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale — introduced a bill to allow the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to take Camp 4 into trust via the legislative process.
The fee-to-trust process has been contentious because it would effectively remove the land from Santa Barbara County’s tax rolls and from the oversight of the county planning processes.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, announced her opposition to the congressional action.
“I do not support Rep. LaMalfa’s legislation," she said in a statement. "I understand how important this issue is for residents of the Santa Ynez Valley, the Chumash tribe and, indeed, the entire county. That is why I continue to believe a local resolution between the county and the tribe is best for all parties involved.”
A pickup truck rolled over on southbound Highway 101 near Los Carneros Road in Goleta at midafternoon Oct. 18, ending up about 30 feet down an embankment.
Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki said the driver suffered moderate injuries and was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to the hospital.
An 18-foot sea serpent-like fish discovered off Santa Catalina Island has found its way to UC Santa Barbara's Marine Science Institute for further study.
The translucent oarfish was found dead in the water near the Catalina Island Marine Institute, but not by a fifth-grader on a weeklong school trip to CIMI. A marine biologist happened upon the carcass while snorkeling and hauled it to shore.
The oarfish, which haunts very deep ocean waters, apparently died of natural causes, and UCSB scientists will be studying its DNA to try to better understand the creature.
“This is kind of the classic case where somebody is walking along the water — or, in this case, snorkeling — and they see this very, very large dying fish,” Milton Love, a UCSB research biologist, told our Gina Potthoff. “What’s most significant is that it happened to park itself in a cove filled with marine biology-types.
“It combines all of those elements that people are attracted to. It’s big and it’s mysterious and weird-looking.”
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Just in time for Halloween, Internet prankster Tom Mabe goes on a witch hunt.
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.