Friday, October 9 , 2015, 10:00 pm | Fair 71º

Bill Macfadyen: Deltopia Mob Scene Drives a Tsunami of Traffic Noozhawk’s Way

After a night of rioting, NoozWeek’s Top 5 opens up to add a futile search, two Nick Johnson stories, a boatload of infection, and the aftermath of an abortion protest

By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher | @noozhawk | updated logo |

(Justin Covington / Noozhawk  video)

There were 175,595 people — yes, 175,595 — who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top five10 stories?

1. Riot Breaks Out at ‘Deltopia’ Street Party in Isla Vista

How much interest was there in the Isla Vista Riot of 2014? Well, this story alone has had more than 90,000 reads since our Gina Potthoff posted the first version on April 5.

We had 18,817 readers that Saturday, with more than 13,000 of them pushing their way onto our site in the last two hours before midnight, crashing our servers a couple of times for good measure.

That was just a precursor to Sunday, April 6, when a record 80,802 readers mobbed Noozhawk, demolishing previous one-day records involving Nick Johnson, the 2011 tsunami and Paula Lopez. What I find most gratifying about Sunday’s traffic is that our Google Analytics logged 71.4 percent of it as returning visitors. Locals know where to get their news.

And although this column ostensibly is a recap of our top five stories of the week, I had to expand it to 10 to escape Deltopia’s iron grip on the first five. In all, six of the top 10 were riot-related, as were 14 of the top 20.

So, what happened? Noozhawk’s comments section is brimming with explanations and conclusions, nearly every one as valid as the next. I’m going with age and alcohol, however, and not necessarily in that order.

By some estimates, the annual street party drew more than 25,000 young people to Del Playa Drive and environs west of the UC Santa Barbara campus. But unlike a sporting event, or Earth Day, or Coachella, there was no purpose except to drink. Is it any wonder things went south? I would’ve been surprised if they hadn’t!

In the weeks and months ahead, Noozhawk’s reporters will be exploring the cause and effects of this brainless Bacchanalia, and whether something can and should be developed to divert attention and energy away from alcohol-fueled boredom.

I’m grateful to one of my partners, executive editor Tom Bolton, for foregoing sleep to keep our coverage fresh, and to Gina, Noozhawk intern Justin Covington and former intern Alexa Shapiro for risking life and limb out among the young and the restless.

In the meantime, the rest of the real top five for your viewing pleasure:

» Alexa Shapiro: UCSB Student Offers Perspective on ‘Deltopia’ Mayhem

» Residents, Authorities Troubled by Isla Vista’s ‘Deltopia’ Riots

» UCSB Officials, Student Leaders Decry ‘Deltopia’ Violence

» Deltopia Reveler Faces Charges of Assaulting UCSB Officer

2. No Victim Found in Search of Isla Vista Shoreline

In the hours before Isla Vista’s Deltopia insanity officially got out of hand, authorities were called out to the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive to check on a report of someone in distress in the water below the bluff.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Paul Christensen said rescue crews were summoned just before 3 a.m. April 5, but were unable to locate anyone or any evidence after searching on the beach and in the water for more than two hours.

County firefighters were aided in the search by a water-rescue crew, a county helicopter and personnel from the sheriff’s and UCSB police departments.

An armada of kayaks and surfboards floats off Santa Barbara’s East Beach on April 5 in honor of the late Nick Johnson. (Ryan Kelly photo)
An armada of kayaks and surfboards floats off Santa Barbara’s East Beach on April 5 in honor of the late Nick Johnson. (Ryan Kelly photo)

3. ‘Shallow Water Blackout’ May Have Contributed to Death of Water Polo Player Nick Johnson

Readers continue to gobble up news about Nick Johnson, the UC Santa Barbara water polo player who died March 24 of what the Coroner’s Office is calling an “accidental drowning.” Two Noozhawk stories about him — this one by our Giana Magnoli and a memorial paddle-out — made the Top 10 list.

Nick Johnson, 1994-2014
Nick Johnson, 1994-2014

Johnson, 19, was found unresponsive at the bottom of the Santa Barbara High School pool, where he had been working out with his former team. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Although toxicology results are pending, Giana reported that one of the more credible theories appears to be “shallow water blackout,” an underwater faint caused by repetitive deep breaths or hyperventilating. Long, deep, rapid breath inhalations lower the carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, which delays the brain’s normal need to breathe and triggers a blackout. A quick response is critical because the unconscious individual can then drown from inhaling water.

With hundreds of people looking on from shore, meanwhile, family, friends and teammates honored Johnson with a paddle-out April 5 off East Beach, where he had reigned as a popular Junior Lifeguards instructor. Several dozen people on surfboards and kayaks bobbed in the water during the low-key, heartfelt tribute.

Johnson’s family has established scholarship funds at both Santa Barbara High and UCSB. Click here to make an online donation to the Santa Barbara High aquatics program, or click here to make an online donation to the UCSB Foundation-Nick Johnson Memorial Fund.

The Crown Princess arrived in Santa Barbara on April 9 with a boatload of sick people, prompting an outbreak of concern over our own health and well-being. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
The Crown Princess arrived in Santa Barbara on April 9 with a boatload of sick people, prompting an outbreak of concern over our own health and well-being. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

4. Norovirus Affects Passengers, Crew on Cruise Ship Off Santa Barbara

Locals have been divided over the increasingly common sight of cruise ships dropping anchor off the Santa Barbara Harbor. That debate took on a sharper tone April 9 after the Crown Princess arrived with almost 100 people apparently infected with the highly contagious norovirus.

Although the ill-fated — literally, ill-fated — travelers were quarantined in their quarters, county Public Health Director Takashi Wada bravely boarded the ship to inspect conditions before anyone was allowed to come ashore.

Health officials believe norovirus is behind the outbreak. The gastrointestinal illness is accompanied by nausea, diarrhea and vomiting — any one of which is enough to turn a fun, sea-faring vacation into a dire sail.

The Crown Princess, part of the Princess Cruise Line, was sailing down the California coast with more than 3,000 passengers and a crew of 1,200. A few dozen people came down with the symptoms in San Francisco and, by the time they hit Santa Barbara, 66 passengers and 17 crew members were stricken, Wada said.

Princess Cruise Line spokeswoman Karen Candy says the ship’s staff has been disinfecting door handles, railings, elevator buttons and other surfaces.

Safely back on shore, Wada declared that “all proper steps were being taken to support the health and safety of passengers and the public in Santa Barbara.”

5. UCSB Professor Pleads Not Guilty to Misdemeanor Charges Related to Abortion Protest

The attorney for a UC Santa Barbara feminist studies professor entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of her client, who is facing misdemeanor charges stemming from a confrontation she had with an anti-abortion group on campus.

Mireille Miller-Young is letting her attorney do much of the talking these days.
Mireille Miller-Young is letting her attorney do much of the talking these days.

Mireille Miller-Young was charged with theft from a person, battery and vandalism as a result of a March 4 altercation with members of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust. Prosecutors allege she took a protester’s sign, committed battery on another protester, and then destroyed the sign.

Miller-Young’s attorney, Catherine Swysen, entered the plea for her on April 4. She is supposed to appear in county Superior Court on May 1 for a readiness-and-settlement hearing.

After a vapid, convoluted email sent by Michael Young, vice chancellor for student affairs, UCSB has declined further comment on the case involving Miller-Young, an associate professor whose website lists her areas of emphasis as black cultural studies, pornography and sex work.

                                                                        •        •

Who knew owls can be good pets?

(MrNuraT video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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