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Even for experienced hikers, Tangerine Falls on Montecito’s Cold Spring Trail can be a difficult excursion. Rocky and steep, getting there can be more of a crawl than a climb, often with the only way forward being a treacherous scramble over a boulder.
Once you’ve arrived, though, there’s something mesmerizing about seeing a plume of water plunge 100 feet off a cliff — especially this time of year.
We don’t yet know exactly what Saylor Guilliams and Brenden Vega, both 22 and from Ventura, were doing up there in that canyon on March 16, but what had started out as a fun, late afternoon adventure turned into an absolute nightmare with one tragic misstep after another.
Authorities are still piecing together what happened, but as dusk turned to dark and the last of the area’s hikers had descended to the trailhead 2½ miles below on East Mountain Drive, both Guilliams and Vega got themselves into real trouble.
“The hikers ... were unprepared for the conditions,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. “The lights from their cell phones were not enough to illuminate their path, and the hikers fell and injured themselves several times.”
She said Vega seriously injured his arm and Guilliams broke her wrist and both ankles.
Then things got bad.
After yelling for help for several hours, Hoover said, Vega left Guilliams alone to go find someone who could assist them or at least locate a cell signal since there’s no reception in the remote, rugged area.
Somewhere in the dark, Vega fell again, and this time it was fatal. According to investigators, he died of his injuries after tumbling 20 to 30 feet onto a rocky ledge.
Around midmorning the next day, Hoover said, a couple hiking up the lower Cold Spring Trail spied Vega’s body in heavy brush and rocks below the path. One of them hiked back out to call 9-1-1.
Emergency personnel flooded the scene and worked for several hours to extricate Vega. Hoover said they were just about finished around 4 p.m. when a second group of hikers came upon Guilliams, whom they found unresponsive in a largely concealed area off the trail, about 100 yards above where Vega was discovered.
The sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team; firefighters from the Montecito, Santa Barbara city and Santa Barbara County fire departments; and U.S. Forest Service personnel all responded to the scene and helped get the woman loaded aboard a county helicopter for a quick trip to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
The cause of Vega’s death is under investigation and is pending toxicology results, Hoover said.
Guilliams’ family and friends were overjoyed that she had been found but were heartbroken at Vega’s death.
“She was missing for 22 hours, it was all over Facebook forums and such looking for her,” longtime family friend Felicia Batrez told our Giana Magnoli. “We have reason to believe she was injured out there all night.”
In a statement to Noozhawk, Guilliams’ family thanked the rescue crews as well as “the good Samaritans who called it in.”
“The family of Saylor would also like to add their condolences to Brenden’s mother and loved ones at this time,” Batrez said. “He died trying to save Saylor’s life — a true hero.”
A March 17 commentary by Santa Barbara County Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam sure struck a nerve among our readers, sparking a fierce online property-rights debate that shows few signs of abating.
At issue was a March 11 vote by the Board of Supervisors to strip a “nonconforming residential use” exemption from a Los Olivos ranch house that had been built in the late 1880s. According to the homeowners, Jo and Bill Grove, their exemption was “grandfathered” in years ago.
But the board’s 3-2 majority sided with a neighbor, Kelly Rose, who had petitioned the supervisors to order the Groveses to get their structure in compliance with current county code. South Coast Supervisors Salud Carbajal, Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf stood up for Rose, with North County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino joining Adam in dissent.
Adam submitted an op/ed on the subject, arguing that the majority overstepped its bounds and should have respected the Groveses’ inherent property rights, rather than giving them three years to upgrade or up and move out.
“When a political majority can vote citizens out of their own residences, something is fundamentally wrong,“ he wrote.
That was too much for some readers, who let him have it with both barrels while arguing that it’s Rose who is the aggrieved party.
At this point, the feud sounds more like a dispute over neighbors than it does over code. Something tells me it’s a far cry from over.
A month or so after The Bachelor star Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici were married in Montecito for a televised episode of the ABC reality show, the cast and crew of The Bachelorette arrived in Santa Barbara for some screen shots of their own.
Andi Dorfman, this season’s bachelorette, and several of her prospective beaus went on a group date March 19 at Paseo Nuevo, where the band Boyz II Men just happened to be playing a gig. Random, right?
The spectacle drew throngs of spectators, some of whom traveled from as far away as Los Angeles for the star-gazing opportunity.
Dorfman’s suitors apparently have been relaxing at Bacara Resort & Spa but it’s not clear where she’s been staying. Fittingly, the 26-year-old assistant district attorney from Atlanta apparently had a dinner date the night before in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden.
Meanwhile, the sun is rapidly setting on Our Town’s other current claim to TV fame: the hit series, Psych, which airs its final adventure of Shawn and Gus on March 26.
The quirky, long-running USA Network show has been a solid hit with the “Psych-Os” on Team Noozhawk — even though the writers never took our advice, or bribes, to work Noozhawk into the script. Psych has given us a lot of laughs and one-liners over the years, as well as no end of wonderment at how closely Santa Barbara resembles Vancouver, British Columbia.
We’ve seen it both ways.
A Santa Barbara man was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and hit-and-run after he allegedly crashed his car on De la Vina Street near downtown March 16, then just walked away.
Santa Barbara police Sgt. Eric Beecher said Charles McKenna, 27, drove his Volvo sedan over a utility box and into a tree on De la Vina near West Victoria Street. Amazingly, no one was hurt in the 5:45 p.m. wreck.
“He blacked out, then woke up and walked away,” Beecher said.
He said McKenna, who was located down the street, allegedly had been drinking before the collision.
Harbor Heights Manor, a sprawling apartment complex at 801 Cliff Drive adjacent to Santa Barbara City College, has been sold to a local investor for more than $33 million.
According to Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments, which handled the deal, it is the largest sale of multifamily property in Santa Barbara history and the South Coast’s biggest transaction since 2010.
Details of the sale were not disclosed. The Schulte family, which had owned the 97-unit complex since it was built in 1971, had announced plans to sell it last August.
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Last fall, Auburn’s “Kick-Six” beat arch-rival Alabama in one of the most improbable turn of events in sports — ever. Emil de Leon of Daly City had the equivalent March 19 on Wheel of Fortune. Host Pat Sajak took to Twitter afterward, calling it the “most amazing solve in my 30+ years on the show. No kidding.” Yeah, no kidding.
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.