What were you reading on Noozhawk this week?
For news organizations, among the most challenging stories to report are those that break late on a Friday afternoon before a three-day holiday weekend. The public's demand for information doesn't take time off, but the official infrastructure needed to confirm, corroborate and explain certain aspects tends to have scampered away.
Such was the case Aug. 30 when our executive editor, Tom Bolton, got a tip that a worker had fallen to his death through a skylight at a Goleta office building. Although he was able to quickly get the basics from Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, even she didn't have much more to go on.
Hoover confirmed that the incident had been reported at 4:45 p.m. and that county firefighters, sheriff's deputies and paramedics had arrived to find the man dead of his injuries. The Coroner’s Office was investigating, officials were notifying the family, and that was going to be about it until the world returned to work Tuesday.
It wasn't nearly enough for our readers, who kept returning to our exclusive story all weekend while bombarding us with questions we simply couldn't answer definitively.
First thing Sept. 3, our Gina Potthoff began following up and confirmed that the worker was a painter, 53-year-old Oscar Rivera of Castaic. According to Hoover, the independent contractor had been hired by the property owner and he was on the roof when he crashed through the skylight of the building, in the 7400 block of Hollister Avenue. She declined to identify Rivera's employer.
The building is leased by Moog Inc., which designs and supplies aircraft and related accessories. The company was closed at the time of the incident.
In addition to the Coroner’s Office, Rivera's death is being investigated by the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
A man brandishing a “large fixed-blade knife” was shot and killed by a Santa Barbara police officer late on the night of Sept. 1 after officials say the suspect failed to comply with the officer's commands to put down the weapon.
Lt. Todd Stoney said the officer had attempted to conduct a “pedestrian contact” of a suspect who was walking near De la Vina and Victoria streets around 11:30 p.m. Sunday. He said the officer fired after the man “advanced on the officer while brandishing the knife."
The suspect, later identified as Brian Tacadena, 46, of Santa Barbara, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The shooting is under investigation.
Noozhawk has made a California Public Records Act request for the police incident report and video from the patrol car’s dashboard camera system. That request is pending before the City Attorney.
Just in time for the sweltering Labor Day weekend, great white sharks made their presence felt in Santa Barbara with attacks on two sea lions, otherwise known as seafood. Local officials quickly posted notices warning swimmers to enter the water at their own risk.
According to Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol Sgt. Ed Stetson, one dead sea lion washed up at Arroyo Burro Beach on Aug. 31. He told our Lara Cooper that a second one — injured but alive — was discovered a day later near a harbor entrance buoy with a shark-sized bite taken out of its hide.
Stetson was matter of fact about the circumstances.
"That's their normal prey," he said of sharks dining on sea lions. "That's what they do."
Philbric Road east of Santa Maria is mostly flat, mostly straight and mostly crosses miles of open agricultural land. Tragically, the open road wasn't open nearly enough Aug. 29 when a forklift operator slammed his rig into an oncoming car, killing two people and seriously injuring two others.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Daniel Castillo, 37, of Santa Maria, was driving a large forklift on the road when he turned left toward a field and struck a northbound Honda Civic, shearing off the roof and driving it into a drainage ditch.
CHP Officer Craig Carrier said the car's driver, Adolfo Pozos Carrasco, 18, and a passenger in the left rear seat, Casilda Diaz Pozos, 49, both of Santa Maria, were declared dead at the scene. Two other female passengers — Mayte Carrasco, 40, and Celiset Pozos, 19, also of Santa Maria — suffered major injuries, with one airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and the other rushed to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.
Castillo was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and DUI, both felonies, and was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.
The District Attorney's Office has charged him with two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, two counts of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol causing injury, and great bodily injury. Bail is set at $250,000.
Whether in Goleta or Santa Barbara, Petrini’s Italian Restaurant will never be mistaken for a fast-food joint. First-timers are welcomed warmly. Go there more than once and you're considered family. Many employees can measure loyal locals by generations — and know most of the names.
Before lunch and dinner, there can be a mad rush as frequent diners race to the place for their Italian fix. That may have been the case about 11:15 a.m. Sept. 2, when a driver of a sedan apparently hit the gas instead of the brake and rolled his car into the Goleta Petrini's at 5711 Calle Real.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the elderly driver and his passenger were shaken but uninjured. No one else was hurt, although the wall took a pretty good lick.
Petrini’s owner Joe Bohnett said the couple, restaurant regulars, was driven home by staff after their car was towed.
“The car decided to make us a drive-through,” he joked to our Gina Potthoff.
After quick repairs to the building, Petrini's reopened Sept. 3. Hoover said there would be no further investigation into the crash.
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My neighbor, Rivers Ingersoll, is a Stanford University grad student involved in groundbreaking research on the biomechanics of flight. He's part of Stanford's LentinkLab, a fascinating project led by assistant mechanical engineering professor David Lentink.
Rivers' focus is exploring the aerodynamic force measurement of freely hovering hummingbirds, and you will not believe what he and his team have been able to capture in this video.
By the way, he's the son of local educators Whitney and Bob Ingersoll, and a graduate of Crane Country Day School, Santa Barbara Middle School, Santa Barbara High School and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
(Kurt Hickman / Stanford University video)
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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.