What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?
A spectacular house fire caused quite a commotion in a Goleta neighborhood on the evening of June 18, but a woman and her two children were able to escape without injury.
The blaze broke out just after 6 p.m. at a single-family home in the 6200 block of Momouth Avenue, west of the Fairview Shopping Center. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department fielded a deluge of calls reporting the fire, as well as a possible explosion that preceded it.
Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood happened to be driving by and used his smartphone to capture some dramatic video of flames leaping from a side of the one-story house.
Rick Savage, who had lived in the house for about 15 years, told Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton that his wife and kids were inside at the time, but they were able to get themselves and the family’s two Labrador retrievers out safely.
Firefighters say a storage shed at the rear of the house was destroyed, a bedroom was badly damaged, and there was smoke and heat damage throughout the structure.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Within just a few hours, the story had leaped to the lead in NoozWeek’s Top 5 and has remained there ever since.
The middle of the first block of West Gutierrez Street in downtown Santa Barbara seems like an unlikely place for a rollover wreck, but that’s exactly what happened the evening of June 16. A child passenger suffered minor injuries, and the driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and child endangerment.
Emergency personnel arrived on the one-way street at about 6:45 p.m. and found a Honda Civic flipped on its roof near D’Angelo Pastry & Bread. According to police Lt. Paul McCaffrey, the car struck two unoccupied parked cars — a Honda and a Mercedes-Benz — and rolled over.
Santa Barbara fire Capt. Chris Mailes said the driver and her two passengers were assessed for injuries, and the child was transported by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with minor injuries.
The driver, Heather Maassen, 30, of Santa Barbara, was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and child endangerment, McCaffrey said.
Jade Dodson graduated June 7 from Santa Maria High School, where she was a star doubles player on the girls’ tennis team. Eleven days later, before she had much of a chance to even think about her future, an alleged DUI driver robbed her of it. She was 18 years old.
According to Santa Maria police, Jade and her younger sister were riding in a Toyota Camry driven by their older brother at about 7:30 p.m. June 18. Sgt. Jesus Valle said the driver of a Chevy pickup truck ran a red light at South Broadway and McCoy Lane and T-boned the sedan, striking it where Jade was sitting in the front seat. The truck then collided with two other vehicles.
The Dodson siblings were rushed to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where Jade was pronounced dead of her injuries. Her 19-year-old brother was admitted in critical condition and her 7-year-old sister was treated for a major head wound. Silva said the girl was expected to recover.
The driver of the pickup, Christian Iban Rodriguez Carbajal, 19, of Santa Maria, had minor injuries from the wreck, and Silva said he was arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter, DUI causing injury and reckless driving.
Carbajal was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $1 million.
Vern Hall watched in horror as his friend, Doug Brink, tried in vain to rein in his panicked horse outside his Refugio Canyon home. But the horse reared on its back legs on a very steep hillside, and tumbled back on top of the cowboy, crushing him. Horse and rider rolled down the slope and both were knocked unconscious.
Hall contacted our Tom Bolton to fill in details of our initial report of the June 7 accident. We’re glad he did because the dramatic account really captured the attention of our readers.
According to Hall, Brink was just being neighborly when he rode his quarter horse, Burt, up to the house Hall shares with his wife, Donna, high above the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch west of Goleta. But after delivering the couple’s mail, the horse apparently got spooked by a rope fence and chaos ensued.
After the mishap, Hall scrambled down the hill and quickly called for help, prompting a full-scale response from ranch personnel, county firefighters, paramedics and the sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team.
Because of the remote location, Hall said, it took a while for rescuers to reach Brink, provide initial treatment, and carry him down the hill, where a waiting ambulance rushed him to Cottage Hospital.
He said Brink, 56, suffered several broken ribs and a broken pelvis, as well as a head injury. According to Donna Hall, Brink remains in the intensive-care unit, where he’s in stable condition but is somewhat unresponsive.
Meanwhile, Brink’s horse eventually came to, got up and trotted off. The animal was coaxed back to the stable and appears to have suffered only minor injuries.
The rumor had been circulating for so long that many South Coast residents just accepted it as inevitable. How else to explain the rather muted — at least externally — reaction to the June 18 announcement that Cottage Health System was merging with Sansum Clinic?
As both organizations are nonprofits, the execution will be a little tricky. Ron Werft, president and CEO of Cottage, and Dr. Kurt Ransohoff, CEO and chief medical officer of Sansum, told Noozhawk’s Giana Magnoli that the organizational and governance details are still being worked out. They say the early scorecard indicates that each entity will maintain its own leadership and boards of directors, and there may continue to be some overlap of services.
The merger, which is expected to be completed in the fall, will combine three hospitals and 23 ambulatory facilities. More important, it means most of southern Santa Barbara County’s health-care facilities will be controlled by a single organization. Time will tell whether that’s a healthy outcome for the community.
• • •
OK, this isn’t a video, but it is satire at its most masterful. I just hope the attorney who wrote it didn’t bill the client for the time it took to craft. Click here for the letter we all wish we had written.
• • •
There were 59,197 people who read Noozhawk this past week. If you value our unmatched breaking news and in-depth reporting on the issues that you care about, please support our experienced staff of professional journalists and help us continue to provide a vital forum for the community.
How can you help?
» firstname.lastname@example.org or market your business, organization, service or event.
» Display your Noozhawk pride with a 3-inch-square Noozhawk sticker. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Noozhawk Promotions, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102. The free stickers — as well as full-sized bumper stickers and pens — also are available at Noozhawk World Headquarters, 1327-A State St., by the historic Arlington Theatre.
Please note that personal contributions to Noozhawk are not deductible as charitable donations.
Thank you for your support.
— 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.