Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 1:47 pm | Fair 65º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Paula Lopez Still Clicking with Noozhawk Readers

NoozWeek's Top 5 includes an alleged DUI crash involving a 3-year-old, a snarled morning commute, dough boys and Ted Karsai

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Bill Macfadyen: Readers Don’t Miss a Thing Written About Missing Anchor Paula Lopez

OK, so the top story on Noozhawk this week was my column about my column last week about the top story on Noozhawk two weeks ago. I can keep going, but it’s time to move on.

Santa Barbara firefighters and other emergency personnel respond to an apparent DUI crash that left a 3-year-old boy seriously injured. His mother, who was driving the car, was arrested on felony charges. (Urban Hikers photo)
Santa Barbara firefighters and other emergency personnel respond to an apparent DUI crash that left a 3-year-old boy seriously injured. His mother, who was driving the car, was arrested on felony charges. (Urban Hikers photo)

2. Woman Jailed After Wreck That Severely Injured Toddler Son

A Santa Barbara woman was arrested May 20 on felony DUI and child-endangerment charges after police say she crashed the car she was driving, severely injuring her 3-year-old son.

Kate Walters
Kate Walters

Kate Walters, 24, was arrested Monday evening at the scene of the crash on State Street in San Roque. According to Sgt. Riley Harwood, Walters and the woman who owned the car were injured in the wreck, but it was her son who bore the brunt of the impact, suffering a broken neck.

Harwood said the trio had been at Harry’s Plaza Café, where the two women allegedly had been drinking heavily, became argumentative with the staff and caused a scene. Restaurant employees called a cab and then police, but before anyone could arrive, the women got in the car with the child and drove off.

They didn’t get far. Harwood said Walters drove the car up on the curb in the 3500 block of State Street at Toyon Drive, where it ran over a street sign and struck a lamppost. The force of the collision caused the airbags to deploy, he said.

Harwood said Walters refused to let officers take a blood sample to determine her blood-alcohol level, but a search warrant was obtained, and a nurse later secured the evidence at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

After receiving medical clearance, Harwood said, Walters was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $100,000.

Walters’ son was admitted to the hospital for treatment of his broken neck and other injuries.

3. One Hurt as Truck Crash Snarls Highway 101 Traffic

A box truck overturned on northbound Highway 101 at Santa Monica Road in Carpinteria during the morning commute May 20. The wreck backed up freeway traffic for miles but sent Noozhawk’s traffic numbers soaring as readers clicked in to find out what happened.

According to the California Highway Patrol, one individual was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with serious injuries. The cause of the rollover is under investigation.

No loafing. During a May 17 visit to the new Panera Bread store at 700 State St. in Santa Barbara, co-owner and former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson paused for a photo opportunity with employees Danielle Garry, left, and Brittany Rodriguez.
No loafing. During a May 17 visit to the new Panera Bread store at 700 State St. in Santa Barbara, co-owner and former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson paused for a photo opportunity with employees Danielle Garry, left, and Brittany Rodriguez. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

4. Panera Bread Owners Provide Star Power at Santa Barbara Open House

Panera Bread has opened a second Santa Barbara location in its growing food chain, and our Gina Potthoff was invited to a VIP open house May 17 at the new store at 700 State St.

In addition to the fresh-baked treats, she found one of the co-owners, Keyshawn Johnson, standing head and shoulders above the guests. A former star wide receiver in the NFL and for Figueroa Tech, Johnson drove up from Los Angeles to promote the brand.

To show it’s a team player locally, Panera officials say its stores are donating leftover bread to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and are partnering with the Foodbank’s Grow Your Own Way (GYOW) program, which educates students — and adults — about healthy eating and growing habits.

5. Public Pays Price Tag for Sexually Violent Predator Tibor Karsai

Noozhawk readers have been closely following the infuriating case of Tibor “Ted” Karsai, the sexually violent predator who was ordered released in Santa Barbara County last month by a judge in Placer County — over the strenuous objections of local authorities.

The Megan’s Law website describes sexually violent predator Tibor “Ted” Karsai as 5-foot-10-inches tall and 174 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
The Megan’s Law website describes sexually violent predator Tibor “Ted” Karsai as 5-foot-10-inches tall and 174 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Karsai, 59, was convicted of the vicious rapes of a Santa Barbara woman in 1974 and a Placer County teenager in 1982. He recently was implicated in a third rape, in 1971, of a 13-year-old neighbor who was his sister’s best friend. That attack was the subject of a Noozhawk exclusive reported by executive editor Tom Bolton.

Since his April 15 release from Coalinga State Hospital, Karsai has been living as a transient in an RV parked on the side of a rural road in the North County. He’s properly registered with the Sheriff’s Department as a convicted sex offender, and he’s monitored 24/7 by guards from Liberty Healthcare Group under contract with the state Department of Mental Health.

Karsai’s got no money and he can’t work, so you and I are picking up the tab. Our Giana Magnoli has been poking around, trying to find out just how much he’s costing us, but the answer — thus far — remains hidden in bureaucracy. Ralph Montano, a spokesman for the state Department of State Hospitals in Sacramento, says the annual contract with Liberty Healthcare Group tops $3 million. The funds, however, cover not just Karsai but nine other pariahs just like him as well as court-related tracking costs.

Montano said Karsai is expected to be self-supporting for food, clothing and personal expenses, but the state provides funding as a loan until it can be repaid. Good luck with that.

And wait, there’s more: Conditionally released sexually violent predators can apply for and receive general welfare assistance through county programs as well.

What’s Karsai got to say about all of this? It sounds as if he thinks he’s the victim.

“Leave us alone,” he told a KSBY news crew that had tracked down his motor home to the shoulder of Highway 1 in Guadalupe. “Allow me the opportunity to get back into society the best I can. Let me go back to pick up the pieces of my life.”

Yeah, you read that correctly: “Let me go back to pick up the pieces of my life.”

If only the Santa Barbara woman he attacked in 1974 could go back to pick up the pieces of her life. But she can’t; she killed herself in 1985 after a decade of torment over what Karsai did to her.

                                                                  •        •        •

It’s Memorial Day weekend, when we commemorate the service of our military troops who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. We also honor the Gold Star families who are missing a son, a daughter, a father or a mother. All gave some, some gave all.

(Lee Brice video)

                                                                  •        •        •

Congratulations are in order for Noozhawk interns Cassidy Flynn and Gabriella Slabiak, who will have graduated from Santa Barbara City College by the time you read this. Gaby has easily been the most prolific intern we’ve ever had, and her skills as a reporter just get stronger and stronger. We’re very sorry to say goodbye, but we’re excited to follow both Cassidy and Gaby as they embark on their next adventures and we’re grateful for all they did for us.

                                                                  •        •        •

There were 53,193 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.

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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