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Bill Macfadyen: Josh Canning’s Last Ride a Fateful Decision, Left Friends Stunned

NoozWeek's Top 5 hijacked by death and destruction, including an exclusive investigative report by Noozhawk and KEYT News

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Santa Barbara Cyclist Dies in Cliff Drive Crash with Car

Josh Canning was part of a longtime local family; a product of Santa Barbara High School, Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara; and a senior operator at the City of Santa Barbara’s El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Josh Canning
Josh Canning was a popular local with an “awesomely unique good nature,” according to one friend.

Friends called him a “quintessential Santa Barbara guy” and it seems that just about everyone in town knew him.

What no one knows, however, is why he was riding his bicycle in the middle of Cliff Drive just after midnight on July 9. It was a decision that cost him his life when a rental car driven by Warren Jones, 61, of New York City, hit him from behind near the Flora Vista Drive intersection east of Monroe School.

Canning, 44, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police Sgt. Riley Harwood told Noozhawk that the collision remains under investigation but that Canning appeared to be at fault. In addition to riding in the middle of the street, he said Canning was wearing dark clothing and had no lights on his bike.

Harwood said the driver, who stopped immediately to render aid, had no alcohol in his system and was not impaired. He has not been charged in the case.

Friends of Canning’s were stunned by his death.

“No one embodied the very nature of Santa Barbara like JC did,” said Jeff Clark, a longtime friend. “I will forever miss your brilliant smiles, barrel-chested laugh, bear hugs and awesomely unique good nature. I have never ever known anyone as positive and genuinely friendly as he. Santa Barbara will not be the same without him ever again. Godspeed, my friend.”

In lieu of flowers, Canning’s family is asking for donations to be made to Heal the Ocean, P. O. Box 90106, Santa Barbara 93190. Click here to make an online donation.

A California Highway Patrol officer investigates the wreckage of a pickup that was struck head-on by a flatbed truck July 9 on Highway 101 west of Goleta, killing the driver and injuring two others. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

2. Orange County Woman Killed in Head-on Wreck on Highway 101

Lois and Tom Campbell were returning to their Brea home on July 9 when a flat-bed truck careered across the Highway 101 median west of Goleta and crushed their pickup truck. I hope they never knew what hit them.

Lois Campbell, who was driving the couple’s 2007 Ford pickup, was killed instantly. Judging by the mangled wreckage that remained, it’s a miracle her husband survived. Tom Campbell, 68, was rushed to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with major injuries.

Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki told Noozhawk’s Tom Bolton that the flatbed truck was traveling north on Highway 101 when it crossed over the median near Dos Pueblos Ranch and hit the Campbells, who were driving south.

The driver of the flatbed — a 2008 International Durastar hauling containers for an Arroyo Grande agricultural company — received minor injuries but refused treatment, Sadecki said.

He said the driver told law-enforcement officers that his brakes had locked up, which caused the truck to veer into oncoming traffic. The collision remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

Traffic was backed up for miles while the wreckage was cleared and CHP officers gathered evidence.

3. Body Found in Wrecked Truck Off Painted Cave Road

Investigators look for evidence around a wrecked pickup truck that was discovered July 4 below Painted Cave Road. Sheriff’s officials say the truck contained the remains of a person reported missing in March 2012. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

A missing-persons case from more than a year ago got a break on July 4 when an eagle-eyed crew member spotted a wrecked vehicle as a Santa Barbara County helicopter made a routine pass over Painted Cave Road.

The crash site was discovered several hundred feet over the side of the roadway in largely inaccessible brush and terrain.

A Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy who hiked down to the white Chevy pickup radioed in that it looked as if the truck had been there for some time. “There appears to be remains” inside, he reported.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Andrew Chapman confirmed that remains had been found, and are likely related to a March 2012 missing-persons case.

Authorities are still investigating and the remains have not yet been publicly identified. Family members of the missing individual have been in contact with Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton, who is working on a follow-up story.

Ramon “Crazy Ray” Maldonado, center, is a known Santa Maria North West gang member and is a primary suspect in the gruesome torture-murder of fellow gang member Anthony Ibarra. Also charged in the case are, clockwise from top left, Verenisa “Veri” Aviles, Carmen Cardenas, Jason Castillo, Reyes “Pumpkin” Gonzalez, David “Pops” Maldonado, Pedro Torres Jr., Robert “Tito” Sosa, Anthony “A.J.” Solis, Santos “Little Tuffy” Sauceda and Ramon “Little Ray” Maldonado Jr. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photos)

4. Anatomy of a Homicide: Killing of Anthony Ibarra a Calculated Attack

The March torture-murder of Anthony Ibarra captured the attention of Noozhawk readers right from the start.

Anthony Ibarra
Anthony Ibarra ran afoul of his Santa Maria street gang, and paid with his life.

A low-level drug dealer in a Santa Maria street gang, Ibarra, 28, apparently spent much of his time sampling the products he was supposed to be selling. It wasn’t as if anyone would miss him if he just up and disappeared — which he did.

What was morbidly fascinating, however, was the gruesomeness of his death, which involved barbaric torture, massive loss of blood, a missing U-Haul truck, a couple of lucky breaks by law enforcement, and — incredibly — a rolling series of arrests that eventually totaled nearly a dozen suspects. Toss in the notorious Surenos gang and all the elements were there for a prolonged traffic spike.

Noozhawk and our partner, KEYT, have been jointly investigating the case for months, trying to corroborate confidential details we had learned. In late June, we acquired the transcript of the criminal grand jury indictments of the 11 defendants.

What we found in its 932 pages was — frankly — revolting, on numerous levels. But our news organizations believe it’s important for our community to know what kind of vicious animals are living among us and what our police agencies are continuously trying to unravel and protect us from.

Noozhawk’s Gina Potthoff and KEYT’s Beth Farnsworth have produced two dynamite reports based on the transcript, and are the first reporters to reveal the shocking details. We’ll each have a second installment early next week, with at least a third to follow.

» Click here for Noozhawk’s exclusive report.

» Click here for KEYT’s exclusive report.

Check back with Noozhawk and watch KEYT News Channel 3 for more updates.

5. Possible Suicide Reported at Cold Spring Bridge

The body of a Santa Barbara man was found July 7 below Cold Spring Spring Canyon Bridge, but the circumstances surrounding his death are still under investigation.

Gilbert Herrera
Gilbert Herrera was a classical and jazz guitarist well known in Santa Barbara’s music and education community. ( photo)

According to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, authorities received a report on the evening of July 6 “that a person may have jumped” off the span on Highway 154 west of San Marcos Pass.

A missing-persons report was filed but darkness prevented a search. The body of 47-year-old Gilbert Herrera was found the next morning.

It remains unclear how he was able to scale the controversial “suicide barrier” that was erected on the bridge last year, and there is some speculation that he may have jumped from a point below the bridge, which is precipitous terrain.

Friends were quick to remember Herrera as a gifted guitarist who never tired of sharing his love of music, and who played guitar anywhere and everywhere he could.

He graduated from Santa Barbara City College with an associate’s degree in music with honors, then studied at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Oregon as a jazz studies graduate student. He joined Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas as the guitarist in its big-band orchestra before returning to Santa Barbara, where he taught private guitar lessons and performed at weddings and other events.

At the time of his death, Herrera was a part-time English as a Second Language tutor at SBCC.

“He was a dedicated member of our campus community who worked diligently every day to help ensure the success of each of our students,” SBCC spokeswoman Joan Galvan told our Lara Cooper.

Click here for free suicide prevention resources that available 24 hours a day.

                                                                  •        •        •

On July 9, I hosted our first Twitter Chat to hear from readers and answer questions about Noozhawk. Social media intern Frankie Victoria and I had no idea what to expect, but we were pleased with the response — so much so that we’re planning another one, this time at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 16.

Twitter users can use the hashtag #nooztalk to participate between 7 and 8 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday, or readers can click here to join the conversation on the Twubs Twitter Chat platform.

Thanks for participating. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

                                                                  •        •        •

Sharknado may be a bit over the top, but the Syfy channel’s made-for-TV movie has sure taken social media by scornful storm — which actually is the premise of the film starring Tara Reid and Ian Ziering. In case you didn’t see the July 11 premiere, you can at least say you “saw” this:

(Ryan Cain Vine video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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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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