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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 8:21 am | Fog/Mist 59º


Bill Macfadyen: Noozhawk Readers Sink Teeth into Dog Bite Investigation

Best of Noozhawk 07.20.12 follows the Florinda Flores case, may have a Darwin Award nomination, watches a mural move and keeps Dr. Julio Diaz under surveillance

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Santa Barbara Police ID Owner of Dog That Bit Girl

Santa Barbara police investigating a peculiar dog-bites-girl story turned to Noozhawk readers to help with their investigation. Managing editor Michelle Nelson’s story ended up being read by nearly everyone who visited the site this past week.

The details of the case were astounding. Apparently, at a charity event in downtown Santa Barbara on the night of July 5, a 5-year-old girl wanted to pet a dog that was with its owner, who said she she could. According to police Sgt. Riley Harwood, the dog bit the girl in the face.

The woman and her dog walked away but the girl’s father chased after her, said Harwood, who added that the woman gave him a fake name. Harwood said the girl’s mother later obtained the woman’s photo from someone who had attended the benefit and recognized the dog’s owner from a previous event. Her picture was posted on Noozhawk and she was quickly identified.

The woman’s name has not been released but the police Animal Control Unit has opened a criminal investigation. The girl was not seriously injured.

2. Teen Driver in Fatal Accident Invokes Fifth Amendment in Civil Case

In May 2010, Tyler Fourmy struck and killed Florinda Flores with the family minivan as the 47-year-old Montecito woman walked to her Coast Village Road bus stop.

Fourmy, who was 17 at the time of the collision, pleaded guilty last year to vehicular manslaughter and to misdemeanor and infraction charges of possession of marijuana, transportation of marijuana, driving at an unsafe speed, an unlawful turning movement, and failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility for the vehicle. He was sentenced to Juvenile Hall, probation and community service.

Flores’ husband, Wolfgang Schulz; her daughter; and her brother and sister-in-law have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Fourmy and his parents, Susan Granziera and Patrick Fourmy. Jeffrey Young, the attorney representing Flores’ family, is trying to use information from Fourmy’s criminal case — such as interviews, depositions, photographs and police reports — in the civil case, which alleges Fourmy’s parents were negligent.

According to Santa Barbara County Superior Court documents tracked down by Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli, Fourmy has invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself in the civil case. In a tentative ruling, Judge Donna Geck upheld Fourmy’s right as long as Juvenile Court retains jurisdiction over him. Fourmy’s year of probation and community service ends Oct. 17.

A trial date has not yet been set.

3. Driver Arrested on Suspicion of DUI After Crashing Into Beachfront Hotel

A 27-year-old Santa Barbara man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence June 17 after he crashed his pickup truck into the side of the Best Western Hotel at 336 W. Cabrillo Blvd.

I’m not sure the smartly tatted-up suspect and his crew have enough juice to become Darwin Awards finalists, but they deserve an A for effort. According to Santa Barbara police, numerous witnesses saw them drinking, causing a disturbance and urinating off a crowded Stearns Wharf earlier in the afternoon before they were positively identified by city parking staff as they drove past the wharf ticket kiosk on their ill-fated journey.

There were no injuries in the incident.

4. Historic Victoria Street Mural Relocated to Make Way for New Development

The old Vons market at Chapala and Victoria streets is being demolished to make way for Alma del Pueblo, a mixed-use project that will contain nearly 50,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a public market with 37 residential units on the second and third floors.

Before the last wall came down this week, Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik reported that construction crews carefully took down 20,000-pound sections of a 54-year-old mosaic tile mural that adorned the eastern exterior of the building. The artwork was relocated to the Chapala side of the property, where it will be restored to its previous glory.

Brian Cearnal of Cearnal Andrulaitis Architecture & Interior Design designed the new project around the mural and the protected view of the Arlington Theatre as required by the Historic Landmarks Commission.

In a bit of a historical footnote, the market mural is a long block away from the site of the old Earthling Bookshop, which had its own locally famous mural that was facing destruction more than 20 years ago. That mural was moved to the library on the Santa Barbara High School campus, where it has been preserved for posterity.

5. Dr. Julio Diaz to be Target of Solvang Family’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Not long after Noozhawk concluded its six-week Prescription for Abuse series outlining the misuse and abuse of prescription medications, federal authorities swooped in and arrested Dr. Julio Diaz at his Goleta home.

Diaz, 63, who owned a family-practice clinic on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara, is facing a federal criminal complaint of distribution of controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without legitimate medical purpose. Translation: Overprescribing. In shockingly high volumes. He’s pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in federal court later this year.

In what will likely be the first of many legal actions, the family of one of Diaz’s patients has signaled its intent to sue him for wrongful death. Heidi and Robert Montgomery of Solvang allege that he contributed to the death of their 24-year-old son, Adam, who, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, was being prescribed an average of 63 prescription pills a day in the six weeks before he died last November.

For years prior to Diaz’s arrest on Jan. 4, families had pleaded with the California Medical Board to at least revoke his license. Even Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital officials had contacted the board, but with little response.

In an exclusive interview with Noozhawk, the Montgomerys’ attorney, Rich Collins, told staff writer Lara Cooper that the family “just wants a day in court and they want to hold (Dr. Diaz) and whoever else responsible.”

Click here for the complete series index to Noozhawk’s Prescription for Abuse series.

                                                                  •        •        •

The Rev. Jeff Bullock, rector of All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 83 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito, retires July 22 and will be moving out of the South Coast. Jeff’s been a wonderful priest and a pastor to me and my family, as well as a brother and a friend — and I already miss his jokes about his childhood in Minnesota. Thank you for everything, Jeff.

                                                                  •        •        •

Thank you for all the support and prayers I received for my friend, Tara Cranfield. The emails and notes were much appreciated. More than 1,200 of Tara’s friends celebrated her life July 18 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Houston.

                                                                  •        •        •

Noozhawk is excited to be a sponsor of this year’s 70th Annual Man & Woman of the Year awards, which will be revealed at a dinner celebration Oct. 11 at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

It’s a privilege for us to be asked by the Santa Barbara Foundation to join KEYT and KDB 93.7 Classic Radio in promoting the prestigious awards, which highlight the community’s spirit of volunteerism. You’ll be seeing more about the program on Noozhawk in the next two months.

In the meantime, the Santa Barbara Foundation is now accepting nominations for Man and Woman of the year. Click here for more information or to make a nomination.

                                                                  •        •        •

There were 45,197 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.

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