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Bill Macfadyen: Another Fatal Motorcycle Crash Spurs Traffic While Stopping It

NoozWeek’s Top 5 trails a pre-Fiesta parade stabbing, finds a backcountry plane crash, follows a tow-truck tribute, and gets a surprise from the Santa Barbara City Council


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1. Motorcyclist Killed in Highway 101 Crash in Summerland; Freeway Closure Causes Massive Traffic Jam

A 53-year-old Newhall man was killed in a motorcycle crash on Highway 101 in Summerland the afternoon of Aug. 9.

The motorcyclist, identified as Bruce Aaron Hoover, may have suffered a medical emergency just before the wreck.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Jonathan Gutierrez, witnesses say the man was traveling southbound at about 55 mph when he “appeared to pass out and slump over his motorcycle” just east of the Evans Avenue exit.

On a motorcycle, such situations usually end badly. And it did.

Gutierrez said Hoover drifted across the left lane, struck the center-divider rail, and was ejected from the bike. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The subsequent investigation and freeway closure snarled traffic for hours afterward, backing up motorists almost to Las Positas Road in Santa Barbara and clogging surface streets through Montecito and Summerland.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Gutierrez said alcohol and drugs are not considered to be factors.

NoozNote: Fatal motorcycle crashes have been Noozhawk’s top weekly stories for three of the last five weeks. R.I.P. Bruce Hoover, Steve Forrest and Ryan Bollay.

Don’t mind the police crime scene tape. Viva la Fiesta! (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Don’t mind the police crime scene tape. Viva la Fiesta! (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

2. Santa Barbara Police Follow Blood Trail to Find Stabbing Victim in Homeless Camp

Hours before the start of Santa Barbara’s biggest parade, Old Spanish Days’ annual El Desfile Histórico on Aug. 7, a trail of blood was discovered downtown. The gruesome evidence led to a homeless encampment a few blocks away.

According to Santa Barbara police Lt. Brent Mandrell, the trail started in the 400 block of State Street, continued down the street for two blocks, crossed over the freeway and into a homeless camp.

There, officers found a stabbing victim. The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was admitted in stable condition.

Mandrell said the man was not cooperative so authorities aren’t real sure just what happened, or when.

Although police tape cordoned off much of the 400 block of State Street for an hour or so, municipal Public Works Department crews had cleaned up the area well before Fiesta celebrants began arriving to claim the chairs and blankets they had used to stake out the parade route.

A Santa Barbara County backcountry rescue mission became a recovery operation instead. (Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Team photo)
A Santa Barbara County backcountry rescue mission became a recovery operation instead. (Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Team photo)

3. Two Killed When Plane Crashes in Santa Barbara Backcountry

Two San Diego men were killed Aug. 6 when their small plane crashed in the Santa Barbara County backcountry south of New Cuyama. The pilot had reported engine trouble while flying over the remote, rugged area about 10:40 p.m.

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Air Unit helicopter located the crash site about 4:30 a.m. Aug. 7.

The Cessna 182 had gone down just north of Jameson Lake in Los Padres National Forest.

The bodies of the pilot, David Keith Martz, 58, and his passenger, Birger Greg Bacino, 54, were found in the wreckage.

Hoover said Bacino had hired Martz, a commercial pilot, to fly him to a business meeting in San Luis Obispo. They were on the way back to McClellan-Palomar Airport in Oceanside when they crashed.

The circumstances of the crash are under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Just doing our jobs as journalists, we poked around a bit to see who the victims were. It turns out that both had attained their share of notoriety, which we duly noted.

A few of the men’s friends were quite cross with Noozhawk for that, however, and they let us know about it in no uncertain terms.

You can read our Tom Bolton’s follow-up story to see what the hullabaloo is all about, or you can Google their names yourself. I guarantee you it won’t be the Noozhawk stories that come up first in the search results — or even the plane crash, for that matter.

Sergio Orozco’s tow line. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
Sergio Orozco’s tow line. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

4. Procession Remembers Tow Truck Driver Killed in Santa Maria​

Sergio Orozco, a 43-year-old driver for Smitty’s Towing, was killed in a tragic, horrific freak accident. In a sweet, gracious gesture, his comrades in coveralls honored him with a procession that took many locals by surprise.

Orozco died July 31 when a winch cable trapped him against the side of his truck while he was unloading a vehicle at a company storage yard in Santa Maria.

He was rushed by a medivac helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, but died of his injuries.

On Aug. 11, dozens of fellow tow truck drivers gathered at his funeral service at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Santa Barbara, and then got in their rigs to accompany his casket on his final run, to Calvary Cemetery.

A Santa Barbara native, Orozco is survived by his children, Jasmine and Jesse; his parents, Maria and Alfredo Orozco; and brothers Alfredo and Eddie.

Donations for the Sergio Orozco Memorial Fund can be made at any Montecito Bank & Trust branch, or click here for a Go Fund Me donation page.

5. Santa Barbara Council Blasts Appellants Trying To Block Home Remodel

Will wonders never cease. Apparently, even the Santa Barbara City Council has a breaking point with NIMBY neighbors.

Fed up with a couple who won’t take no for an answer, the council on Aug. 11 voted 6-0 — with Councilman Bendy White absent — to deny a second appeal of a Riviera remodel project. The council had denied an earlier appeal a few months ago.

We’ve seen this movie before, and our Josh Molina has the full story if you need the details of the saga on Mission Ridge Road.

Meanwhile, the council members got a few things off their chests by unloading on the persistent appellants.

“I regret that we have to spend this time doing this,” Councilman Dale Francisco said. “I wish that people would take this process seriously for the good of the community.”

Councilman Frank Hotchkiss called the appeal “spurious,” and Councilman Gregg Hart was just as blunt.

“This is an abuse of the appeals process,” he said.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web: Man in Bear Costume Harrasses Bears in Alaska. Tell me this won’t have a grizzly outcome.

                                                                 •        •        •

How does a 3D printed violin sound? Pretty cool.

(Laurent Bernadac video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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