Monday, October 15 , 2018, 5:05 am | Fair 52º


Bill Macfadyen: 2 Husbands, Dads, Men Linked by Fatal — and Improbable — Highway 154 Collision

After pitching Giving Tuesday as Good for Santa Barbara, NoozWeek’s Top 5 picks up the pieces of a Lompoc murder and shootout, gets a second taste of Jeopardy!, spins a carousel tale and marks my words

Last year, Team Noozhawk decided to mark our Oct. 16 anniversary with an annual Good for Santa Barbara special project, exploring the successes and challenges of local philanthropy and charity, and the industry that it is in Santa Barbara County.

It was a huge success, in large part because we tackled the topics as news reporters — something I know most of our readers appreciate and expect of us.

This year, we decided to time the start of our series with Giving Tuesday on Nov. 28, reasoning that the breadth of our coverage could better benefit local nonprofit organizations seeking to take advantage of the unofficial start of the charitable giving season.

Over the next several weeks and throughout the next year, we’ll be posting in-depth stories on a range of philanthropic and nonprofit questions and issues affecting the lives of people you know, people you probably don’t know, and the often nonprofit-enhanced quality of life that affects us all. We’re grateful to our presenting sponsor, Montecito Bank & Trust, for helping us make this series happen.

We’re also excited about our inaugural 2017 Giving Tuesday Nonprofit Guide, coordinated by our Emmalia Sutherland. Even though Giving Tuesday is rapidly approaching, it’s not too late to be included. For more details, email Emmalia at [email protected].

Meanwhile, there were 111,507 of your reading Noozhawk this past week, a​ccording to our Google Analytics. What follows is my take on the week’s Top 5 stories.

1. 2nd Man Dies of Injuries Suffered in Deer-Caused Collision Near Santa Ynez

Two men are dead, two wives are widowed and four young children are fatherless after a random and truly tragic collision that few people — if any — could have foreseen, or even imagined.

John Stashenko IV with his children, Johnny and Mika. Click to view larger
John Stashenko IV with his children, Johnny and Mika. (YouCaring photo)

As our Tom Bolton first reported Nov. 14, a deer running across Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley started a three-vehicle wreck that was spectacularly improbable. According to the California Highway Patrol, the encounter happened about 5:30 p.m. on the darkened highway near the Santa Ynez River bridge east of the roundabout at Highway 246.

Jorgen Stufkosky with wife Heather and their children, Kiera and Merek. Click to view larger
Jorgen Stufkosky with wife Heather and their children, Kiera and Merek. (GoFundMe photo)

Martha Aguayo, 69, of Oxnard, was driving west on the highway when the deer darted in front of her, the CHP said. Her car clipped the animal, launching it right into the windshield of an oncoming SUV driven by John Stashenko IV, 33, of Carpinteria.

The CHP said the impact sent Stashenko’s vehicle veering out of control and into the path of a westbound car driven by Jorgen Stufkosky, 39, of Santa Barbara, who was behind Aguayo.

The crash was catastrophic. Both men suffered major injuries, and it took time for emergency crews to carefully extricate them from the wreckage. They were then airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Both victims died Nov. 16 at the hospital, surrounded by family.

Stashenko is survived by his wife, Bobbi, and two sons, Johnny, 3, and Mika, 1. Family members have established a YouCaring page to help with funeral and other expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

Stufkosky, a UC Santa Barbara graduate and local chiropractor, is survived by his wife, Heather, and their young children, Kiera and Merek. Friends have established a GoFundMe page to assist his family. Click here to make an online donation.

Aguayo and her passenger, Jose Aguayo, 67, of Oxnard, were unhurt in the crash, but the deer was fatally injured.

2. Homicide Investigation Leads to Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting in Lompoc

Picking up the pieces at the scene of a wild Lompoc shootout involving police and a suspect in a murder at the nearby Santa Ynez River. Click to view larger
Picking up the pieces at the scene of a wild Lompoc shootout involving police and a suspect in a murder at the nearby Santa Ynez River. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

There may not be something in the water, but there’s definitely something foul in the Santa Ynez River around Lompoc. The latest — and most serious — evidence: The Nov. 19 murder of a riverbed “resident” and a subsequent shootout with Lompoc police that left the suspect dead.

R.I.P. Tim Culley, described by fellow Santa Ynez River denizens as “one of the most genuinely nice guys that were on the street.” Click to view larger
R.I.P. Tim Culley, described by fellow Santa Ynez River denizens as “one of the most genuinely nice guys that were on the street.” (Facebook photo)

According to police Sgt. Kevin Martin, officers responded to the riverbed just after 6 a.m. to check out a homicide report. There they found the body of a man — later identified as Timothy Ross Culley, 28, of Lompoc — and several witnesses who identified the possible suspect.

An hour later, a man matching the suspect’s description was spotted near North A Street and Airport Avenue, less than a mile west of River Park. As police arrived, Martin said, the man opened fire on the officers, who shot back.

No officers were hurt in the gunfire, but the suspect was mortally wounded. He was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Lompoc Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department on Nov. 20 identified the suspect as 34-year-old Geronimo Vicente Santos, who apparently had been using the identity of a 32-year-old man named Carlos Aguirrez-Justo, among other aliases. No other details were released about the name-adopter.

Lompoc police are investigating Culley’s murder, which some witnesses have said may have been the result of a dispute over a woman. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the circumstances of the officer-involved shooting, standard protocol for such incidents.

“Once the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for review to determine the lawfulness of the force used,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.

Culley, who reportedly was a member of the Cabrillo High School class of 2007, had been living in the riverbed for the last couple of years. Friends from the makeshift community spoke highly of him.

“He was honestly one of the most genuinely nice guys that were on the street,” Irene Gunn told our Janene Scully. “He did anything to help anybody else he could.”

Culley’s brother, Aaron, has started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for memorial expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

3. Santa Barbara Software Engineer Alan Lin Becomes 6-Time Jeopardy! Champ

Alan Lin may have finished No. 2 in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions but it was followed by a lot of zeroes. Click to view larger
Alan Lin may have finished No. 2 in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions but it was followed by a lot of zeroes. (Jeopardy! file photo)

Question: What is second place.

Answer: Alan Lin. This time.

Lin, a 33-year-old engineer at Santa Barbara-based Green Hills Software and a past Jeopardy! champion, was competing last week in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. Earlier this year, he had won $123,600 in prize money during a six-game winning streak, which earned him a second chance, this time for a $250,000 check.

Although he swept into the finals in the lead, he was overtaken by eventual champion Buzzy Cohen of Los Angeles. Lin finished second in the final title round that aired Nov. 17, which still got him another $100,000. Austin Rogers of New York City placed third.

Noozhawk didn’t win any money in the contest, but we sure feel like a big winner from all the traffic generated by global Google web searches of Lin’s name over the past two weeks. Those searches propelled our original May 9 story into second place in last week’s Best of Bill roundup, and it’s back this week at No. 3.

Thanks, Alan, and congratulations! You’re probably getting a lot of investment advice these days, so here’s mine: Click here to join our Hawks Club.

4. Bill Macfadyen: Latest Fatal Rollover on Highway 154 Not at a Usual Crash Scene

I acknowledged right up front last week that bad news is generally good for news. My column is a case in point. Thanks for reading.

5. Santa Barbara’s Chase Palm Park Losing Its Historic Carousel

It looks like Santa Barbara is about to get another prominent vacancy. Click to view larger
It looks like Santa Barbara is about to get another prominent vacancy. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Early next month, the carousel at Chase Palm Park will be pulled out of the building it has occupied since 1999 on the Santa Barbara waterfront.

The merry-go-round’s owner, Historic Carousels Inc. of Hood River, Ore., says it will be installed at a new museum it plans to build to house historically significant carousels, like Santa Barbara’s, whose hand-carved mini-horses and carriages were created in 1916 and originally installed in San Diego.

Because Historic Carousels’ exciting museum plans are so urgent, the company is breaking its lease early with the City of Santa Barbara.

“This carousel has enormous sentimental value to our family” said Brad Perron, president of Historic Carousels. “It will be the first part of our development plans for a Carousel Museum next to an outdoor amphitheater and destination hotel.”

That’s one explanation. Jill Zachary, director of the city Parks & Recreation Department, has another: While going round and round, the carousel operation apparently is upside down financially.

“It’s unfortunate,” she told our Brooke Holland. “It has been popular with a number of Santa Barbara families and visitors, but it hasn’t experienced the kind of walkthrough traffic to make it economically viable.

“Over the last number of years, the popularity of the carousel has declined.”

The city plans to make the best of the unfortunate situation, with a carousel carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at the park 323 E. Cabrillo Blvd. The structure will be dismantled soon after.

Zachary said the city has yet to decide what to do with the soon-to-be-empty building.

What do you think should go there? Add your comments below.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Emergency Crews Unable to Revive Downed Cyclist in Santa Barbara.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

You can pay your publicist and attorneys tens of thousands of dollars to craft a statement explaining your conduct as a sexual creeper/harasser/assaulter/predator. Or you can do it yourself with this handy tool. Trust me, it’ll provide hours of entertainment: Celebrity Perv Apology Generator.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

Raise your hands if you just endured this annual Thanksgiving exercise. OK, you can put your hands down. It’s the Internet and I can’t actually see you.

(johnbcrist 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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