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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 3:06 am | Fair 37º


Bill Macfadyen: Biting on Click Bait, Sharks Sink Their Teeth into Noozhawk’s Traffic

NoozWeek’s Top 5 follows Trader Joe’s up the street, has 3 deadly encounters with trains, adds a possible parking lot suicide, and investigates arson at the Santa Barbara Mission

Now, that left a mark. Click to view larger
Now, that left a mark. (Brett Jackson photo)

While Los Angeles Dodgers fans wait to see what Christmas in July brings them at the trade deadline, Noozhawk was drawing interest from 114,793 readers this past week, according to our Google Analytics.

And speaking of analytics, thank you for making July Noozhawk’s biggest traffic month yet in our nearly 10-year existence. You obliterated previous records for monthly readers and pageviews, and set a record for monthly unique visitors.

These are exciting milestones for us, even if what was driving it — the Whittier and Alamo wildfires — was fraught with peril and uncertainty.

During emergencies such as these, our community must have a reliable, accurate and up-to-the-minute source of trusted professional news reporting.

From spark to near-containment, Noozhawk was there for you. With our very small staff of a half-dozen journalists, we were providing pretty much around-the-clock coverage.

Our lead reporter on the Whittier Fire — executive editor Tom Bolton, one of my two business partners — was even forced to evacuate his house for four days while the flames raged out of control above western Goleta. And yet, through it all, Noozhawk readers came first.

As the traditional news media models fracture and implode, Noozhawk has been a pioneer in charting a new course. Running a 24/7 news operation is still very expensive, however.

We’re grateful to our family of longtime advertisers and sponsors that support our mission, but we want to cover even more of Santa Barbara County — especially Santa Barbara and Goleta.

We need your help!

Please consider becoming a member of our Hawks Club today, or renewing your membership. While Noozhawk is free to read and use, your contribution will help us provide even more of the essential local news and information you’ve come to expect from us.

Even one dollar a week makes a huge positive impact in our ability to expand our objective, professional news reporting.

Click here to make an online donation through PayPal, call me at 805.456.7195 to set up recurring billing through a credit card, or checks can be snail-mailed to Noozhawk, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102.

Thank you again for your support.

Now back to the news, and my own take on this past week’s top stories:

1. 2 Shark Attacks Reported Along Santa Barbara’s South Coast​

In the roshambo of Noozhawk traffic analytics, sharks beat Paula Lopez and wildfires crush sharks. Thankfully, the last two weeks of fires have largely flamed out, which clears the field for not one, but two, shark attacks.

Only sports equipment was injured in the attacks, but the chomps were large enough and the jaws that made them were close enough to shake up the users.

Brett Jackson, 40, of Los Angeles, told our Brooke Holland that he was paddling his kayak about 350 feet east of Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf on July 20 when a great white shark bumped the craft and knocked him into the water.

“It came out of nowhere, and the first thing I saw was a giant jaw near my face,” said Jackson, who was visiting family locally. “It was fast, and the shark was hungry.

“It bit on to the kayak next to my arm and side, dove me on the kayak sideways a few feet then flipped (me) over.”

Harbor Patrol Supervisor Steve McCullough said his agency got a call about 11:20 a.m. reporting that someone was in the water yelling for help. Jackson swam safely to a nearby boat, which is where rescue personnel found him.

About 3½ hours earlier, a shark came up underneath a stand-up paddleboarder off More Mesa east of Goleta Beach Park, county aquatics supervisor Jon Menzies said.

The shark, estimated to be 7 to 8 feet in length, clamped down on the board, leaving a 7-inch-wide bite mark.

The paddleboarder, whose identity was not released, was not injured.

2. Trader Joe’s Opening Relocated Santa Barbara Store on Friday

Plentiful parking. What’s that all about? Click to view larger
Plentiful parking. What’s that all about? (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Trader Joe’s on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside is moving to a much larger building — with a far more spacious parking lot — just up Milpas Street.

Having charted a remarkably efficient relocation plan, the store will close as usual at 9 p.m. July 27, at 29 N. Milpas St., and reopen three blocks away and 11 hours later at 8 a.m. July 28, at 222 N. Milpas St.

Trader Joe’s spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki told our Brooke Holland that the new place — formerly a short-lived Fresh Market that closed in 2015 and before that a Scolari’s Food & Drug — is 22,000 square feet, about 50 percent larger than the previous store.

The game changer, as any Trader Joe’s regular driving a vehicle larger than a clown car can attest, is that the new parking lot is an actual parking lot, with 129 life-sized spaces and all. Now that’s value.

3. Man Killed by Amtrak Train Identified as Goleta Resident

The train always wins. Click to view larger
The train always wins. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

It’s been a deadly week on railroad tracks in Santa Barbara County.

On July 20, a 51-year-old Goleta man, Edmund Alexander Backus, was struck and killed by a northbound Amtrak passenger train as he walked on the Union Pacific tracks near the western edge of Twin Lakes Golf Course west of Fairview Avenue.

According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Backus was wearing headphones and pushing his bicycle when he was hit from behind by the train, which was slowing to stop at the Goleta platform.

The train still wins. Click to view larger
The train still wins. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Coroner’s Bureau determined the cause of death as accidental.

On July 24, a Guadalupe woman was killed after she reportedly drove her SUV around the flashing railroad crossing arms at a Guadalupe intersection and was hit by a northbound Amtrak train.

The train pushed the Saturn Vue more than a train car length down the tracks from the crossing at West Main Street (Highway 166) and Guadalupe Street (Highway 1).

Gloria Nunez, 74, was pronounced dead at the scene.

There were no other physical injuries in the collision, which is under investigation by Guadalupe police, the Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.

Shortly after noon July 26, a Goleta woman was struck and killed after she stepped in front of a northbound Amtrak train at the Goleta platform, not far from where Backus died a few days before.

The woman, later identified as 65-year-old Ester Lopez de Reyes, was declared dead at the scene.

Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Huddle said the incident is under investigation.

4. Police Respond to Reported Suicide in Santa Barbara Motel Parking Lot

Just after midnight July 23, a man apparently shot himself in a motel parking lot on Upper State Street in Santa Barbara. Police are investigating it as a possible suicide.

SBPD spokesman Anthony Wagner said officers were dispatched at 12:25 a.m. to Motel 6 at 3505 State St., where they found a dead man and a handgun.

Wagner said foul play is not suspected, there were no other injuries in the incident, and the case is still under investigation.

HT to the several Motel 6 guests who reported the incident to us. Thank you.

Click here for suicide prevention information and resources that are available 24/7.

5. Arson Suspected as Cause of Fire at Santa Barbara Mission​

The Santa Barbara Fire Department has released few details about a July 22 fire that investigators believe was set deliberately at the Santa Barbara Mission.

Battalion Chief Robert Mercado told our Tom Bolton that firefighters were dispatched about 10 a.m. to the historic mission at 2201 Laguna St.

The suspected arson was in a building behind the sanctuary, and investigators say it caused an estimated $5,000 in damage.

No injuries were reported.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? 2-Year-Old Pulled from Ocean Near Stearns Wharf as Possible Drowning Reported.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Turns out there is something new — and really cool— under the sun, and the waves: Massive 2-Ton Fish Species Discovered.

                                                                  •        •        •

Watch It

@lifewithmalamutes is one of my favorite Instagram accounts, largely because of the battles between these two clowns. Now it’ll be one of yours, too.

(Life with Malamutes 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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