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Bill Macfadyen: 3 Survivors with a Harrowing Tale About All That’s Left After Helicopter Crash

NoozWeek’s Top 5 roundup catches a More Mesa Beach body, my column on Davies Kabogoza, the Angel Martinez for mayor campaign, and a CHP ridealong in search of a new HQ

The three people aboard what used to be this helicopter survived the crash at La Cumbre Country Club near Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
The three people aboard what used to be this helicopter survived the crash at La Cumbre Country Club near Santa Barbara. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

In between apparently looped — or downright loopy — episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice, there were 121,732 people who read Noozhawk this past week, according to our Google Analytics.

Here’s my take on your Top 5 stories:

1. 3 Injured After Helicopter Crashes, Catches Fire at La Cumbre Country Club Near Santa Barbara

There wasn’t much left of a Santa Barbara tour helicopter that crashed and burned May 5 at La Cumbre Country Club in Hope Ranch. Somehow, the pilot and his two passengers survived, and, boy, will they have a tale to tell.

Westmont College alumni Courtney Crosby and Turner Conrad had a nice flight. The landing was another story. (Facebook photo)
Westmont College alumni Courtney Crosby and Turner Conrad had a nice flight. The landing was another story. (Facebook photo)

Authorities say the R44 Robinson helicopter, leased to Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours, was returning to the Santa Barbara Airport about 2 p.m. after an aerial tour of downtown and the harbor.

Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni told our Giana Magnoli that the pilot, company owner Michael Ower, reported mechanical problems with the aircraft and that it was going down.

Moments later, it crash-landed in a maintenance area of the golf and tennis club at 4015 Via Laguna, skidding into several parked, unoccupied vehicles.

Although injured, Zaniboni said, Ower and his passengers — girlfriend-boyfriend Courtney Crosby and Turner Conrad — were able to extricate themselves from the wreckage, which quickly caught fire from spilled fuel.

The three were rushed by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where they were admitted with moderate injuries, Zaniboni said.

By May 8, Ower had been released from the hospital, according to Cottage Health spokeswoman Maria Zate. Crosby and Conrad were listed in fair condition.

Conrad, who is from Hermosa Beach, is a 2016 graduate of Westmont College and a former first baseman on the Warriors’ baseball team.

Crosby, from Manhattan Beach, was a defensive specialist on Westmont’s powerhouse women’s volleyball team, which went undefeated in the 2016 regular season and won the Golden State Athletic Conference championship before falling in the NAIA tournament quarterfinals.

She graduated May 6 but, obviously, missed commencement.

Westmont President Gayle Beebe announced during the ceremony that Crosby had undergone surgery to repair several injured vertebrae, but was expected to make a full recovery.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, but a preliminary report has not yet been completed.

The helicopter was owned by Riverside County-based Spitzer Helicopter and leased to Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours.

2. Authorities Release Name of Man Found Dead at More Mesa Beach

Two people walking on the beach below More Mesa came across the body of a dead man May 8, about a quarter-mile west of Orchid Drive near Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover identified the man as Jon Jay Read, 51, of New York. She said he was a frequent visitor to Santa Barbara.

“His death is under investigation, but there are no signs of foul play,” Hoover told our Tom Bolton.

3. Bill Macfadyen: Paddleboarder’s Death Leaves Heartbreak Throughout Santa Barbara

My column about the death of Westmont alum and local soccer coach Davies Kabogoza was drawing heavy interest this past week.

Kabogoza, 30, died April 29 in an apparent stand-up paddleboarding accident at the Santa Barbara Harbor. So far, the county Coroner’s Office has not released a cause of death.

A GoFundMe page has been established to pay for Kabogoza’s remains to be returned to Uganda for burial and other expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

4. Former Deckers CEO Angel Martinez Enters Santa Barbara Mayor’s Race

Angel Martinez says “vision and leadership are essential.” (Martinez family photo)
Angel Martinez says “vision and leadership are essential.” (Martinez family photo)

Angel Martinez, who stepped down as CEO of Goleta-based Deckers Brands last year, is the latest entry into this fall’s growing crowd of Santa Barbara mayoral candidates.

Martinez, who led Deckers for 11 years and remains board chairman, lives in downtown Santa Barbara and serves on the nonprofit boards of the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and AHA!

“The city of Santa Barbara is at a tipping point,” he said in a statement. “We are at a moment in time when vision and leadership are essential for us to create the city that, by all rights, should be the best small city in America.”

Already running for mayor in the Nov. 7 election are former Mayor Hal Conklin and current City Council members Frank Hotchkiss and Cathy Murillo.

A few other mayoral candidates may join the race in the next couple of months. Three council seats also are on the ballot.

Oh, give me a home. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
Oh, give me a home. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

5. CHP Sets Sights on Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara for New Station

Making a U-turn after unsuccessfully pursuing a new headquarters site in western Goleta, the California Highway Patrol has trained its radar on a new location: Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara.

As our Sam Goldman first reported in a May 7 Noozhawk exclusive, the CHP is exploring the purchase of some of the 34-acre showgrounds property at 3400 Calle Real and Las Positas Road.

According to CHP officials, the agency’s current one-acre facility at 6465 Calle Real in Goleta does not meet state seismic standards and is too old and too small. It was built in the last century after all, in 1982.

Earl Warren Showgrounds is managed by the 19th Agricultural District Association, an agency of the state Department of Food and Agriculture. The CHP, also a state agency, would have to negotiate a purchase through yet another state agency, the Department of General Services.

Sounds like this is all going to go down up in Sacramento, locals be damned.

“It would be premature to speculate on a particular site, as no formal decision has been made,” DGS spokeswoman Jacqueline Cummings told Sam.

CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez says a facility in Goleta’s Ellwood neighborhood is no longer under consideration, in large part due to a wall of opposition from nearby residents.

He said the CHP is still scrounging around for other potential sites in case Plan B doesn’t work out.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Popular Pastor Brutally Assaulted in His Isla Vista Home; UCSB Student Arrested in Attack.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Genuine laugh tracks: The Brain Can Distinguish Between Real and Fake Laughter.

                                                                  •        •        •

Watch It

This guy definitely was on a roll. Language warning in the last frame.

(UNIVID 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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