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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 10:24 am | A Few Clouds 57º


Bill Macfadyen: What’s In Store at Trader Joe’s Was an Unfortunate Surprise

Middle-of-the-night chopper flight, ocean warming, a school sex abuse suit, and a UCSB professor’s First Amendment lesson round out NoozWeek’s Top 5

There were 77,634 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top stories?

1. Elderly Woman Attempts Suicide at Goleta Trader Joe’s

A Goleta woman apparently tried to kill herself in a restroom at Trader Joe’s, 5767 Calle Real, but she was found by a store employee who called 9-1-1.

Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said deputies, county firefighters and paramedics all responded to the scene the afternoon of Aug. 15.

The woman, believed to be in in her 70s, was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, but authorities said she later died of her injuries.

Hoover declined to disclose her identity.

Our Tom Bolton’s report quickly pulled in nearly 10,000 reads, as well as a number of caustic comments. While the vast majority of Noozhawk readers bring insight and perspective to the debate through our story comments, I would remind a few that just because you can say anything you want, doesn’t mean that you should. 

Click here for suicide-prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.

2. ‘Suicidal Man’ Rescued After Overnight Motorcycle Crash Near Highway 154

Call it the “Rescue Heard ’Round the Coast.” Just before 3 a.m. Aug. 17, many residents of Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and Santa Barbara were awakened by a Ventura County Fire Department helicopter flying low and slow en route to a rescue scene in the foothills below Highway 154.

According to county Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason, a “suicidal man” had crashed his motorcycle in the 2200 block of North San Marcos Road around 1:45 a.m., then called 9-1-1 to request help. The problem — well, one of his problems — was that he didn’t know where he was.

Using the man’s cell phone signals, Eliason said, emergency personnel were able to “triangulate” his approximate location. He said they eventually tracked him to the crash site, about 300 feet off the road.

No Santa Barbara County helicopters were available so a VCFD helicopter with a hoist was called in, Eliason said.

The man, whose name was not released, was flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with moderate injuries.

Come on in, the water’s fine. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Come on in, the water’s fine. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

3. Scientists Puzzled By Warmer Ocean Waters Off Santa Barbara Coast

I don’t hear swimmers and surfers complaining, but this summer’s ocean temperatures are significantly warmer than locals are accustomed to. We armed our Josh Molina with a thermometer and tossed him into the drink to try to figure out why.

According to Nate Mantua, a research scientist for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, unusual and unpredictable wind patterns have been a key factor, contributing to a lack of rain, erratic weather and warmer water temperatures that have risen to the mid-60s from the more typical 50s.

“There is no good answer for why this is happening,” he said.

A lack of winds from the north have been supplanted by stronger winds from the south, which is pushing the typically warm ocean water closer to the coast, he explained. High pressure has steered the jet stream in the opposite direction, reversing the up-welling off the coast.

“It has an impact on marine life,” Mantua said. “The big pelagic critters you usually go to Baja for are coming up to U.S. waters.”

If the warm waters continue, he said local fisherman could see more yellowtail, yellowfin and bluefin tuna. Already, the prevalence of anchovies has drawn an increased presence of the squid that feed on them.

4. Former Laguna Blanca Student Sues School for Not Reporting Alleged Sexual Abuse

A former student is suing Laguna Blanca School because a teacher did not report an alleged incident of sexual molestation that the then-student had related to classmates. According to the lawsuit, the young woman was again victimized by a former teacher several weeks later.

The complaint, filed on behalf of “Jane Doe” by attorney Elizabeth O’Brien, alleges that during the 2012-2013 school year the then-junior told two fellow students that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of being sexually molested.

The complaint says 11th-grade history teacher Martha Elliott overheard the account and asked the girl if the incident had been reported or if she had told her parents, but she said no. 

“Just weeks after the plaintiff told Elliott she had been molested, near the end of her junior year at Laguna Blanca, plaintiff fell victim to an adult sexual predator, who also happened to be a former Laguna Blanca teacher who the plaintiff trusted,” the complaint states.

“The plaintiff also told this former teacher that she had previously been molested and he took advantage of this information and preyed on the plaintiff's weakness,” adding that she was seduced into performing various sexual acts with him on three separate occasions while she was 17.

The lawsuit maintains that Laguna Blanca was negligent by failing to train its employees on mandatory reporting requirements.

Elliott declined to comment and referred questions to Laguna Blanca Head of School Rob Hereford, who did not respond to Noozhawk’s requests for comment.

After being schooled on the First Amendment, UCSB professor Mireille Miller-Young was sentenced to probation, community service and anger-management classes. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
After being schooled on the First Amendment, UCSB professor Mireille Miller-Young was sentenced to probation, community service and anger-management classes. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

5. UCSB Professor Sentenced to Probation, Anger Management in Abortion Confrontation

An associate professor of feminist studies at UC Santa Barbara has been sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service and 10 hours of anger-management classes after pleading no contest to charges stemming from a March 4 confrontation she had with an anti-abortion group of campus.

Mireille Miller-Young — whose website lists her areas of emphasis as black cultural studies, pornography and sex work — faced three charges of grand theft from a person, battery and vandalism based on the incident, during which prosecutors alleged she took a protester’s sign, committed battery on another protester, and then destroyed the sign.

The altercation occurred between Miller-Young and several protesters who carried posters containing graphic images of aborted infants. She told UCSB police that she found the literature and pictures “disturbing” because she teaches about reproductive rights and because she was pregnant at the time.

Prosecutor Ron Zonen said Miller-Young didn’t seize the sign because it was offensive, but because she didn’t agree with the message.

“She embarrassed herself, the university ... she set a poor example for her students,” he said.

                                                                 •        •        •

Anyone doubt the existence of Superheroes?

(The Bucket List Life 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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