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Bill Macfadyen: Fateful Stand Proves Fatal for Carpinteria Woman on Railroad Tracks

NoozWeek’s Top 5 pairs wine with alleged embezzlement, nurses a three-dog bite, and talks smack with an investigative series on heroin use

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The Internet intruded on Noozhawk’s #SafeSpace on Nov. 6, which drove down our readership to “only” 95,463 of you this past week. That made me feel sad, and it hurt my feelings.

But I’ve manned up, and am venturing out from my pillow fort to pronounce my take on your top stories:

1. Carpinteria Woman Killed By Train Near Linden Avenue Station​

A woman standing on the railroad tracks near the Carpinteria depot was struck and killed by an Amtrak passenger train the night of Nov. 6. Authorities believe the death was accidental.

According to Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the woman was on the tracks near Linden Avenue when the southbound train came up on her just before 7 p.m.

The crew hit the emergency brakes but the train was cruising at 50 to 55 mph and, well, you know the rest — especially given what seems like the depressing regularity of these incidents along the South Coast.

“Before she was hit, the victim appeared to be trying to get out of the way of the train,” Hoover said.

The woman later was identified as Kathleen Teisher, 54, of Carpinteria.

Hoover said the death is under investigation, but it appears to be an accident. Toxicology tests will try to determine if alcohol or drugs were factors.

2. Former Oreana Winemaker Arrested for Allegedly Embezzling $1.2 Million from Santa Barbara Business

Christian Garvin, former manager and winemaker at Oreana Winery in Santa Barbara’s​ Funk Zone, was arrested earlier this month on embezzlement charges after allegedly swindling the business owners out of more than $1.3 million.

An investigation of winemaker Christian Garvin has uncorked a doozy of a criminal case. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)
An investigation of winemaker Christian Garvin has uncorked a doozy of a criminal case. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Garvin, 41, of Solvang, has pleaded not guilty to 58 felony counts of grand theft embezzlement, money laundering and failure to file five years of correct income tax returns.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, he also faces special allegation charges for embezzling more than $1.3 million and for laundering larger sums of money.

After surrendering his passport, he was released on a reduced $260,000 bail. A preliminary hearing date will be determined Dec. 16 in Superior Court.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood said Garvin had a 10 percent stake in Oreana, 90 percent of which is owned by Los Angeles business partners Barry Goldfarb and Judy Koyama. Prosecutor Brian Cota said the pair began investigating their business two years ago after an audit of the winery’s recordkeeping.

Garvin resigned from Oreana after the discovery of the financial inconsistencies, and he later founded Avelina Wine Co.

3. Woman Hospitalized After Being Mauled by 3 Large Dogs at Santa Barbara Home​

Three large dogs mauled a woman who entered their Westside Santa Barbara yard to feed them the afternoon of Nov. 5, sending her to the hospital with significant bite wounds.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, police Sgt. Riley Harwood said the woman went to the house in the 400 block of Dibblee Avenue, off Castillo Street between West Cota and West Ortega streets.

The owner of the dogs — large pit pulls and pit-bull mixes — was out of town and the woman was there to feed them. As soon as she entered the yard, however, the trio attacked.

Police and Animal Control officers responded to the scene, and Harwood said the dogs were subdued with pepper spray. Two of the animals also were sedated with tranquilizer darts.

The three dogs, and two others that were not involved in the confrontation, were taken by Animal Control and placed under a mandatory quarantine, pending a review of the case.

Harwood said the woman was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with “significant dog bites to her legs and at least one arm.”

Her identity and condition were not disclosed.

Lizette Correa says her 9-month-old daughter is the biggest motivation for her to kick her heroin addiction. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
Lizette Correa says her 9-month-old daughter is the biggest motivation for her to kick her heroin addiction. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

4. In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

The surge of heroin use is quickly reaching epidemic levels, here and across the nation. We asked our Lara Cooper to dig into the issue and report back on how the public health crisis is affecting Santa Barbara County. What she found is grim.

According to the county Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, the abuse of heroin and opiates like Oxycontin and Vicodin has increased by 30 percent over the past five years.

Heroin and prescription pain killers account for a quarter of all new admissions into local drug treatment programs, and addiction and overdoses are affecting a larger cross section of the community than ever before.

Lara did find a success story of sorts, even if it’s more of a cautionary tale at this point.

Lizette Correa, a 22-year-old Goleta mom, has battled heroin addiction since she was 13 — along with the attendant requirements of court appearances, drug testing and parenting classes.

Due to graduate this fall from Project Recovery, a drug treatment program run by the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, or CADA, she’s determined to stay clean this time for the sake of her now 9-month-old daughter.

“I look at her and I think, ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example,’” Correa said. “I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs.”

Lara’s investigative series marks the official debut of Noozhawk’s new Your Health section. As part of our ongoing health and wellness coverage, each month our reporters will be conducting independent, in-depth reporting on major public health issues affecting our community — something that has not been done around this county for a long, long time.

We are excited about this new section, and we’re grateful for the sponsorship of our partner in this endeavor, Cottage Health. We also think you’ll be very interested in the monthly projects we’ve already got in development. Stay tuned.

Heroin is giving Dr. Chris Flynn and his Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital emergency room team a run for their money. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)
Heroin is giving Dr. Chris Flynn and his Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital emergency room team a run for their money. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

5. Santa Barbara County’s Hidden Heroin Addiction Revealed in Emergency Room Carnage​

As is often the case, hospital emergency rooms are where the action is when it comes to confronting public health scourges like heroin abuse. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is no different.

Typically, 30 to 40 heroin overdoses would come through the Cottage emergency room each year. According to Dr. Chris Flynn, however, the Cottage ER has seen a doubling of those numbers over the last 12 months.

Flynn told our Lara Cooper that the pattern with patients is all-too routine.

“You try to tell them ‘You almost died from this overdose,’” Flynn said. “They come in covered in needle marks, they’ll look in poor health, skin color is bad ... They just look like zombies.”

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our top story this time last year? Police Respond to Fatal Medical Emergency in Santa Barbara.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Don’t let my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web pull the wool over your eyes: Flock of 550 Sheep Hiding in Plain Sight.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

As a news guy, I commend student photojournalist Tim Tai for his steadfast, professional and 100-percent correct response in the face of absolute lunacy at the University of Missouri.

Appearing at the end of this clip, however, is some kind of a “media professor” in what apparently is not a scene from Portlandia. If her disgraceful and inexcusable ignorance of the U.S. Constitution and the concept of public property is what passes for book learnin’ on college campuses today, our country is doomed.

(Mark Schierbecker 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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