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Saturday, March 23 , 2019, 9:09 am | Overcast 50º


Bill Macfadyen: Casa Dorinda Resident’s Death a Fatal Accident of Fate

What else is news in NoozWeek’s Top 5? Another fatal fall from the Douglas Family Preserve, thunder and lightning, an innocent Lompoc teen gunned down by alleged gang goons, and the Jedlicka’s era comes to a close

Casa Dorinda Click to view larger
Gloomy day at Casa Dorinda. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

Noozhawk will be entering an exciting new phase next week through our partnership with News Revenue Hub, an innovative spin-off from Voice of San Diego that has been a pioneer in helping news organizations achieve greater sustainability.

Now in our 12th year, Noozhawk maintains a still-scrappy startup attitude, but we recognize that we need to professionalize more of our business operation to match the formidable strength of our news side.

We — OK, I — need some outside assistance.

2019 is a huge year for us, and next week’s announcement will unveil the first of several major projects that we’ve been working toward behind the scenes.

I’ll leave it at that for now, but I do want to thank you for your stalwart support and enthusiasm for Noozhawk and our mission over these last 11½ years. It’s been a blast, and it’s only going to get better.

What’s not going to get better is the Best of Bill column you’re about to read, and I apologize for that right now.

What can I say? This past week brought a particularly difficult string of unfortunate circumstances — three of them ending in tragedy in mere seconds while the fourth had a longer lead time.

But, hey, there was also a display of lightning that far outdid the greatest fireworks show you’ve ever seen. Let’s focus on that.

According to our Google Analytics, Noozhawk had a thunderous last week, with an audience of 158,110 readers for the period. What follows is my take on your Top 5 stories. You’re going to see flashes of opinion, because this is my opinion column.

1. Man Struck and Killed by Delivery Truck at Casa Dorinda in Montecito

A 77-year-old Casa Dorinda resident was struck and killed by a delivery truck that was backing up at the Montecito retirement community.

Emmett Wallace MacCorkle III Click to view larger
Emmett Wallace “Mac” MacCorkle III, 1942-2019. (Bohemian Club photo)

According to the California Highway Patrol, the incident was reported about 10:25 a.m. March 2 at the complex at 300 Hot Springs Road. CHP Capt. Cindy Pontes told our Tom Bolton that the box truck driver had just made a delivery and was backing out of the driveway when the vehicle hit the victim.

She said the driver — identified as Randy Eiquihua, 55, of Santa Barbara — told investigators he initially thought he had struck a curb, then pulled forward, got out, and found the injured man.

On March 4, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s Sgt. John Maxwell identified the victim as Emmett Wallace MacCorkle III.

CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez said the driver was not cited in the incident, and investigators believe MacCorkle was crossing the driveway behind the truck when it occurred.

MacCorkle, known as “Mac,” was described in his San Francisco Chronicle obituary as “a respected businessman, insurance executive, Marine Corps veteran and former president of the Bohemian Club.”

He and his wife retired to Montecito from the Peninsula last June.

“Mac was a larger-than-life figure, in spirit, personality and physique,” according to the obituary. “He bore a physical resemblance to Daddy Warbucks but possessed the warmth and charm of a spirited parish priest ...

“He was beloved by every person he met and treated everyone as if they were a member of his own family.”

Born Feb. 10, 1942, MacCorkle graduated from San Marino High School and Cornell University, where he met his wife of 54 years, Carol Britton MacCorkle. After serving in the Marines in the Vietnam War, he founded MacCorkle Insurance Services, a Burlingame company that he eventually sold to his employees.

Along with his involvement in the storied Bohemian Club, he served as chairman of the Dawn Redwoods Trust and as a regent of Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose.

In addition to his wife, MacCorkle is survived by sons Jeffrey (C.J. Chen) of Beijing, China, and Steve of Los Angeles, and four grandchildren.

Donations are encouraged to the Dawn Redwoods Trust, 1 Blackfield Drive, Suite 331, Tiburon 94920 or the MacCorkle Family Scholarship (Fund # 992612) at Cornell University, Office of Development, 130 E. Seneca St., Suite 400, Ithaca, N.Y. 14850.

2. Man Dies in Fall from Cliffs at Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara

In what authorities say appears to be “a tragic accident,” a Montana man fell to his death from the cliffs of the Douglas Family Preserve in Santa Barbara.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. John Maxwell, emergency personnel were dispatched about 2:15 p.m. March 3 to the shoreline about a quarter-mile east of Arroyo Burro Beach County Park.

The victim was found on the beach with major traumatic injuries. Maxwell said CPR and other life-saving efforts were unsuccessful, and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

On March 4, the victim was identified as 43-year-old Christopher Charles Petaja, a DUI and personal injury attorney in Bozeman, Mont.

Maxwell said Petaja likely had fallen from the cliffs above.

“The death appears to be a tragic accident,” he told our Tom Bolton.

Santa Barbara police spokesman Anthony Wagner said there was no evidence of foul play.

It was the second fatal fall from the cliffs this year. On Jan. 19, the body of former professional surfer Chris Brown, 48, of Santa Barbara, was discovered on the rocky beach, not far away.

Petaja’s funeral services are pending.

3. Thunderstorms Put On a Loud and Impressive Light Show in Santa Barbara County

Lightning Click to view larger
Now this is a light show. (Mike Eliason photo / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

How about that lightning?

It was the question just about everyone was asking the day after a long — and loud — band of thunderstorms crawled through Santa Barbara County the night of March 5, accompanied by a spectacular display of lightning and house-shaking booms.

National Weather Service meteorologist Curt Kaplan told our Tom Bolton that well over 1,000 cloud-to-surface lightning strikes were recorded in the Santa Barbara-Ventura area between 6 p.m. and midnight.

During the heaviest onslaught between 8 and 10 p.m., there were 750 strikes, he said, adding that many occurred out in the Santa Barbara Channel.

No damage was reported from the lightning, but there were numerous power outages throughout the county.

Although authorities had ordered mandatory evacuations for at-risk neighborhoods along creeks below the Thomas, Whittier and Sherpa fire footprints, this month’s “Storm of the Century” was all bark and very little bite. Rainfall rates were relatively minor.

We published several electrifying lightning pictures from readers, including my friend, Mike Eliason of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, whose hair-raising shots were taken from the end of Stearns Wharf.

“Nothing like standing over water with a metal tripod in an electrical storm,” he texted me.

You can see more of Mike’s masterful work by clicking here for his Instagram page, or click here for additional Instagram pix from my friend, Brad Elliott.

4. Teen Bystander Killed in Suspected Gang-Related Shooting in Lompoc

A 17-year-old Lompoc girl babysitting her younger siblings made the mistake of going outside to see what a commotion was all about, and was promptly shot and killed the night of March 4.

According to Lompoc police Sgt. Kevin Martin, “a known gang member” was walking in an alley between the 600 blocks of West Ocean and West Walnut avenues, between North L and M streets, when a vehicle rolled up and the occupants opened fire.

The known gang member was shot in the leg in the 7:40 p.m. confrontation, but ran off like rats do. The suspects made a clean getaway, like cockroaches do.

The girl — an innocent bystander — died where she fell, Martin said.

In some first-rate police work, investigators believe the shooting was related to ... gang activity. It apparently followed another bout of gang violence not 24 hours before.

“We’re obviously working this one pretty seriously,” Martin said.

The name of the girl has not been released. No one else was injured in the spray of bullets two blocks north of Lompoc Valley Middle School.

At some point, authorities caught up with the wounded known gang member, who, according to Martin, was transported to an undisclosed hospital in a community not named Lompoc. Also not named by police was the known gang member himself.

Brand-new police Chief Joe Mariani, who started work late last month, did not shy away from the atrocity at what otherwise would have been a celebratory swearing-in ceremony at the March 5 City Council meeting.

“I grieve and I pray for that family,” he said. “No one else should have to suffer that kind of loss.”

He pledged to “commit myself to doing the best to making this the safest city possible.”

I wish him — and Lompoc’s law-abiding citizens — well. But he’s already way behind.

5. BizHawk: Jedlicka’s Saddlery Closing Santa Barbara Store

Jedlicka’s Click to view larger
Riding on. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Jedlicka’s Western Wear & Saddlery, an outpost of cowboy culture since 1932 and owner of the coolest neon sign in Santa Barbara, has reached the end of the trail in this vanishing-horse town.

Owner Josiah Jenkins told our Josh Molina that Jedlicka’s will close its store at 2605 De la Vina St. in late March or April. Its sister store — at 2883 Grand Ave. in Los Olivos — will remain open.

“Lack of volume, lack of sales,” Jenkins said in explaining the decision. “And a lack of support by suppliers.”

Noting that manufacturers are selling directly to customers online, he acknowledged that “we just can’t compete.”

Bootmaker George “Jed” Jedlicka opened the store originally as a shoe business, and it gradually evolved into the classic western wear emporium it is today. Jenkins’ dad, Si, began working at the place in high school, as did the son years later, and the family eventually bought the business.

“We have had a good run and we were happy to take care of people,” Jenkins told Josh. “But it’s changing times. It’s like selling buggy whips and carriages. It doesn’t happen anymore. Things change.”

Jenkins is my friend, and I’m sorry to admit I’m actually part of his problem. Although a loyal customer over the decades, I haven’t been in as often as I should. I also only wear Anderson Bean cowboy boots ... that I buy on the Internet because Jedlicka’s doesn’t carry them. So, yeah.

Aside from the staff of happy retail warriors and the occasional appearance of and endearing stories from Si himself, it’s the store I’m really going to miss. The retro ambience, the stacks of straw Resistols in the window, the rich and wondrous smell of new leather wafting through, and the almost sanctuary-like quiet of the worn and gently bowed wooden floors, well, you’ve gotta go experience it for yourself.

Plus, much of the merchandise is on sale for up to 50 percent off. Just don’t expect to find any Anderson Beans.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Mandatory Evacuation Orders Issued for South Coast Areas.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Picture this: Artist Creates Beauty in the Ashes After Paradise Fire.

                                                                 •        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

Mary Walter-Brown, founder and CEO of the aforementioned News Revenue Hub, made an appearance — with Scoop — in my Instagram feed this past week. I’ll have more to say about that next week.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

After last week’s monster wave, this perfect barrel off Indonesia may be more manageable. Well, maybe not for me. HT to Natalie Hogan for the link.

(The Perfect Wave video)

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How You Can Help Noozhawk

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk and Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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