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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 11:36 pm | Fair 52º


Bill Macfadyen: Tourist Goes for a Drive in the Drink Off Stearns Wharf

NoozWeek’s Top 5 gets a child molester off the streets for good, gets wet, gets some bad news for Macy’s, and gets no law breaks from California

People drop the darnedest stuff in the water off Stearns Wharf. Click to view larger
People drop the darnedest stuff in the water off Stearns Wharf. (Henry Galvan / KEYT News photo)

Football fans are eagerly awaiting the Jan. 9 national championship game between Alabama and Clemson, and I’m one of them. (Go Tigers!)

But the day also brings the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table media luncheon, where Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal will be presenting the inaugural Noozhawk 2016 All-South Coast Football Team.

We are proud to recognize the accomplishments of these 24 young men — led by MVPs Kellen Roberts and Marcellous Gossett and Coach of the Year Nate Mendoza, all of Dos Pueblos High School — and we are grateful for the opportunity, a result of our partnership with SBART.

Noozhawk has been covering Sports for one year now, and it’s claimed a consistent No. 2 ranking in popularity among our readers, behind Local News. If you’d like to join Noozhawk’s winning Sports team as an advertiser or sponsor, click here to contact Kim Clark, our business development vice president.

Meanwhile, let’s kick off the Best of Bill weekly recap. We had 101,728 readers this past week, according to our Google Analytics.

Here’s my take on your top five stories:

1. Tourist Escapes Serious Injury as Rental Car Plunges Off Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

A Chicago tourist won’t soon forget his trip to Santa Barbara. If his buddies back in the Windy City find out what happened to him, they’ll never let him live it down.

According to Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Mike De Ponce, the man had parked his rented Volkswagen Passat on the east side of Stearns Wharf the afternoon of Dec. 30.

When he was getting ready to leave the parking space across from Moby Dick Restaurant, he may have put the vehicle in drive instead of reverse. There is only a 4-by-6-inch wooden curb along that edge of the wharf ... aaaaand splash.

De Ponce said the man, who was the sole occupant, was able to get out of the car and swim back to the wharf.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, was treated at the scene for minor injuries, including cuts and bruises from the airbag deployment.

The car slowly sank to the ocean floor, coming to rest on its wheels 20-25 below the surface.

The next day, a crane was brought in to hoist the car out of the water.

Buh-bye. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
Buh-bye. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

2. Former Lompoc Police Volunteer Pleads Guilty to 17 Child-Sex Counts

A former Lompoc city councilman, retired California Highway Patrol officer and longtime community volunteer pleaded guilty to 17 counts of child molestation on Jan. 5 as part of a plea deal that should keep him safely away from kids — and the rest of us — for what’s left of his life.

As Noozhawk’s Janene Scully first reported, Anthony “Tony” Durham, 67, entered his pleas before Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores in Lompoc.

Durham is to be sentenced on Feb. 23 to at least 45 years in state prison before becoming eligible for parole. That would make him 112 years old so the actuarial tables should do him in long before then.

Because the charges involve more than one victim and substantial sexual misconduct, he is not eligible for probation. He also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

Durham was arrested in September on a felony complaint that alleged the crimes occurred between 2012 and 2016 and involved two victims.

He was charged with 14 counts of sexual contact with a child 10 years of age or younger, including oral copulation and sexual penetration. He also was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts involving the two children.

The allegations stunned locals in the Lompoc Valley. Durham was active as a community volunteer with the Lompoc Police Department and led the Every 15 Minutes drunken-driving education program at area high schools. The retired CHP officer also served a short stint on the City Council, and was named the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Man of the Year in 2008.

“We had two main goals: that he never get out of prison and that the victims in this case did not have to testify,” Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley said. “We wanted to avoid having them being re-victimized by the court system. As you can tell from the charges, they’re very young.

“We believe that this plea will achieve both those ends.”

Durham, who was represented by attorney Chris Ames, had faced more than 200 years in prison if convicted on all 17 charges.

Noozhawk broke this story just after noon on Jan. 5 and it immediately raced through our Google Analytics. The cutoff for my column is midnight Thursday, but if it had had another hour or so it almost certainly would have finished first.

Santa Barbara, circa 2017. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
Santa Barbara, circa 2017. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

3. Wet Weather to Continue as 2 Storms Prepare to Soak Santa Barbara South Coast

Weather forecasters predicted that two storms would be moving through Santa Barbara County this past week. And they were right!


In case you haven’t noticed, it’s rained almost every day this year. The drought may not be over, but my fruit trees haven’t looked so bountiful in years.​

Way to shop, I mean stop. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
Way to shop, I mean stop. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

4. Santa Barbara Macy’s Store in Paseo Nuevo Reportedly Closing By End of 2017

Macy’s has announced plans to close nearly 70 of its department stores around the country, and its Paseo Nuevo location in Santa Barbara is one of them.

The 141,000-square-foot store, at 701 State St., is expected to shut down by the end of the year. The store opened in 1990 as an original anchor tenant at the mall.

Not on the list of endangered stores are the Macy’s at La Cumbre Plaza, 3805 State St., and at Santa Maria Town Center Mall, 302 Town Center E.

In a Jan. 4 statement announcing the closures, company officials said holiday sales were below expectations and that it would be downsizing. The Paseo Nuevo store has a staff of 77 employees. For now.

5. Hundreds of New Laws Go Into Effect in California in January

Every Jan. 1, hundreds — hundreds — of new laws go on the books in California. Precious few meet a threshold advocated by the 33rd governor of this once-golden state:

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Owner of FisHouse, Boathouse and Santa Barbara Shellfish Company Reflects on Hard-Fought Success.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Why, you ask? Search me: 2016’s Most-Googled Pop Culture Terms. Language warning, BTW.

Meanwhile, two of the searches that our readers made on Noozhawk last week were “can you shoot a deer if it was inside your house” and “whale poops.”

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

The video doesn’t capture the full drama of this Colorado ski lift rescue (and includes a foreign pronunciation of Arapahoe), but click here to read the Denver Post story about it.

(Real Thing TV 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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