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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Donkey at Center of 2 Back-to-Back Wrecks in Los Olivos, But Isn’t the Only Fatality

NoozWeek’s Top 5 tracks a pedestrian hit in a crosswalk and a stabbing, East Beach Grill’s Francisco Aguilera​, and my column on ... Paula Lopez

There was tragedy all around on Highway 154 near Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos on April 30.
There was tragedy all around on Highway 154 near Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos on April 30. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

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I can’t deny it — I don’t think anybody denied it — but we totally missed explosive new information about the Kennedy assassination. We know you have a choice of periodicals, like the National Enquirer, so I’m grateful that 98,923 readers chose to get their news from Noozhawk this past week anyway.

Here’s my take on your top five stories, as determined by our Google Analytics:

1. Woman Critically Injured, Donkey Killed in 2-Vehicle Wreck on Highway 154 in Los Olivos

We’ve certainly seen some spectacular wrecks around these parts, but an April 30 one-two collision in Los Olivos captured attention like no other recent one.

According to the California Highway Patrol, a Solvang man allegedly driving a stolen Jeep Rubicon struck a donkey that had wandered onto Highway 154 east of Foxen Canyon Road just before daybreak, a little after 5:30 a.m.

The donkey died instantly, but a minute later, a Paso Robles woman came upon the wreckage in the roadway, swerved her Toyota Tundra, lost control and flipped the pickup truck.

The CHP said the woman — identified as 53-year-old Katrina Sue Cummings — was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected as her truck rolled over.

She suffered multiple skull fractures and was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.

Tragically, Cummings died of her injuries the next day.

During the investigation, officers learned the Jeep had been reported stolen and they arrested the driver, 24-year-old Peter Franklin, for suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle.

Authorities say Franklin was determined not to be under the influence. Investigators have not yet determined whether alcohol or drugs were factors in Cummings’ wreck.

The CHP investigation of both crashes is continuing.​

This right turn was a wrong one. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)
This right turn was a wrong one. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

2. Female Pedestrian Seriously Injured in Crosswalk Collision in Santa Barbara

A woman was struck by a car while she was walking in the Garden Street crosswalk at the entrance ramp to northbound Highway 101 in Santa Barbara the evening of April 30.

According to Santa Barbara Fire Capt. Brian Walsh, the woman “hit the windshield and was thrown from the vehicle” as the driver turned right onto the entrance ramp.

The 32-year-old woman, whose identity was not released, was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with what Walsh said were moderate injuries.

Santa Barbara police are investigating the 5:40 p.m. collision.

3. Santa Barbara Police Arrest Suspect in Downtown Stabbing​

A Santa Barbara man was stabbed near downtown the night of April 29, and a suspect was taken into custody one block away about an hour later.

According to police Lt. Kenneth Kushner, the victim — an adult male whose identity was not disclosed — was stabbed multiple times in an attack just before 8:30 p.m. inside a residence in the 300 block of West Micheltorena Street.

The man was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition.

Kushner said officers located the suspect — identified as Marco Hernandez, 38, of Santa Barbara — at 9:20 p.m., a block from the crime scene.

“We don’t believe this was random,” he said. “It’s likely the suspect was known to the victim.”

Investigators have not determined if the stabbing was gang-related.

Sgt. Riley Harwood said Hernandez was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder. Bail was set at $500,000.

4. Bill Macfadyen: Plea Deal in DUI Case Has Paula Lopez Facing a Dry Run

I’ll probably get dinged for this three-week streak, but I’m just writing about what you couldn’t leave well enough alone.

Shall we go for four? Yes, let’s.

Francisco Aguilera, center, and his wife, Rita, own the East Beach Grill they bought from John Williams eight years ago. The restaurant at theCabrillo Pavilion and Bathhouse at 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. has some significant disruption in its future. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Francisco Aguilera, center, and his wife, Rita, own the East Beach Grill they bought from John Williams eight years ago. The restaurant at the Cabrillo Pavilion and Bathhouse at 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. has some significant disruption in its future. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

5. East Beach Grill Owner Hopes to Retain Lease After City of Santa Barbara’s Building Renovations

Francisco Aguilera​ is an American success story.

The immigrant from Mexico worked in a succession of commercial kitchens before landing at East Beach Grill when the restaurant opened at Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Pavilion and Bathhouse in 1984.

Along the way, he got married, started a family, learned English and became a U.S. citizen as he moved up the ranks and into management. Eight years ago, he bought the business from John Williams, who remains his champion and biggest fan.

Clearly, Aguilera is not afraid of challenges. That’s a good thing because he’s facing the biggest one yet.

The City of Santa Barbara, which owns the Cabrillo Pavilion, is embarking on a full-scale renovation of the landmark building at 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. The construction will shut down everything for at least 18 months.

That’s actually not the biggest challenge. Aguilera’s lease is up on Dec. 31, 2017, and, according to city Parks & Recreation director Jill Zachary, the renovations will begin after that.

Although Aguilera supports the project, which includes an expansion of the kitchen and dining areas, he’s concerned that the City Council will decide to find a new tenant.

It’s plausible. A gleaming, freshly rehabbed facility sits there with plentiful parking and a million-dollar view. With an obligation to taxpayers to get the most bucks for the bang, the city wonders whether there’s an upscale alternative to a longtime loyal lessee serving pancakes and cheeseburgers.

Such trade-offs don’t always work out as planned, however.

Williams hopes the city will keep Aguilera’s track record, community involvement and devoted following in mind.

“We know it works,” he said of Aguilera and the East Beach Grill formula. “He’s got such a fan base down here. We’re really enthusiastic about coming back.”

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Cody West’s Body, Car Found in Culvert in Goleta.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

The Chicago Cubs are dressed for success — of some kind: Cubs Embark on ‘Minimalist Zany Suit’ Road Trip.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

This doesn’t do much for me, but I hear it’s a real turn-on for peahens.

(Roslyn Dakin 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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