Wednesday, October 17 , 2018, 7:13 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 

Bill Macfadyen: Highway 166 Crash That Killed 2 Children Sure Seems Like It Didn’t Have to Happen

NoozWeek’s Top 5 dances to a different tune, may have uncovered clues in the 20-year-old Kristin Smart disappearance, gets a bite of a shark story, and takes a hang-gliding tumble

Where’s the rest of this car? You don’t want to see it. Click to view larger
Where’s the rest of this car? You don’t want to see it. (KEYT News photo)

One presidential candidate — a former secretary of state, a former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the wife of a former two-term president of the United States, and a Yale Law School-educated attorney — would have us believe she has no idea what (C) means.

Another candidate has a secret plan to “quickly, very quickly” defeat ISIS. Or, as he babbles on in an incoherent word cloud that betrays his vacuity, he says he may not have a plan — just to keep things “unpredictable.”

A third candidate is clueless about Syria, and a fourth has a warrant out for her arrest.

President Dwayne Camacho may be overqualified for the gig.

Aside from the Idiocracy that has become our fate, our Google Analytics report there were 96,994 people who read Noozhawk this past week. Here’s my take on your top five stories:

1. 2 Children Killed, 6 People Injured in Highway 166 Crash East of Santa Maria

In a story as infuriating as it is tragic, two young children were killed on Labor Day afternoon in a jaw-dropping head-on collision on Highway 166 about 30 miles east of Santa Maria.

Jerald Brandon Holman: Dumbass. (San Luis Obispo County Jail photo)
Jerald Brandon Holman: Dumbass. (San Luis Obispo County Jail photo)

The driver of their car was arrested on suspicion of ... wait for it ... driving under the influence. He’s facing second-degree murder charges, too.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 36-year-old Jerald Brandon Holman of Bakersfield was driving a Toyota Camry at a high rate of speed when the westbound car drifted into the oncoming lane east of Spanish Ranch.

The CHP said Holman overcorrected and lost control as his car crossed a second time into the eastbound lane, directly into the path of a Chevrolet driven by 30-year-old Aaron Pyne of Yucaipa.

Pyne braked hard and swerved to try to avoid a collision, but the two cars clipped each other, catapulting the Toyota into the air, CHP investigators added.

As Holman’s car rolled over several times, the CHP said its rear passenger compartment separated from the chassis, and a 7-year-old boy and his 4-year-old sister were ejected amid what can only have been unimaginable terror.

They were declared dead at the scene.

Holman and his other passenger, Todeshia Lewis, 26, of Bakersfield, were taken by ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria with minor injuries.

Pyne and his three passengers — 31-year-old Katherine Pyne and two children — were flown by helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with serious injuries.

The children, a 9-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, fractured their ankles in the wreck.

Upon his release from the hospital, Holman was arrested and charged with two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; driving under the influence causing injury; and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent causing injury.

But, wait, there’s more.

He also faces great bodily injury enhancements alleged for each of the six people hurt in the crash and is charged with an enhancement that alleges he injured multiple victims.

Then there are the felony child endangerment charges for the two dead children and a misdemeanor count of being an unlicensed driver.

With a body of alleged work like that, you won’t be surprised that Holman has been sentenced to state prison three times in the past. Surely, this guy is on somebody’s 40 Under 40 List.

In lieu of $110,000 bail, he remains in San Luis Obispo County Jail — with family, friends and total strangers safe from his driving prowess.

CHP Officer David Medina said the identities of the dead children have not yet been released pending approval from a relative. It is not clear what their relationship is to Holman and Lewis.

2. Driver Taken Into Custody After Dancing on Vehicle Stopped on Highway 101

This is the most unusual collection of Best of Bill stories we’ve had in a while, but this item is just plain kooky.

Just before 7 a.m. Sept. 7, the California Highway Patrol received multiple 9-1-1 calls about a possible wrong-way driver on northbound Highway 101 near the Santa Maria River Bridge.

It turns out that report was wrong, but the real one was just as strange. A driver apparently had stopped his BMW sedan in one of the freeway’s three lanes, got out and sat down. On the car.

By the time CHP officers arrived a few minutes later, the man was standing on the car, giving new meaning to a dance “craze” on top of it.

The would-be contestant on Dancing with the Cars* was taken into custody and carted off to nearby Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria for a psychiatric evaluation, CHP Officer David Medina told our Janene Scully.

No injuries were reported in the incident, and the man’s identity was not disclosed.

* Great minds think alike: Not long after I wrote up this item, I noticed that Noozhawk commenter Getoffyourphone805 was similarily inspired. Although I generally avoid reading our story comments, the posts on this particular story have been truly entertaining.

Dozens of law enforcement personnel have been digging deep into the Kristin Smart case on the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Authorities believe 'items of interest' have been unearthed in the renewed investigation. (David Middlecamp / San Luis Obispo Tribune photo)
Dozens of law enforcement personnel have been digging deep into the Kristin Smart case on the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Authorities believe “items of interest” have been unearthed in the renewed investigation. (David Middlecamp / San Luis Obispo Tribune photo)

3. SLO Sheriff, FBI Excavate Cal Poly Hillside In Search For Kristin Smart

It’s been one of the Central Coast’s most enduring mysteries: What happened to Kristin Smart?

Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart vanished on May 25, 1996. Authorities are hopeful that they’ve caught a break in her case. (Smart family photo)
Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart vanished on May 25, 1996. Authorities are hopeful that they’ve caught a break in her case. (Smart family photo)

The 19-year-old Cal Poly San Luis Obispo freshman disappeared on May 25, 1996, as she walked back to her Muir Hall dorm room from a late-night party. She was last seen with a fellow student, Paul Flores, who authorities say remains a “person of interest” in the case.

Smart officially was declared dead in 2002, but her case remains open and it appears to have gotten its biggest boost in years.

On Sept. 6, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson announced that special cadaver dogs, trained at detecting aged human remains, had been on campus in January and had alerted on several areas of interest. After further review, authorities determined there was enough “there” there to go big in an attempt to bring Smart home.

On a hillside near the Cal Poly “P,” the landmark concrete letter overlooking the campus, 25 FBI personnel and 15 San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies have been combing three excavation sites with everything from earth movers to hand tools.

Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said Sept. 8 that “items of interest” had been found during the excavation of one site.

They are “items we want to take another, closer look at,” he told our affiliated partners at The Tribune of San Luis Obispo.

Forensic anthropologists and DNA experts are analyzing some items at the site, while others have been sent to FBI labs in Quantico, Va.

“It could be days, weeks or even months before we know what we have,” Cipolla said.

Parkinson said Smart’s family has been kept abreast of the developments.

“We’re not sure where this is going to take us,” he said. “Obviously we want to be as optimistic as possible, and we hope this leads us to either Kristin or evidence of Kristin.”

Smart’s parents, Denise and Stan Smart of Stockton, issued a statement saying they felt the excavation demonstrated a commitment to bringing the family some final peace and comfort.

“We are encouraged and hopeful for the new developments in Kristin’s case,” they said. “We have been hoping, praying and waiting for the last 20 years for the return of our daughter ...

“Kristin has long deserved the attention, effort and respect that Sheriff Parkinson, his department, the FBI, the District Attorney and Cal Poly are giving to her recovery and our quest for justice.”

4. Shark Bites Freediver in Foot at Refugio State Beach

A man freediving at Refugio State Beach was bitten on the foot by a shark estimated to be 6-to-8-feet long. The injury wasn’t life-threatening, and the man swam ashore and drove himself to the hospital for treatment.

Eric Hjelstrom, California State Parks superintendent for the Santa Barbara area, told our Sam Goldman that the shark encounter occurred about 9 a.m. Sept. 1, but rangers only found out about the incident when they were notified by the hospital.

Authorities did not close the beach on the eve of the Labor Day holiday, but they did recommend that people stay out of the water for 24 hours.

The man’s identity and condition were not disclosed.

5. Man Injured in Hang-Gliding Mishap at Elings Park in Santa Barbara

Details were light but a hang-gliding mishap of some kind landed a man in the hospital. After a hard landing at Elings Park, that is.

According to Santa Barbara Fire Capt. Bob Hazel, emergency personnel were dispatched the morning of Sept. 5 to the park’s northwest side, where they found the victim lying at the bottom of the flying hill.

The man was treated at the scene, then transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The victim’s identity and condition were not disclosed. The circumstances of the incident had not been determined.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? KCOY News Anchor Paula Lopez Arrested on Charges of DUI, Assaulting Officers.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I don’t remember any of these jingles, but I have a sudden hankering for a Banana Fudge Bomb Pop: The Weird Tale Behind Ice Cream Truck Jingles.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

My plants knowknew this feeling.

(communitychannel video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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

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