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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 12:12 am | Fair 46º


Bill Macfadyen: Noozhawk Readers Not Ready to Let Go of Emily Fox Story

After a lead-off tribute to Dr. Bill Morton-Smith, NoozWeek’s Top 5 writes a different ending to a train collision, tracks ‘Godzilla El Niño,’ grieves for the youngest homicide victim, then circles back to a roundabout


When my late father-in-law, Ted Gaylord, was dying of pulmonary fibrosis, Dr. Bill Morton-Smith volunteered to accompany him on many of his travels in search of relief from the irreversible lung disease.

It was a generous, gracious act, and a story similar in circumstance to scores of others around this community.

Dr. Bill Morton-Smith, 1948-2016 (Morton-Smith family photo)
Dr. Bill Morton-Smith, 1948-2016 (Morton-Smith family photo)

Without fanfare or fuss, Bill was there to help people — at All Saints By-the-Sea Parish School, at Crane Country Day School, at Cate School, at All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, at Cornerstone House of Santa Barbara, at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, at Direct Relief.

Long after he gave up his medical practice to care for his own dying wife, Rho, and their special-needs son, Nick, Bill could be found tending to those in need.

Until a few months ago, that is, when a terrible fall sent him into a devastating spiral with a degenerative neurological condition. How cruelly ironic it is that someone who had selflessly done so much for so many could not himself be helped when he needed it.

Bill died Jan. 23 at age 67, with his two surviving children, Tim and Emma, at his bedside.

All Saints Church, 83 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito, will hold his memorial service at 11 a.m. Jan. 30. I can tell you the sanctuary will be packed.

Donations can be made to Cornerstone House of Santa Barbara, 1451 Camino Trillado, Carpinteria 93013, or to Direct Relief, 27 S. La Patera Lane, Goleta 93117.

Until we meet again, my friend. Thank you.

                                                                 •        •        •

Now, like a Republican debate without the Donald Trump sideshow, let’s get right to the substantive issues.

Every Friday, my column recaps Noozhawk’s top five stories of the last seven days, as determined by our Google Analytics. This is my take on what 106,953 of you have been reading this past week:

1. Bill Macfadyen: Emily Fox’s Frantic Last Moments Add to Tragic Circumstances of Her Death

The heart-rending story of Emily Fox, a 22-year-old Dos Pueblos High School graduate killed in an apparent domestic violence confrontation in Los Angeles, continued to power Noozhawk’s traffic over the last week.

Family and friends will celebrate Emily Fox’s life on Jan. 30 at Dos Pueblos High School’s Performing Arts Center. (Dos Pueblos High School file photo)
Family and friends will celebrate Emily Fox’s life on Jan. 30 at Dos Pueblos High School’s Performing Arts Center. (Dos Pueblos High School file photo)

According to Los Angeles police, Fox and her boyfriend, Jerrad Scott, 24, of La Mesa, were gunned down Jan. 17 at Fox’s apartment in the 7600 block of Oso Avenue in Winnetka.

Arrested as a suspect in the killings was Fox’s ex-boyfriend, former Santa Barbara resident Brian Anthony Gonzales, 24, who also goes by the name Brian Hammons.

Fox, a senior sociology major at CSU Northridge, was a 2011 graduate of Dos Pueblos High, where she was a three-time All-Channel League golfer and helped lead the Chargers to four league championships.​

Although my column on Fox’s murder led all stories, her obituary was right behind — and just an hour or two away from claiming the top spot. Our report on Gonzales being charged with capital murder was No. 7.

Fox is survived by her parents, Lynn and Steve, and a sister, Sarah.

A celebration of her life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 30 at Dos Pueblos High’s Performing Arts Center, 7266 Alameda Ave. in Goleta.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in Fox’s name to the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

2. Pedestrian Critically Injured When Struck by Train in Montecito

A man was struck by a Union Pacific freight train as he walked on the railroad tracks in Montecito early on Jan. 25. Astonishingly, he survived.

Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado told Noozhawk the man was hit by the southbound train between Butterfly Lane and Channel Drive.

He suffered major trauma “as you would expect when hit by a train,” he said.

The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

3. ‘Godzilla El Niño’ Expert Bill Patzert Says It’s ‘Great Wet Hope for Drought Relief’​

Climatologist Bill Patzert says the 2015-2016 El Niño is looking for all the world like a 'Godzilla' event. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory photo)
Climatologist Bill Patzert says the 2015-2016 El Niño is looking for all the world like a “Godzilla” event. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory photo)

Bill Patzert, a climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, may have coined the phrase “Godzilla” to describe this year’s El Niño.

OK, he did coin the phrase.

But he’s not backing away from the monstrous prediction, despite the relatively slow start to the rainy season. He points to the patterns of the last big El Niño seasons, in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998.​
“In 1983, rain began in January and in 1998 the deluge came in February,” Patzert told our Sally Cappon.

Of course, the two previous big El Niños were not preceded by a drought, he noted.

“Everybody’s hyperventilating,” he said. “Everybody’s anticipating the chaos. Floods. Mudslides.

“My answer is, be a little patient. It’s the great wet hope for drought relief.”

4. Newborn’s Death Leads to Murder Charges Against 15-Year-Old Girl in Santa Maria

2016 is not even a month old and Santa Maria already has piled up six homicides. The latest is the most heartbreaking yet.

On Jan. 27, a 15-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of murder after her newborn baby was found dead. According to Santa Maria police, an autopsy determined the infant “died as a result of traumatic injuries” after delivery.

The teen is being held at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall. Her identity has not been disclosed because she’s a minor.

Police Lt. Dan Cohen noted that the state Safely Surrendered Baby Law permits unwanted babies to be taken to a public or private hospital, designated fire station, or other safe surrender site.

“No questions will be asked, and California Penal Code Section 271.5 protects surrendering individuals from prosecution of abandonment,” he said.

Click here for more information about adoption options from the Care Net Pregnancy & Resource Center of Santa Maria, or call 805.928.9285​.  

The City of Santa Barbara wants to go the roundabout way at Highway 101 at Coast Village and Olive Mill roads in Montecito. Click here for a larger version. (Kittelson & Associates Inc. illustration)
The City of Santa Barbara wants to go the roundabout way at Highway 101 at Coast Village and Olive Mill roads in Montecito. Click here for a larger version. (Kittelson & Associates Inc. illustration)

5. Olive Mill Road Roundabout Sparks Drama at Santa Barbara-Montecito Meeting

In a rare joint meeting, the Santa Barbara and Montecito planning commissions got together Jan. 21 to discuss — among other things — the jury-rigged nightmare that is the intersection of Coast Village and Olive Mill roads, North Jameson Lane and, for good measure, two freeway ramps.

It’s no surprise that the discussion went round and round, and ended up nowhere.

The City of Santa Barbara is again considering a roundabout for the congested intersection, almost all of which lies within Santa Barbara city limits. Montecito being Montecito, there appears to be pushback — especially from the handful of people who always profess to speak for all Montecitans.

As someone who regularly breezes through the roundabout at the other end of Coast Village Road, I’m all for an Olive Mill Road bookend. Of course, I also want Highway 101 widened through Montecito. Yesterday.

Guess what? No action was taken.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our top story this time last year? Santa Barbara High Student Stricken by Paralysis.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I already knew this. My daughter, Kirsten, is not convinced. Yes! Deep-Frying Vegetables Makes Them Nutritious.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

Once again ... yep ... Natalie Tran ... yep ... is reading my mind.

(communitychannel​ 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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