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Bill Macfadyen: Wreckage from Fatal 2014 Highway 101 Crash Still Just as Raw Today

NoozWeek’s Top 5 tracks death of a San Marcos High junior, a Goleta car crash, a troublesome day in Lompoc and an Isla Vista kidnapping and robbery

Cheryl Outlaw, whose daughter, Danielle Murillo, was killed in a tragic Highway 101 collision in April 2014, had a blunt message for Kimberly Kreis, the woman charged in connection with her death: “This girl had a future. Ms. Kreis, you have taken all that away from me. My hopes, my dreams I had for Danielle are completely annihilated.” Click to view larger
Cheryl Outlaw, whose daughter, Danielle Murillo, was killed in a tragic Highway 101 collision in April 2014, had a blunt message for Kimberly Kreis, the woman charged in connection with her death: “This girl had a future. Ms. Kreis, you have taken all that away from me. My hopes, my dreams I had for Danielle are completely annihilated.” (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

There were 82,852 people who read Noozhawk this past week. If you run out of things to talk about with your date on Valentine’s Day, feel free to use my take on your top stories. You’ll thank me later.

1. Families Recall Three Young Lives Lost in Santa Barbara Crash

After raw, emotional statements from family members and friends of three young people killed in a horrific crash on Highway 101 in downtown Santa Barbara, a local woman was sentenced to jail for her role in the April 21, 2014, collision.

Early that morning, Jessica Leffew and Danielle Murillo, both 17 and seniors at North High School in Torrance, and Brian Lopez, 20, of Los Angeles, were riding in a car driven by Erick August, 20, of Los Angeles.

Kimberly Kreis has been sentenced to a year in Santa Barbara County Jail and three years of probation, along with required rehab programs and restitution. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
Kimberly Kreis has been sentenced to a year in Santa Barbara County Jail and three years of probation, along with required rehab programs and restitution. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

The two couples were returning from a concert near Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo County when authorities say August fell asleep at the wheel. His 2005 Mazda sedan veered to the right and struck a guardrail just past the Castillo Street onramp, overturned and skidded back across the roadway toward the center divider.

Within seconds, the car was slammed by a 2013 Ford Mustang driven by Kimberly Kreis, 52, of Santa Barbara.

Leffew, Lopez and Murillo were killed. August survived, but was rushed to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with massive injuries. He was in a coma for more than a month, and it was more than two months before he was told that Murillo, his girlfriend, was dead.

Kreis, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, initially was charged with felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. According to court records, she has a history of substance abuse.

A subsequent California Highway Patrol investigation determined that the wreck most likely could not have been avoided, however. As a result, authorities were not able to charge Kreis with felony manslaughter, even though she had alcohol and methamphetamine in her bloodstream at the time.  

In December, she pleaded no contest to four misdemeanor charges: possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol; being under the influence of a controlled substance; and having drug paraphernalia in her vehicle.

On Feb. 10, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Cliff Anderson sentenced Kreis to one year in County Jail, three years of probation, and 18 months in multiple-offender and clean-and-sober programs. She also will be required to pay restitution to the families of the victims, although that amount has not yet been determined.

Before the sentencing, relatives and friends of the victims had an opportunity to address the court. Our Lara Cooper reported that more than three dozen people had traveled from the Torrance area in a show of support.

Danielle Murillo
Danielle Murillo
Jessica Leffew
Jessica Leffew

Murillo’s mother, Cheryl Outlaw, said her daughter had dreams of studying psychology in college.

“This girl had a future,” she said. “Ms. Kreis, you have taken all that away from me. My hopes, my dreams I had for Danielle are completely annihilated.”

Leffew’s grandmother, Linda Nava, recalled the anguish of learning her granddaughter had been killed after being ejected from the car. 

“That hurt so bad,” she remarked.

Lopez’s father, Abel Lopez, with the help of an interpreter, lovingly described “my only son.”

“Your honor, is there justice?” he implored Anderson. “These charges are not just.”

2. San Marcos High School Community Mourning Death of Student Jorge Lopez Silva​

Jorge Lopez Silva, a junior at San Marcos High School, died Feb. 6, apparently of health-related causes.

Details of the teen’s death were scant but the campus community was rallying to help his family.

“Jorge was a valued member of the San Marcos High School community,” Principal Ed Behrens said in a statement. “We are all shocked and grieving his loss. The leadership students are working to support the family financially with fundraising.”

A memorial account has been established at Bank of America (account number 3250-4512-5777), and the school’s powerhouse Kids Helping Kids will be making a donation.

The school activated a Compassion Center for grieving students.

“We are grateful to Santa Barbara County mental health and San Marcos High School counselors, teachers, administrators and support staff for immediately responding to the needs of our students,” Superintendent Dave Cash said.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 1740 Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara.

3. 3 Injured in 2-Vehicle Crash on Fairview Avenue in Goleta

Two people were seriously injured Feb. 11 in a two-car collision on North Fairview Avenue in Goleta. A third person suffered minor injuries in the wreck.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said the crash happened about 2:30 p.m. when a car traveling south on Fairview hit another turning from Shirrell Way.

A man and woman were in one vehicle, a woman in the other.

Eliason said both women were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital while the man was treated at the scene.

The circumstances of the crash are under investigation. Identities of those involved were not released.

4. Teen With Knife Shot by Lompoc Police Officer in Confrontation Outside Home

A teenager wielding a weapon was shot by a Lompoc police officer early on Feb. 7 after the youth defied the officer’s commands to stop and allegedly advanced on him instead.

The incident was one of many in a string of clashes involving the boy that had started the day before.

Authorities said the 17-year-old was taken into custody and transported to Lompoc Valley Medical Center, where he is said to be “recovering” from the gunshot wound.

He later was charged with two counts of attempted homicide, stemming from the alleged confrontation with the police officer and earlier alleged attacks against his family. The teen’s name was not disclosed because of his age.

Police were first called to the 800 block of North L Street early on Feb. 6 to investigate reports of an altercation between two brothers.

Our Janene Scully reported that one brother suffered minor injuries, and was treated at the scene by paramedics. No arrests were made, and police said the parent present did not request that charges be filed.

Later that day, a crisis-response team from the county Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services asked police to accompany them to the residence for a site visit. The offending teenager was taken into protective custody and transported to the hospital.

A few hours later, however, he reportedly broke through sliding glass doors in the emergency room and fled.

Soon after, his father reported he had returned home. After allegedly attacking his brother with a dumbbell, the teen left the house and encountered Officer Timothy Xiong, who had just arrived on the scene.

“The individual was told to stop numerous times according to witness statements, while at the same time the officer saw what appeared to be a knife in the individual’s hand,” police said in a statement.

“The individual refused to comply with the officer’s commands to stop, advancing on the officer with the weapon and the officer shot one time, hitting the individual once in the upper body area.”

No other officers were present when the shooting occurred, police said, and there were no other injuries. The knife turned out to be a 9-inch fork.

Xiong, an 11-year LPD veteran, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigation — standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting. 

5. Woman Kidnapped in Isla Vista, Forced to Withdraw Money from Bank

In a brazen daytime confrontation, a woman was kidnapped at knifepoint from an Isla Vista street the afternoon of Feb. 9. Authorities say the two suspects drove the woman to her bank and forced her to withdraw cash before kindly dropping her off back where she had been abducted.

According to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, the woman was walking in the 6700 block of Abrego Road at about 3 p.m. when she was confronted by two Hispanic men and forced into an SUV.

Hoover said the kidnappers drove her to her bank, where they made her withdraw an undisclosed amount of cash. They then drove her back to Abrego Road, west of Camino del Sur. 

The woman, whose identity was not disclosed by authorities, was not injured in the incident. She was able to get a partial license plate number and called 9-1-1 as soon as she could.

A ground and air search of the area turned up nothing, but two days later, the vehicle — a tan 2005 Chevy Tahoe, California plate number 6ZEM856 — was discovered in Los Angeles, where it was impounded by LAPD.​

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the sheriff’s tip line at 805.681.4171, or click here to make an online report.

                                                                 •        •        •

Think you’re a badass leading police on a high-speed chase? Just wait till you run into a mama grizzly. She will Take. You. Down.

(Kent Garrison 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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