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Bill Macfadyen: Latest Fatal Rollover on Highway 154 Not at a Usual Crash Scene

Alan Lin’s return to Jeopardy! is open-ended question in NoozWeek’s Top 5 while a deer-caused collision turns even more tragic, a visit to Blenders doesn’t go smoothie, and BizHawk makes connection between Outback Steakhouse and 7-Eleven

Where do you start? Click to view larger
Where do you start? (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

It was another grim week of news on Noozhawk, and I’m sorry for that.

It’s true that bad news usually is good for news organizations, but that doesn’t mean we like writing about it. And when smartassery is your stock in trade, as it is mine with this opinion column, it’s even harder to do.

But we don’t fake the news, we just report it. And according to our Google Analytics, these are the Top 5 stories that 127,098 of you were reading this past week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Santa Maria Man Killed in Highway 154 Rollover Crash Near Santa Barbara

Investigators have yet to figure out why a 62-year-old Santa Maria man veered out of control while driving on Highway 154 near Santa Barbara on Nov. 11. The driver — identified as Ricky Lawrence Long — was killed in the subsequent rollover crash and his passenger was injured.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Long was driving his 2000 Honda Civic southbound on the highway about 4:45 p.m. A half-mile north of Cathedral Oaks Road, just above the Salvar Road overcrossing, he swerved into the oncoming lane for unknown reasons, veered back and drove off the roadway. As he was coming back onto the pavement, the car flipped.

Long was wearing a seat belt, but it didn’t matter. He was declared dead at the scene.

The CHP said his lone passenger — Amber Cave, 31, of Santa Maria — was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Her injuries were believed to be minor.

The crash, which was not in an area known for wrecks of any kind, is under CHP investigation.

2. Santa Barbara Software Engineer Alan Lin Becomes 6-Time Jeopardy! Champ

What is Santa Barbara software engineer Alan Lin up to on Jeopardy! this time? Click to view larger
What is Santa Barbara software engineer Alan Lin up to on Jeopardy! this time? (Jeopardy! photo)

Earlier this year, Alan Lin piled up $123,600 in prize money during a six-game winning streak on Jeopardy! As you would expect, our feature on him was enormously popular at the time — with a lot of the traffic fueled by global Google web searches of his name.

Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune usually air as background noise at my house, but my wife, Missy, and I have been busy this month and I didn’t realize that the 33-year-old engineer at Santa Barbara-based Green Hills Software was back on the show. Until our May 9 story suddenly reappeared Nov. 15 on our Most Shared list, again racing up the charts in our weekly Google Analytics.

Lin was among 15 multigame winners from the past two seasons who were invited back to compete against each other in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. He promptly won $19,610 in the pre-taped quarterfinals show that aired Nov. 8 and another $24,401 in the semifinals that aired Nov. 15.

Now he’s facing off in the two-day, $250,000 championship against Buzzy Cohen, a nine-game, $164,603 winner from Los Angeles, and Austin Rogers, a 12-game, $411,000 winner from New York City.

The contest ends Nov. 17, and Lin is ahead with $14,400 so far. The final Jeopardy! airs at 7 p.m. on KSBY Channel 6.

Oh, by the way, if you Google “Alan Lin,” Noozhawk still comes up first in the search results. So, in case you had any doubts, we’re all in on Team Lin. Go Alan, go!

3. Major Injuries Reported in Head-On Crash on Highway 154 Near Santa Ynez

A Santa Barbara chiropractor and a second motorist died Nov. 16 from injuries they suffered two days before in a freak, three-vehicle collision on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley. It all started with a deer.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Rick Larson, 69-year-old Martha Aguayo of Oxnard was driving west on the highway about 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 when a deer ran in front of her car near the Santa Ynez River bridge east of Highway 246.

He said Aguayo’s 2010 Buick LaCrosse clipped the animal, launching it into the air and into oncoming traffic. The deer landed on the windshield of an eastbound 2012 Ford Escape driven by 33-year-old John Stashenko IV of Philo, in Mendocino County.

“This caused Stashenko to lose control of his vehicle, which traveled into the westbound lane of traffic,” Larson said.

The Stufkosky family: Jorgen, Heather, Kiera and Merek. Click to view larger
The Stufkosky family: Jorgen, Heather, Kiera and Merek. (GoFundMe photo)

He said the SUV slammed head-on into a 2010 Toyota Prius driven by 39-year-old Jorgen Stufkosky of Santa Barbara, who was trailing Aguayo.

Both men suffered major injuries in the collision, and required lengthy extrications from the wreckage before they could be airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

A relative told our Tom Bolton that Stufkosky died the afternoon of Nov. 16, surrounded by family members at Cottage Hospital.

John Stashenko IV with his children, Johnny and Mika. Click to view larger
John Stashenko IV with his children, Johnny and Mika. (YouCaring photo)

Stufkosky, a UC Santa Barbara graduate and local chiropractor, is survived by his wife, Heather, and their young children, Kiera and Merek. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Friends have established a GoFundMe page to assist his family. Click here to make an online donation.

On Nov. 19, a family member told Tom that Stashenko died of his injuries the same day as Stufkosky. He is survived by his wife, Bobbi, and two sons, Johnny, 3, and Mika, 1. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Family members have established a YouCaring page to help with funeral and other expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

Larson said Aguayo and her passenger, Jose Aguayo, 67, of Oxnard, were unhurt in the crash.

The deer was fatally injured.

4. 2 Armed Men Rob Blenders Juice Bar in Santa Barbara’s Five Points Shopping Center

A Blenders in the Grass juice bar in Santa Barbara was held up late on Nov. 9, and authorities say the two suspects got away with more than $1,000 in cash.

Police Sgt. Kasi Corbett said two masked men entered the store, at 3973 State St. in the Five Points Shopping Center, shortly after 10 p.m. Rather than ordering Tropical Kale smoothies with maca and chia seeds, the suspects brandished a knife and demanded money. After the employees coughed up the cash, the perpetrators fled on foot.

Say g’night, mate. Click to view larger
Say g’night, mate. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

No one was hurt in the incident, and a police search of the area came up empty.

The robbery came a little more than a week after a Halloween night armed holdup at a Verizon Wireless store 1½ miles away. The two suspects in that incident — one of whom allegedly was Batman — also got away.

5. BizHawk: Outback Steakhouse Closing Goleta Location in Calle Real Shopping Center

I have to confess that I never warmed to Outback Steakhouse — whether in Goleta, Oxnard or Springfield, Ill., of all places. The food was passable, but the experience was not terribly memorable, except for the wrong reasons. But that’s just me.

As our Josh Molina reported Nov. 9, it looks as if that’s a moot point now that the restaurant sporting a theme from the Land Down Under has closed its doors in Goleta.

According to a sign taped to the door of the restaurant at 5690 Calle Real in the Calle Real Center, the last day was Nov. 12.

Josh was unsuccessful in his attempts to get a comment from Outback Steakhouse ownership, although there are rumors that it may be trying to find a new Goodland home.

Meanwhile, one of the nation’s most ubiquitous shopping destinations plans to open a store on State Street in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.

Yes, I’m talking about 7-Eleven.

The 700 State St. space — formerly occupied by Panera Bread and, before that, (nothing) Left at Albuquerque — is the formidable, jail-like building on the corner of East Ortega Street across from the formidable, hulking and abandoned Macy’s department store in Paseo Nuevo.

“The architecture will be consistent with the El Pueblo Viejo District,” said Pamela Scott, the president of GPS Commercial Real Estate who negotiated the lease with the Irving, Texas-based convenience store chain.

To the regret of the band of vagrants that hangs out and harasses pedestrians in the area, Scott says the store won’t serve alcohol. It will serve Slurpees, though. I’m in.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Director Brad Hall Boost Lompoc Theatre Revival With Donation.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

In case your Thanksgiving family time takes a turn for the worse and you need a diversion: 10 Award-Winning Optical Illusions and Brain Puzzles.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

It’s not Tommy Lasorda’s opinion of Dave Kingman’s performance, but Mary Carrillo’s account of a badminton match with her kids is one of the all-time great sports rants.

(Sef Kloninger 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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