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Bill Macfadyen: Different Week, Same Story for Fatal Motorcycle Crash on Highway 154

NoozWeek’s Top 5 investigates a fatal freeway fall, shuffles around the Santa Barbara Public Market, tracks another train death, and revisits the Sojourner Café

Sadly, another motorcycle crash on Highway 154 had the same result as one the week before.
Sadly, another motorcycle crash on Highway 154 had the same result as one the week before. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)


There were 107,145 people who read Noozhawk this past week, with no side deals. Here’s my take on your top stories:

1. Motorcyclist Killed in Head-On Collision on Highway 154 Just North of Santa Barbara

These are not the kinds of trends any of us want to see. For the second week in a row, a fatal motorcycle collision on Highway 154 far outpaced all other stories of the week.

In the latest wreck, the California Highway Patrol reported, 59-year-old Stephen Forrest of Goleta was riding south on the highway about 5:45 p.m. July 19 when, for unknown reasons, his 2013 Suzuki motorcycle crossed the double-yellow line near San Antonio Creek Road.

The CHP said the bike slammed head-on into a 2015 Jeep coming up the mountain.

Forrest was pronounced dead at the scene. Neither the Jeep’s driver, identified as 33-year-old Gerard Wilson, nor his passenger, 29-year-old Nicola Costello, was injured. Authorities say Wilson and Costello were visiting the South Coast from Sweden.

The cause of the collision is under investigation, and the CHP said it was not known if alcohol or drugs were factors.

In the cruelest of ironies, Forrest was a renowned expert in automotive safety who frequently testified in crash-related trials. He was a co-founder of Safety Analysis & Forensic Engineering, or SAFE, a pretty cool Goleta company that runs dynamic vehicle crash testing and investigations for the automotive industry and others.

Forrest is survived by his wife, Patti, and two daughters.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. July 24 at Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels, 15 E. Sola St. in Santa Barbara. In lieu of flowers, a donation to Casa Esperanza is requested.

Meanwhile, the life of Ryan Bollay, the motorcyclist who died in a Highway 154 crash the week before, will be celebrated at 1 p.m. July 25 at Montecito Covenant Church, 671 Cold Spring Road.

Bollay, a 20-year-old Santa Ynez resident, died July 10 after colliding with an SUV that was turning onto the highway from Camino Cielo near the top of San Marcos Pass.

The cause of that crash also remains under CHP investigation.

2. Man Dies After Fall From Highway 101 Overpass in Carpinteria

A 68-year-old Carpinteria man was found dead on the shoulder of Highway 101 early on July 20 after apparently falling from the Casitas Pass Road overpass.

According to Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Battalion Chief Jim Rampton, emergency responders initially were not sure whether the man fell or had jumped, or was the victim of a hit-and-run driver.

“All witnesses just saw him in the roadway,” he said. “If he did get hit, the driver was gone. To us, he didn’t have the trauma that a person who was hit by a car would have.”

Authorities later determined that the man, identified as Steven Soden, had died of injuries suffered in the fall.

Rampton said several motorists had pulled over to tend to the man before paramedics got to the scene at 7:40 a.m.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.

Catherine Bodziner is now the Big Cheese at the Culture Counter Co. in the Santa Barbara Public Market. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Catherine Bodziner is now the Big Cheese at the Culture Counter Co. in the Santa Barbara Public Market. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

3. Merchant Shakeup Changes Face of Santa Barbara Public Market​

Since opening last year, the Santa Barbara Public Market has been the subject of endless speculation, scrutiny, controversy and, well, community debate. It’s up, it’s down. It’s gaining momentum, it’s losing steam.

JuiceWell, the Pasta Shoppe and Santa Monica Seafood recently left the building, while the market’s owner, Urban Developments, sold the Culture Counter Co. business to a new proprietor, Catherine Bodziner.

A veteran cheese shop owner from New York, Bodziner is not deterred by the turnover among the dozen businesses inside the Public Market at 38 W. Victoria St.

She likens the place to New York City’s Chelsea Market, home to one of her former stores, which she sold a few years ago.

“It’s just more fun,” Bodziner told our Gina Potthoff. “You get more foot traffic.”

In her opinion, businesses selling dine-in meals probably do better than those offering just carry-out dishes. She’d like to live up to her shop’s name and add a counter so customers can stay for her gourmet sandwiches and boutique cheeses.

I won’​t pretend I understand the food services industry, but I do know the restaurant business is a topsy-turvy one. If our weekly BizHawk column is any guide, it’s perhaps especially so in Santa Barbara.

A certain amount of turnover has to be expected at a location like the Santa Barbara Public Market. Although it may be impolite to compare it to a shopping mall or even a food court, that’s essentially what it is. I’m sure you count on a couple of long-term anchor tenants and you hope the rest are successful enough to stick around for a year or so.

The Public Market concept has been an interesting one to watch develop. Noozhawk’s World Headquarters is in the same block and I know our people are over there all the time.

My pet peeve is that, from its marquee corner of Chapala and West Victoria streets, all you see through the windows are the backs of industrial shelving. Why would you want to look like a warehouse store when you could show off the hustle and bustle of people actually using the place?

​On the other hand, eh, I’ve got my own business to run.

Another unscheduled stop in Santa Barbara. (Urban Hikers photo)
Another unscheduled stop in Santa Barbara. (Urban Hikers photo)

4. Man Struck, Killed by Train Near Santa Barbara Zoo

A 59-year-old man was struck by a train and killed as he walked on the railroad tracks near the Santa Barbara Zoo on July 20. The fatality is the latest in what appears to be an alarming spate of pedestrian encounters with trains.

According to Santa Barbara police, the man — later identified as Thomas Henry Grimm of Santa Barbara — was fatally injured when he was hit by an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, east of Niños Drive, at about 5:40 p.m.

Less than a week before, 21-year-old Maria Vasquez-Cruz was killed when she was struck by a train while walking on the Union Pacific railroad tracks near Old Town Goleta.

Authorities are investigating both incidents.

Service, and more smiles, at the Sojourner Café. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Service, and more smiles, at the Sojourner Café. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

5. Santa Barbara Locals Show Sojourner Café Some Love After Owner’s Plea for Help

Sojourner Café owner Donna Mudge didn’t know what to expect when she announced on Noozhawk earlier this year that her downtown Santa Barbara restaurant was really struggling financially.

“Immediately after — like the next day — we were just influxed with customers coming in with, ‘Oh my gosh, I saw the article. We had no idea,’” she told our Gina Potthoff in a follow-up article. “The community has been awesome.”

A surge in customers, new and old, has provided some financial breathing room for the restaurant at 134 E. Canon Perdido, and Mudge has been inundated with helpful suggestions.

One local even bought white tablecloths for the Sojourner’s outdoor tables, a small but classy upgrade.

“It’s helped so much,” Mudge said. “Everyone has got an idea. There’s no such thing as negative feedback because it’s all useful in one form or another. If nothing else, it has helped re-energize me.”

Having interacted with Noozhawk readers for almost eight years now, I’m not the least bit surprised.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web: Why You Shouldn’t Force Yourself to Be a Morning Person.

Good news: I don’t.​

                                                                 •        •        •

The inclusion of this video is neither an endorsement for nor a condemnation of either Lindsey Graham or Donald Trump. But I nodded my head at the end.

(IJReview 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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