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Bill Macfadyen: Firefighter Tribute Fuels Simmering Debate Among Commenters

NoozWeek’s Top 5 is still riding the party-bus controversy, and adds a fatal head-on crash, a very lucky bicyclist and a devastating house fire

Santa Barbara firefighters wouldn’t let the funeral procession of one of their own, Daniel Corrigan, pass without paying their respects.
Santa Barbara firefighters wouldn’t let the funeral procession of one of their own, Daniel Corrigan, pass without paying their respects.  (Ryan Cullum photo)

There were 89,676 people who read Noozhawk this past week. It’s only a matter of time before you can do it on your Apple Watch.

1. Santa Barbara Firefighters Line Highway to Salute Procession for Comrade Daniel Corrigan

Santa Barbara Fire Department personnel and vehicles lined Highway 101 overpasses on March 6 in a silent salute to fellow firefighter Daniel Corrigan, who died unexpectedly last week from an unknown medical emergency.

Daniel Corrigan, 35, had served with the Santa Barbara Fire Department since 2013. (Santa Barbara Fire Department file photo)
Daniel Corrigan, 35, had served with the Santa Barbara Fire Department since 2013. (Santa Barbara Fire Department file photo)

The motorcade procession — consisting of family members and Corrigan’s engine company, along with a California Highway Patrol escort — was traveling to Ventura, where he was to be buried.

Corrigan, 35, joined SBFD in 2013. He was found dead in a vehicle parked outside Station 8 at the Santa Barbara Airport on March 4.

The 35-year-old father of two appeared to have been “stricken with an unknown medical emergency” and was pronounced dead at the scene, said Fire Chief Pat McElroy, who added that the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau would be conducting an autopsy.​

Corrigan and his fiancée, Sarah Starr, have a 1½-year-old son, Jack, and are expecting another child.

Donations can be made to the Daniel Corrigan Memorial Fund through the International Association of Fire Fighters chapter in Santa Barbara.

Of course, the overpass honor roll by Corrigan’s comrades was not welcomed by all of Noozhawk’s readers. A few took to the comments section to protest the use of public resources for such a demonstration.

While I certainly take their point, this time-honored tradition among public-safety personnel just isn’t one that lights my fuse. For many citizens, it’s a moving sign of respect and a quiet reminder of the danger of the calling — whether a death be in the line of fire or from natural causes. Besides, all on-duty firefighters were still on duty and would have responded immediately had any calls come in.

Give it a rest, and may Daniel Corrigan rest in peace.

Santa Barbara High School’s main entrance may have been party central for more than 60 junior high and high school students, but what happened here apparently could just as easily have happened at any other Santa Barbara Unified School District campus. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Santa Barbara High School’s main entrance may have been party central for more than 60 junior high and high school students, but what happened here apparently could just as easily have happened at any other Santa Barbara Unified School District campus. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

2. Party-Bus Bust Highlights Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use in Santa Barbara

Last week’s No. 2 story of the week was our Giana Magnoli’s first installment of the party-bus saga. That story chronicled the Nov. 21 bust of a party bus that had pulled up on the campus of Santa Barbara High School to pick up 62 underage passengers for a night of debauchery. Alleged debauchery, that is.

This week’s No. 2 story of the week was Giana’s second installment of the party-bus saga. This time, she took a closer look at available alcohol and drug data from the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

According to the latest California Healthy Kids Survey, SBUSD students in the seventh, ninth and 11th grades reported higher alcohol use last year than the year before. The survey says marijuana use has remained steady over the last two years, but e-cigarette use (including e-cigarettes, hookah and little cigars) has doubled in all grade levels.

Mitch Torina, the district’s director of pupil services, told Giana that prevention and intervention efforts are focused at the secondary schools, and the district also partners with community addiction and treatment organizations such as the Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse.

“We’re all looking out for the best of our youth, and I think what we sometimes forget is some of our youth are going to be wayward, and it really is our job to first educate and not discipline,” he said.

That education process may be more challenging to pull off than the district would like. In talking to a few parents after the November incident, schools Superintendent Dave Cash was surprised and dismayed at some of the reactions.

“I had a conversation with one parent who said ‘It’s none of your business’,” he told Giana. “They said it has nothing to do with school. I said it’s on our campus, so it does.”

What’s left of two pickup trucks after a head-on collision on Highway 1 near Jalama Road. One driver died in the crash, the other was hospitalized with major injuries. (Rick Joyner / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
What’s left of two pickup trucks after a head-on collision on Highway 1 near Jalama Road. One driver died in the crash, the other was hospitalized with major injuries. (Rick Joyner / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

3. Head-on Crash Kills 1, Injures Another Near Lompoc

One man was killed and another seriously injured when their pickup trucks collided head-on March 10 on Highway 1 south of Lompoc.

Capt. David Sadecki, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said a Toyota Tacoma driven by Daniel Jaime, 32, of Lynwood, was traveling north about 6:20 a.m. when, for unknown reasons, it crossed the double yellow lines just south of Jalama Road.

He said the Tacoma slammed into a Chevy Silverado driven by Jason Wallace, 33, of Lompoc.

Jaime was declared dead at the scene, and it took firefighters about a half-hour to free Wallace from the wreckage. He was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital by an American Medical Response ambulance.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Donald Clotworthy told our Tom Bolton that Wallace had major injuries, but they were not considered life-threatening.

The CHP is investigating the cause of the crash, but alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors. Authorities say heavy fog was reported in the area at the time.

4. Teen Cyclist Survives Collision with Car in Santa Barbara

A 17-year-old Santa Barbara girl riding her bicycle home from San Marcos High School was struck by a car on Modoc Road the afternoon of March 10.

The teen, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown across the hood and windshield of the Hyundai Elantra and then into the air before striking the pavement, said police Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman.

The collision happened just before 2 p.m. in the 3800 block of Modoc Road just west of Emanuel Lutheran Church near Hope Ranch.

Harwood said investigators believe the driver — local resident Necia Cardona, 52 — was “looking for a street sign and drove into the bike lane and struck the cyclist.”

My friend, Woodie Clark, husband of Noozhawk’s​ Kim Clark, was cycling nearby and saw the whole thing unfold. He and another witness administered first aid until firefighters and paramedics arrived.

Clark estimated the girl was knocked out for about three minutes until she came to with the help of an off-duty nurse who had stopped to assist.

The girl, whose name was not disclosed, was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital by AMR ambulance.

“Miraculously, it seems like she has a lot of abrasions and possibly a broken bone in her foot, but no other injuries,” Harwood said.  

Police say Cardona was cited for driving in the bike lane. Authorities say alcohol and drugs were not factors.

Although the occupants were uninjured, their home was a total loss after a fire at the property in the 6600 block of Stagecoach Road near San Marcos Pass. (Ryan Cullum photo)
Although the occupants were uninjured, their home was a total loss after a fire at the property in the 6600 block of Stagecoach Road near San Marcos Pass. (Ryan Cullum photo)

5. Three-Bedroom Home Destroyed by Fire Near San Marcos Pass

A late-night fire destroyed a house in a remote area near San Marcos Pass off Highway 154, leaving three people homeless.

Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said the fire was reported just after 11:30 p.m. March 9 at a single-family residence in the 6600 block of Stagecoach Road.

He said firefighters arrived to find the three-bedroom house engulfed in flames.

The three occupants had managed to escape without injuries, he said. Their home was a total loss, and the American Red Cross-Santa Barbara County Chapter was assisting with temporary housing arrangements.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Sadecki said.

The county Fire Department dispatched five engines, a water tender and a battalion chief to the scene. The Painted Cave and San Marcos Pass volunteer fire departments assisted.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web: First Responders Hear Mystery Voice Before Rescuing Toddler from River.

HT to my friend, Jim Geraghty.

                                                                 •        •        •

While combing the Internet for this week’s Best of Bill Video, I found this one to be hair-larious.

(PulltabProductions2015 video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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