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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 12:43 pm | A Few Clouds 59º


Bill Macfadyen: In a Race Against Time, Noozhawk Is in the Right Place to Get a Big Picture

This NoozWeek Top 5 is a tough one, with 2 fatal crashes, a gut-shot woman, and felony charges in the case of a severely burned Santa Barbara boy

Thanks to our hawk-eyed photographer, Noozhawk has a picture no one else does. Click to view larger
Thanks to our hawk-eyed photographer, Noozhawk has a picture no one else does. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)


There were 111,109 people who read Noozhawk this past week while waiting to see what Joe Biden will say next.

As that oxymoron is yawning on you, here’s my take on your top stories.

1. Motorcyclist Nabbed in Santa Barbara After High-Speed Chase from Santa Maria

Noozhawk is accustomed to chasing the news so it’s a welcome change when the news comes to us. On Aug. 23, however, our Tom Bolton had less than 10 minutes to prepare for it.

Tom and our Janene Scully had been listening to law-enforcement scanner traffic that afternoon as a motorcyclist was leading authorities on a high-speed chase around Orcutt.

The pursuit started about 1:45 p.m. when a Guadalupe police officer tried to pull over a reckless biker on Highway 1 near Brown Road.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol units took over the pursuit, and the suspect got on Highway 101 at Clark Avenue and headed south.

When Tom heard that the motorcyclist had raced past Refugio State Beach with no end in sight, he grabbed his camera and headed to the highway from his home in far western Goleta.

He was standing on the shoulder west of Ellwood when the guy rocketed past — not five minutes later. Tom had one shot, and he got it.

Hoover said the rogue biker took the Turnpike Road exit, then headed east on Hollister Avenue and Modoc Road through Santa Barbara’s Westside.

She said he raced up Miramonte Drive and over TV Hill to the Mesa, then cut back to Carrillo Street into downtown Santa Barbara.

Had he only looked up, Kaichi Sato might have saved himself some trouble. (Santa Barbara County Jail photo)
Had he only looked up, Kaichi Sato might have saved himself some trouble. (Santa Barbara County Jail photo)

After speeding around city streets, Hoover said the man ditched the motorcycle on Highway 101 near Laguna Street and tried to run for it, this time on foot. Officers collared him a few minutes later in the 500 block of East Montecito Street.

Hoover identified the alleged perp as Kaichi Sato, 28, of Santa Barbara, and said he was charged with attempting to evade a peace officer, evading a peace officer and wrong-way driving — all felonies.

He also was charged with misdemeanor driving with a suspended license related to an April drunken-driving charge.

Sato was booked into County Jail, but posted $75,000 bail and was released. A court date has not been set.

The hour-long chase reportedly reached speeds of 130 mph during the more than 70-mile pursuit down Highway 101.

Although officers backed off at various times for traffic safety reasons, the would-be Fast and Furious fool just could not shake the county helicopter that was following him for much of the way.

Game over.

Emergency personnel tend to a woman with apparently self-inflicted shooting pain. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)
Emergency personnel tend to a woman with apparently self-inflicted shooting pain. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

2. Woman Shoots Self in Stomach at Goleta Shopping Center

Until authorities reveal more details, your guess is as good as mine as to how and why a woman came to shoot herself Aug. 21 at a Goleta shopping center.

The woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, called 9-1-1 just before 2 p.m. to report that she had shot herself in the stomach at University Plaza, in the 7100 block of Hollister Avenue to the west of Camino Real Marketplace.

Sheriff’s Lt. Craig Bonner said deputies first secured the weapon before emergency personnel could tend to the woman.

She was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, but her condition was not available.

A smashed Bug killed one occupant and injured another. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)</div></div></p>
 (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)
A smashed Bug killed one occupant and injured another. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

3. Man Killed, Another Injured in Highway 101 Collision in Goleta

Two Volkswagens apparently collided as the cars drove south on Highway 101 through Goleta on Aug. 26, launching one of them down an embankment near Los Carneros Road.

That car, a Beetle, overturned, killing its driver, who was identified by the California Highway Patrol as 44-year-old Ismael Gil of Goleta. A passenger was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with minor injuries.

No one was hurt in the second car, a Cabrio.

The CHP is investigating the cause of the crash, but indications are that Gil had some kind of medical emergency just before the collision.

The driver didn’t make it but the passenger did. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
The driver didn’t make it but the passenger did. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

4. Single-Vehicle Crash Near Red Rock Kills Driver, Seriously Injures Passenger​

A Ford Mustang plunged over the side of Paradise Road in the Red Rock area along the Upper Santa Ynez River on Aug. 20, landing upside down 100 feet below the roadway.

The driver was killed in the crash, but his passenger was able to extricate herself from the wreckage and somehow scramble up the steep slope. Passers-by summoned help.

Sheriff’s Lt. Craig Bonner identified the dead man as Reed Gorder, 21, of Isla Vista. He apparently was a Santa Barbara City College student.

The passenger — a woman in her mid-20s whose identity was not disclosed — suffered moderate injuries and was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, which may have been the result of excessive speed on the steep, winding roadway.

5. Juveniles Face Criminal Charges in Fire Incident That Badly Burned Santa Barbara Boy

Two teenagers are facing two felony charges as a result of a February incident in which a companion suffered life-threatening burns. If they meet certain conditions, the charges will be dropped.

Jacob Keefer, a 14-year-old Santa Barbara Junior High School student, was severely burned Feb. 28 while the three boys were playing with fire at a house in the 700 block of California Street on Santa Barbara’s Riviera.

Keefer was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and later received extensive treatment from the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center Burn Unit. He’s recovering back home in Santa Barbara.

On Aug. 24, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced that Keefer’s friends — identified only as John Does 1 and 2 — will face charges of arson of property and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. Both are felonies.

Because the case involves juveniles, Dudley said she could provide few details.

“They were good friends, all of them, with promising future,” she told a courthouse news conference. “They used really poor judgment, and now they want to do all they can to make amends.”

​Dudley — and Keefer’s family — hope to use the prosecution of the case as a cautionary tale. She said the pre-plea diversion agreement was reached last week, and involves working with children with cancer, community service, counseling and a fire education program. All of the terms must be completed by Feb. 29.

If the teenagers don’t meet the criteria, they’ll face the criminal charges through the court system.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web: Woman from Famous 9/11 ‘Dust Lady’ Photograph Dies of Cancer.

You know the one. R.I.P. Marcy Borders.

                                                                 •        •        •

Hey, U.S. military veterans, thank you for your service. The commander in chief proclaimed just last month that “patient safety is a top priority at VA hospitals ... Veterans continue to tell us that once they get through the door, the care is often very good.”

Just don’t try to find any at the Memphis VA Medical Center.

HT to my friend, Jim Geraghty

(Timothy Matthews 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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