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Bill Macfadyen: Jordan Soto Wrongful Death Lawsuit Cites 9-1-1 Dispatch’s Tragic Sense of Direction

NoozWeek’s Top 5 catches a whiff of a gas leak, finally gets a good soaking, adds Barbareño to the menu, and follows a family’s quest to help those with craniofacial disorders

There were 78,482 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked.

1. Family of Local Barista Files Wrongful Death Suit Against City of Santa Barbara, State Agencies

Pretty much everyone in America knows to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. So when 24-year-old Jordan Soto collapsed at her Santa Barbara home on Jan. 30, a family member immediately dialed the number.

Young mom Jordan Soto, 24, of Santa Barbara, died in January, leaving behind her 17-month-old son, Dominic Dash. (Soto family photo)
Young mom Jordan Soto, 24, of Santa Barbara, died in January, leaving behind her 17-month-old son, Dominic Dash. (Soto family photo)

Tragically, the cell phone call was routed to a Ventura dispatch center and not a local one, resulting in a wrong address and a critical 20-minute delay.

The young mom died at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital later that night, and her family believes the confusion was a factor. As our Gina Potthoff reported Dec. 3, they’ve filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara and several state agencies.

In the civil suit, Soto’s family alleges that a faulty 9-1-1 call system led emergency personnel to the wrong address. The suit claims gross negligence on the part of Karen Wong, assistant director of California’s Public Safety Communications; the 9-1-1 Advisory Board Work Group; the State of California; the California Highway Patrol; and the City of Santa Barbara and its Police Department.

Newport Beach attorney Mark Peacock, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Soto’s estate, is demanding a jury trial and damages exceeding $25,000.

Soto — a popular barista at The Daily Grind on Upper De la Vina Street and the mother of a 17-month-old son, Dash — was found unconscious on the floor of her parents’ home on Tinker Way, two blocks off West Mission Street east of La Cumbre Junior High School.

According to the suit, a dispatcher who took the cell call confirmed the correct address — less than a mile from the hospital — but a Santa Barbara dispatcher subsequently gave first-responders the incorrect one. That address, the suit says, was on Cedar Lane off Barker Pass Road — five miles away.

When an ambulance finally arrived, the suit continues, Soto still had a pulse, but she later died of an undisclosed cause.

Peacock said a doctor at Cottage Hospital told him the 20-minute time difference would’ve saved the life of the 2007 San Marcos High graduate.

According to Peacock, the Soto family wants Sacramento to take a closer look at the state’s emergency-notification system.

“What they would really like to have happen is that, obviously, this doesn’t happen to anybody else ever again,” he told Gina. “Even though it’s been a few months now, they’re still devastated.

“They don’t understand why the government failed like that. Neither do I. There’s no amount of money that would replace Jordan.”

Assistant City Attorney Tom Shapiro said the city has not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, and he declined to comment on the case.

No smoking, please. (Alys Martinez / KEYT News photo)
No smoking, please. (Alys Martinez / KEYT News photo)

2. Evacuations Ordered After Multivehicle Crash Near Santa Barbara Airport

A natural gas line was sheared off in a two-vehicle collision across the street from the Santa Barbara Airport the night of Nov. 29, leading to the evacuation of the neighborhood near the World War II Memorial on the east end of the airfield.

As our Tom Bolton reported first, there were no injuries in the wreck but the occupants of both vehicles ran off on foot.

According to Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki, the crash occurred in the 5800 block of Placencia Street, off South Fairview Avenue. He said one of the vehicles slammed into a residence, severing a 3-inch gas line serving the small neighborhood.

All homes along Placencia Street were evacuated, as were homes between the 300 block of South Fairview and Fowler Road, he said.

The American Red Cross Santa Barbara County Chapter was assisting residents with temporary lodging while Southern California Gas Co. crews repaired the line.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Umbrella coverage was recommended at Camino Real Shopping Center in Goleta during the first major storm in ... quite a while. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)
Umbrella coverage was recommended at Camino Real Shopping Center in Goleta during the first major storm in ... quite a while. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

3. Santa Barbara County Gets Good Soaking From Storm

Living up to its forecast, a major storm system crawled through Santa Barbara County on Dec. 2, providing desperately needed rain but well short of enough to reverse the persistent drought.

The rain started in the middle of the night, and fell at a steady pace for much of the day, continuing sporadically the next day and even the day after that.

Rain-slickened roadways proved treacherous for motorists, but no serious injuries were reported from the numerous crashes and spin-outs.

At the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in downtown Santa Barbara, a 75-foot-tall ficus tree toppled over, grazing the historic building as it fell. Localized flooding and minor mud and rock slides also were reported, including two landslides near Nojoqui Falls on Dec. 3. No one was hurt in any of the incidents, according to authorities.

There may not be much drought relief from this storm, but we’ll take what we can get. As our Tom Bolton reported Dec. 4, many areas of Santa Barbara County are now sporting above-normal levels of rainfall for the season that began Sept. 1.

Goleta and Lompoc are both at 114 percent of average rainfall, with Goleta recording 3.68 inches and Lompoc 2.79 inches.

Santa Barbara is at 110 percent of normal with 3.17 inches; Santa Maria is at 101 percent with 2.24 inches; and San Marcos Pass is at 100 percent with 5.76 inches.

Santa Ynez has reached 77 percent with 2.08 inches while Carpinteria is at 71 percent with 2.25 inches.

Buellton is the driest place in the county, with 1.91 inches of rain — 66 percent of normal.

Click here for a related Noozhawk gallery of storm photos.

For restaurant owners Jesse Gaddy, left, and Julian Martinez, Barbareño is their life’s work right now. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
For restaurant owners Jesse Gaddy, left, and Julian Martinez, Barbareño is their life’s work right now. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

4. BizHawk: 20-Somethings Open Barbareño Restaurant in Downtown Santa Barbara

Business partners Julian Martinez and Jesse Gaddy had been talking about opening a restaurant together since they were at Claremont McKenna College. That was just a couple of years ago.

Martinez, 25, and Gaddy, 24, have accomplished their goal, rehabbing the old D’Vine Café at 205 W. Canon Perdido and turning it into Barbareño, a restaurant and wine bar that opened about a month ago.

Lest you think they’re not the roll-up-your-sleeves types, they did much of the remodel work themselves, assisted by three buddies. Oh, and Martinez is the head chef and Gaddy the general manager.

A California-style bistro, Barbareño serves only local beer and wine, and Martinez and Gaddy try to keep the menu as local as they can. For now, the place is only open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

Generosity is all in this family: Jennifer and Rob Williams and their children, Regan, 14, and Robert, 12, volunteering with ReSurge International during a recent expedition to Bangladesh to perform surgical interventions on children with severe burns, cleft palates and other life-affecting facial issues. (Williams family photo)
Generosity is all in this family: Jennifer and Rob Williams and their children, Regan, 14, and Robert, 12, volunteering with ReSurge International during a recent expedition to Bangladesh to perform surgical interventions on children with severe burns, cleft palates and other life-affecting facial issues. (Williams family photo)

5. Summerland Family’s Journey Serves as Inspiration to Help People with Craniofacial Disorders

With a son born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, my friends, Jennifer and Rob Williams, knew they had to do something to help, something that extended beyond their own child.

So far in his 12 short years, their son, Robert, has undergone nine reconstructive surgeries to address the craniofacial disorder, which is marked by undeveloped facial bones, eyes and ears. Statistics say one in every 1,000 infants born in the United States has a form of the condition, and many of them will need at least as many surgeries as Robert.

The operations are extraordinarily expensive — some of them six-figure expensive — and it dawned on the Summerland couple that that might be where they could have the most impact: assisting others with that cost.

The result is Look At Us, a new nonprofit organization with a mission to help families pay for the surgeries and medical care of those with craniofacial abnormalities.

“Those procedures help these people be able to breathe, eat and speak properly,” Williams told our Lara Cooper. “It’s not cosmetic, it’s reconstructive.”

He explained that a child born with craniofacial differences has a small window of time to receive critical surgeries before bones develop permanently, usually by age 18.

“We feel like we have a responsibility to do this,” said Williams, adding that his organization already has a handful of people, mostly young children, awaiting medical procedures and who need the funding to proceed.

“These children deserve the best medical care possible,” he said.

Click here to make an online donation to Look At Us, or call 805.637.5699.

                                                                 •        •        •

Next time you come home to find a cow in your house, don’t ask your 5-year-old how she got there. Heifer calves are sneaky not-so-little critters. HT to my friend, Elizabeth Larson, for the video.

(Billie Jo Decker 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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