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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: As Kooky Car Crashes Pile Up, the Latest One Piles On

NoozWeek’s Top 5 adds a heartwarming new beginning for a toddler’s tragic plight, lays off 215 employees, scares up an Isla Vista Halloween story, and searches for a missing Solvang woman

You’ve been trunked. Click to view larger
You’ve been trunked. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

By this time next week, one of the two most unfit, most mendacious, most reprehensible and most despised candidates in history will be America’s president-elect. Is this a great country, or what?

At least for two more months.

According to our Google Analytics, there were 90,731 people who read Noozhawk last week. Here’s my take on your top five stories:

1. Driver Taken to Hospital After Van Lands on Car in Santa Barbara

A van driver lost control of his vehicle while making a left turn on a Santa Barbara street, ending up in an awkward position — parked on top of a parked car.

Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Jim McCoy said the wreck occurred about 12:45 p.m. Oct. 29 when the motorist was attempting to turn left on Castillo Street from westbound West Pedregosa Street.

The van came to rest on top of a Lexus coupe.

“It looked like the van hit a street sign sign and rode the pole up like a ramp and landed on the Lexus,” McCoy told Noozhawk.

Firefighters helped the driver out of the van, and he was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The man’s name and details of his medical condition were not immediately available.

No other injuries were reported.

Fitting in. (Unander-La Berge family photo)
Fitting in. (Unander-La Berge family photo)

2. Santa Barbara Family Granted Permanent Guardianship of Toddler Whose Mother Died in Horrific Crash

A toddler whose mother was killed in a stunning August car crash has been placed with a Santa Barbara family that has been declared his permanent guardians.

Year-old Lukas Hearn’s mom, 19-year-old Daniella Hearn, died the night of Aug. 9 when the car in which she was riding went airborne on Cliff Drive on the Mesa and slammed into a tree near La Marina Drive. In between it also hit a curb, a utility pole and a fire hydrant.

Investigators estimated the car was traveling at 94 mph when it crashed, and determined that the driver — 24-year-old Angel Flores — was highly intoxicated.

Flores, Hearn and rear-seat passenger Benjamin Samuel Rubio, 28, were pronounced dead at the scene. Front-seat passenger Michael James Mendoza, 29, was critically injured but survived.

Several months before she died, Hearn had sought help from Mother’s Helpers, a nonprofit organization that assists moms who need baby items to care for their children. The serendipitous encounter matched the troubled single mom with the group’s founder and executive director, Robin Unander-La Berge.

La Berge agreed to watch Lukas while Hearn worked, and the relationship blossomed even as Hearn’s struggles with drug abuse grew.

“She didn’t have much support in place,” Unander-La Berge told our Brooke Holland.

In July, she said, Hearn asked her and her husband, Dan La Berge, to become Lukas’ temporary legal guardians.

The agreement was finalized with the courts on Aug. 4, just five days before the crash. As of Sept. 22, Lukas had become a permanent member of the La Berge family, which includes the couple’s 7- and 4-year old biological children.

“I made a promise to his mom to take care of him, and Daniella picked us to help care for him while she couldn’t,” Unander-La Berge explained.

“We are honoring that choice.”

The Channel Technologies Group complex at 879 Ward Drive in Goleta will soon be a ghost town. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
The Channel Technologies Group complex at 879 Ward Drive in Goleta will soon be a ghost town. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

3. Goleta-Based Channel Technologies Files for Bankruptcy, to Lay Off 215 Employees

This story would have broken his heart so I’m relieved my friend, the late Bob Carlson, isn’t around to read it — not that he would on a computer since he preferred to get his news “on lawn” and not online.

Channel Technologies Group, the Goleta-based company Bob co-founded almost 60 years ago and ran for 50, filed for bankruptcy last month and notified the state Employment Development Department that it would be laying off its 215 employees by the end of January.

The company, which manufactures state-of-the-art piezoelectric ceramics used in acoustics and sonar, reportedly has lost $11.6 million this year. Piezoelectricity refers to electricity resulting from pressure in some solid materials.

According to The Wall Street Journal, CTG is looking to sell its operations.

Channel Technologies officials declined to comment for our Sam Goldman’s story.

The streets of Isla Vista seemed to have more public safety personnel than Halloween revelers over this year’s four-day weekend. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)
The streets of Isla Vista seemed to have more public safety personnel than Halloween revelers over this year’s four-day weekend. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

4. Halloween Spirits Mostly Absent Again in Isla Vista on Saturday Night

For forever, Halloween in Isla Vista was a haunt mess, with the usual street party scene swelled by thousands of out-of-towners not there for the trick-or-treating. Public safety personnel were overwhelmed dealing with citations, arrests and medical calls.

That heathen ritual was disrupted a few years ago, thanks to a concerted effort by law enforcement, UC Santa Barbara and students themselves. The new tradition has largely achieved a remarkable result, turning Del Playa Drive into an improbable ghost town.

This year’s four-day Halloween weekend continued in that vein, with an Oct. 29 on-campus concert keeping kids off the streets.

“The attendance this year over the four-day period from Friday through Monday was significantly less than a typical weekend in Isla Vista,” Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said Oct. 31.

In all, she reported no crowd, 26 arrests, 46 citations and 13 medical transports.

Most of the arrests were of the public intoxication variety, with the citations primarily for county noise ordinance violations and minors in possession of alcohol.

As recently as 2013, by comparison, crowds were as large as 15,000 revelers with 25 arrests, 249 citations and 51 medical transports.

5. Public’s Help Sought in Finding Solvang Woman Missing 12 Days​

Authorities have asked the public for help in locating an 83-year-old Solvang woman who has been missing since Oct. 19.

Marilyn Morgan is 5-foot-5, 200 pounds with short white hair — not brown as pictured. (Atterdag Village photo)
Marilyn Morgan is 5-foot-5, 200 pounds with short white hair — not brown as pictured. (Atterdag Village photo)

They made the request on Oct. 31 — 12 days after she was last seen.

According to sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, Marilyn Morgan went missing from Atterdag Village, at 636 Atterdag Road in Solvang, where she lives.

“Morgan did not show up for lunch, which was highly uncharacteristic of her,” she said. “When she did not show up for dinner either, staff became very concerned for her safety and well-being and reported her missing.”

Hoover said Morgan is believed to be suicidal based on past behavior and a statement she made to a friend before she left.

Morgan is described as 5-foot-5, 200 pounds with short white hair. She was last seen driving a white, four-door Saturn Vue with California license plate.

Anyone with information on Morgan’s whereabouts or her car is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 805.683.2724.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Firefighters Wary of Winds as They Battle Gibraltar Fire.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Shore, now they tell us: Why It’s Impossible to Know a Coastline’s True Length.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

How is it that I always lose sleep at daylight-saving time? I’ll fall back on Natalie Tran to explain it; we’re kindred schemers.

(communitychannel 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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