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Bill Macfadyen: Mallory Rae Dies’ Family, Friends Take a Break to Celebrate Her Life

NoozWeek's Top 5 hears sharp words from victim's dad, plugs into The Motley Fool and electric vehicles, and keeps its distance from alleged prostitutes and a suspected drug dealer

What were you reading on Noozhawk this week?

1. Beach a Fitting Backdrop as Family, Friends Gather to Remember Mallory Dies

As was the case last week, stories about the horrific death of Mallory Dies dominated our Top 5. The biggest traffic generator was our Lara Cooper's report on the celebration of her life that her family held Dec. 16 at Santa Barbara's Shoreline Park.

Mallory Rae Dies, 27, died Dec. 11 after five days on life support.
Mallory Rae Dies, 27, died Dec. 11 after five days on life support.

Beneath a pastel winter sky, hundreds of well-wishers packed the park to share and hear stories about the popular 27-year-old UC Santa Barbara grad who was run over by an allegedly drunken driver Dec. 6. Dies died five days later after her family made the heartbreaking decision to take her off life support.

Her father, Matt Dies, opened the gathering by describing his daughter's early years in Corona, where she was a fun-loving, quick study, and a high school cheerleader and overachieving student.

Early on, he said, she had her heart set on UCSB, and thoroughly enjoyed college life as an ADPi and a double-major in history and law and society.

"After graduating, she never wanted to leave Santa Barbara," he said.

Matt Dies said he and his wife, Raeona, were eternally grateful to the surgeons, doctors and nurses at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital who treated their daughter as if she were their own, and for the locals who opened their arms and their hearts to the family as they struggled with grief and shock.

After Dies' Dec. 11 death, her family donated her organs, which immediately were used to save the lives of five people, including a 28-year-old father of two.

Matt Dies also spoke forcefully about the "preventable plague" of drunken driving. Even if someone is below the legal limit of an .08 blood-alcohol level, he said, driving should be a no-go.

"I'm not talking about .08; I'm talking about zero," he said. "Whatever it takes, we've got to give meaning to my little baby's life being lost."

Meanwhile, the suspect in the case — Raymond Morua, 32, of Santa Barbara — is facing charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death.

According to Santa Barbara police, Morua was speeding down Anacapa Street when he struck Dies as she crossed the street near Mac's Grog N Grocery, 501 Anacapa St. As horrified witnesses looked on, police say the driver stopped to see what happened and then fled the scene. Witnesses chased him two blocks but were unable to convince him to surrender, and police say the suspect then raced off before crashing his car into a palm tree after failing to make a high-speed turn onto Cabrillo Boulevard from State Street.

Raymond Morua has been charged with murder and is awaiting arraignment. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)
Raymond Morua has been charged with murder and is awaiting arraignment. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman, said Morua was arrested at the scene of the second crash and that he blew a breath sample with a blood-alcohol content of .17 — more than twice the legal limit at which a driver is presumed to be drunk.

Morua appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Dec. 13, but his arraignment was postponed.

Sine 2012, Morua had worked as a district representative for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. On Dec. 9, however, her spokesman announced that Morua had been fired from the $37,000-a-year position.

Capps later announced that she would conduct background checks on all of her staff members, a standard procedure in the private sector that — one would think — might have revealed Morua's criminal past. That record, which is not that hard to find via Google, includes previous DUI convictions, a hit-and-run charge and a grand-theft conviction for which he is still on probation.

2. Tam Hunt: Are Electric Vehicles Already Halfway to Market Dominance?

My friend, Tam Hunt, writes frequently on renewable energy issues. He doesn't shy away from provocative questions or positions, and he nearly always draws strong traffic.

Tam Hunt's latest column is fueled by The Motley Fool.
Tam Hunt's latest column is fueled by The Motley Fool.

What I really appreciate is that he enthusiastically and eagerly engages with readers of his columns, and enjoys the debate with those who don't agree with him. That's a big reason why his columns typically have more comments than any others, and this one is no exception, with more than 80 since we posted it Dec. 10.

A few days ago, however, he picked up considerable momentum when — according to our Google AnalyticsThe Motley Fool investment website apparently mentioned or linked to his column on electric vehicles. The referrals sent a charge through his numbers and show few signs of fizzling out.

We've been poking around in cyberspace, trying to figure out what exactly was the catalyst. So far, though, that's been a fool's errand. Nevertheless, we're grateful.

3. Four Charged in Goleta Prostitution Investigation

A couple of Goleta massage therapists encountered a kink of their own after they allegedly offered to let their fingers stray way over the line during a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department prostitution sting operation.

According to department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, search warrants were served at the two happy hands clubs after undercover detectives posed as new patrons requesting a massage.

"In each incident, the undercover detective was solicited for sexual activity by the masseuse, which was declined," she said.

At New Life Day Spa, 5631 Calle Real, Ling Zhang, 52, was cited and released for solicitation of prostitution and Guilan Wang, 54, was cited for multiple Labor Code violations, Hoover said. A search of the business turned up an "assault rifle," she added.

At Total Relax Massage, 5730 Hollister Ave., Guo Ping Huang, 53, was cited and released for solicitation of prostitution and Lanqing Absher, 52, was cited for multiple labor violations, Hoover said.

4. Santa Barbara Police Arrest Alleged ‘Major’ Drug Supplier

After a six-month investigation, Santa Barbara police pounced on what they described as a "major supplier of illegal drugs," arresting the suspect and seizing almost three pounds of cocaine, methamphetamine, a handgun and more than $25,000 in cash.

Luis Felipe Uriarte apparently is well-known around town.
Luis Felipe Uriarte apparently is well-known around town.

Luis Felipe Uriarte, 23, of Santa Barbara, was arrested during a traffic stop in the 900 block of Chapala Street the morning of Dec. 12.

"Uriarte was found to be in possession of 10 ounces of cocaine and was subsequently arrested," Sgt. Riley Harwood said.

He said a search of Uriarte's residence, on Ocean View Avenue west of Montecito Country Club, turned up significant quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and a 45-caliber pistol. Also discovered was more than $25,000 in cash, which Harwood said appears to be drug sales proceeds.

The value of the confiscated drugs was estimated at more than $40,000.

Uriarte was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on $100,000 bail.

Given the speed with which Lara Cooper's report rocketed up the Most Read list and the intense volume of story forwards, there may be a lot of people hoping this guy didn't keep a client list.

5. Two Critically Injured in Head-On Crash Near Lake Cachuma

A Dec. 14 head-on collision on Highway 154 west of Lake Cachuma injured three people, two of them critically.

According to the California Highway Patrol, an eastbound Chevy Tahoe crossed over the center line and slammed into a Dodge Caravan just after 10 a.m.

The Caravan driver — Inocencia Mandujano, 28, of Santa Barbara — had to be extricated from her vehicle and was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with critical injuries, Santa Barbara County fire Engineer Russ Sechler said.

The CHP said the Tahoe's driver — Julia Brown, 31, of Lompoc — and her 3-year-old daughter were rushed by ambulance to the hospital. Sechler said one of the Browns was in critical condition and the other suffered minor injuries.

The collision is under CHP investigation.

                                                                •        •        •

Congratulations to our own Kim Clark, who was sworn in Dec. 18 as board president-elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners-Santa Barbara Chapter. Kim, our vice president of business development, is a co-owner of Noozhawk with executive editor Tom Bolton and me. Click here for the full story from our iSociety columnist, Melissa Walker.

                                                                         •        •

Noozhawk is hiring! We have an immediate opening for an online media consultant for sales, marketing and business development.

Ours is an incredible and exciting story to sell, and you'd be hard-pressed to find other circumstances involving such explosive growth in traffic. We also have a terrific group of loyal and long-standing clients, with boundless opportunity to expand our customer base and a host of new and improved products slated for 2014.

Click here for more information, or to apply online.

                                                                         •        •

Jessica Sanborn's dog, Maggie, is as stealthy as a shark while counter-surfing. I know we shouldn't laugh, but our former Noozhawk intern's Instagram video of the 6-year-old Australian shepherd-terrier mix is just too funny not to share!

(Jessica Sanborn video via Vine)

                                                                  •        •        •

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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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