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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 1:39 pm | Fair 36º

 
 
 
 

Bill Macfadyen: Another Reading Frenzy Around Paula Lopez, and Her Arrest

Alleged public intoxication in NoozWeek's Top 5, followed by two accidents, a bank robbery, and last call at the Elephant Bar

What were you reading on Noozhawk this week?

1. KEYT Anchor Paula Lopez Arrested on Public-Intoxication Charge

TV anchor Paula Lopez's arrest for alleged public intoxication fueled another surge of readers, and certainly was a factor in Noozhawk's latest monthly traffic record. I should emphasize that it was a factor, but not the only one.

Executive editor Tom Bolton's exclusive July 30 story reported that Lopez was arrested a day earlier by Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies near her home in the foothills west of Highway 154.

Cmdr. Sol Linver said deputies contacted Lopez, 48, "on North San Marcos Road at Via Piccoli in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County" at about 4:30 p.m. He said she was taken into custody, and later released with a citation to appear in court.

Paula Lopez, back in the news instead of reporting it.
Paula Lopez, back in the news instead of reporting it.

On the afternoon of July 31, the longtime KEYT News anchor confirmed her arrest and issued a statement saying the incident and other recent odd behavior were related to an ongoing battle with alcoholism.

Lopez had been reported missing by her family on Feb. 27, and a massive search of her neighborhood was launched. Hours later, she returned home — under circumstances that were as mysterious as when she left.

Afterward, her family announced she would be taking time off to deal with an undisclosed "medical condition." In an exclusive interview with our Gina Potthoff when she returned to work six weeks later, Lopez explained that there had been "a medical convergence of circumstances that I had neglected for a long time. ... My body just gave out." She declined to elaborate.

On Aug. 1, District Attorney Joyce Dudley told Noozhawk that Lopez could avoid prosecution on the public-intoxication charge by paying $250 to enroll in a Misdemeanor Diversion Program.

So far, just under 40,000 of you have read Tom's report.

2. Five Injured, Three Seriously, in Goleta Freeway Wreck

Five people were injured, three of them seriously, in a July 30 multivehicle collision on northbound Highway 101 where it squeezes into two lanes from three at the Fairview Avenue exit in Goleta.

Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki said the five-vehicle wreck occurred just before 5 p.m.

Two victims had to be extricated from their vehicles, and all five were transported to Goleta Valley Cottage and Santa Barbara Cottage hospitals.

Freeway traffic was snarled for more than an hour so debris could be cleared and the crash investigation completed.

The cause of the collision has not been determined.

3. Armed Robber Hits Rabobank on Calle Real in Goleta

A gunman who held up a Rabobank branch in Goleta apparently made a successful getaway July 31. No one was injured in the heist, but the suspect did make off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

bank robbery
This bank robbery suspect is at large. He's not in custody either. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department surveillance video photo)

Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the masked man entered the bank at 5956 Calle Real at midmorning, brandished a handgun and demanded money. Three customers were in the bank at the time, but Hoover said no one was injured.

Deputies searched nearby neighborhoods for the suspect, but he appears to have vanished without a trace. Which is a feat in and of itself since surveillance video footage revealed him to be of the XXL ilk.

The guy is described as a heavyset white male who was wearing tan pants, a dark hoodie sweatshirt, black gloves and a gray mask with eye holes cut into the material.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division at 805.681.4150.

4. Fall Injures Cyclist in Mountains Above Santa Barbara

A badly injured bicyclist used his cell phone to call 9-1-1 after he crashed July 28 on East Camino Cielo near La Cumbre Peak above Santa Barbara.

County fire Capt. David Sadecki said the man, whose identity was not disclosed, landed 10 to 15 feet over the side of the roadway.

Sadecki said rescuers had to cut through thick brush to reach the man, who was flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with serious injuries.

5. Elephant Bar Restaurant Closing After 30 Years in Goleta

A staggering 20,801 of you read Gina Potthoff's Elephant Bar Restaurant story in the hours after we posted her July 24 exclusive, which reported that the restaurant will soon be closing for good.

While I understand how popular the place is with Goleta Valley clubs and nonprofit organizations, I have to admit I was surprised by the response.

Unfortunately for Elephant Bar fans, the stampede wasn't enough to postpone the day of reckoning. The restaurant's owners say they're done Aug. 21.

                                                                  •        •        •

My next Twitter Chat is scheduled for 1 to 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Twitter users can use the hashtag #nooztalk to participate, and readers can click here to join the conversation on the Twubs Twitter Chat platform.

                                                                  •        •        •

You're going to want to sit down to watch this video.

108 years of Herman Miller in 108 seconds from Christian Borstlap on Vimeo.

(Christian Borstlap video)

                                                                  •        •        •

There were 83,474 people who read Noozhawk this past week. If you value our unmatched breaking news and in-depth reporting on the issues that you care about, please support our experienced staff of professional journalists and help us continue to provide a vital forum for the community.

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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