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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 12:54 am | Fair 45º


Bill Macfadyen: Suicide Investigation Focuses on Dead Man’s Train of Thought

NoozWeek’s Top 5 also crashes coming and going, busts a suspected drug dealer, checks in on a new Goleta hotel and gets a taste of ‘air water’

There were 72,597 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top stories?

1. Man Hit, Killed By Freight Train Near Santa Barbara Zoo

A man walking on the railroad tracks near the Santa Barbara Zoo was struck and killed by a freight train as it rumbled through town Sept. 16.

According to Santa Barbara fire Capt. Kevin Hokom, the man suffered massive head injuries and died instantly.

Police Sgt. Riley Harwood said the incident, which occurred around 6:30 p.m., is being investigated as a possible suicide.

“The train engineer observed the pedestrian approaching and made efforts to brake and use the horn, but the man never deviated from (a) path walking straight toward the train,” he said.

The man’s identity was not disclosed, but Harwood said he is believed to be a 50-year-old homeless man.

Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day, or call 1.800.273.8255.

Driveway pinball, anyone? (Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)
Driveway pinball, anyone? (Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)

2. Elderly Woman Hits Neighbor’s Tree, Own House in Santa Barbara Crash

A 95-year-old driver had a rough morning Sept. 15 when she backed her car into a neighbor’s tree and then accelerated and ran into her own house.

Santa Barbara fire Engineer Hank Homburg said the one-two punch occurred just before 9 a.m. in the 1600 block of Payeras Street on the Mesa.

He said the woman mistakenly hit the gas while backing out of her driveway and she struck a tree in the yard across the street. The impact toppled the tree, which took down cable wires as it fell.

“She then put (the) vehicle into drive and apparently hit the accelerator, running into her own residence,” Homburg said.

The woman, whose identity was not disclosed, suffered moderate injuries in the collisions and was taken to a local medical center for evaluation, he said.

The front of her house and her kitchen were badly damaged in the incident, and a city building inspector was called out to determine the extent. Meanwhile, a Public Works Department crew removed the damaged tree.

3. Santa Barbara Police Arrest Suspected Drug Dealer

A Goleta man was arrested on drug and weapons charges after a weeks-long investigation of leads identifying him as a go-to guy for cocaine and methamphetamine sales.

Juan Nunez hosted a recent search party. It didn’t end well for him. (Santa Barbara Police Department photo)
Juan Nunez hosted a recent search party. It didn’t end well for him. (Santa Barbara Police Department photo)

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood said narcotics detectives had been tipped that Juan Nunez, 49, was dealing the drugs in Santa Barbara and Goleta. They obtained a search warrant and, joined by investigators with the Santa Barbara Regional Narcotic Enforcement Team, paid a visit to his apartment in the 400 block of Ellwood Beach Drive early on Sept. 11.

Nunez was detained as he left for work just before 7 a.m. Harwood said he was found to be in possession of 11 bindles of methamphetamine and eight bindles of cocaine. A search of his apartment turned up more drugs, $8,000 in cash that is believed to be proceeds from drug sales, and two pistols, he added.

Nunez was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of possession of cocaine for sale, possession of methamphetamine for sale, and possession of a firearm in the commission of a drug offense. Bail was set at $50,000.

A Marriott Residence Inn in the 6300 block of Hollister Avenue may soon be more than a rendering after the Goleta City Council signed off on the project. (Marriott Residence Inn rendering)
A Marriott Residence Inn in the 6300 block of Hollister Avenue may soon be more than a rendering after the Goleta City Council signed off on the project. (Marriott Residence Inn rendering)

4. Goleta Council Approves Development of Marriott Hotel on Hollister Avenue

A Goleta hotel project that has been mired in the city’s planning and review process since the Bush administration has finally been given the green light from the City Council.

The Marriott Residence Inn, a 118-room hotel proposed for the 6300 block of Hollister Avenue across from the Santa Barbara Airport, was approved Sept. 16 on a 4-1 vote. Mayor Michael Bennett and Councilmen Roger Aceves, Jim Farr and Tony Vallejo voted for the project, along with a revised environmental impact review. Councilwoman Paula Perotte voted against it.

The developer, Bob Olson of R.D. Olson Development, first entered the fray in 2007 with a larger, 140-room hotel proposal. But the presence of a Chumash archaeological site in the area sent the project back to the drawing board.

The proposal was revised and reviewed repeatedly over the years by the city and Chumash representatives, but in July the Planning Commission recommended approval after a sanctuary garden and educational aspect were added.

The council chamber was packed with people eager to speak. In all, 30 did, with the vast majority in favor of the project.

Geof Wyatt, president of Wyatt Technology a short walk from the hotel site, said his company could use the hotel to house dozens of visitors it hosts each month.

“There aren’t places to stay,” he said. “How many years must we wait before this project is approved and built?”

Press 1 for cold, press 2 for hot, or press 3 to make it rain. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Press 1 for cold, press 2 for hot, or press 3 to make it rain. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

5. Hotel Indigo Shows Off Santa Barbara Area’s First ‘Air Water’ Dispenser

Although my yard sure could use one of these, for now it’s only available at Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara — and just one glass at a time.

The boutique hotel at 121 State St. recently installed a dispenser that creates water from moisture in the air. Produced by Santa Monica-based Skywell LLC, the five-gallon Skywell 5T “air water” dispenser draws in air, then purifies the collected moisture through a multifilter process involving ultraviolet and ozone exposure.

Each unit has a touch-screen app to control temperatures and monitor daily water usage, and runs off a standard electrical outlet. Both cold and hot water are available.

The Hotel Indigo machine is a loaner, part of a promotion the Skywell team is conducting with about a dozen Southern California hotels and businesses. The company expects to lease the units for about $80 per month or sell them for about $2,800 apiece.

“The need is pretty dire up here,” Skywell co-founder and president Jonathan Carson told our Gina Potthoff. “It’s very similar to your average small refrigerator when it comes to energy consumption.”

Carson says the company is working on a 100-gallon version for consumption as well as one for irrigation. Figuring out how to filter in additives and minerals will follow, he said.

“We are excited to have this opportunity,” said Dan Alvarado, Hotel Indigo’s manager. “I hope we can keep it long term.”

                                                                 •        •        •

My sister-in-law, Jackie Gaylord, and I had just been discussing the benefits of “cronuts” when my favorite Internet comedian, Natalie Tran, served up a vlog on the idea. Great minds think alike — just not soon enough to capitalize on the concepts, apparently.

(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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