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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Santa Barbara Riviera Fire Fight Gets Off on Wrong Site Before Making It Right

Also in NoozWeek’s Top 5 are a scary Highway 154 crash near Cold Spring Canyon Bridge, a high-speed chase in 2 parts, a rape attempt stopped by a good Samaritan, and a well-deserved anniversary for Joe’s Café

Fire Click to view larger
Up, in flames. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

While the rest of the country is battening down the hatches in the face of this month’s Storm of the Century!™, Santa Barbara County is basking in the almost imperceptible change in the weather. Nothing beats September in California, but it definitely feels like fall now.

Seeking shelter from nonstop Hurricane Florence coverage, 105,944 readers stormed to Noozhawk this past week, according to our Google Analytics.

With all the advantages a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Hindsight might have, what follows is my take on your Top 5 stories during that period. Please remember that this is my opinion column, not a news story.

(Peter Hartman / Noozhawk video)

1. Fire Damages Home Under Construction in Santa Barbara Foothills

A residential structure fire kept firefighters busy on Santa Barbara’s Riviera on Sept. 9, although the response initally was hindered by — believe it or not — bad directions and morning fog.

Santa Barbara firefighters were dispatched around 9:30 a.m. to Las Alturas Road, a narrow ribbon of a street that snakes its way up from Alameda Padre Serra, across the ridge and down into the canyon on the backside.

The fire at first was placed near the intersection of Las Alturas Circle but the house actually was below it and to the east, near Camino Alto. Battalion Chief Chris Mailes said heavy fog made it difficult for responding crews to locate the flames after they realized the discrepancy.

Officials said the fire was found to be burning in a three-level house that was under construction. Mailes said the structure had been framed and its exterior wrapped in paper, but exterior stucco and interior drywall had not yet been added. That, he noted, contributed to the rapid spread of flames.

The blaze was declared under control at 10:20 a.m., although not before it left the property in shambles.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

2. 4 People Injured in Crash on Highway 154 in Santa Ynez Valley

Wreck Click to view larger
Sunday night on Highway 154. (California Highway Patrol photo)

A late-night collision on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley closed the road for an hour and resulted in trips to the hospital for all four people involved.

Authorities said the crash was reported at 10:20 p.m. Sept. 9 near the vista point just north of the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Jonathan Gutierrez, the driver of a westbound Lexus sedan — identified as 21-year-old Tasneem Copeland of San Marcos — veered to the right for unknown reasons, struck a guardrail and came to a stop in the middle of the road.

He said the driver of an eastbound Dodge pickup truck — identified as 42-year-old Genaro Dolores of North Hollywood — was unable to avoid the disabled roadblock, and slammed into it.

A Lexus passenger — Joshua Clayton, 22, of San Marcos — suffered major injuries, and had to be extricated from the wreckage.

Copeland, Dolores and Dolores’ passenger — Rosa Valdez Barrios, 48, of Panorama City — suffered minor injuries.

All four were taken by American Medical Response ambulances to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, but their medical conditions were not disclosed.

The highway was closed for about an hour while emergency personnel tended to victims and cleared debris.

The CHP is investigating the cause of the crash.

3. CHP, Sheriff’s Deputies Involved in High-Speed Chase on Southbound Highway 101

Pickup truck Click to view larger
The end of one chase, the starting point of another. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

A Porterville man led authorities on a high-speed chase that started in Buellton in a stolen pickup truck and ended on Santa Barbara’s Westside on foot. Whatever his escape plan was, it didn’t work.

Authorities said the pursuit began on southbound Highway 101 near Buellton just after 6 p.m. Sept. 10. A California Highway Patrol unit spotted, and attempted to pull over, a white Chevy Silverado that had been reported stolen in Hanford.

David Ponce Click to view larger
David Ponce has run his course. (Santa Barbara County Jail photo)

Of course, the pickup driver declined the invitation and the chase was on, with CHP officers and Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies on his tail.

CHP Lt. Steve Larson said the pursuit at times reached speeds of 100 mph and included the suspect passing on the right shoulder as he raced along the Gaviota coast, through Goleta and into Santa Barbara — in all, about a 45-mile drive.

Larson said the driver got off the freeway at Mission Street and promptly sideswiped a vehicle in the intersection, then headed up the hill to the west. Just before the stop sign at Modoc Road, he abandoned the truck in the middle of the street ... and ran.

That burst of adrenaline didn’t last long as CHP, sheriff’s deputies, Santa Barbara police and a K-9 unit swarmed the area.

The suspect — identified as 41-year-old David Ponce — was soon in custody, having been corraled a couple of blocks away in the area of West Islay Street and Thomas Avenue, which runs parallel to the railroad tracks a block east of San Pascual Street.

CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez said Ponce was charged with auto theft, reckless evading of a police officer, driving under the influence of drugs, hit and run, and driving without a license. He was booked into County Jail, where he was being held without bail.

Miraculously, no one was injured in the four-wheeled or two-legged chases, although a CHP officer was bitten in the leg by the police dog during the arrest. Gutierrez said the officer was treated and released from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

4. Bizhawk: Joe’s Café Celebrates 90 Years in Santa Barbara

Joe’s Café Click to view larger
For its 90th anniversary, Joe’s Café is promoting a dip in its French dip prices. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Joe’s Café is a throwback Santa Barbara institution. The restaurant opened in 1928 and finally found an indeal permanent home in the 1980s when it moved in at 536 State St. on the corner of Cota Street.

To celebrate its 90th anniversary on Sept. 23, Joe’s will be charging throwback prices on its trademark French dip sandwiches. From noon until 10 p.m., all dips will cost just 90 cents, “until we run out,” manager Joey Somerville said.

As you can imagine, a loyal clientele is largely the reason for Joe’s longevity.

“We have so many locals,” Somerville told our Josh Molina. “We really try to cater to the locals. And the staff has been here so long. They are familiar with the people.”

And don’t forget the drinks.

“We give a quality pour for a reasonable price,” he added. “People know to go to Joe’s for a good drink.”

5. Santa Barbara Police Arrest Suspect in Attempted Rape, Kidnapping

A good Samaritan interrupted an attempted sexual assault in a Santa Barbara motel parking lot the night of Sept. 9. The victim was shaken but unhurt, and gave police enough of a description of the suspect that officers were able to catch him the next day.

Angel Sanchez Click to view larger
Angel Sanchez has left the neighborhood now. (Santa Barbara County Jail photo)

SBPD spokesman Anthony Wagner said a woman was walking alone in the 3700 block of State Street, west of Ontare Road, about 11:30 p.m. when she was approached from behind by a man riding a bicycle.

The man blocked her path and, according to Wagner, engaged her in a brief “one-sided conversation,” led her to believe he had a weapon, grabbed her cell phone and threw it away.

He said the suspect then pushed the woman down and dragged her to a dimly lit corner of a nearby parking lot where he tried to sexually assault her.

“The attack was interrupted by a good Samaritan who heard her screams for help and drove his vehicle toward the sound,” Wagner said. “Once in the parking lot, the headlights of his vehicle illuminated the scene.

“The suspect became startled and fled into the night on his bicycle while the rescuer quickly called 9-1-1 for help.”

The next night, he said, plainclothes police officers saw a man matching the woman’s description, actually in the vicinity of the previous attack. What are the odds?

When they identified themselves, the little guy ran away a second time.

“The officers quickly caught up with him and, after a protracted struggle, brought him into custody,” Wagner said.

To make matters worse for himself, the dumbass apparently tried unsuccessfully to pull “a large concealed knife from his waistband” during the scuffle.

Wagner identified the perp as 29-year-old Angel Anthony Richard Sanchez, and said he was charged with false imprisonment, kidnapping to commit a sexual assault, assault to commit rape, concealing a weapon on his person, and resisting law enforcement officers.

As of Sept. 14, Sanchez remained in County Jail on $2.1 million bail.

Anyone with information about Sanchez or his ... activities ... is asked to contact Detective Douglas Klug at 805.897.2346 or [email protected].

                                                                •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? 2 Women Found Dead in Goleta in Apparent Murder-Suicide.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

This is a copy editor thing: Small Colorado Town’s Punny Signs Are Receiving National Attention.

                                                                 •        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

I took my Instagram feed to San Francisco, where it turned into my Instagram food.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

See if you can watch this without busting out laughing along with Granny.

(Brandon the Archivist video)

                                                                 •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk and Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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