Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 1:56 am | Fair 51º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Beachgoers Use Buddy System in Vain Bid to Save Diver Who Apparently Didn’t

NoozWeek's Top 5 solves a mysterious crash, goes for a Fiesta bike ride, provides a fuller picture of an accident victim, and then there's Paula Lopez

What were you reading on Noozhawk this week?

1. Scuba Diver Found Dead off Padaro Beach in Carpinteria

A tip from a Noozhawk reader led to our top story of the week, executive editor Tom Bolton's exclusive on a diving fatality off Padaro Lane.

Shortly after noon Aug. 3, a reader tweeted us to report that a friend of his had just pulled an unconscious diver from the surf. The victim had been discovered floating in the ocean but his would-be rescuers were unable to revive him.

Firefighters, paramedics and Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies arrived moments afterward, but the diver was declared dead at the scene, Carpinteria-Summerland fire Battalion Chief Mike Gallagher said.

Chase Blossom of Santa Barbara was one of the beachgoers who waded into the surf to get the victim to shore.

"He was clearly gone," Blossom told Tom, adding that the man's scuba regulator was still putting out air, although it was not in his mouth.

He said the man had no obvious injuries, and his scuba gear appeared new. Whatever the diver was doing, he didn't appear to be using the buddy system. 

The victim was later identified as William Frank Grgurich, 49, of Portland.

The cause of death remains under investigation.

2. Injury Hit-and-Run Charged in Mysterious Mountain Drive Crash

Executive editor Tom Bolton is a bit of a police scanner buff. Fortunately for us, he actually knows what to do with the information when he hears the scratchy, cryptic calls from emergency dispatchers.

Such was the case on the morning of June 30 when he was listening to chatter about a mysterious car wreck off Mountain Drive in the foothills above Santa Barbara.

First responders had arrived on the scene to find a badly damaged SUV down a ravine 150 yards off the road, but turned up no trace of any victims. Tom called Santa Barbara fire and police officials, who told him the location was outside their jurisdiction. So he called the California Highway Patrol, which can be a bit of a mystery itself on the weekend.

Over the next several weeks, he confirmed that an arrest had been made but was unable to get the actual name. Without that, he couldn't find out whether there were criminal charges pending or any injuries. Finally, on Aug. 4, he hit paydirt.

As it turns out, on the afternoon of the wreck, the father of a woman who had been a passenger in the vehicle took his injured daughter to the hospital and reported the incident to authorities.

CHP Officer James Studabaker told Tom that the subsequent investigation led to the July 5 arrest of Xochild Togo, 20, of Santa Barbara, the SUV's registered owner and the driver.

Investigators believe several vehicles were involved in the incident and speculation is that they may have been racing on the dark and winding road. I know what you're thinking so I'll let Studabaker answer that:

"We also originally suspected that alcohol might be involved, but due to the time lapse (between the accident and the arrest), we were not able to get physical evidence."

Togo is facing a single misdemeanor count of hit and run causing injury, according to the complaint filed by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.

Neither woman was seriously injured.

That'll be two tickets in Paradise for these two bicycle scofflaws. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)
That'll be two tickets in Paradise for these bicycle scofflaws. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)

3. Fiesta Cruiser Ride Hits State Street, with Police Presence More Than Just the Ticket

Thousands of riders turned out for the annual bicycle bacchanalia known as the Fiesta Cruiser Run on Aug. 4. For the first time, however, there was a bigger law enforcement presence to prevent bicyclists from flouting traffic laws and terrorizing unsuspecting motorists as they pedaled to Isla Vista from the Santa Barbara waterfront.

Noozhawk intern Frankie Victoria drew the short straw in a rigged contest so we sent her down to Stearns Wharf to cover the chaotic scene at the start, and then to drive along the 15-mile route to report what she encountered.

What she found wasn't that bad. She said most of the riders appeared to be respectful of the safety issues and sensitive to the impacts such a sea of humanity has as it lurches down the road in  a rolling mob scene.

To keep things in check, Santa Barbara police had warned ahead of time that they would strictly enforce bicycle traffic laws during the run and would be handing out tickets with fines up to $500 for violators.

Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman, said officers issued 64 traffic citations and 12 municipal code citations, which would include open-container violations.

4. Parents, Friends Mourn Loss of Teen Killed in Crash

The young Santa Ynez woman who died in an Aug. 3 pickup truck rollover crash was described by her family and friends as a promising and creative musician and writer who was eagerly looking forward to her next adventure in life.

Charlotte MacLean had just turned 19 and was newly enrolled in Santa Barbara City College.

“She was a talented musician, very involved with the arts and had very supportive family,” Todd Mitchell, executive director of Family Partnership Charter School in Solvang, told Noozhawk's Gina Potthoff.

“She was very social and will be missed by all of us.”

Her parents, Teresa McNeil MacLean and Doug MacLean of Santa Ynez, posted a memoriam to their daughter on Facebook.

“Doug and I have no idea how we will live with this loss,” MacLean’s broken-hearted mother wrote. “We know many of you knew Charlotte and loved her for her sweet, caring heart, as we have and always will.

"I will miss her beautiful voice, her music, her sense of humor, her advice, how hard she worked the last two years to better understand herself and her place in the world.”

MacLean died and five other people were seriously injured in the crash, which happened just before 7 p.m. Aug. 3 on Ballard Canyon Road north of Chalk Hill Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said the 16-year-old driver lost control of the truck, which overturned and ejected MacLean and two passengers riding illegally in the truck bed. The driver and the two passengers riding with him in the cab also were injured. The five survivors were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

CHP Sgt. Daniel Barba said the driver, whose name has not been released because he is a minor, is facing felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving producing injury or death, as well as driving on a suspended license.

Barba said investigators have not been able to determine how fast the pickup was traveling, "but statements of witnesses put it very fast, over freeway speeds."

A memorial gathering for MacLean is planned for Sept. 7 in Los Olivos.

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

Although I'm sure to get scolded for not stopping this week's column after I wrote about the four most popular stories of the week, readers have kept my latest Paula Lopez column safely in the Top 5.

As a reminder, I get my material from you. I'm not choosing the topics each week, but am writing about the stories our readers have propelled to the top of our Google Analytics. Sometimes they surprise me, but there are a few that we now know are reliable traffic generators, among them great white sharks, the Elephant Bar Restaurant and ... Paula Lopez.

Get well soon, Paula.

                                                                          •        •

It's just preseason, but football is back! Here are the Manning brothers like you've probably never seen them before.

(DirecTV video)

                                                                  •        •        •

There were 70,010 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.

How can you help?

» Join our Hawks Club by clicking here to make a donation online, or mail your check to Noozhawk, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102.

» .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or market your business, organization, service or event.

» Subscribe to our free daily e-Bulletin.

» Display your Noozhawk pride with a 3-inch-square Noozhawk sticker. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Noozhawk Promotions, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102. The free stickers — as well as full-sized bumper stickers and pens — also are available at Noozhawk World Headquarters, 1327-A State St., by the historic Arlington Theatre.

» Like us on Facebook.

» Follow us on Twitter.

Please note that personal contributions to Noozhawk are not deductible as charitable donations.

Thank you for your support.

— 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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >