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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Skipper Misses the Boat on Marine Safety — But Not Stearns Wharf

NoozWeek’s Top 5 comes upon an apparent suicide in a UCSB parking garage, finds the remains of a missing 5-year-old boy, goes to the movies, and follows up on a callous hit-and-run

There’s more where this came from, via the link in the headline below. Click to view larger
There’s more where this came from, via the link in the headline below. (Christopher Foley photo /

I’m curious: Is tennis the only sport in which a player can just abandon the field of play halfway through a game, a set or a match, and act like it’s perfectly normal? When did competition devolve to such cupcake wars?

While “professional” athletes were dropping out like flies at Wimbledon — and one who really was injured was left to writhe on the grass, screaming for help — 126,892 readers were at the centre of our court at Noozhawk, according to this past week’s Google Analytics.

This column is my own take on your Top Five stories. In other words, it’s an opinion column, and I’m trying to paint the lines.

1. Speedboat Crashes into Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara Harbor, Damaging Piling

I’m not gonna lie. Stupid people doing stupid things can be very good for news. One of the stupidest has to be the speedboat owner who decided to go for a reckless joyride in front of stunned onlookers at Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf.

Fortunately — although not for our witless sea captain and his “ship” of fools — my friend, Christopher Foley, just happened to be there with his digital camera. He captured the entire sorry, soggy episode ... and had the good sense to send his pictures to us.

According to witnesses and authorities, a speedboat skipper with six passengers was driving way too fast and way too close to Stearns Wharf late on the afternoon of July 2. The boat slammed into a pier piling on the east side of the wharf, near the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, splintering it just under the deck and badly damaging a nearby ladder.

The impact of the collision and the apparent overcorrection sent three of the passengers into the drink. As you can plainly see in Christopher’s photographs, however, two passengers deftly held onto their own drinks, appearing to not even spill a drop. Well played, sirs.

No one was injured in the wreck. No one appeared to have a life jacket either, but that can’t be a surprise at this point in our story.

One young woman was fished out of the water by her seat mate while the other two passengers swam to a wharf ladder, where they were helped up by bystanders.

Authorities say the boat owner — later identified as Paul Noury of Santa Barbara — left the scene before the Harbor Patrol arrived, but they caught up with him later at his marina slip.

Noury was cited for a state Harbors and Navigation Code misdemeanor for driving in a reckless and negligent manner that endangers life, limb and property, officials say.

“These people were very lucky they weren’t seriously hurt,” Santa Barbara Harbor operations manager Mick Kronman told our Giana Magnoli.

The Harbor Patrol is investigating the incident, and Kronman said the piling and the ladder will both need to be replaced. Noury can expect that bill.

Noury did not respond to Noozhawk’s requests for his side of the story, but a picture is worth a thousand words and Christopher took nearly 100 of them.

His sequence of prize-worthy photos has drawn widespread acclaim — and provided endless entertainment and ridicule near and far. The photo of the red-legged woman disappearing under the waves is the clear winner, and my own personal favorite.

Thanks again for making our week, Christopher!

2. Man Dies After Shooting Himself at UCSB Parking Structure

Tough call. Click to view larger
Tough call. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

A Santa Maria man died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot in a UC Santa Barbara parking garage the night of June 29.

The man — later identified as 28-year-old Oscar Novoa — had no apparent connection to the college or the campus, authorities said.

UCSB Police Chief Dustin Olson said a 9-1-1 call came in about 10:30 p.m. reporting a gunshot in the Lot 22 structure on the west side of campus, adjacent to Isla Vista.

Olson said Novoa was discovered inside a parked car, with a gunshot wound to the head. A pistol was found in the vehicle, he added.

Novoa was rushed by a Santa Barbara County Fire Department ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

UCSB police and the Sheriff’s Department are investigating the death, but foul play is not suspected.

Support from UCSB Counseling & Psychological Services is available 24 hours a day at 805.893.4411. Click here for additional, 24/7 suicide prevention resources.

3. Body of Missing 5-Year-Old South Pasadena Boy Found at Lake Cachuma

The remains of missing 5-year-old Aramazd “Piqui” Andressian Jr. were located near Lake Cachuma on June 30, ending a massive search that began April 22 when he failed to return to his South Pasadena home from an outing to Disneyland with his dad.

5-year-old Aramazd “Piqui” Andressian Jr., dead and alone for 70 days. Click to view larger
5-year-old Aramazd “Piqui” Andressian Jr., dead and alone for 70 days. (Estevez family photo)

The hunt included three separate trips to Santa Barbara County, one of which occurred within 72 hours of his disappearance.

Aramazd’s death was a result most of us complete strangers feared, especially as days turned into weeks and weeks into months.

Oddly, the guy who should have been closest to the case, the boy’s father, seemed to be considerably less invested in the cause. He and Aramazd’s mother, Ana Estevez, were going through a contentious divorce, and Las Vegas apparently looked like a good place to salve the soul.

Aramazd Andressian, 35, was arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives June 23 in Glitter Gulch, where authorities say he had been for the previous 47 days, “socializing” and engaging in behavior that was “not consistent with a grieving parent.”

Some of that behavior apparently included shaving his beard and dying his hair a different color. Officials say he may have been looking to flee the country.

Andressian was charged with a “no-body murder charge” and extradited to Los Angeles. On July 3, he pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Bail was set at $10 million and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 16.

Aramazd Andressian: Your Vegas is showing. Click to view larger
Aramazd Andressian: Your Vegas is showing. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department photo)

As our Tom Bolton reported early on July 1, Aramazd’s remains were recovered near Lake Cachuma the afternoon before.

“Based on additional leads developed in the Andressian case, homicide detectives returned to the Lake Cachuma area of Santa Barbara County on Friday ... in an effort to locate additional evidence,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

“Homicide detectives have located the remains of victim Aramazd Andressian Jr.”

No additional details were provided.

The remains were flown to Los Angeles and turned over to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Department.

It was the third time investigators had scoured the area near Cachuma, where the elder Andressian had been spotted the morning of April 21, about six hours after he had been seen leaving Disneyland with his son.

There was no sign of the boy while Andressian was in Santa Barbara County, but detectives were convinced he was here. The fact that they were right makes it no less heartbreaking.

R.I.P., Piqui. Prayers to the Estevez family.

4. Santa Barbara’s Plaza de Oro Theatre is Now The Hitchcock, with More Than Movies

Metropolitan Theatres Corp. hopes the coming attractions at The Hitchcock draw more than a blank. Click to view larger
Metropolitan Theatres Corp. hopes the coming attractions at The Hitchcock draw more than a blank. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

In a nutshell, or a small box of Junior Mints, the transformation of Santa Barbara’s Plaza de Oro Theatre may neatly sum up the challenge of nickelodeon theaters in a Netflix world.

As our Josh Molina first reported, the nondescript, out-of-the-way theater in a nondescript, out-of-the-way suburban office park has undergone an extensive rehab project, with new flooring, wall coverings and lighting.

The place also has a new name: The Hitchcock, which might refer to its location at 371 S. Hitchcock Way or could be an oblique reference to famed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, who I guarantee won’t be known to today’s crowd of The Emoji Movie fans for decades to come.

Metropolitan Theatres Corp., the theater’s owner, says The Hitchcock actually is short for The Hitchcock Cinema & Public House, which practically rolls off the tongue while evoking ... anything but a nondescript, out-of-the-way theater in a nondescript, out-of-the-way suburban office park.

But I digress.

The Hitchcock also features an English pub-themed full bar serving craft beer and wine; an appetizing appetizer menu of spinach artichoke dip, mac ‘n cheese bites, onion rings and French fries; meatier fare like fish & chips, hamburger sliders, hot dog sliders, pizza and chicken tenders; and #bestofbill-approved desserts like chocolate molten cake and freshly baked chocolate chunk cookies.

That all sounds tempting, even though traditionalists like me thrive on movie theater popcorn drenched with “butter” the consistency of motor oil and ice-cold Coca-Cola. I’ve been assured that popcorn is still available, but MTC canned Coke last month — so I would have to smuggle it in like the old days.

And therein lies a larger problem. This ain’t the old days when going to the picture show was the featured presentation of date night.

I wish The Hitchcock well, but I’m afraid it’s going to take more than these hip amenities to coax me off my couch and away from past seasons of Longmire. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

5. Montecito Man Pleads Guilty to Hit-Run Collision That Put SBCC Student in Coma

The 300 block of West Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara was a crime scene Dec. 2 after a pedestrian was hit by a car and left for dead. The victim was found by a passerby an estimated two hours later. Click to view larger
The 300 block of West Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara was a crime scene Dec. 2 after a pedestrian was hit by a car and left for dead. The victim was found by a passerby an estimated two hours later. (KEYT News file photo)

A 21-year-old Montecito man is already serving a six-year prison sentence after pleading guilty — in April — to a December felony hit-and-run collision that left a Santa Barbara City College student severely injured and in a coma, our Giana Magnoli discovered in a routine review of court documents.

Drew Daly is still in a recovery phase, seven months after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver along the Santa barbara waterfront. Click to view larger
Drew Daly is still in a recovery phase, seven months after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver along the Santa barbara waterfront. (Facebook photo)

In the wee hours of Dec. 2, 2016, 23-year-old Drew Daly was walking across the 300 block of West Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara when he was struck by a vehicle.

A passerby called 9-1-1 after discovering him unconscious in the gutter about 4:30 a.m. Authorities estimated he had been lying there for about two hours.

Santa Barbara police tracked down surveillance video of a light-colored SUV pulling into the entrance of the nearby harbor. In the footage, investigators say, the driver gets out and checks the passenger side for damage, gets back in and drives away.

With the public’s help, detectives traced the vehicle to Isaac Vincent Vega, who was arrested Dec. 7 and charged with felony driving under the influence causing injury and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death or serious, permanent injury.

He also was charged with special allegations of causing great bodily injury, specifically a coma due to brain injury; committing the alleged crime while out on bail; and a misdemeanor of being an unlicensed driver.

As Giana found in the files, Vega took a deal in April, pleading guilty to felony hit and run that resulted in injury, as well as the special allegation of causing great bodily injury.

We’re safe from Isaac Vincent Vega’s driving for the next few years. Click to view larger
We’re safe from Isaac Vincent Vega’s driving for the next few years. (Santa Barbara County Jail photo)

He was sentenced to six years in prison with 163 days of credit for time spent in County Jail since his December arrest.

Vega also entered a guilty plea to grand theft related to stolen hooch from a Vons market. The three years he got for that charge will run concurrently with his prison sentence, meaning he avoids extra time behind bars.

According to court documents, Daly suffered “fractures to his skull and spine and a cerebral contusion to his brain, as well as a fractured clavicle, wrist and other injuries.”

Daly’s family could not be reached for comment. In a previous interview, his sister, Leah, told Noozhawk that her brother emerged from his coma after a few days and was transferred to a Los Angeles medical facility for continued treatment.

A GoFundMe page was established to help with his medical expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Fire Burns 2 Acres in Mission Canyon Above Santa Barbara.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I can’t wait to hear the conspiracy theories and comparisons from Noozhawk’s bin of loony commenters: Photo Allegedly Shows Amelia Earhart in Japanese Captivity.

                                                                  •        •        •

Watch It

Because Ron Swanson never goes out of style. Even on the intranets.

(GQ 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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