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Bill Macfadyen: Why Noozhawk Seems to be So Accident-Prone These Days

Woman’​s jump from a moving car leads the crash diet of NoozWeek’​s Top 5, along with a catastrophic fire and a loose end from Deltopia

Defensive driving helped save the life of a woman who jumped from a moving car on Highway 101 near Carpinteria. Click to view larger
Defensive driving helped save the life of a woman who jumped from a moving car on Highway 101 near Carpinteria. (Diego Topete / Noozhawk photo)

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“A life is not important except in the impact it has on others’​ lives.”
Jackie Robinson

Today is Jackie Robinson Day. On this day, we all wear 42. Proudly.

Meanwhile, I hope today is the day our beloved Dodgers ​start living up to Jackie’​s example of grit, fire and a refusal to accept mediocrity. I’​m talking to you, bullpen pitchers not named Kenley Jansen and hitters batting with runners in scoring position.

Beat the giants.

                                                                  •        •        •

The carnage on our roads sure seems to be out of control recently, although I’​m not convinced it’​s any worse now than it was back when — whenever that was.

Several readers have contacted me about Noozhawk’​s crash course, and a couple of regular commenters added their own (always constructive) criticism.

There appear to be two parts to the gripe line: The lack of details we sometimes have and why do we bother to report traffic collisions at all?

Both are fair points. And because I’​m testing out a new personal mantra, “I believe strongly in policy. I believe strongly in being smart,” I believe strongly that I should respond.

The attention to details was capably summed up by a commenter named JR2000, who wrote, “Can we get more of the ‘what happened’​ part of the story? Remember that reporting is supposed to answer the reader’​s questions, not cause them to have more.”

Most of the time, I replied, a Noozhawk reporter is not actually at the crash scene. We’re calling a watch commander, a battalion chief or a department spokesperson for more details, and quite often those details are still in the field or still under investigation. A minor’​s involvement or a fatality add several more layers of reporting challenges.

And if we do reach someone on the scene, rank-and-file law enforcement officers and firefighters usually are not going to speculate to the media, but will instead kick our questions up the chain of command. See previous paragraph. Rinse and repeat.

Meanwhile, identities may be withheld by authorities for a variety of reasons, and hospitals are prohibited by federal law from even confirming basic patient information unless certain criteria are met.

As I mentioned to a few readers who would like to see Noozhawk less accident-prone, Santa Barbara has three ways in and three ways out — and thousands of people who move here every weekday morning and who move out at the end of the day.

Wrecks are news, especially if a reader’​s route is going to take him or her in the vicinity of a crash scene.

In a perfect world, we would have all of the who-what-when-where-why questions answered before we published — including what so clearly are the only two relevant details for a handful of comments trolls on any story we write: citizenship status and racial heritage.

But the Internet is not a perfect world, it’s one of immediacy. Noozhawk’​s professional journalists strive to be accurate and immediate, and we follow up when we can.

Based on what our readers tell us through our Google Analytics, we’​re doing exactly what they want.

For the 108,611 of you who read Noozhawk this past week, what follows is my take on your your Top 5 stories. Drive carefully.

1. Woman Jumps From Moving Car on Highway 101 Near Carpinteria​

For reasons that have not yet been determined, a woman jumped out of a car traveling at 65 mph on Highway 101 near Carpinteria on April 13.

She suffered major injuries in the incident but it could have been so much worse.

Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District spokeswoman Grace Donnelly said the woman, who appeared to be in her early 20s, opened the passenger side door of the vehicle and tumbled out about 6:30 p.m.

Incredibly, she added, the drivers of the two vehicles right behind the car apparently saw the commotion and slowed down in anticipation. They stopped, blocking both lanes of northbound traffic east of Padaro Lane.

“Those cars basically saved her life by stopping, and stopping traffic on the highway,” Donnelly said.

The vehicle the woman jumped out of also stopped.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the woman suffered major injuries and was taken by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Her identity was not disclosed, nor was her condition. The CHP is investigating the case.

Noozhawk reader Michael Anthony Trujillo said he was one of the drivers who stopped after he saw the woman “jump from the car about 50 yards in front of me.”

Trujillo, who says he was driving a tanker truck carrying a load of jet fuel to the Santa Barbara Airport, wasn’​t sure at first what fell from the vehicle. But then he realized it was a woman.

“If I hadn’​t seen her jump, I might not have been able to slow down my 80,000-pound truck in time,” he said. “Thank God I did.”

Thank God indeed.

One minute he’​s driving home from work ... (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)
One minute he’​s driving home from work ... (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

2. Pedestrian Struck by Vehicle and Killed on Highway 101 Near Goleta

A 34-year-old Santa Barbara man was struck and killed by a car on Highway 101 near Goleta the night of April 12. The car’s driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

According to the California Highway Patrol, a man was seen running along both sides of the center divider east of Turnpike Road about 10:30 p.m.

Soon after, he was struck by a northbound Ford Focus, which then crashed into the center divider.

The victim on foot, identified as Daniel Martin Ramos, was declared dead at the scene, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.

The victim driving the car, identified as Ed Olsen Jr., 51, of Buellton, was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.

Olsen, a Santa Barbara police lieutenant, was driving home after his shift as watch commander, Sgt. Riley Harwood told our Tom Bolton.

The CHP is investigating the incident, trying to determine what Ramos was doing on the freeway.

This pretty much sums it up. (Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)
This pretty much sums it up. (Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)

3. 4 Santa Barbara Condos Damaged in Fire; Smoking Investigated as Cause

An early morning fire gutted a Santa Barbara condominium April 9, badly damaging three neighboring units. Investigators believe the blaze was smoking-related.

There were no injuries in the fire, which was reported at 1:30 a.m. in the 2600 block of State Street at El Vedado Lane, down the hill from First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Mike De Ponce estimated the fourplex suffered about $800,000 in damages.​

One of the residents was arrested by police for resisting or delaying an officer. 

“He was acting a little bizarre with a shovel in back of the property and officers couldn’t get him out of there,” Sgt. John Ingram said. “He approached officers in an aggressive manner.

“They were trying to get him away from the fire and he was not complying.”

UC Santa Barbara police Officer Antonio “Tony” Magaña on the stand during a previous hearing for his alleged assailant, Desmond Edwards. Let’​s just say it’​s complicated. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)
UC Santa Barbara police Officer Antonio “Tony” Magaña on the stand during a previous hearing for his alleged assailant, Desmond Edwards. Let’​s just say it’​s complicated. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)

4. UCSB Police Officer’s DUI Charge Holds Up Isla Vista Deltopia Reveler Case

Two Deltopias have come and gone since a Los Angeles teenager was charged with smacking a UC Santa Barbara police officer in the face with a backpack during the notorious 2014 Isla Vista rioting.

The pack apparently contained a large liquor bottle, and the suspect allegedly swung it with such force that the officer ended up in the hospital with a concussion and 30 stitches in his noggin.

But the case against Desmond Edwards, now 19 but 17 at the time, has languished because the officer and the victim, Antonio “Tony” Magaña, was later charged with driving under the influence. His case also is ongoing.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to adult felony charges of assault, resisting arrest and causing great bodily injury in the Deltopia incident.

As our Gina Potthoff first reported April 8, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill will hear a couple of motions in the case next month, one of them from Edwards’ defense attorney, who wants more details about Magaña’s DUI charge.

Magaña faces two misdemeanor charges for driving under the influence of alcohol and for driving with a blood-alcohol level of higher than 0.08, the legal limit, on July 3, 2015, according to the criminal complaint. He also failed to submit to a chemical test.

Cleanup operation on Highway 154 near Zaca Station Road west of Los Olivos. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
Cleanup operation on Highway 154 near Zaca Station Road west of Los Olivos. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

5. 3 People Seriously Injured in Highway 154 Crash Near Los Olivos

A three-car crash left three people seriously injured on Highway 154 west of Los Olivos on April 7.

County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said the 2:45 p.m. wreck occurred near Zaca Station Road.

The three victims — the driver and passenger of a sedan and the driver of a convertible — were transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.

The driver of the third car was not injured.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the crash.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Officials Name Medical Clinic Closed For Unsafe Practices.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

You might want to keep this in mind when you’re out hiking this weekend: Even Harmless Snakes Strike at Deadly Speed.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

It wasn’​t that Rembrandt was doing it all wrong, he was just ahead of his time. And he was out of 3-D printer ink.

(The Next Rembrandt 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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