SF News

San Francisco Bay Area Saturday News

Woman Killed By Muni in Castro District Friday Afternoon

A woman was struck and killed by a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus in the city's Castro District Friday afternoon, police said. The woman was heading west on 18th Street at about 2:30 p.m. when she crossed Hartford Street and was struck by the F-line shuttle that turned left onto Hartford Street from 18th Street, police said. The victim was about 90 percent of the way across the street when she was hit, causing fatal injuries, police said.

Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene. The San Francisco medical examiner's office has not yet released her name. Hartford Street is a common route for the F-line shuttle, according to police. The driver remained at the scene and will be taking a chemical test, police said. The Police Department's Major Accident Investigation Team and Hit and Run Detail are investigating the accident. 

Alameda County Deputy Charged With Misdemeanor

An Alameda County deputy probation officer has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing a bicyclist with her car on June 15 in Castro Valley, the District Attorney's Office said Friday. Eunique Wesley, 32, of San Francisco is scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Hayward on Sept. 23, according to District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick. The California Highway Patrol said Wesley was driving east on Fairmont Drive near Foothill Boulevard at about 9:40 a.m. on June 15 when she looked down, allowing her car to veer to the right.

The 1995 Honda Civic hit Timothy Bucher, a 56-year-old San Leandro man who was also traveling east on Fairmont Drive on his bicycle. He hit his head on the car's windshield before landing in the roadway, according to the CHP. Bucher was wearing his helmet but still suffered major injuries. He was taken to Eden Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the CHP. Wesley was driving about 35 mph at the time of the collision, the CHP said. Probation Department officials did not respond to an inquiry about whether Wesley is continuing to work for the county. Dave Campbell, the program director for the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, said the bike group is working with the county's Public Works Department to put in bike lanes in the area where the accident occurred. "It's a wide and hilly road and there's plenty of room for bike lanes," Campbell said. "There's not a space issue."

John Ackley, a Marin County man who used to live in San Leandro and described Bucher as "one of my dearest friends," said he's a strong supporter of the proposal to put bike lanes on Fairmont Drive between Foothill Boulevard and Lake Chabot Road. Ackley said he believes bike lanes are needed because the section of Fairmont Drive where Bucher was killed lends itself to inattentive driving because it is so wide and lightly traveled.

LA Attorney Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

Los Angeles attorney Susana Ragos Chung was sentenced Friday to five years' probation for her role in a widespread automobile insurance fraud scheme in the Bay Area that was dubbed "Phantom Menace," according to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. Chung was charged with 28 felony offenses following a long investigation into the scheme that was conducted jointly by the District Attorney's Office, the fraud division of the California Department of Insurance, and the California Highway Patrol. But on May 13, prosecutors agreed to allow Chung to plead no contest to only two felony counts of recklessly submitting fraudulent insurance claims.

The district attorney's office said that while Chung's plea agreement only involves two counts, her restitution order requires her to pay back insurance companies for 15 separate fraudulent claims. Prosecutors said Chung also has agreed to place herself on "inactive status" with the California State Bar pending its mandatory investigation into her felonious conduct, which may result in her disbarment. In addition to being placed on five years' probation, Chung was ordered to pay $117,562 in restitution to insurance companies along with a restitution fund fine of $235,124. O'Malley said that between 2003 and 2007 Chung participated in a fraud ring by submitting insurance claims for people who staged car accidents for profit.

She said the lawyer worked with "cappers," who are the people who orchestrated the phony collisions, body shops that inflated the amount of damage to vehicles, and chiropractors who provided cursory medical attention for occupants of the alleged accidents and then submitted inflated bills. The damage in the phony accidents was not from collisions but was intentionally caused by cappers, O'Malley said. Chung represented the claimants who alleged they were injured in the fake accidents, O'Malley said. The majority of the people Chung represented never met her and many did not even know they had an attorney, according to O'Malley. She said nearly 100 people have been convicted in Alameda County over the last several years as part of the conspiracy, including more than 90 "accident" participants, three chiropractors, and Norberto "Chito" Mora, who was Chung's primary capper in the Bay Area.

SF Mayor Lee, Oakland Mayor Quan Take Bets on NFL

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan agreed Friday to a wager on the preseason football game today between the 49ers and Raiders, Lee's office announced. Lee and Quan agreed the winning mayor's office would receive a package of the losing city's best food and treats. Quan's office will send Oakland wine, Vice chocolates and Blue Bottle coffee if the 49ers win. If the Raiders win, Lee's office will send Dungeness crab, assorted locally grown produce, Ghirardelli chocolate and Philz coffee. The 49ers defeated the Raiders twice last season, including in the annual preseason matchup between the Bay Area's two NFL teams. Today's game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

San Leandro Man May Have Shot Himself, Officials Say

A man who claims he was shot in the groin on Wednesday might have actually shot himself while concealing a gun in his waistband, San Leandro police said Friday. The shooting was reported around 9 p.m. Wednesday, when a woman called 911 stating her friend had been shot on the 200 block of Haas Avenue, Lt. Jeff Tudor said. Officers responding to the area found a 24-year-old male who had suffered multiple gunshots to his groin.

The man said he was shot by suspects in a silver Toyota Camry while he was walking on the 900 block of East 14th Street. As he was being treated, an officer noticed there were no gunshot holes in the man's pants. When he was asked about this, the subject changed his story, saying he had been shot on Haas Avenue by two suspects who were chasing him on foot. Police now suspect the wounds were self-inflicted, but hope members of the public will help clear up what actually happened. "We are asking for the public's help and want to be contacted by anyone who witnessed the shooting," Tudor said. "We are not getting a lot of cooperation about what truly happened." The injured man was taken to a local hospital for treatment. No weapons were found at the scene.

Three Juveniles Shot on SF Street in Fillmore Neighborhood

Three male juveniles were shot on a San Francisco sidewalk in the city's Fillmore neighborhood Friday afternoon, a police spokesman said. Police responded to a shooting in the 1500 block of Eddy Street, which is between Fillmore and Steiner streets, at about 5:15 p.m., Sgt. Michael Andraychak said. Officers learned that the three male juveniles had been shot and that they had split up after the shooting, running to several different locations, Andraychak said. The three victims were transported by ambulance to the hospital with what Andraychak said were not believed to be life-threatening injuries. The unknown suspect or suspects reportedly fled the scene on foot. No arrests have been made, Andraychak said.

Man Wielding Loaded Shotgun Convicted

A man who pointed a loaded shotgun at his neighbor during a dispute over noise was convicted of brandishing a deadly weapon this week, the district attorney's office said Friday. Prosecutors said David Aviel, 31, was stomping on his apartment floor in the Parkmerced area on November 10, 2010, when his downstairs neighbor stepped out into the garden area of the apartment building and asked him to stop. The stomping continued, and the neighbor's guest also stepped outside and yelled at Aviel to stop, Assistant District Attorney Seth Steward said. The stomping only grew louder, and when the neighbor's guest stepped outside again, Aviel pointed a shotgun at him.

The neighbor stepped outside to see what was happening, thinking the gun was only a BB gun, but when Aviel pumped the shotgun, the guest pushed her back inside and told her to call 911. The guest remained out in the yard, zig zagging while Aviel tracked him with the shotgun barrel, Steward said. When police arrived and took Aviel into custody, they found that the shotgun had a live round in the chamber and four rounds in the magazine. Aviel had a three-day trial before Judge Anne-Christine Massullo, and was convicted by a jury on Wednesday Aug. 17 after less than four hours of deliberation, Steward said. Sentencing is scheduled to take place on Friday, Sept. 30. Aviel faces a maximum sentence of a year in county jail. -

Governor Brown Appoints Five to Statewide Boards

Governor Jerry Brown has appointed five people, including three from the Bay Area, to various statewide boards, the governor's office announced Friday. Piedmont's Dan Richard, 60, who will join the Board of the California High-Speed Authority, was BART's board president twice from 1992 to 2004. Richard helped lead the efforts to secure $4 billion in capital for the agency's expansion to San Francisco International Airport, system rehabilitation projects and seismic retrofit programs. He also served as PG&E's senior vice president of public policy and governmental relations from 1997 to 2006.

"His expertise will be a great contribution to the Board as it continues to provide oversight and direction in the year leading up to the construction on the statewide high-speed rail system," California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman Thomas Umberg said in a statement. Palo Alto's Sharon Levine, 65, has been appointed to the Medical Board of California, Brown announced. She was been the associate executive director at Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente since 1991. Levine had also served as chief of pediatrics and chief of quality assurance between 1977 and 1991. Paul Benedetto and Anna Brannen, both of Elk Grove, have been appointed as deputy secretaries at the California Technology Agency. Joan Hancock, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the Contractors' State License Board.

Golden Gate Transit Bus Collides with Car in SoMa

A Golden Gate Transit bus collided with a car that ran a red light in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood Friday morning, police said. The bus was traveling south on Howard Street when the car ran a red light at the Fourth Street intersection and crashed into it at 8:54 a.m., police and Golden Gate Transit officials said.

The bus driver complained of back pain and was taken to a hospital, Golden Gate Transit spokeswoman Mary Currie said. The car was totaled in the crash, police said. The intersection was closed while San Francisco police and fire responded to the accident, but reopened by 9:57 a.m.

Bay Area Weather Report

Mostly cloudy skies are expected in the Bay Area today after patchy fog and drizzle in the morning become partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 50s are expected.

Partly cloudy skies are likely this evening becoming mostly cloudy with patchy fog and drizzle expected after midnight. Lows in the mid 50s are expected. Forecasters predict a cloudy Sunday morning becoming partly cloudy with patchy fog and drizzle. Highs in the upper 50 to mid 60s are anticipated. -0-

Teen Robbed On Muni Bus, Another Robbed While Trying To Report The Crime

A teenage girl was robbed on a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus Wednesday night and another teen had her cellphone stolen as she tried to call 911 to report the crime, police said.

The robberies were reported at about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Brookdale Avenue and Santos Street in the city's Visitacion Valley neighborhood.

The two teens, ages 15 and 19, were on the bus when the suspect approached and took an iPod from the 15-year-old, according to police.

The suspect, described as a man in his early to mid-20s, got off the bus and the two teens followed him, police said.

As the 19-year-old was trying to call the police, the suspect grabbed her phone and then ran away. He had not been found as of this morning, according to police.

Anyone with information about the robberies is encouraged to call the Police department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

 

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Motorcyclist Seriously Injured In Crash With Truck

A motorcyclist suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash involving a truck in San Francisco early this morning, police said.

The truck collided with the motorcycle at the intersection of Lombard Street and Van Ness Avenue at about 12:05 a.m., San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said.

The victim, a 30-year-old man, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, Esparza said.

The truck driver was not arrested, he said.

 

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Update: Coast Guard Recovers Body Of Man Matching Missing Canoer's Description

The U.S. Coast Guard recovered the body of a man matching the description of a canoer who was reported missing Wednesday evening.

Michael Butler, 52, was in a canoe with two friends near Treasure Island, where he lives, when the boat overturned, according to the Coast Guard.

Butler's friends swam to shore and headed home, but Butler stayed behind and climbed back into the canoe, Coast Guard officials said.   

His friends returned to the shoreline and called the Coast Guard when they could not find Butler at about 6:15 p.m.

It is unclear why Butler stayed behind and did not go back to shore with his friends, Coast Guard Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said.

The Coast Guard partnered with 12 local law authorities for an extensive search that spanned about 190 square miles, Coast Guard officials said.

A helicopter spotted an overturned canoe near Richmond's Brooks Island late this afternoon and a responding patrol boat discovered a body matching Butler's description nearby.

Richmond police and fire departments assisted in recovering the body and local authorities are waiting for the coroner's report to confirm his identity, according to the Coast Guard.

 

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Bone Marrow Donor Will See Woman He Saved Walk Down The Aisle

A Newark native getting married on Saturday met her match in 2006. But 16 years earlier, Donna Megino found the match that would save her life.    

San Jose resident Sanjay Yadav will watch Megino walk down the aisle because his bone marrow donation saved Megino's life after she was diagnosed with cancer at 9 years old.

Megino's parents were concerned when she started to lose weight, her appetite decreased and non-accidental bruises started to appear on her body. After rigorous tests and an exhausting physical, the doctors told Megino and her parents she had chronic myelogenous leukemia, which was rare in children at the time.

"I looked at my parents' faces -- (they) were covered with tears, and my mom was having the hardest time looking at me," Megino said. "I was more scared for my parents than I was about cancer."

Her doctor told them she would need a bone marrow transplant.    

"Whatever it was I had, it needed to be fixed. I needed my parents to be happy again," she said.

Megino's parents reached out to their family because the best chance at finding a donor match would be through a relative, she said. They even sent test tubes to the Philippines for testing, but their efforts were fruitless.

Because bone marrow matches are significantly more common in people with the same ethnicity, Megino, who is Filipina, was advised to register with the Asian American Donor Program to increase her chances of a match.

It was one of the registration drives hosted by the Alameda-based nonprofit that influenced Yadav to donate.

"I was walking by the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco with a friend when I saw the registration signs," Yadav said.

After enlisting, he said he received a phone call within a week telling him he was a match.

"That was pretty fast and shocking," he said.    

Megino remembers when she first learned the news.    

"It was the day after my first communion and Father's Day," she said. "I didn't know what was going to happen now, but I was happy I wasn't going to be 'sick' anymore!"

The bone marrow transplant was extraordinary because it only took a matter of months, and because Yadav, who is Indian, was not a likely match.

The two exchanged letters through the Asian American Donor Program anonymously following the transplant, but a few years later Yadav said he received an invitation to Megino's birthday party.

"I was filled with several emotions of happiness and appreciation, the guy saved my life -- he allowed me to live and let me live," Megino said.

The two stayed in touch with phone calls, but lost contact over the years. They were reunited again when Megino began working at the Asian American Donor Program and they have remained in contact since.    

"She constantly sends me emails," Yadav said. "My wife said 'That's your oldest daughter.'"

Like a proud parent, Yadav will see Megino marry Leandro "Leo" de Guzman Dizon in Clayton this weekend.

"I can't imagine not having him and his family at my wedding," Megino said. "His act of selflessness is (the) reason why I will be walking down the aisle this Saturday."

Yadav is also excited for the next chapter; Megino asked him to be a godparent to her future children.

His wife and three children have registered to donate bone marrow, and Yadav said he would not hesitate to donate again.

"God's giving you a chance to save some lives," he said.

He said that a needle poked into his hip bone is nothing compared to the agony donor recipients go through during chemotherapy.

"You should not hesitate saving somebody's life," he said.

 

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Breaking: Woman Hit, Killed by MUNI Bus

By: Will Reisman

A female pedestrian has suffered life-threatening injuries after being struck by a Muni bus in the Castro district, police said.

The woman is currently pinned underneath the bus, and emergency medical crews are on the scene, according to Officer Albie Esparza of the San Francisco Police Department.

The accident occurred at 2:30 p.m. at 18th and Hartford streets, Esparza said. He did not have any further details of the incident.

 

Link: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/08/pedestrian-pinned-under-muni-bus-suffering-life-threatening-injuries

 

Update: Woman Hit, Killed By Muni Bus

A woman was struck and killed by a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus in the city's Castro District this afternoon, a fire department spokeswoman said.

The collision was reported at 2:30 p.m. at 18th and Hartford streets, spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

 

Link: http://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/pulse-of-the-bay/breaking-woman-hit-killed-muni-bus/

 

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Rohnert Park Man Arrested For Assault, Torture of Estranged Wife In Plot To Frame His Ex-GIrlfriend

Fairfield police arrested a Rohnert Park man Wednesday for assaulting his estranged wife who was trying to help him get custody of a child he had with an ex-girlfriend.

Jose Pablo Romero, 34, was arrested at around 11 a.m. at his home in the 8800 block of Lancaster Drive in Rohnert Park. He faces assault with a deadly weapon, torture, aggravated mayhem, spousal battery and conspiracy charges, Lt. Greg Hurlbut said.

Romero is being held under $1 million bail in the Solano County jail.

The investigation into the lengthy, bizarre and convoluted domestic violence case began when Romero's estranged 19-year-old wife told police she was assaulted by two men on a trail in Fairfield on Aug. 4, Hurlbut said.

She suffered superficial injuries to her arms, abdomen and shoulders, and was treated at the North Bay Medical Center, Hurlbut said.   

Police never found the suspects, Hurlbut said.   

A few days later, Romero's estranged wife admitted she fabricated the assault story to help Romero and another man frame Romero's ex-girlfriend so Romero could get custody of the child he had with his ex-girlfriend, Hurlbut said.

Romero's estranged wife also admitted she lied when she said Romero's ex-girlfriend attacked her and cut off her ponytail on a trail in Fairfield on May 15 and stabbed her in the waist at a park on May 24, Hurlbut said.

She admitted she allowed an unknown male to stab her in the waist on May 24, Hurlbut said.

In that incident, she was treated for a serious cut in her abdomen at Vaca Valley Hospital, Hurlbut said.

On Aug. 11, Romero's estranged wife reported being stabbed in a field on Serrano Drive in Fairfield, Hurlbut said.

She suffered two severe lacerations on her back and a bruise on her head, Hurlbut said. A witness reported two men fleeing from the scene, Hurlbut said.

She was admitted to a Bay Area hospital and remains there, Hurlbut said.

In the hospital, Romero's estranged wife initially told police two unknown men stabbed her and fled, Hurlbut said.

But during an "emotional" interview, she realized the extent of her injuries and admitted Romero and his unknown friend again conspired to blame that assault on Romero's ex-girlfriend, Hurlbut said.

Romero allegedly cut a deep "X" on his estranged wife's back between her shoulder blades and waist in the Aug. 11 incident, Hurlbut said.   

Fairfield detectives then obtained a warrant to search Romero's house and arrested him without incident on Wednesday.

 

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Disabled Former NUMMI Workers Get $6 Million

Attorneys for a group of disabled former employees of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont who claim they did not receive proper severance benefits when the plant was shuttered last year announced today that a $6 million settlement has been reached in the case.

If the settlement is approved by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, it will resolve a lawsuit that was filed last year alleging that NUMMI and Toyota Motor Corp. violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying bonuses and transitional services to qualified workers who were on leave because of medical conditions.

Christopher Herrera, a spokesman for the plaintiffs, said the parties in the case expect Breyer to approve the settlement soon. He said the agreement will provide funds to more than 500 displaced workers.

Herrera said the settlement will be paid jointly by NUMMI, Toyota Motor Corp., which is based in Japan, and Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.    

However, Toyota spokesman Javier Moreno said NUMMI will pay all of the settlement costs.

Moreno said, "Toyota's intention, from the beginning, was to mitigate the effects of NUMMI's closure on the plant's employees. Accordingly, prior to NUMMI's closure, we provided approximately $280 million to fund transition support for NUMMI's salaried and hourly team members."

He said, "While we do not believe Toyota is liable in respect to this lawsuit, we are pleased that all parties have reached a conclusion in this litigation."

A NUMMI spokesman could not be reached for comment today.   

NUMMI opened in 1984 and was a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors, but Toyota decided to close the auto plant after GM withdrew from the partnership in 2009.

The move threw 4,700 union employees out of work and affected thousands of employees at suppliers around the state who did business with the auto plant.

Tesla Motors bought the former NUMMI site in a deal that was finalized last October. Production on a premium electric sedan called the Model S is expected to start in the middle of next year, a Tesla spokesperson said today.

Many of the workers involved in the lawsuit had worked at the plant for decades but claimed their years of service were not reflected in their severance packages because they were on medical leave.   

The lawyers claim the workers lost up to $38,000 each because of the alleged discrimination.

David Botelli, of Manteca, who joined NUMMI when it opened in 1984, said in a statement, "I worked for NUMMI for 25 years, but I was offered the same severance as a person who had worked one year.   

"The only reason I wasn't working was that I was injured on the job," Botelli said. "And when I was released by my doctor, NUMMI would not allow me to return."

June Andrade, who lives near Livermore, said she was prevented from returning to work after recovering from surgery for an on-job injury, and was excluded from transitional employment services such as career and skills assessments that were offered at the auto plant.

Andrade said, "I joined the lawsuit because it wasn't fair to treat the disabled workers less favorably -- we were all part of the NUMMI team."

The former NUMMI employees also filed charges against NUMMI with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As part of the settlement, NUMMI entered into a conciliation agreement with the federal agency, according to the plaintiffs' lawyers.

Toyota was not named in the EEOC complaint and was not part of the conciliation agreement.   

Tony Lawson, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the settlement will provide needed funds to the displaced workers. He said many of them are still struggling and have not returned to full-time employment.     

"Distributing these funds will make a difference to former NUMMI workers and their families," Lawson said in a statement.

 

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Police Find More Than 350 Marijuana Plants At Inner Parkside House

A man was arrested after more than 350 marijuana plants were found growing in a house in San Francisco's Inner Parkside neighborhood on Wednesday evening, a police spokesman said today.

Duc Nguyen, 25, was arrested after the discovery was made when officers from the department's Taraval Station served a search warrant at 5:19 p.m. Wednesday at a house in the 2100 block of 17th Avenue.

Along with the hundreds of marijuana plants, officers found lights, exhaust fans and other growing equipment inside the home, police spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak said.

Police also served a search warrant at Nguyen's home in the 1900 block of 47th Avenue where they found items linking him to the grow house. Officers also seized a computer from the home, Andraychak said.   

No one appeared to be living in the 17th Avenue house where the marijuana was found, and no medicinal marijuana paperwork was found at either house, he said.

Nguyen was booked on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale and  transporting or furnishing marijuana, both of which are felonies, Andraychak said.

PG&E was called out to the scene and shut down electrical service to the grow house because an inspector from the utility felt the house posed a fire hazard, according to Andraychak.

 

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Police Arrest Burglar Who Tumbled Into Bathtub During Break-In

San Francisco police arrested a burglar who tumbled into a man's bathtub while breaking into an Outer Sunset home early this morning.   

The resident, a 41-year-old man, was sleeping in the living room of his home in the 1200 block of La Playa Street when he awoke around 3:15 a.m. to a loud crash coming from his bathroom, police Officer Albie Esparza said.

The man went to investigate and found the burglar lying in the bathtub. It appears that the suspect fell into the tub while climbing through a window, Esparza said.

Officers arrived and arrested the intruder, Edward Edmond Van Right, 40, on suspicion of burglary and possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

Van Right, a San Francisco resident, also had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to attend a scheduled court appearance for an alcohol-related citation, Esparza said. 

 

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Fleet of Fire Engines Participate In Peninsula Relay Fundraiser

A fleet of fire engines is making its way from Moffet Field to San Francisco today in a relay to collect funds for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation.

Antique and modern emergency vehicles from 17 fire departments and the California Highway Patrol are participating in the relay, which visits 17 stations between Sunnyvale and San Francisco, burn foundation spokesman Evan Scher said.

Funds that firefighters have raised at events throughout the year are collected at each of the stops.   

Peninsula fire departments hold a range of yearly fundraising activities culminating in today's relay, including pancake breakfasts, softball tournaments, T-shirt sales, and fire engine ride-alongs, Scher said.   

Last year's Peninsula Firefighters Burn Relay raised around $40,000 for the Alisa Ann Rich Burn Foundation, which provides treatment and rehabilitation services for burn victims and promotes burn prevention education for kids.

Stops remaining on today's relay include North County Fire Authority Station No. 94 in Daly City and an ice cream break at 4:10 p.m. at Colma Fire Department Station No. 84.    

The relay is scheduled to finish at 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Fire Department Division of Training at Folsom and 19th streets.

 

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San Francisco Bay Area Friday News Roundup

US Coast Guard Recovers Body

The U.S. Coast Guard Thursday recovered the body of a man matching the description of a canoer who was reported missing Wednesday evening. Michael Butler, 52, was in a canoe with two friends near Treasure Island, where he lives, when the boat overturned, according to the Coast Guard.


Butler's friends swam to shore and headed home, but Butler stayed behind and climbed back into the canoe, Coast Guard officials said. His friends returned to the shoreline and called the Coast Guard when they could not find Butler at about 6:15 p.m.

It is unclear why Butler stayed behind and did not go back to shore with his friends, Coast Guard Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said. The Coast Guard partnered with 12 local law authorities for an extensive search that spanned about 190 square miles, Coast Guard officials said.

A helicopter spotted an overturned canoe near Richmond's Brooks Island late Thursday afternoon and a responding patrol boat discovered a body matching Butler's description nearby. Richmond police and fire departments assisted in recovering the
body and local authorities are waiting for the coroner's report to confirm his identity, according to the Coast Guard.

Man In Police Standoff Found Dead

A man who barricaded himself in a San Rafael hotel room during a marathon police standoff that started early Wednesday morning was found dead in the room Thursday afternoon, police said. Peter James Thomas, 38, stopped talking to police late Wednesday night, San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said. He had been in communication with them throughout the day Wednesday, and then nothing, she said.

The drop in communication prompted police to use cameras to see what was going on inside the room.

They drilled holes through the walls of the room and inserted cameras, and saw Thomas lying motionless on the ground, Rohrbacher said. Officers forced entry into the room and found Thomas dead inside, she said. His girlfriend was also in the room and was not hurt. Police will interview her to figure out her involvement in the standoff, Rohrbacher said. Her name has not been released.

Police went to the Extended Stay Deluxe hotel at 1775 Francisco Blvd. East around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday because they received word that Thomas, who was being sought in connection with a stabbing on Sunday, was staying there.

After officers arrived, Thomas allegedly fired a shot toward I-580 from his window, and the California Highway Patrol shut down the freeway between U.S. Highway 101 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at about 11:10 a.m. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was also initially closed until it was reopened about an hour later.

I-580 remained closed until 1 a.m. Thursday, when a metal sheet was raised by crane over the window of Thomas' room to block any gunfire, according to police and the CHP.

The man is suspected of stabbing a clerk during a shoplifting attempt at United Markets at 515 Third St. around 4 p.m. Sunday, Rohrbacher said.

Man Shoots Himself During Concord Traffic Stop

A man shot and killed himself during a traffic stop in Concord Thursday, Concord police Lt. Steve Dyer said. At about 9:20 a.m., a CHP officer on patrol saw a driver who appeared to be impaired heading east on state Highway 4 near Port Chicago Highway, and initiated an enforcement stop, Concord police said. 

The driver exited onto southbound Port Chicago Highway and pulled over near Panoramic Drive.

When the officer went to talk to the man, who was alone in the car, the man shot himself, Dyer said. He was transported to John Muir Medical Center in Concord, where he died from his injuries.

The CHP, Concord police and the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office are investigating the case, as is protocol whenever there is an officer-involved fatality.

Southbound Port Chicago Highway was closed to traffic between Panoramic Drive and Arnold Industrial Way for about five hours during the investigation.

The off-ramp from eastbound state Highway 4 to Port Chicago Highway was also closed. The area was reopened at about 2:30 p.m., police said.

Oakland Man Convicted Of First-Degree Murder

An Oakland man was convicted this week of first-degree murder for what prosecutors said was the revenge killing of a security guard who had helped police arrest him in an illegal gun case.

Dreshawn Lee, 20, was initially arrested on Sept. 28, 2009, after 28-year-old Gary Jackson identified Lee as the man who had walked up to a taco truck at the corner of 48th Avenue and International Boulevard in East Oakland armed with a sawed-off shotgun. Jackson was a security guard for the taco truck.

Lee was charged with possessing a shotgun, but he was released from custody on Oct. 16, 2009, because of insufficient evidence, according to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors said Lee then plotted to get his revenge on Jackson. Through a mutual friend, they said, Lee lured Jackson to the corner of 51st
Avenue and International Boulevard, near Lee's home, at about 4:10 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2009.

When Jackson got out of his car, Lee stood on his balcony and fired at him with an AK-47 assault rifle, hitting him twice, according to prosecutors.

Lee then walked out into the street and fired multiple shots at Jackson's car, hitting Jackson's girlfriend, Angelica Mourning, three times in her arm and wrist, prosecutors said.

Four hours after the shooting, an Oakland Housing Authority employee found the assault rifle, which was later tested and was found to have Lee's DNA on the trigger, prosecutors said.

In addition to first-degree murder plus an enhancement for using a firearm to kill Jackson, Lee was convicted of assault with a rifle and causing great bodily injury for shooting Mourning.

Lee faces 75 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Cecilia Castellanos on Oct. 28.

61-Year-Old Richmond Mam Charged With 32-Year-Old Murder

Santa Clara County prosecutors are charging a 61-year-old Richmond man for the murder of a San Jose woman 32 years ago after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

Santa Clara police officers arrested David Dixon in Pinole Wednesday night in connection with the July 28, 1979 murder of 50-year-old Rachel Moncrief, according to deputy district attorney Ted Kajani.

Prosecutors believe Dixon, a San Jose resident at the time, stabbed Moncrief to death at Camino Camper, located at 3939 Stevens Creek Blvd., where she worked as a security guard. The business no longer exists.

Moncrief's body was found by a co-worker the following day. Kajani did not know the nature of their relationship.

Dixon was recently released from Doctors Medical Center in Pinole and was arrested near the hospital, Kajani said.

The arrest followed an investigation by the Santa Clara Police Department and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office cold case unit.

Prosecutors said DNA testing revealed a bloodstain on Moncrief's pant leg belonging to Dixon. His DNA, as well as Moncrief's, was also found on a marijuana joint that was discovered near her body.

He was booked into Santa Clara County Jail without bail. Dixon will be arraigned on one count of murder in San Jose today.

Joseph Naso Wants To Postpone His Sept 6 Preliminary Hearing

Alleged serial killer Joseph Naso wants to postpone his Sept. 6 preliminary hearing on charges he killed four Northern California women between 1977 and 1994, Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said Thursday morning.

A hearing on Naso's request is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday. It appears Naso, 77, of Reno, is still trying to retain advisory counsel, Berberian said.

Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet denied Naso's request last month for advisory counsel at public expense.

Berberian told the judge Naso has $1 million in liquid assets and can afford to hire an attorney.

A report on Naso's finances by deputy county counsel Thomas Lyons concluded Naso has the money to hire a lawyer. The Marin County Public Defender's Office also said Naso does not qualify for its services at public expense.

Naso has maintained he is having difficulty accessing his assets and cannot afford a lawyer.

Naso is charged with the murders of Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland; Carmen Colon, 22, an East Bay resident; Pamela Parsons, 38; and Tracey Tafoya, 31, both of Yuba County.

Rohnert Park Man Arrested For Assaulting Wife

Fairfield police arrested a Rohnert Park man Wednesday for assaulting his estranged wife who was trying to help him get custody of a child he had with an ex-girlfriend.

Jose Pablo Romero, 34, was arrested at around 11 a.m. at his home in the 8800 block of Lancaster Drive in Rohnert Park. He faces assault with a deadly weapon, torture, aggravated mayhem, spousal battery and conspiracy charges, Lt. Greg Hurlbut said.

The investigation began when Romero's estranged 19-year-old wife told police she was assaulted by two men on a trail in Fairfield on Aug. 4, Hurlbut said.

She suffered superficial injuries to her arms, abdomen and shoulders, and was treated at the NorthBay Medical Center, Hurlbut said. A few days later, Romero's estranged wife admitted she fabricated the assault story to help Romero and another man frame Romero's ex-girlfriend so Romero could get custody of the child he had with his ex-girlfriend, Hurlbut said.

Romero's estranged wife also admitted she lied when she said Romero's ex-girlfriend attacked her and cut off her ponytail on a trail in Fairfield on May 15 and stabbed her in the waist at a park on May 24, Hurlbut said.

She admitted she allowed an unknown male to stab her in the waist on May 24, Hurlbut said.

On Aug. 11, Romero's estranged wife reported being stabbed in a field on Serrano Drive in Fairfield, Hurlbut said. She suffered two severe lacerations on her back and a bruise on her head, Hurlbut said. A witness reported two men fleeing from the scene,
Hurlbut said. 

In the hospital, Romero's estranged wife initially told police two unknown men stabbed her and fled, Hurlbut said. But during an "emotional" interview, she realized the extent of her injuries and admitted Romero and his unknown friend again conspired to blame that assault on Romero's ex-girlfriend, Hurlbut said.

El Sobrante Man Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Bicyclist Hit-And-Run

A 55-year-old El Sobrante man was sentenced to two years in prison Thursday for striking a Martinez cyclist with his vehicle in 2008 and then leaving him to die on the side of the road.

Harold Brown was driving on McEwen Road near state Highway 4 on the evening of Nov. 24, 2008, when he crossed over the double yellow lines into the opposite lane and struck 49-year-old Mark Pendleton head on, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Brown then fled the scene and hid his vehicle to avoid being caught, Pendleton's family members said.

An off-duty fire captain from Crockett found Pendleton shortly after he was hit and called for medical assistance, but Pendleton died at the scene, the CHP said.

Brown was not arrested until June 2, 2009, when investigators finally got a phone call that led them to a friend of Brown's, who told them he was the driver who had hit Pendleton, investigators said.

In June, Brown and his attorney negotiated a plea deal with the district attorney's office in which Brown agreed to plead guilty to hit-and-run causing death in exchange for a two-year prison sentence. According to Judge Brian Haynes, who sentenced Brown Thursday, Brown could be released in one year if he behaves himself in prison.

$6 Million Settlement Reached For Case Against United Motor Manufacturing Inc.

Attorneys for a group of disabled former employees of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont who claim they did not receive proper severance benefits when the plant was shuttered last year announced Thursday that a $6 million settlement has been reached in the case.

If the settlement is approved by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, it will resolve a lawsuit that was filed last year alleging that NUMMI and Toyota Motor Corp. violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying bonuses and transitional services to qualified workers who were on leave because of medical conditions.

Christopher Herrera, a spokesman for the plaintiffs, said the parties in the case expect Breyer to approve the settlement soon. He said the agreement will provide funds to more than 500 displaced workers.

Herrera said the settlement will be paid jointly by NUMMI, Toyota Motor Corp., which is based in Japan, and Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. However, Toyota spokesman Javier Moreno said NUMMI will pay all of the settlement costs.

A NUMMI spokesman could not be reached for comment Thursday. Many of the workers involved in the lawsuit had worked at the plant for decades but claimed their years of service were not reflected in their severance packages because they were on medical leave. The lawyers claim the workers lost up to $38,000 each because of
the alleged discrimination.

The former NUMMI employees also filed charges against NUMMI with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As part of the settlement, NUMMI entered into a conciliation agreement with the federal agency, according to the plaintiffs' lawyers. Toyota was not named in the EEOC complaint and was not part of the conciliation agreement.

Marin County District Attorney Will Seek Death Penalty Against San Quentin Prison Inmate

Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian will seek the death penalty against a San Quentin State Prison inmate charged with killing another prisoner last year.

Frank Anthony Souza, 32, allegedly stabbed Edward John Schaefer, 44, seven times with a homemade weapon in the prison's exercise yard on July 26, 2010, San Quentin authorities said.

He was indicted in November 2010 on a first-degree murder charge with two special circumstances -- lying in wait and having a prior first-degree murder conviction -- that make him eligible for the death penalty.

Schaefer was stabbed two weeks after he began serving a sentence of 24 years to life for second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

His motorcycle struck and killed 9-year-old Melody Osheroff and maimed her father, Aaron Osheroff, in a Novato crosswalk on May 27, 2009. Souza was serving 60 years to life for the first-degree murder of a homeless man in Santa Clara County. He allegedly killed Schaefer to avenge Osheroff's death.

Berberian said Thursday morning that his decision to seek the death penalty -- the first time he's sought it in his seven years as district attorney -- followed a thorough evaluation of whether it would be appropriate.

He said Souza's decision to kill Schaefer was "cold, calculated and pre-meditated," and noted that Souza could possibly be paroled for the Santa Clara County murder.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Forecast

Mostly cloudy skies are expected in the Bay Area today after patchy fog and drizzle in the morning. Highs in the mid 50s to lower 60s are anticipated.

Mostly cloudy skies are likely this evening with patchy fog and drizzle expected after midnight. Lows in the mid 50s are expected.

Forecasters predict a mostly cloudy Saturday morning with patchy fog and drizzle becoming partly cloudy. Highs near 60 are anticipated. 

 

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Update: Coast Guard Identifies Missing Canoer, Search Continues

The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to search for a canoer who went missing near Treasure Island on Wednesday evening.

Michael Butler, 52, was in a canoe with two friends near Treasure Island, where he lives, when the boat overturned, according to the Coast Guard.

Butler's friends swam to shore and headed home, but Butler stayed behind and climbed back into the canoe, Coast Guard officials said.

His friends returned to the shoreline and called the Coast Guard when they could not find Butler at about 6:15 p.m.

It is unclear why Butler stayed behind and did not go back to shore with his friends, Coast Guard Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said.

The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter and two boats, and Sausalito and San Francisco fire and police boats were called in to assist with the search.

The helicopter search was later suspended because of low visibility, but the helicopter was dispatched back to the area at first light today, Critchfield said.

Shoreline searches are being conducted by police in San Francisco, Sausalito, Tiburon and Berkeley.

The Coast Guard asks anyone who sees the missing canoer to call (415) 399-3451 or 911.

 

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Animals to Move From City Shelter to Pet Food Express

Animals living in San Francisco shelters may have found their way out.

San Francisco Animal Care & Control begins a partnership Pet Food Express Saturday to open a permanent adoption separate from its own shelter, SFACC spokeswoman Deb Campbell said.

SFACC and Pet Food Express will kick off their partnership with a yarn cutting by adoptable kittens at noon at the 1975 Market St. pet store. The event will allow potential owners to come and begin adopting pets at a reduced rate.

Pet Food Express will only be housing kittens and cats. It will be the first time the SFACC has partnered with a private organization.

The Market Street Pet Food Express has provided food, toys and treats to SFACC animals for the past two years and offered to extend a shelter service about a year ago, Campbell said. "They saw it work in other stores," Campbell said.

"It could work here." The San Francisco location marks the third Bay Area Pet Food Express to begin partnerships with local shelters and rescue centers to house cats on a regular basis, Pet Food Express Director for Community Relations Mike Murray said.

Campbell thinks the traffic the store receives will allow the cats to get "exposure" they may not have gotten otherwise.

Murray said it may be "depressing or foreboding" for some to go to a shelter to adopt. "The shelters end up with the most animals left on their doorstep," Murray said.

SFACC has anywhere between 300 and 500 animals per day and its numbers have gone up due to the economy, Campbell said. "It's been really sad," she said.

Each Pet Food Express store hosts 12 kittens and cats at a time, giving the animals more room than with a normal cage, Murray said.

The Walnut Creek store at 1388 S. California Blvd. has had around 350 cats adopted, where Murray estimated it takes less than a week for a cat to find a new home.

"People will come look one day and (come) back to finalize (the adoption) the next day," Murray said. The third participating Bay Area pet store is located at 1152 Blossom Hill Road in San Jose.

Many Pet Food Express locations host rescue groups and shelters each weekend as a way to help pets get adopted. It has taken part in the adoption of more than 51,000 animals.

CONTACT: Mike Murray, Pet Food Express Community Relations Director (510) 512-2731

 

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August 20, 2011

More than a week after BART shut down wireless service in its subterranean San Francisco stations to halt a protest, the controversy over whether that action violated the constitutional right to free speech continues to...

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Carlos Beltran is eligible to come off the disabled list when the Giants open their homestand Tuesday, but it's anyone's guess if it'll happen. "It's improving slowly," Beltran said of his strained right hand. "We all...

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August 19, 2011

(08-19) 17:34 PDT Burbank, Calif. (AP) -- A young woman driver charged with killing an elderly pedestrian in Glendale while she was texting has pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter. Deputy District...

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Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137