Investigation On Death Of Woman After Being Ejected From Bus Ongoing
The California Highway Patrol is still investigating the death of 25-year-old Natasha Noland, who was killed after she and another woman were ejected from a party bus late Friday night, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.
The fatal accident occurred just before midnight on Highway 17 near state Highway 9 in Los Gatos, CHP officer D.J. Sarabia said.
The party bus was carrying 12 to 15 passengers who were returning from a Brad Paisley concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View when Noland and a 20-year-old woman got into a physical fight near the back of the bus, Sarabia said.
Somehow, Sarabia said, a door in the back of the bus opened and Noland and the other woman were ejected.
The party bus was driving south on Highway 17 at about 45 mph at the time, and Noland was run over by the bus. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other woman was not seriously hurt.
"She had road rash all over her body. She didn't have a broken bone," Sarabia said of the second woman.
No other passengers were injured, and no other vehicles were involved.
Noland is the daughter of Todd and Sue Noland, the owners of the Pacific Wave Surf Shop in Santa Cruz, an employee at the store said today.
Sarabia said it is not yet clear how or why the bus door opened, but he noted that there are two levers that open the door, one near the driver and an emergency lever by the door itself.
Sarabia said it appears that all of the passengers on the bus had been drinking, and that Noland was likely intoxicated. He said the passengers were uncooperative with investigating officers.
The driver of the bus told investigators that she did not notice the backseat commotion right away because there was loud music playing, Sarabia said. The driver is not facing any charges, he said.
The company that owns the bus, Party Bus of Santa Cruz, declined to comment this morning.
Six Flags Roller Coaster Malfunction Under Investigation
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom today is looking into what caused a malfunction on one of its roller coasters that left a dozen riders stuck 15 stories in the air on Sunday.
The Vallejo Fire Department responded shortly before 3 p.m. to the Superman Ultimate Flight roller coaster.
Vallejo fire spokesman Mark Libby said today that a two-person rescue team was raised 150 feet in the air on a mobile platform to reach the jammed roller coaster.
The rescue team had the option of removing the passengers from the ride or trying to get the ride moving again, Libby said.
They chose the latter approach and shook the cars, which dislodged the coaster from where it was stuck and allowed it to move forward again on the track, he said.
The riders were able to get off the ride safely and no injuries were reported.
The rescue team conducted training on the Superman ride before it opened in June in order to prepare for an incident like Sunday's, Libby said.
This is not the first time a ride at Six Flags in Vallejo has malfunctioned. In August 2010, a problem on the Boomerang Coast to Coaster left 26 passengers stranded for an hour.
Oakland Man Convicted Of Murder Of Ex-Girlfriend
An Oakland man who was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of his ex-girlfriend more than seven years ago -- even though her body has never been found -- was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison.
Prosecutor Casey Bates said "the road to justice" has been very long for 56-year-old Eric Mora for the presumed death of Cynthia Linda Alonzo, who was 48 when she disappeared in November 2004.
Bates noted that Mora hired and fired a number of attorneys and went through two preliminary hearings before finally standing trial earlier this year and being convicted on Feb. 28.
Mora didn't speak at today's hearing in the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vernon Nakahara, and will appeal his conviction.
Prosecutor Danielle London admitted in her closing argument in February that Alonzo's body has never been found and that she doesn't know how Alonzo was killed.
But she said circumstantial evidence, such as Alonzo's blood being found in Mora's house, ties Mora to her death.
"We don't know it all but we know enough," London told jurors.
Alonzo's family members reported her missing when she failed to show up for Thanksgiving dinner at her mother's house in San Francisco on Nov. 25, 2004. There has been no trace of her since then, London said.
Prosecutors filed murder charges against Mora in February 2007 because Oakland police said Alonzo's blood was recovered from the room where she stayed with him at his home at 6201 Brookside Ave. in the Oakland hills, and he had multiple scratches on his hands after she disappeared.
Alonzo's daughter, Terresa Jones, 35, told Mora today that, "My mother was our everything, and you robbed her of her life."
Jones also said she is upset that Mora has never disclosed where he disposed of Alonzo's body.
But one of Mora's daughters, Erica Mora, said after today's hearing that she still thinks Mora is innocent and that he didn't get a fair trial because evidence helpful to the defense was excluded from the case.
Mora didn't testify during his trial but he took the witness stand in his first preliminary hearing in 2007 and 2008, saying that he didn't have anything to do with Alonzo's disappearance and that he thought she might still be alive.
Construction On Central Subway Project Shuts Off Part Of Stockton Street
Construction on San Francisco's Central Subway project is shutting down part of a street near Union Square for the next five years, starting today.
Stockton Street will be closed between Ellis and Geary streets to make way for work on the $1.6 billion project, which will create a new branch of Muni's T-Third line to connect the city's South of Market neighborhood to Chinatown.
Crews were setting up the closure this morning, and it was expected to be in effect by this afternoon, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose said.
The closure will last until 2017, when construction on the Union Square portion of the project is expected to be completed, Rose said.
Sidewalks will remain open on Stockton Street during the closure, and the road will reopen each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day during a holiday moratorium on construction in the area.
The subway, which will include stops at Moscone Center, Union Square and Chinatown, is expected to open to the public in 2019.
Over the weekend, to increase access to Union Square in anticipation of the Stockton Street closure, the SFMTA converted nearby Grant Avenue into a two-way street between Geary and Sutter streets.
The SFMTA also anticipates closing the Ellis Street entrance to the Powell Street Muni Metro/BART station next month because of the construction.
Updates about Central Subway construction and its impacts on traffic are available online at www.centralsubwayblog.com.
Teenager Dies In Homicide In Diamond Heights
A teenager was found dead in an apparent homicide in San Francisco's Diamond Heights neighborhood on Sunday morning, police said today.
Officers responded at 9:38 a.m. to a report of a dead body in the first block of Carnelian Way.
Police found the victim dead of an apparent gunshot wound and are treating the case as a homicide. The victim has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 18-year-old San Francisco resident Elijah Hopkins.
No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting, and no suspect information was available as of this morning, police said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.
Taxi Driver Sought After Robbing A Passenger
A San Francisco taxi driver is being sought for allegedly robbing a passenger after a dispute over payment on Saturday night, police said today.
The robbery was reported at about 11:40 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Fillmore and Hayes streets in the city's Alamo Square neighborhood.
The 30-year-old victim was picked up by the cab driver and a dispute developed over the form of payment, according to police.
The taxi driver then pulled out a knife, took the victim's cellphone and credit card and fled alone in the cab, police said.
The driver, a man believed to be in his 30s or 40s, had not been found as of this morning, according to police.
Anyone with information about the robbery is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.
Car Passenger Arrested for DUI After Applying Emergency Brakes
An intoxicated car passenger was arrested for DUI in Geyserville on Friday night after he pulled the emergency brake, causing the driver to lose control, a California Highway Patrol officer said.
Brent Franco, 28, of Geyserville, was riding north on U.S. Highway 101 in a Mazda Protege driven by his 19-year-old girlfriend when the incident occurred around 10 p.m. south of Geyserville Avenue, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.
The girlfriend, also a Geyserville resident, told CHP officers that Franco had been extremely agitated and was hitting the inside of the car and making threats, Sloat said.
The car was traveling at 65 to 70 mph when Franco pulled the emergency brake, causing his girlfriend to lose control of the Mazda, which went 100 feet down an embankment, Sloat said.
Franco exited the Mazda and ran east, but he was found nearby at his home. He appeared to be intoxicated but refused to take sobriety tests, Sloat said.
Sloat said that Franco, who had just been released from probation for a previous DUI conviction, was arrested again for DUI because he took control of the vehicle when he applied the emergency brake.
He was booked into Sonoma County Jail for DUI and making criminal threats, Sloat said. His girlfriend was not injured.
Fire In Santa Rosa Causes Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars In Property Damage
A one-alarm fire caused thousands of dollars in damage to a west Santa Rosa duplex early this morning, fire officials said.
Santa Rosa firefighters responded to a fire in the 2900 block of Apache Street at 3:15 a.m. As they were en route, they could "see it from blocks away," Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini said.
The fire began in a backyard shed and spread to a nearby tree. Debris from the tree fell onto the home, starting an attic fire, Piccinini said.
It took firefighters 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze. No one was injured. The fire caused between $60,000 and $70,000 in damage, Piccinini said.
Woman Drowns In Jacuzzi In Menlo Park Hotel
A 42-year-old San Ramon woman drowned in a hotel Jacuzzi in Menlo Park over the weekend, a police spokeswoman said today.
Paramedics responded to a report of a possible drowning at the Best Western Riviera Motor Lodge Hotel at 15 El Camino Real at about 5:35 a.m. Saturday, Menlo Park police spokeswoman Nicole Acker said.
The victim had been found unresponsive in the Jacuzzi by her friend, who contacted hotel management.
Hotel staff was performing CPR on the victim when paramedics arrived.
The victim, who was later identified as Keri Michelle Long, was pronounced dead at the scene.
A preliminary investigation indicated that there were no signs of foul play, and that Long's death appeared to be accidental, Acker said.
Police were awaiting the results of toxicology results from the San Mateo County coroner's office, which could take about two weeks, Acker said.
Man Injured In Home Invasion Robbery
An Oakland resident was pistol-whipped by an armed suspect during a home invasion robbery early this morning, an Oakland police officer said.
The armed robbery was reported at 2:50 a.m. at a home in the 1100 block of 84th Avenue, Officer J. Moore said. A suspect pistol-whipped one resident, while another was not harmed, he said.
No information was available about whether anything was stolen in the home invasion, and no suspect description has been released.
Repaving Project On Ashby Avenue In Berkeley Underway
Caltrans is advising motorists to allow extra travel today as a repaving project gets under way on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley.
Grinding and paving work on Ashby Avenue, from Hiller Drive west to San Pablo Avenue, will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Aug. 16.
Motorists should expect delays of up to 30 minutes at some intersections, according to Caltrans.
Contra Costa Fire Protection District Raises Raises $27,000 For Muscular Dystrophy
The Contra Costa Fire Protection District raised more than $27,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association over the past week during its annual "Fill the Boot" donation drive, fire officials said.
Firefighters collected donations in Antioch, Pleasant Hill, Concord and Walnut Creek. The Muscular Dystrophy Association will use the funds locally to help cover medical expenses, research and a one-week summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy.
Though contributions were down from the $75,000 donated during last year's Fill the Boot campaign, fire district officials voiced their appreciation to all who donated this year and said the district plans to collect funds for the same cause next year.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a nonprofit committed to finding a cure for muscular dystrophy and related diseases by funding research and providing care and support services.
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