San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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One Dead in Experimental Plane Crash Near Winters

The pilot of an experimental aircraft was reportedly killed when the plane went down near Winters Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

The small plane, an Avions Fairey Tipsy Nipper T-66, crashed around 4:15 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

It crashed near northbound Interstate Highway 505 just north of Wolfskill Road, CHP Officer Chris Parker said.

One person was killed in the crash, likely the pilot, and was pronounced dead at the scene, Solano County sheriff's Lt. Brad DeWall said.

He said that investigators are looking to see if anyone else was on board the aircraft, but suspect that there were not.

The CHP said that the wing reportedly came off the plane.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, and the NTSB is the lead agency, Gregor said.

Bomb Found in Santa Clara Home Of Man Charged with Threating A Public Official

A "usable" bomb found Wednesday afternoon in the Santa Clara home of a man charged with threatening a public official will be blown up today in a trailer to contain the blast, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Members of the CHP's Hazardous Device Detail, working with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's bomb squad, found a "useable device" -- an explosive -- at about 3 p.m. and plan to place it into the trailer to blow it up, said Sean Kennedy, spokesman for the CHP's Protective Services Division.

The detail had considered digging a hole in the front yard of the home at 3131 Humboldt Ave.

in Santa Clara, to destroy it with an explosive charge as they did another explosive device found Tuesday, but decided it would be safer to contain the explosion in the trailer, Kennedy said.

The discovery of the bomb came after the CHP and sheriff's deputies Wednesday resumed their search inside the residence of Everett Basham, 45, who was arrested for threatening or intimidating a public official and other charges Tuesday.

"We keep turning over a page and finding something new every time," Kennedy said. Officers from the CHP's Protective Services Division arrested Basham at 10:45 a.m.

Two hours later, at about 12:45 p.m., officers from the CHP's SWAT unit executed a search warrant at Basham's home, observed dangerous chemicals in the residence and notified the CHP's Hazardous Device Detail, Kennedy said.

The detail's officers went into the home and were later joined by the Santa Clara County sheriff's bomb squad, Kennedy said.

"They found the precursors for homemade explosive items," Kennedy said.

As they catalogued and removed some of the items, officers became concerned that one article could be an explosive, Kennedy said.

Rather than risk an explosion if they put it into a vehicle, the officers decided to blow it up in the home's front yard, Kennedy said.

"They dug two holes and lined them up with sandbags," Kennedy said.

"They detonated around it and caused it to be destroyed without letting the item explode."

"For the safety of all, they decided it was safer to do it in the front yard," he said.

CHP officers and the sheriff's bomb squad are continuing to search Basham's home Wednesday, Kennedy said.

Basham is being held in Santa Clara County Jail without bail, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jose Cardoza said.

He was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats, threatening or intimidating a public official, igniting or attempting to ignite an explosive device with the intent to commit murder, and unlawful possession of a concealed firearm, Cardoza said.

Man Fatally Struck by Vehicle in Hayward on Industrial Boulevard

A man was fatal struck by a vehicle in Hayward Wednesday evening, according to police.

Shortly before 7 p.m., police and fire crews responded to the area of Industrial Boulevard and Baumberg Avenue on reports that a person had been struck by a vehicle.

Emergency personnel arrived at the scene to find a person on the ground in the middle of southbound Industrial Boulevard, police said.

The pedestrian was pronounced deceased at the scene, police said.

According to police, the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

Based on a preliminary investigation, the vehicle was traveling southbound on Industrial Boulevard when a man crossed into the roadway and was fatally struck.

The man was not in a crosswalk when he attempted to cross traffic, police said.

Neither alcohol nor drug use is believed to be a factor in the collision, police said.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation.

The Alameda County coroner's bureau has not released the identity of the pedestrian, pending notification of his family members.

Racing Starts For San Francisco Red Bull Youth America's Cup

Racing started Wednesday for several international youth sailing teams in San Francisco this week to vie for a spot in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup later this year.

Six teams from around the world are racing Wednesday through Friday to try to make it to the September event, which will serve as a precursor to the America's Cup Finals later that month.

The teams, from countries including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Germany, were introduced alongside some of the sport's top sailors at a news conference at Pier 80 in San Francisco Wednesday morning.

Ben Ainslie, who won a gold medal in the recent Olympic Games in London, said America's Cup used to be "an older guy's sport" but has transformed in recent years to be more accessible to youth.

Jimmy Spithill, skipper of Oracle Team USA, the defending America's Cup champion, said the new high-tech boats being used in the races the past few years require younger and stronger sailors.

"It's so physical now, it really is a young man's game," Spithill said.

The teams of men ages 19 to 24 will race Wednesday through Friday, while six more will battle next week for the chance to join the youth race, which runs from Sept. 1-4 and already includes American Youth Sailing Force, the team associated with Oracle Team USA.

Ian Andrewes, skipper of the San Francisco-based U.S. team, said they have some Bay Area locals, which should provide a home-field advantage over the international teams.

Andrewes said the team's ties to Oracle Team USA also give them a leg up on the competition.

"We sort of consider ourselves the little brother team to Oracle," he said.

"The knowledge we learn from them is great."

Ten Years After Pinole Woman's Body Found, Richmond Man Faces Judgment

More than a decade after a missing Pinole woman's body turned up in the Nevada desert, a preliminary hearing began in Richmond Wednesday for the man accused of killing her.

Raymond Wong, 41, formerly of Pinole, appeared in Contra Costa County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday, a year after pleading not guilty to murder charges in the 1999 killing of 21-year-old Alice Sin, his live-in girlfriend and son's mother.

In addition to the murder charge, Wong is also charged with the special circumstance allegation that he killed Sin for financial gain.

According to police, the defendant fled the United States for China and re-entered the country on Dec. 19, 2011, at San Francisco International Airport using a fake passport.

Customs officers alerted Pinole police, who amassed enough evidence over the next few days to arrest Wong on suspicion of murder in Pinole on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday morning, Judge Patricia Scanlon heard from law enforcement officers who helped shed light on the events surrounding the young mother's slaying.

Napa police Officer Peter Piersig, who worked as a Pinole police officer at the time of Sin's murder, recalled on the witness stand how Wong called police on Nov. 22, 1999, to report that Sin had gone missing the day before.

Piersig said Wong reported that Sin, a student at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, had left their shared home at 3229 Estates Drive the previous morning, possibly to study.

When asked, Wong told the officer that he and Sin had not been fighting and said that she had been acting normal.

But police and prosecutors believe that Wong murdered Sin for financial gain in Nevada shortly before Wong reported her missing.

Police said during their initial investigation that it appeared Wong was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy Sin had applied for.

Her remains were discovered two months later off of a remote roadway in rural Churchill County, Nev.

The decomposed corpse was found with four bullet wounds and was surrounding by shell casings, according to police.

While Wong was immediately identified as a person of interest in the case, police were initially unable to link him to the murder.

Federal and State Officals Release Report on Causes of August Richmond Reginery Fire

Federal and state safety officials released a technical report Wednesday on the massive August 2012 fire at Chevron's refinery in Richmond, saying severe corrosion and damage from a fire pike were found on the leaky pipe that sparked the blaze.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) released the report on the Aug. 6, 2012, fire.

The blaze caused minor injuries to six people and a toxic plume that spread for miles and prompted more than 15,000 people to go to area hospitals complaining of breathing problems.

The metallurgical report, prepared by Hayward-based Anamet Inc., concluded that an 8-inch steel pipe that was installed in 1976 ruptured due to severe sulfidation corrosion and that pipe samples showed a very low concentration of corrosion-inhibiting silicon.

The report also noted a deformation found in the pipe that was likely caused by a fire pike used during the refinery's emergency response to the blaze.

CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said in a statement that he hoped the report "receives widespread attention throughout the petrochemical industry as a precaution to all refiners to carefully examine potential corrosion mechanisms and use the safest possible materials of construction to avoid failures."

Cal/OSHA chief Ellen Widess added, "This report confirms what Chevron already knew -- that the pipe was severely corroded and should have been replaced -- but failed to act on before the August fire."

Last month, Cal/OSHA fined Chevron $963,200 for 25 alleged worker safety violations before, during and after the pipe ruptured at the refinery.

The company has announced it will appeal the citations, and also issued a statement Wednesday in response to the technical report.

"While we do not agree with some of the characterizations in the CSB news release, we are committed to discussing the findings from our investigation and our corrective actions with the investigating agencies prior to release of the report and restart of the crude unit," Chevron said in the statement.

Fifty Firefighters Respond to Healdsburg Business Fire

Rags containing wood stain ignited and caused the fire at the building housing two rental businesses in Healdsburg Tuesday night, Healdsburg Fire Chief Steven Adams said Wednesday afternoon.

The rags were left out in the open in a back storage area of the Encore Events party rental company that shared the building at 1430 Grove St. with Aaction Rents, which rents tractors, bulldozers, trucks and other heavy equipment.

Pallets and wood tables and chairs caught fire after the rags ignited, Adams said.

The used rags should have been stored in a metal can with a lid or in water to prevent oxygen from drying them out until they combusted, Adams said.

"There isn't a significant (fire) warning label on the cans that contain linseed-based oil," Adams said.

The fire was reported at 8 p.m. Tuesday and firefighters were still at the scene until around 2 a.m.

Wednesday. The blaze caused at least $500,000 in damage, Adams said.

Both businesses shared a common attic. Firefighters used forklifts and other equipment from Aaction Rents to remove wooden tables 10 feet high out of the Encore Events area of the building.

Fifty firefighters from Healdsburg, Windsor, Rincon Valley, Cloverdale, Geyserville and Santa Rosa responded to the blaze.

Public Funds Approved for Bay Bridge Opening Celebration 

Plans to use millions of taxpayer dollars to celebrate the opening of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge this September were pushed forward Wednesday morning by a Bay Area Toll Authority committee.

The BATA Oversight Committee unanimously approved a $5.6 million contract to organize private-public funded events at the opening of the bridge this September, which includes a walk, bike ride and half-marathon race across the bridge and a fireworks display.

The full Bay Area Toll Authority board will give the final say at a Feb. 27 meeting about the contract with Richmond-based firm Hartmann Studio to organize services for the event.

The $5.6 million plan would cover transportation, operations and public safety costs during the day-and-a-half Labor Day weekend celebratory extravaganza on Sept. 1 and 2.

The Bay Bridge Alliance, a nonprofit organization formed in 2011 that, in part, aims to support the opening of the new Eastern span, is funding free public events and other fee-based activities.

MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler said the BBA has already secured several million dollars that will go toward festivities, such as fireworks and a light display visible from the East Bay and San Francisco eastern waterfront on the night of Sept. 1.

If more private sector funding is brought in, the BBA has plans to hold a larger celebration similar to the Oracle OpenWorld music festival held on Treasure Island last year.

The BBA is organizing a bridge bike ride on the morning of Sept. 1, with participants paying a fee to register and ride from the Oakland side and back, or a concurrent route from San Francisco and back.

On Sept. 2, a fee-based half-marathon from Oakland City Hall to San Francisco City Hall and a 10K running course put together by the BBA would be held early Labor Day morning, followed by a chain-cutting ceremony -- a tradition in the bridge-building industry, Rentschler said.

Fees from the bicycle ride and runs aim to bring in additional support that the BBA would put toward the firework show and other opening fêtes such as a Sept. 1 dedication ceremony at the newly-erected self-anchored suspension tower that the governor, local mayors and other dignitaries are invited to attend.

The public bridge walk would set off starting at 8:30 a.m. and run until 6:30 p.m. with Hartmann Studios facilitating transportation and ticketing starting in Oakland and heading into San Francisco.

Participants comprising of up to 15,000 walkers per hour would register for free tickets for a time slot for pick up at an Oakland BART station where shuttle buses would deliver passengers to the Oakland base of the bridge.

Waves of groups would walk the length of the bridge, about 6 miles long, with an anticipated 125,000 participants making it across throughout the day.

There will be 300 buses dropping off participants every hour.

The walk will head westbound on five lanes of the bridge, with participants able to return on BART, which will provide extra transit service.

Two Palo Alto High School Students Arrested on Charges of Bring Weapons to School

Two Palo Alto High School students were arrested on suspicion of bringing weapons to school in unrelated incidents Friday and Monday but did not brandish them or make threats on campus, a police spokeswoman said.

In each case, the juveniles had the weapons -- neither of them firearms -- in their backpacks and students reported them to school officials who quickly called police, making lockdowns unnecessary, Palo Alto police Sgt. Kara Apple said.

"Everything happened as it should in both of these incidents, which is fortunate," Apple said.

The school learned about the weapons, a stun gun and a cork-shooting air gun, from student witnesses during open lunch period when classes are out and a lockdown would have been "very difficult," Apple said.

"The weapons were never brandished and there was no threat to use them on campus," Apple added. "You had students come quickly to the school staff."

On Friday, at about 1:25 p.m., police were called to the high school at 50 Embarcadero Road by school staff about a student with a stun gun on campus, Apple said.

Earlier, the student alleged to have the stun gun had walked off campus during lunch with another student to buy and sell marijuana to each other, Apple said.

The suspect produced the stun gun and tried twice to apply the weapon to the victim, who was able to get away without injury, Apple said.

The victim went back to school and reported the incident to school authorities.

The school authorities called police and notified the student's parents.

Police found the commercially sold stun gun inside the suspect's backpack and placed the student under arrest on suspicion of bringing a weapon to school, Apple said.

On Monday, at about 11:45 a.m., officers were dispatched to the secondary school on another report of a weapon on campus.

Students told school authorities that another student had showed them a makeshift weapon, Apple said.

When police arrived, they recovered from the suspect's backpack a homemade fake gun with a carbon dioxide container that shoots air to propel rubber corks, Apple said.

The student told police that he unintentionally left the weapon inside his backpack over the weekend and was going to walk home during lunch to drop it off, Apple said.

The suspect's parents were notified and the student was arrested on suspicion of taking a weapon to school, Apple said.

Redwood City Proposes Reusable Bag Ordiance

Shoppers may soon be forced to carry a reusable bag or cough up a dime to pay for a single-use paper bag when they shop in Redwood City, the latest in a string of Peninsula cities deliberating a reusable bag ordinance.

In the first of two scheduled informational meetings at the city's downtown library Wednesday afternoon, city officials laid out plans for the Redwood City Council to vote on the ban at its March 11 meeting.

If approved, the ban would go into effect April 25. The proposed ordinance bars the distribution of single-use plastic carry-out bags by all retailers except restaurants and non-profits and requires retailers to charge 10 cents per paper bag used until 2015, when that price jumps to a quarter per bag.

According to Redwood City Public Communications Manager Malcolm Smith, the bag bans are a trend in cities throughout the region and state.

"Bay Area wide, the bans are pretty consistent," he said.

"Most people realize that it makes sense and see how many bags they don't use.

It has been found that one reusable bag replaces about 600 in a lifetime," Malcolm said.

The city's consideration of a plastic bag ban follows San Mateo County Board of Supervisors' Nov. 6 passage of a Reusable Bag Ordinance that will become effective on April 22.

The county ban will prohibit all retail stores, except restaurants and non-profits, from distributing plastic carry-out bags to their customers, and also adds the 10-cent charge to any paper bags provided to customers by retailers.

There are a few other exemptions including protective bags for produce, dry-cleaning and newspapers.

As of last week, the cities in the county that have passed a bag ordinance are Belmont, Colma, Daly City, Foster City, Menlo Park, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Bruno, San Carlos and South San Francisco.

The purpose of the ordinances are to decrease litter and promote the use of reusable bags as an alternative to plastic bags, according to Waymond Wong, county hazardous materials and pollution prevention program supervisor.

According to the county, 20 billion single-use plastic grocery bags are used every year in California, and most end up in landfills, or as litter on land and in our waterways.

In Redwood City, it is estimated that 42 million bags are used each year, according to Smith.

The ordinance, he said, could potentially reduce the city's annual use of plastic bags by 95 percent, or about 2 million per year.

Smith said there has been no opposition to this ordinance at this point.

He plans to hold another informative meeting for community members on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at the downtown library at 1044 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.

Bay Area Weather for February 14

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely in the Bay Area this morning, becoming sunny later in the day. Highs are likely to be in the mid 60s, with winds up to 5 mph. Mostly clear skies are likely this evening. Lows are expected to be in the upper 40s, with northeast winds up to 15 mph. Sunny skies are likely Friday. Highs are expected to be in the mid 60s, with northeast winds up to 15 mph.

 

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