San Francisco Bay Area Friday Midday News Roundup

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As Many As 1 Million Expected To Attend SF Chinese New Year Parade

Firecrackers, lion dances and elaborate floats will wind through the streets of San Francisco on Saturday to celebrate the Year of the Snake at the annual Chinese New Year Parade.

The parade, a city tradition that dates back more than 100 years, heads into Chinatown from Market and Second streets at 5:15 p.m.

The processional includes drummers, lion dancing, marching bands and a giant snake float, Chinese New Year Parade spokeswoman Karen Eng said. "There will be lots of firecrackers," Eng said.

She said a snake theme will be apparent throughout the processional.

There are more than 5,000 participants in the parade as part of 100 contingents walking through the streets.

The floats have been constructed and housed at a pier warehouse along the Embarcadero before their unveiling at this year's event, Eng said.

This year, the route has been modified to accommodate construction near the Union Square area for the Central Subway project.

The parade will go up Post Street then wrap around to Sutter Street before making its way up Kearny Street through Chinatown.

Eng suggested finding a viewing spot on Market Street or along Sutter Street for the parade, which is one of the final events for the Lunar New Year celebration that kicked off at the start of the month with New Year's Day falling on Feb. 10, Eng said.

This weekend will wrap up New Year festivities with a community fair complete with booths and local vendors held Saturday and Sunday in Chinatown, she said.

Large crowds are expected to visit Chinatown this weekend and reserved bleacher seats for the parade sold out Thursday afternoon, Eng said.

"A lot of families come," Eng said, including visitors from outside the Bay Area and from around the world.

To get to the festival, which is expected to draw as many as 1 million attendees, public transit officials suggest ditching private cars.

Caltrain will be offering hourly service into San Francisco at Fourth and King streets with San Francisco Municipal Railway transfers available into downtown.

The last Caltrain leaves San Francisco at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning toward San Jose.

BART advises planning trips into the city to see the processional. A spokeswoman said the agency is ready to accommodate large crowds that will be exiting at the Powell and Montgomery stations.

Muni service will also be impacted by the parade and community fair over the weekend.

To handle the expected surge in ridership before and after Saturday's parade, several downtown buses, cable cars and Metro lines will rerouted around closed streets.

The Stockton Tunnel will be closed between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday.

The fair held from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on both weekend days will shut down most Chinatown streets and require buses in that area to be rerouted.

As part of the New Year festivities, the Chinese Historical Society of America is holding 50th anniversary events at the organization's building at 965 Clay St. in San Francisco from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Events include a dragon dance at 11 a.m., a special exhibition at the office, craft making for children and other youth activities.

Residents in Redwood City and San Leandro are also getting involved in the Year of the Snake festivities with events in those two areas on Saturday.

A Lunar New Year Celebration will be held at the San Leandro Main Library at 300 Estudillo Ave. from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Lion and folk dancing, music, and craft making with the Asian Community Cultural Association of San Leandro along with a magician will be on hand to usher in the Year of the Snake.

In Redwood City, Courthouse Square will be the gathering spot for residents on Saturday to celebrate the New Year with lion dancers, acrobats, martial arts performers and plenty of food and children's activities.

The San Mateo County History Museum on the square at 2200 Broadway in Redwood City will join in the third annual celebration with free museum admission from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More information about the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade is available at www.chineseparade.com.

CCSF Sit-In Ends After Students Win Demand To Meet With Chancellor

A group of about 30 students spent the night at the City College of San Francisco administration building until a demand for more communication with school administrators was met this morning as the school struggles to stay accredited.

Shanell Williams, president of the Associated Student Council at the school's Ocean campus, said the protesters at about 9 a.m. were able to secure a meeting with interim chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman on Monday morning.

The sleep-in at the campus located at 50 Phelan Ave. followed a Thursday afternoon rally where hundreds of students demanded to be more involved in the administration's choices in its fight to stay accredited, which has included decisions to cut student services and school staff.

City College is required to file a report by a March 15 deadline set by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which last July placed the school on "show cause" status.

The report must show that the school is taking significant steps to address problems cited by the commission, including an excessive number of campuses and high non-instructional faculty costs.

If City College fails to show adequate improvement, the school could lose accreditation and close after the commission issues its ruling on June 10.

A special trustee for City College said last month that the school would likely miss the March 15 deadline.

Williams said the overnight protest was successful and peaceful with no arrests.

She said she expects Monday's meeting, which will include herself and five other students, will pave the way to a series of town hall forums at all City College campuses so more people can comment on the school's plans.

School spokesman Larry Kamer said the administration has been working to set up a chancellor-student appointment, but the school's main priority is keeping their accreditation.

Kamer said the meeting will hopefully be a conversation about students sharing "ideas or more energy to put behind the process of keeping our accreditation."

As to demands for town hall meetings, Kamer said that is an action the administration has already done in years past, but administrators are willing to discuss the possibility if it contributes to plans to keep the school open.

"We have an obligation to make the changes we need to make to keep our accreditation," he said.

Oakland Man Cries After Attempted Murder Conviction Is Dismissed

An Oakland man wept in court today after a judge dismissed his attempted murder conviction for a 2006 shooting he had no involvement in.

Ronald Ross, 51, who has been incarcerated for nearly seven years and faced the prospect of spending the rest of his life in state prison, is expected to be released from custody later today.

His mother, 77-year-old Thelma Ross, was allowed to hug Ross at the end of a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court and exclaimed, "Thank you Jesus! Thank you Lord!"

Ross was convicted on Nov. 8, 2006, for an April 15, 2006, incident in which Renardo Williams was shot in front of his apartment at the Campbell Village complex in West Oakland.

Williams identified Ross as the shooter after Oakland police included him in a photo lineup and also testified at the trial that Ross was the shooter.

However, Ross's trial attorney, Michael Berger, believed that Ross was innocent and asked Santa Clara University School of Law's Northern California Innocence Project to review the case.

The Innocence Project and the San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest then conducted a lengthy investigation, which concluded that there were multiple errors and that Ross was innocent.

The lawyers who represented Ross said Williams admitted after the trial that he never thought Ross was the shooter and implicated him only because he was pressured by Oakland police and feared that the real gunman would come after him.

That man is now in custody for an Oakland crime spree in July 2011 and prosecutors say they don't plan to charge him with shooting Williams.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office conducted its own review of the case and concluded that Ross's conviction should be thrown out because of the new evidence of his innocence.

At today's hearing, Senior Deputy District Attorney Micheal O'Connor asked that Ross's conviction be dismissed "in the interest of justice" and Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson granted that request.

Rolefson said, "Congratulations to Mr. Ross and best wishes to you."

Ross had been sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

O'Connor said if his conviction hadn't been dismissed, Ross might have spent the rest of his life in prison but would have been eligible for parole many years from now.

Ross had been in state prison for many years but was brought to the Alameda County Jail in Dublin last September for a series of habeas corpus hearings in Alameda County Superior Court that ultimately led to his conviction being dismissed today.

Fatal Crash Victim Identified; Redwood City Road Reopens

A Redwood City road has reopened after being shut down for nearly four hours after a fatal crash early this morning, according to police.

The sole victim in the crash has been identified as Alma Cabrera-Villar, 20, of Redwood City, according to the San Mateo County coroner's office.

The crash was reported at 4:17 a.m. near 1757 E. Bayshore Road, police said.

The road reopened at 8:06 a.m., police said.

Redwood City police shut down traffic in both directions while the fatal accident was investigated.

Man Fatally Shot In East Oakland Identified

A man was fatally shot in East Oakland Thursday night, according to police.

At about 9 p.m., police received a report of a shooting in the 7900 block of Macarthur Boulevard.

The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene, according to police.

No suspects were detained and no weapons have been recovered. The identity of the victim has not been released.

Man Found In Water Off Of Pier 48 Identified

A man whose body was found in the water off of San Francisco's Pier 48 on Thursday morning has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 57-year-old David Biddle.

A police marine unit spotted the body of Biddle, a San Francisco resident, in the Bay at 10:37 a.m. Thursday off of the pier just south of AT&T Park, police said.

Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said it appeared the body had been in the water for a while before it was found.

The case has been handed over to the medical examiner's office, which will determine whether the death was a suicide or homicide, Esparza said.

Man Found Dead Near Homeless Encampment Along Concord-Pleasant Hill Border

A 40-year-old man was found dead near a homeless encampment along the Concord-Pleasant Hill border Wednesday night, a sheriff's spokesman said today.

The sheriff's office received a report of a coroner's case near an encampment on Concord Avenue near Interstate Highway 680 around 10 p.m. Wednesday, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jimmy Lee said. Emergency responders pronounced the man dead at the scene.

An autopsy is being conducted today to determine his cause of death, Lee said.

The man's name has not been released pending notification of his relatives.

Lee said the man was found near a homeless encampment where 47-year-old Jeremy Nagle was strangled to death on Dec. 5.

Another homeless man, 38-year-old James Riley, allegedly fought with Nagle before his death. He was arrested and has been charged with murder in connection with the killing.

Suspicious Package At Alameda Courthouse Found To Be Bag Of Tools

A suspicious package reported at an Alameda County Superior Court building in Oakland this morning was determined to be harmless, according to an Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The suspicious item was reported around 9:30 a.m. at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse at 1225 Fallon St., sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.

Woman Critically Injured In Fremont Crash Caused By Alleged DUI Driver

An elderly woman was critically injured and pool chemicals spilled in a head-on crash caused by an alleged drunk driver in Fremont on Thursday evening, police said.

The crash was reported around 7 p.m. on Ardenwood Boulevard north of Paseo Padre Parkway.

A 1995 Toyota pickup truck was driving the wrong way, traveling north in the southbound lanes, when he collided head-on with a 2002 Honda Odyssey minivan traveling south, according to police.

The impact from the crash caused the Honda to collide with a big-rig also traveling south, as well as a 2004 Ford Explorer, while the Toyota rolled over and came to rest on its roof.

The driver of the Toyota suffered injuries to his left arm and was taken with his passenger to Eden Medical Center. The driver, whose name was not immediately released, was subsequently arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving, police said.

The driver and passengers of the Honda were also taken to the hospital. One of the passengers, a 76-year-old woman, was listed in critical condition, according to police.

The driver and passengers of the Ford suffered minor injuries while the big-rig driver was uninjured, police said.

The Toyota was carrying various pool cleaning chemicals, some of which spilled onto the road when the truck overturned.

Hazardous materials personnel responded to clean up the spill and Ardenwood Boulevard reopened at about 3 a.m. today, police said.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call Officer Ryan Spear at (510) 790-6760 or (510) 790-6800, ext. 11865.

Driver Of Reported Stolen Car Involved In Seven-Car Crash Near Petaluma Thursday Still In Hospital

The driver of a pickup truck reported stolen in Nevada remains hospitalized this morning after he caused a seven-car crash on Lakeville Highway near Petaluma on Thursday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Donald Hector Jr., 42, of Oakdale, will be booked in Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of DUI, vehicle theft, hit-and-run and other charges when he is released from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, CHP Officer Jon Sloat said.

Hector also is wanted on an arrest warrant in Stanislaus County, Sloat said.

Hector was driving a 1998 Dodge pickup that was reported stolen Wednesday in Searchlight, Nev., CHP Officer David Thomas said.

A passenger in the stolen pickup, Dustin O'Daniel, 18, of Oakdale, suffered minor injuries in the crash and was booked into the county jail for vehicle theft and possession of stolen property, Sloat said.

O'Daniel posted bail this morning and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court, a jail spokeswoman said.

Hector was driving north on Lakeville Road south of Old Lakeville Road behind slow traffic around 11:50 a.m. when he crossed double yellow lines and went into the southbound lane, Thomas said.

Southbound drivers tried to avoid the oncoming vehicle by turning to the right, but the Dodge pickup sideswiped a 2006 Ford Ranger, 2012 Infinity G37 and a 2000 Toyota pickup, according to Thomas.

The truck was then struck by a southbound 2006 Toyota Camry and went off the road when it was broadsided by a southbound 1999 Pontiac Firebird, Thomas said. 

A Mercedes 350 was unable to avoid striking the rear of the Firebird. The Toyota Camry and the Pontiac Firebird sustained major damage, Thomas said.

Hector and O'Daniel were picked up by family members in a separate vehicle after the crash and left the scene, Thomas said. The CHP later found that vehicle on Lakeville Highway at the U.S. Highway 101 on-ramp and the family members were questioned and released, Thomas said.

Hector and O'Daniel were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. 

Hector suffered cuts on his face and internal injuries and O'Daniel complained of pain, according to Thomas.

Three of the other drivers suffered minor injuries.

Hector was found to be under the influence of a drug believed to be methamphetamine, Thomas said.

The CHP said the stolen pickup had false license plates to elude detection.

Resident Suffers Minor Injuries After Jumping Out Of Burning Concord Apartment

A resident who jumped out of a burning two-story apartment in Concord on Thursday walked away with minor injuries, a fire marshal said today.

Fire crews responded around 11:20 a.m. to reports of a fire at a home in the Lake Terrace condominiums at 1790 Ellis St., according to fire officials.

The blaze was burning in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment, blocking the resident inside from exiting through the front door, said Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard.

To escape the fire, the resident jumped out of a window, falling about 10 feet to the ground below, the fire marshal said.

The resident suffered only minor injuries and was taken to John Muir Medical Center for treatment.

Broschard said that resident appears to be the only person displaced by the blaze, which firefighters controlled in about 20 minutes and kept from spreading to neighboring apartments.

Investigators have deemed the fire accidental and say that it started in the home's kitchen.

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