San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday Morning News Roundup

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SF: No Oil Spill or Major Damage Reported After Tanker Strikes Bridge Tower

The Bay Bridge received a glancing blow Monday morning from an oil tanker traveling underneath it, but no oil spill was reported and there was no major damage to the vessel or bridge, authorities said.

The tanker, the Overseas Reymar, was headed out to sea at about 11:20 a.m. when it struck a fender on the far-east tower of the western span of the bridge, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Lansing said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Coast Guard aircraft and boats quickly responded and found no signs of a spill and determined that everyone aboard the 752-foot vessel was safe, Lansing said.

Caltrans crews also responded and determined that the bridge was safe for traffic, which was not stopped at any time during the incident, agency spokesman Bart Ney said.

About 30 to 40 feet of the fender on the bridge tower was damaged by the boat. The boat struck the fender on its rear starboard side, Ney said.

"It was basically a scrape," he said.

The double-hulled Overseas Reymar, a Marshall Islands-registered vessel owned by OSG Ship Management U.K., sustained crushing to the outer hull but its inner hull remained intact, Lansing said.

The boat, which had no petroleum cargo onboard after it recently dropped off fuel oil in Martinez, is currently anchored east of Alcatraz Island while Coast Guard crews investigate the incident and make sure no fuel was spilled, Lansing said.

Lansing said investigators could spend the next several days looking into "whether it's human error or something else" that caused the boat to strike the bridge tower.

He said there was about a quarter-mile of visibility in the Bay at the time of the collision.

The San Francisco Bar Pilots Association released a statement Monday saying the pilot aboard the vessel has been a San Francisco bar pilot since 2005 and will be interviewed by the Coast Guard today.

Monday's incident brought reminders of the 2007 Cosco Busan spill where a tanker hit a fender on another tower of the western span of the bridge, causing more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel to leak into the Bay.

The spill killed nearly 7,000 birds and deposited oil on more than 3,300 acres of shoreline habitat, officials said.

The fenders, which were initially installed in 1936, were upgraded following the Cosco Busan spill and "worked as designed" Monday, Ney said.

"The bridge is safe and open," he said, adding that Monday's incident will not affect the ongoing construction on a new eastbound span of the bridge.

Regional: FBI Announces Excavation Plans in Hopes of Recovering Remains of 'Speed Freak Killers' Victims 

FBI officials in Sacramento announced Monday morning that they will begin excavating a second well in San Joaquin County as the family of kidnapping victim Michaela Garecht continue to wait for results from bones found last year in the same area.

Monday's announcement about the FBI's excavation effort is a new stage in the investigation of the so-called "Speed Freak Killers" that had been previously led by the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office.

The "Speed Freak Killers" -- Wesley Shermantine, 45, and Loren Herzog, who hanged himself at age 46 on Jan. 16, 2012 -- are believed to have buried their victims in a Linden, Calif., well.

The two are believed to have killed a number of people in the 1980s and 1990s.

They were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers" because they were allegedly high on methamphetamine at the time of the killings.

Investigators discovered the initial Linden site after being directed there by Shermantine.

FBI officials said various sources, including Shermantine, redirected them to a new well in the area.

The FBI announced plans to uncover the new well in the next two weeks.

If any remains are found in the process they will be sent to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., FBI officials said.

Sharon Murch, the mother of Michaela, who was abducted on Nov. 19, 1988, at age 9 as she rode her scooter with a friend to the Rainbow Market on Mission Boulevard in Hayward, called the FBI announcement "good news" on her blog.

Murch wrote in a post Monday, "Meanwhile, we continue to wait."

She was referring to a bone fragment that was found in a first well in Linden last February that was identified as that of a juvenile between the ages of 5 and 14.

Shermantine, who has been convicted of four counts of murder and is on death row, sparked interest in Michaela's case when he said in early 2012 that Herzog, who attended Linden High School with him in the 1980s, may have abducted Michaela.

Herzog was convicted in 2001 of three counts of murder and accepted a plea deal in which he was sentenced to 14 years in state prison.

In 2010, he was paroled to a trailer outside the High Desert State Prison in Susanville.

Authorities said he killed himself there the night of Jan. 16, 2012.

Last October, Murch said that initial tests showed the bone appeared to be Michaela's but that the results were inconclusive because of the bone's condition.

Regional: 49ers Tickets Sell Out in Minutes

If your web browser decided to be slow Monday morning, you may have missed out on your chance for tickets to the 49ers playoff game on Saturday.

Tickets were sold online beginning at 10 a.m. and were sold out in less than three minutes for the team's divisional round matchup with the Green Bay Packers, 49ers director of public relations Bob Lange said.

Fans hoping to still get tickets are encouraged to go to NFL TicketExchange for additional tickets, which is a website supported by the NFL and the 49ers.

The face value of the tickets for this round range from $114 to $429 but range from $200 to $10,000 on TicketExchange.

Stub Hub, another source for exchanging tickets, has them ranging from $195 to more than $5,000.

There is even one request asking for $99,360 for a lower reserve ticket.

However, there are still some other ticket packages available.

The 49ers have less than 100 tickets for the Ticket and Tailgate Packages, which includes the game ticket as well as entrance to a pregame tailgate party.

These tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.

The Packers, who won the NFC North division, won their NFC Wild Card game against the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 last Saturday.

The 49ers (11-4-1) won the NFC West for the second straight season and are the No. 2 seed in the NFC for the second straight season.

The 49ers were knocked out of the playoffs last season by the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.

Game time is Saturday at 5 p.m. at Candlestick Park.

Oakland: New Council President Elected, Three New Members Take Office

There was a changing of the guard at the Oakland City Council Monday with three new members being sworn in and Councilwoman Pat Kernighan being elected as the council's new president.

Kernighan, who was first elected in 2005 and represents District 2, which includes the Grand Lake and Chinatown districts, succeeds Larry Reid, who represents District 7 in East Oakland.

Reid, who was first elected in 1996 and was recently re-elected to a fifth term, was elected Vice Mayor at Monday's meeting.

He had been the council's president for the past four years.

At-Large Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who is beginning her second term, was elected to be the council's president pro tem.

Sworn in Monday were Dan Kalb, who succeeds Jane Brunner in representing District 1 in North Oakland, Noel Gallo, who replaces Ignacio De La Fuente in District 5, which largely consists of the Fruitvale district, and Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who succeeds Nancy Nadel in representing District 3 in West Oakland.

Nadel, De La Fuente and Brunner choose not to seek re-election to the seats that they had each represented for many years.

However, De La Fuente challenged Kaplan for the at-large seat and Brunner challenged Barbara Parker for the city attorney's job but both lost by wide margins.

Parker, who succeeded John Russo in June 2011 when he left Oakland to become Alameda's city manager, was sworn in Monday for a four-year term.

Oakland school board members Jody London, Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Roseann Torres and James Harris were also sworn in at the ceremony at Oakland City Hall Monday.

London represents District 1, Hodge represents District 3, Torres serves District 5 and Harris represents District 7.

Oakland: Judge Rules that Oikos Shooting Suspect is Mentally Incompetent

A judge Monday ruled that the man accused of murdering seven people in a shooting rampage at Oakland's Oikos University in April 2012 is incompetent to stand trial and suspended the legal proceedings against him.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta said she based her ruling on reports by two psychiatrists who have examined 44-year-old One Goh.

Panetta ordered Goh, a Korean national who lived in Oakland, to return to court on Jan. 28 for a hearing on which state mental hospital he should be sent to.

Goh currently is being held without bail at the Alameda County Jail in Dublin on seven counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder for allegedly shooting three victims who survived and 10 special-circumstance allegations, including committing murder during a carjacking.

Police said that Goh fled the campus after the April 2 shootings in a car belonging to one of the victims.

He was arrested in Alameda a short time later after he confessed to a Safeway security guard that he had just shot several people, according to police.

Goh is a former student who had left the school voluntarily.

Prosecutors have said he appears to have wanted a refund of his tuition, and may have been targeting an administrator who was not present the day of the shooting.

According to a probable cause statement filed in court by Oakland police Officer Robert Trevino, Goh has admitted that he carried out the shootings.

Those killed were students Lydia Sim, 21, Sonam Choedon, 33, Grace Kim, 23, Doris Chibuko, 40, Judith Seymour, 53, and Tshering Bhutia, 38, and Katleen Ping, 24, who worked at the school.

In addition to the murder and attempted murder charges, Goh faces 10 special-circumstance allegations that could result in the death penalty if he's convicted.

Seven of those allegations are for committing multiple murders and one each are for committing a murder during a robbery, murder during a carjacking and murder during a kidnapping.

Goh's lawyer, David Klaus, said outside court that the two psychiatrists who have examined Goh concluded that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is unable to cooperate with his defense team because he doesn't understand the criminal justice system.

Klaus said his personal opinion is that Goh "is significantly mentally ill and needs help." He said Goh "is deeply troubled and shows remorse" about his actions.

Regional: Authorities Say Alyssa Byrne May Have Been Disoriented When She Died After Leaving Music Festival

Alyssa Byrne, the 19-year-old Petaluma woman who was found dead Friday alongside a road in South Lake Tahoe, might have been disoriented when she left the SnowGlobe Music Festival she attended and headed back to her room at the Horizon Casino Resort early New Year's Day, an El Dorado County Sheriff's Office lieutenant said.

Byrne's body was found behind a snow bank off Pioneer Trail around 8:30 a.m. Friday. An employee of the South Lake Tahoe Utility District spotted her body 10 feet off Pioneer Trail from on an elevated truck.

"It is believed that Alyssa Byrne had attended the SnowGlobe Music Festival event late on New Year's Eve, and possibly became disoriented when she left the event on foot," Lt. Pete Van Arnum said in a news release.

"There is no indication of foul play or trauma to the body, and El Dorado County Sheriff's Office detectives and the CSI team have processed the scene for evidence," Van Arnum said.

The Sacramento County coroner's office will conduct an autopsy.

A spokeswoman said it had not been scheduled but could occur today.

The final results of the autopsy will likely be pending tests to determine if alcohol or drugs were in Byrne's system.

Drinking alcohol or not dressing warmly enough in cold weather lowers the body's core temperature, which, in turn, can cause fatal hypothermia.

Symptoms of hypothermia include confusion or difficulty thinking and poor decision-making, disorientation, apathy and lack of concern for one's condition, according to mayoclinic.com.

The festival at Lake Tahoe Community College was held Dec. 29-31.

Byrne and her friends were staying at the Horizon Casino Resort about four miles away in Stateline, Nev. Posts on Facebook about Byrne's death admonish people not to blame the festival's organizers, urge festival attendees to keep track of their friends through a buddy system and call for personal responsibility.

Some posts, however, said festival security should have made sure people leaving the festival that night when temperatures were near zero degrees should have made sure they boarded shuttle buses back to the hotels in the area.

"We continue to keep Alyssa Byrne, her family and our friends in our thoughts in prayers during this difficult time," read a post Sunday on the SnowGlobe Music Festival's website.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Alyssa Byrne," a post read on Friday.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to Alyssa's family and friends. We appreciate the quick response from South Lake Tahoe officials in response to the investigation."

SF Bay Area Morning Weather Forecast

Partly cloudy skies are expected in the Bay Area this morning becoming mostly cloudy later in the day.

Highs are likely to be in the upper 50s with winds up to 5 mph.

Partly cloudy skies are likely this evening becoming mostly cloudy later in the night.

Lows are expected to be in the upper 40s with southwest winds up to 10 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and a chance of showers are expected Wednesday morning.

Highs are likely to be in the mid 50s with northwest winds up to 20 mph.

 

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