Tuesday Morning News Roundup

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Airline Employee, Wife Arrested After Allegedly Stealing Diverted Passengers' Luggage

An airline employee appeared in a Redwood City court Friday after he was accused of stealing luggage from travelers whose flight was diverted after the deadly Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash at San Francisco International Airport earlier this month.

Sean Crudup, 44, a United Airlines customer service representative at the airport, pleaded not guilty to grand theft and second-degree burglary charges Friday, according to the San Mateo County district attorney's office.

His wife, Raychas Thomas, 32, is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 26. Crudup and Thomas were arrested after victims who were supposed to fly into SFO on July 8 were diverted because of the plane crash on July 6, according to prosecutors.

The runway where the crash occurred was closed for nearly a week after the incident, which left three dead and injured 180 passengers and crewmembers. During the shutdown there were hundreds of canceled flights and lengthy delays in and out of the airport.

The victims' luggage had not been diverted and arrived at SFO. When the victims went to pick up their bags they found they were missing, according to prosecutors. Surveillance footage allegedly showed Crudup taking the bags and giving them to his wife and another woman.

Allegedly Thomas took clothing from the bags to a Nordstrom store in Pleasanton and got $5,000 for the items. Thomas and Crudup were both arrested July 25 at SFO when Thomas was catching a flight to Hawaii.

In a search of Crudup's and Thomas' Richmond home, more stolen items from the victims' bags were allegedly found, prosecutors said. Crudup is set to be return to court on Thursday. He is out of custody on $75,000 bail, while Thomas posted $50,000 bail.

SFO Issuing Citizen's Arrests to Rideshare Drivers Dropping Off, Picking Up Passengers

In the past month, San Francisco International Airport officials have been citing and arresting drivers from mobile-app enabled rideshare companies that pick up and drop off passengers, an airport spokesman said.

Airport spokesman Doug Yakel said there have been seven citizen arrests issued to "various offenders" since July 10. The airport had issued cease and desist letters to several rideshare companies, including Lyft, Sidecar and Uber, in April.

Since then, Yakel said airport officials, in conjunction with airport police, had been "admonishing" drivers that came to the airport. Yakel said the companies are not permitted to offer their services at SFO and they are now being arrested for unlawful trespassing.

The state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates and licenses passenger carriers, has been looking into how to regulate these new types of companies. An evaluation of ridesharing services will come to the commission sometime this week after being mulled since the beginning of the year, CPUC spokesman Chris Chow said.

Taxi drivers are holding a noon rally at San Francisco City Hall today to "keep taxis regulated and safe" and are calling for the end of ridesharing services. The taxi group, comprised of members from the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association and the United Taxicab Workers of San Francisco, are demanding that city officials and regulatory agencies consider rideshare companies as illegal taxi services.

The protesters claim that the drivers are exempt from regulation, vehicle inspections, and insurance and driver requirements. They are calling the growing practice a "clear public safety hazard."

Dean Clark, a former taxi driver for nearly a decade, said authorities should not be targeting the rideshare drivers, but the companies. He said the drivers are simply offering rides to people for a donation, and that unlike what the taxi industry claims, many of the drivers are working students, semi-retired people and single parents.

Clark said the pick-up area is taxi domain because there is a pick-up fee, and rideshare drivers know and respect that. He said rideshare drivers should be allowed to drop off customers at the airport without being "harassed" by airport officials.

Representatives from Lyft and Sidecar were not available Monday afternoon and an Uber representative declined comment.

Woman Whose House Was Badly Damaged in 2010 East Palo Plane Crash Settles

A day care center operator whose home was badly damaged in the crash of a small private plane in East Palo Alto in 2010 has settled a lawsuit she filed against the deceased pilot's estate and his employer.

Lisa Jones and six other family members and employees filed the lawsuit against the estate of Douglas Bourn and Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors Inc. in Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2010.

The settlement was recorded in the court's docket on July 3. It averted a trial that had been scheduled for July 8. Jones' lawyer, Charles Eshoo, and Tesla's lawyer, Timothy Ryan, could not be reached for comment.

Donald Honigman, a lawyer for Bourn's estate, said, "The docket speaks for itself," but said he could not comment on any details of that settlement or three other lawsuits that have been settled.

Jones' family house on Beech Street was partly destroyed when it was hit by a wing of a Cessna 310 piloted by Bourn as that plane crashed on the morning of Feb. 17, 2010.

Jones had operated a day care center, Eppie's Day Care, in an adjacent building. Bourn, 56, of Santa Clara, a senior electrical engineer with Tesla Motors, and passengers Brian Finn, 42, of East Palo Alto, and Andrew Ingram, 31, of Palo Alto, who also worked for the electric car maker, were all killed in the crash.

The Cessna had taken off from Palo Alto Municipal Airport in heavy fog when it struck PG&E power lines and an electric tower at an altitude of about 50 feet at 7:54 a.m. and crashed.

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded in 2011 that the likely cause was the pilot's error in failing to follow instructions for a standard instrument departure and failing to attain sufficient altitude to clear the power lines. The report said there was near-zero visibility at the airport at the time and Bourn was told by a flight controller that if he took off, it was at his own risk.

The three men were on their way to a business meeting in Hawthorne, Calif. The three previously settled lawsuits were filed in San Mateo County Superior Court against Bourn's estate and Air Unique Inc., a company that Bourn operated and that owned the Cessna.

The suits were filed by Ingram's parents, by Finn's ex-wife and child, and by East Palo Alto residents Ervin and Pinkie Hudleton, whose carport and car were damaged in the crash. Still pending in San Mateo County Superior Court is a lawsuit filed against Bourn's estate and Air Unique by another neighbor, Jose Cortez-Herrera, and his wife, daughter and two granddaughters, who say the bulk of the plane came to rest in front of their home.

They say the house was damaged and they suffered emotional distress. In addition, the lawsuit alleges, the two grandparents and two granddaughters, then 3 and 6 years old, were injured as they sought to escape from the crash by going over a six-foot slat fence from their backyard into a neighbor's yard, while the girls' mother was trapped in her room.

That lawsuit is scheduled for a settlement conference on Nov. 13 and a jury trial on Dec. 2, according to the court's docket.

Man Arrested, Four Sought in Tenderloin Stabbing

A 20-year-old man was arrested and four others are being sought for a stabbing that seriously injured a man in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood early Monday morning, a police spokesman said.

Gonnoi Posada was arrested after the stabbing, which was reported at 2:36 a.m. in the 600 block of Eddy Street, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. Police said it appears the 49-year-old victim got into an altercation with Posada and the four other suspects and was stabbed in the chest by one of them.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which are considered life-threatening, police said. The suspects fled in various directions but Posada was taken into custody by responding officers and booked into jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Esparza said.

The other four suspects remained at large as of Monday afternoon and were described only as Hispanic males, one of whom was wearing a black hat, Esparza said.

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

Weather Forecast

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph. Mostly cloudy skies are expected this evening, with patchy fog after midnight.

Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Wednesday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

 

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