San Francisco Bay Area Friday Midday News Roundup

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America's Cup Officials Reviewing Safety Measures After Death Of Sailor

America's Cup race officials said today that they are reviewing the safety of the boats being used in September's regatta in San Francisco following the death of a sailor Thursday in a capsizing during a practice run.

Andrew "Bart" Simpson, 36, a member of the Sweden-based Artemis Racing team, died following the capsizing in the Bay shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday.

Officials held a news conference at race headquarters in San Francisco this morning to discuss the death and how they plan to move ahead with the sailing races that begin in July and end with the America's Cup Finals in September.

Regatta director Iain Murray said Simpson was aboard the Artemis Racing AC-72, a 72-foot catamaran that nose-dived and went into the water upside down.

The boat was broken into many pieces and it appears Simpson was trapped under some of the solid sections of the yacht, Murray said.

Simpson was "out of view, out of sight for the myriad of people on board trying to locate him," Murray said.

The sailor was eventually found after about 10 minutes and CPR was administered while he was taken ashore to the St. Francis Yacht Club.

However, Simpson could not be revived and was pronounced dead at 1:43 p.m., San Francisco fire officials said.

America's Cup Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay said the death has devastated everyone involved in the race.

The sailors "are a bit like a big family," Barclay said. "When something happens to one of our members, we all feel the loss."

Practices have been suspended for the next three days for teams in the regatta and Artemis Racing officials have not indicated whether they plan to continue in the races, Murray said.

He said while San Francisco police are conducting an investigation into the death, America's Cup officials will conduct their own investigation to see what, if any, changes should be made to the 72-foot boats or other aspects of the races.

"We take the safety of our sport very seriously and respect the ocean at all times," Murray said. "We are constantly trying to improve the way we manage these boats."

He said the area where the capsizing occurred, a "triangle" between Treasure Island, Angel Island and Alcatraz Island, was not part of the planned race course and that there are no plans to alter the course.

He said the area of the capsizing was "a windier spot on the Bay" but it also "wasn't extreme conditions."

Artemis Racing chairman Torbjorn Tornqvist issued a statement today about the death of the team's sailor.

Tornqvist said Simpson "was central to Artemis Racing, both in the course of racing and our lives. His presence and personality was a binding force and he will be missed."

Tornqvist said, "Right now, the primary focus of Artemis Racing is on the well-being of our team members and their families, and the America's Cup competition will remain second to that."

He said the team "will conduct a thorough analysis and review of this accident and will be looking at how the risks inherent to such competitive sailing can be limited in the future for the safety of the team and all competitors in the sailing community."

Simpson won two Olympic medals in sailing, a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Games and a silver medal in the 2012 Games in London, according to team officials.

Oakland  Annoucing More Changes To Police Leadership

Oakland city officials are announcing changes to the Police Department's executive leadership again, just two days after then-police Chief Howard Jordan stepped down as the city's top cop.

Jordan on Wednesday announced he was stepping down and taking steps toward medical retirement.

Assistant Chief Anthony Toribio took over as acting police chief, but is reportedly leaving the position after just two days.

Police and city officials have not confirmed reports that Toribio is stepping down, but are holding a news conference late this morning to discuss changes to the department's leadership.

The announcement caps off a tumultuous week for the Police Department, which also received a report Thursday from a group of police experts headed by William Bratton, former police chief in New York City, Los Angeles and Boston.

The report criticized Oakland police for a number of shortcomings, including a lack of information sharing and ability to counter the city's growing robbery and burglary problems.

The report recommended that the city implement a more district-based structure to allow officers to more effectively address serious crimes.

Delays On Caltrain After Female Pedestrian Struck In Burlingame, Killed On Tracks

A female pedestrian was struck and killed by a train on the Caltrain tracks in Burlingame this morning, a Caltrain spokeswoman said.

The pedestrian was struck by southbound train No. 314 around 7:40 a.m. south of the Broadway station, located at 1190 California Drive, according to Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann.

Ackemann said as of 10 a.m. there was a backlog of trains that had been single-tracking around the incident for more than an hour.

Tracks in both directions reopened around 9:50 a.m., but passengers should expect delays of up to more than an hour, Ackemann said.

Regular service is expected to resume around noon.

Buses took customers around the scene of the fatality until about 8:30 a.m., according to Ackemann.

Fire Damages Forbes Island Restaurant At Pier 41

A fire at San Francisco's Pier 41 early this morning damaged part of the small Forbes Island restaurant, which is accessibly only by boat, a fire department spokeswoman said.

The fire was reported at 2:54 a.m. at a structure near the main restaurant at the end of Pier 41, fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

Crews arrived by fireboat and had the blaze under control at 4:11 a.m., Talmadge said.

She said the area affected by the fire was a reception area where patrons order drinks before entering the main dining room.

Restaurant officials were not immediately available this morning to comment on how the fire will affect operations there.

Two Injured After Vehicle Crashed Into Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Building

Two people were injured when a vehicle crashed into a building at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose this morning, according to fire officials.

At about 3:49 a.m. fire officials received a report that a vehicle had crashed into a building at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Both the driver of the vehicle and an employee of the hospital were injured and treated at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center's emergency room.

According to fire officials, the injured driver was walked over to the emergency room, while the injured hospital employee was transported to the emergency room via ambulance.

Dignitaries To Speak At Memorial For Fallen Police Officers In Santa Clara County

A tribute today to law enforcement officers killed while on duty within Santa Clara County will include remarks by dignitaries and a reading of the names of fallen officers going back to 1862, a sheriff's office spokesman said.

Family members of about 30 of the 39 officers who have been killed while on duty in the county plan to attend the annual Peace Officers Memorial, hosted by the sheriff's office, sheriff's spokesman Deputy Kurtis Stenderup said.

"We reached out to every family on the list," Stenderup said.

The memorial service starts at noon at the sheriff's headquarters at 55 W. Younger Ave. in San Jose.

Board of Supervisors president Ken Yeager will deliver the keynote speech and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and state Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, will also speak.

Representatives from local law enforcement agencies in the county are expected to attend, Stenderup said.

The program will feature an honor guard, 21-gun salute, the national anthem, taps and a performance by a bagpipes band, Stenderup said.

After the elected officials speak, the names of the 39 peace officers killed in the county since 1862 will be read aloud, including officers from the sheriff's office, the San Jose, Palo Alto, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale police departments and the California Highway Patrol.

The first fallen officer in Santa Clara County was Deputy Sheriff Martin Roonan, who was stabbed to death on Oct. 23, 1862, and the most recent was San Jose police Officer Jeffrey Fontana, who was shot to death on Oct. 28, 2001, Stenderup said.

At Least Four Injured In Crash Near Eastridge Mall In San Jose

At least four people were injured in a crash near the Eastridge Mall in San Jose this morning, a fire dispatcher said.

The multi-vehicle collision was reported at 7:24 a.m. at East Capitol Expressway and Quimby Road and one of the vehicles overturned, the dispatcher said.

The dispatcher did not know the extent of the victims' injuries.

One-Alarm Fire Damages Kitchen In Mission District Restaurant

A one-alarm fire damaged the kitchen of a restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District this morning, according to a fire department spokeswoman.

The fire at 2288 19th St. was reported at 10:34 a.m. and was brought under control at 10:52 a.m., department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

The restaurant Little Baobab is listed at that address.

Talmadge said damage from the fire appears to have been limited to the area above the stove.

Firefighters Tackle Blaze At Oakland Barbecue Restaurant

Fire crews responded this morning to a fire at a building that houses an Oakland barbecue restaurant, a fire dispatcher said.

The one-alarm fire was reported at 10:01 a.m. at The Smoky Fire Pit restaurant at 6637 Bancroft Ave.

Crews responded and extinguished the blaze by 10:18 a.m. Fire officials said the fire was on the second floor and attic area of the building.

No injuries were reported in the fire, the dispatcher said.

Traffic Stop On Hwy 101 In Sonoma County Leads To Marijuana Arrests

Two men were arrested with more than four pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop Thursday in Sonoma County, according to the California Highway Patrol.

At about 11:20 a.m., a CHP officer on patrol on southbound U.S. Highway 101 spotted the passenger of a 1969 Chevrolet Impala not wearing a seatbelt.

The officer initiated a traffic stop and activated his emergency lights. The officer followed the car for about a mile until the driver pulled over near Geyserville Avenue.

The officer smelled marijuana coming from inside the Impala and conducted a search of the car.

The search netted more than four pounds of processed marijuana packaged for sales, according to the CHP.

The driver, 20-year-old Sebastian Ceja, and the passenger, Jose Vitgen, 22, both of Ukiah, were arrested on suspicion of possession and transportation of marijuana for sales, according to the CHP.

Windsor Man Accused Of Starving Retired Racehorse Pleads No Contest

A Windsor man was sentenced today to three years' informal probation and 200 hours of community service in Sonoma County Superior Court in connection with the death of a retired thoroughbred racehorse on his property in 2010.

Mark Ross, 49, was charged with felony animal cruelty for allegedly starving the 6-year-old horse to death on his Jensen Lane property.

The horse died in December 2010.

Ross pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge this morning and was sentenced immediately by Judge Robert LaForge.

Animal rights activists, some of whom attended what was to be the start of Ross' trial today, claimed Ross allowed the horse to starve while feeding another horse next to it.

Ross' attorney Andy Martinez said the retired racehorse stopped eating for unknown reasons. He said Ross took the advice of a friend who examined the horse a month before it died and recommended Ross feed it alfalfa instead of hay, Martinez said.

Ross' niece Nicole Ross brought the horse to the property and neglected it, Martinez said.

The niece also was charged with felony animal cruelty. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced in January to three years' probation, 300 hours of community service and 45 days in county jail with the option of enrolling in a work release program.

"We had a defensible case all the way," Martinez said after today's sentencing.

He said his client agreed to plead no contest to the lesser charge because of the cost of an estimated 5- to 7-day trial.

Siobham Duff, of Petaluma, who attended the sentencing on behalf of In Defense of Animals, said the outcome of the case was "horrible and atrocious."

Duff said Ross should have been convicted of a felony charge.

LaForge also ordered Ross to pay $500 to the Sonoma County Coins to Help Abandoned and Neglected Equines program, which paid for a necropsy on the racehorse.

The judge also ordered Ross not to own or have horses on his property during his probation.

Piedmont High School Annual Bird Calling Contest Goes On Stage Tonight

Piedmont High School's nationally known Annual Bird Calling Contest will go on stage at the school's theater tonight.

The 7 p.m. performance at the Alan Harvey Theater will be the 48th annual contest.

In keeping with a tradition in place since the 1990s, the top three winners will fly to New York to appear on the Late Night with David Letterman show on May 21.

Students, either solo or in teams of three, will hoot, squawk, chirp, trill, tweet or warble in imitation of a chosen bird. Last year's winners sang the calls of Greater Prairie Chicken, the Green Heron and the California Quail.

The contestants, often in creative costumes, also present a short skit to give information about their bird.

"It's fun. It's definitely a Piedmont tradition," said Amanda Docter, a parent volunteer who helps with publicity for the event.

"It's an overarching innocent entertainment and it shows the kids' well-roundedness," Docter said.

The contest's three judges will determine the score on the basis of three criteria: the authenticity of the call; the poise and delivery of the performers; and the content of the introductory sketch.

The contest was begun in 1963 by Leonard Waxdeck, who Docter said was a beloved science teacher.

It has continued almost every year since then except for a two-year hiatus in the 1990s.

The winners began appearing on Johnny Carson's Tonight show in 1976. After Carson retired in 1992, Letterman took over being the annual host of the winners.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137