San Francisco Bay Area Friday Midday News Roundup

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Marin Coroner's Office Identifies Girl Killed In Bicycle-SUV Collision

The Marin County coroner's office has identified the 12-year-old Novato girl who died Thursday afternoon when her bicycle collided with an SUV as Hailey Ratliff.

Coroner's office Lt. Keith Boyd said an autopsy was scheduled for today.

Ratliff was riding west on Novato Boulevard west of Sutro Avenue when she was struck in the roadway by an eastbound SUV around 3 p.m., Novato police said.

The name of the driver has not been released, but he stopped and cooperated with the investigation, Sgt. Jennifer Welch said.

There were no signs of impairment or traffic violations Thursday afternoon, Welch said.

More information about the collision will be available early next week as the traffic unit continues its investigation, Welch said. Any witnesses are asked to contact the Novato Police Department.

Ratliff was rushed to Novato Community Hospital and was then flown to Oakland Children's Hospital and Research Center, where she died at about 5:30 p.m., Welch said.

Ratliff's first day of school at Sinaloa Middle School was Aug. 22, Novato Unified School District spokeswoman Leslie Benjamin said.

Her family reportedly recently moved from Albuquerque, N.M. 

Counselors were available for students and staff this morning, Benjamin said.

They were informed of Ratliff's death during their first-period class, a school spokeswoman said.

Novato Unified School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said, "The entire Novato community is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of one of our students, Hailey Ratliff, a seventh-grader at Sinaloa Middle School."

Cunningham said counselors will be at three schools next week. 

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family," Cunningham said.

Pedestrian Bridge Opening In San Jose, In Honor Of 2-Year-Old Boy Struck And Killed In 2005

Almost seven years after a toddler was killed crossing train tracks in south San Jose, a pedestrian overcrossing is opening today in the little boy's honor, city officials said.

Alexander Arriaga, 2, was fatally struck by an Amtrak train while crossing the tracks near the Monterey Highway and Blossom Hill Road on Nov. 21, 2005.

The boy, known as Xander, was walking with his 4-year-old brother, and both were under the watch of a babysitter before the accident.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was scheduled to be held at 11 a.m. at the Blossom Hill Pedestrian Overcrossing Bridge, which has been dubbed "Xander's Crossing."

Xander's mother, Nicole Wilson, is scheduled to speak at the bridge dedication, for which she worked for years to construct over the tracks in the name of pedestrian safety, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority spokeswoman Brandi Childress said.

San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra, who is on the VTA board of directors, will attend the ceremony, along with Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman; former San Jose Councilman Forrest Williams; and Caltrans Deputy Director Mark Zabaneh.

The $10.5-million pedestrian bridge project was built over the Union Pacific railroad tracks at Monterey Road and Endicott Boulevard, connecting a 315-foot steel bridge to newly constructed sidewalks on each end.

To enhance pedestrian safety in the area fencing has also gone up along the tracks.

Funding came from state bonds, the Federal Highway Administration, VTA, and from the city, officials said.

Caltrans has relinquished the property to the city of San Jose, which will assume control and maintenance of the overcrossing.

No Charges Filed Against Albany Teacher Suspected Of Molestation

A sixth-grade teacher at Albany Middle School who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of performing a lewd act with a child under 14 hasn't been charged because the case remains under investigation, authorities said today.

James Izumizaki, 28, was arrested at his home in Albany on a warrant that was the result of an investigation into reports that he had an inappropriate relationship with a former student, according to Albany police.

Izumizaki, who has been employed as a teacher and coach at Albany Middle School for several years, was booked into Santa Rita Jail in Dublin but he has now been released on $100,000 bail.

An Alameda County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman said Izumizaki tentatively is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 24 if charges are filed by then.

Albany Unified School District Superintendent Marla Stephenson said at a media briefing Thursday that Izumizaki began working for the district in 2007 as a long-term substitute teacher and was hired as a sixth-grade teacher in 2008.

Stephenson said Izumizaki was very involved in the school, participating in a student government program and coaching seventh-grade volleyball and eighth-grade boys' basketball.

Stephenson said she learned of the alleged misconduct Monday, and that the school district contacted Child Protective Services and Albany police.

Izumizaki was placed on leave that afternoon.

Albany police said anyone who has information about Izumizaki or any other inappropriate conduct that may have occurred to contact them at (510) 528-5783.

Smokey Robinson Impersonator Arrested After Cellphone Stolen In Union Square Bar

An alleged con artist, known for impersonating a Motown songwriter in 2010 and this past June, has been arrested in connection with the theft of a cellphone he asked to borrow to make a call to Motown singer Smokey Robinson, San Francisco police said today.

Alan Young, 56, was arrested on burglary and parole violation charges Tuesday at his home in the 100 block of Sixth Street only minutes after a man reported his cellphone was stolen by a man at a bar inside a Union Square hotel.

The victim told police that he met the man at the bar on Union Square at about 11 p.m. The man told the victim he knew Smokey Robinson and asked if he could call Robinson with the victim's cellphone.

After the victim handed him the cellphone, the suspect told him it was noisy inside the bar and he had to make the call outside. The suspect left the bar but did not return.

From the description provided by the victim, police recognized Young and found him at his home. Officers also found local hotel access cards at Young's home, police said.

At the time of his arrest Tuesday, Young was on felony probation for a previous arrest.

Young was arrested in June on suspicion of leaving a San Francisco bar with another victim's cellphone, after telling the victim he was Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier.

Officer Albie Esparza said police are asking for other potential victims of similar scams to come forward.

Young was the subject of a manhunt in 2010, after police said he tried to convince a San Francisco art dealer that he was Dozier and wanted to buy $75,000 in artworks.

Nothing was stolen, but the art dealer notified police after searching for Lamont Dozier online and determining Young was not Dozier, police said.

Mother And Daughter Escape Morning House Fire In San Jose

A mother and her 20-year-old daughter escaped a fire that burned their home in San Jose this morning, a fire department captain said.

The fire at the home at 1689 Mulberry Lane in the Willow Glen area was reported at 6:55 a.m.

A couple neighbors called 911 saying a house was burning, Capt. Mary Gutierrez said. About 25 firefighters responded.

The blaze was declared under control at 8:09 a.m.

It is important to check smoke detector batteries, Gutierrez said. These women escaped after their smoke detectors went off.

"This family is incredibly fortunate that those smoke detectors went off for them," she said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A damage estimate was not available.

No injuries were reported.

Antioch Teens Arrested For Allegedly Starting Fire At City Park

Two teenage boys were arrested Thursday for allegedly starting a fire at a playground in an Antioch park, police said today.

Officers arrested a 17-year-old and 14-year-old, both from Antioch, on suspicion of arson in connection with the Sept. 17 fire at Antioch City Park at 1000 A St., police said.

The fire was reported around 10:40 p.m. at a toddler play structure near the south side of the park's playground, according to police.

Fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze but were unable to salvage the play structure.

Several days after the fire, police received a tip that it may have been set intentionally.

Following up on that lead, detectives were able to locate the two teenage suspects and arrested them Thursday evening.

Both suspects were taken to juvenile hall in Martinez, where they remained as of this morning, according to police.

Man Killed After Walking Onto Freeway After Redwood City Crash

A 38-year-old San Bruno man was killed after he exited his crashed vehicle, walked onto a northbound lane of U.S. Highway 101 in Redwood City and was hit by an oncoming car early this morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Tony Edward Reyes was identified as the motorist who died just before 12:30 a.m. on the freeway near Marsh Road and near the city of Menlo Park.

Reyes was headed north on the highway when his Chevrolet Trailblazer skipped off of the fourth and fifth lanes and hit the right-side sound wall.

Reyes then got out of his disabled car and stood in a lane where he was struck by a Jeep Liberty, driven by Romeo Tutop, 31, of San Jose.

The crash remains under investigation, CHP Officer Art Montiel said.

A Sig-alert issued on a stretch of the freeway north of Marsh Road at 12:47 a.m. was canceled shortly after 3:30 a.m., according to the CHP.

Santa Clara VTA Officials Break Ground On Mission Boulevard/Warren Avenue Improvements

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority officials broke ground today on a project that will widen Mission Boulevard in Fremont, build new on- and off- ramps and add a grade separation for railroad and BART tracks.

The Mission/Warren Area improvements will widen Mission Boulevard to six lanes between Interstate Highway 880 and Warm Springs Boulevard, according to VTA officials.

In addition, new on- and off-ramps to Mission will be built at Kato Road and Warren Avenue will be lowered to separate it from Union Pacific Railroad tracks and BART tracks planned for the area. The project will also install two new railroad bridges, two BART bridges and one maintenance bridge over Mission and Warren.

The Warren Avenue grade separation will allow for a fully separated BART extension through the area. Warren will eventually also get new pedestrian sidewalks and striped bike lanes.

"These important improvements in Fremont will benefit the community by expanding mobility in Alameda County, improving transportation infrastructure and preparing the current railroad corridor for BART Silicon Valley," said Santa Clara County Supervisor and VTA Board Chairman Ken Yeager.

Refurbished Free Dental Clinic Reopens At Elementary School

Students at a Richmond elementary school now have the chance to ensure their smiles stay healthy at a newly refurbished, on-campus dental clinic after its reopening today, school district officials said.

The dental clinic at Peres Elementary School and its $500,000 in improvements were unveiled after a ribbon-cutting ceremony and speeches from district administrators this morning.

Students will be able to receive dental care at the clinic starting Oct. 5 after a summer of renovations, Principal Jawan Eldridge said. 

The clinic led by Dr. Daniel Tanita is now equipped with new computers, record-keeping software, imaging software, upgraded dental lighting, two new patient chairs with monitors and an improved fire alarm and paging system, among other improvements.

And instead of providing only preventative care as it has in the past, the clinic is now fully stocked to cover a wide range of dental needs, including fillings and extractions, Eldridge said.

Originally launched in 1997, Tanita and other volunteer dentists and hygienists have provided free dental care to hundreds of students in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood who might not otherwise have access to regular dentist visits, the principal said.

"It starts them off at a young age being familiar with a dentist, where a lot of students wouldn't have that access because of medical coverage," he said.

"Having a dental clinic on campus, (students) are able to be seen and go back to class and their education isn't impacted," the principal added.

The on-campus clinic is open to any of the school's 552 students who bring back a signed permission slip from a parent or guardian allowing them to be seen.

Parents may schedule a dental appointment for their child by filling out a form and returning it to the school's front desk.

2.7-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Berkeley This Morning

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.7 struck just outside Berkeley this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake rattled the area at 9:25 a.m. with the epicenter about 2 miles east-southeast of Berkeley.

The temblor had a depth of about 4.5 miles, according to the USGS.

Petaluma Little League Team To Swim With Dolphins At Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

The Petaluma National Little League team that nearly won the national championship in the Little League World Series will be swimming with the dolphins at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom on Sunday afternoon.

The team of 12- and 13-year-old boys came in second for the national championship and third in the world during the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., this past summer.

Players and coaches will participate in a special swim at the park's Dolphin Discovery pool at 1:30 p.m.

Guests can meet the team members when they sign autographs between 3:30 and 4 p.m., Six Flags Discovery Kingdom spokeswoman Nancy Chan said. 

There also will be a ceremony honoring the team at 4:20 p.m. just prior to the 4:30 p.m. dolphin show, Chan said.

The players and coaches will be introduced and the team will receive a special presentation.

"We approached them several weeks ago, and they jumped at the chance," Chan said about the dolphin swim invitation.

The team, which has been honored by Bay Area professional baseball and football teams, has been busy every weekend, Chan said.

Two dollars of every special-priced admission ticket purchased online with the promo code PETALUMA or with a coupon printed from the park's website will be donated to the Petaluma Little League, Chan said. 

The price of a ticket purchased online is $33.99 and $39.99 with the coupon. The park's general admission price is usually $57.99, Chan said.

The park's annual Fright Fest begins Saturday evening and runs through Oct. 28.

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