<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usWed, 29 Mar 2017 16:32:34 -0700Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:32:34 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Undocumented Immigrants Caught Crossing Border on Camera]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:27:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/03-29-17+Otay+Mesa+Border+Fence+Hole.JPG

Three men and a woman were arrested when they illegally crossed into the United States after cutting a hole through a fence in Otay Mesa on Wedneday.

The arrest was caught on camera by an NBC 7 crew at the scene.

Construction crews spotted the group of people Wednesday morning and alerted Border Patrol agents.

Agents said the woman and three men crossed through the hole and then took off into the canyon near the border.

NBC 7 spoke to some Border Patrol agents who said breaches like this one happen often. Last year, they had more than 500 breaches alone.

"Very quick, yes. The initial cutting of the fence takes usually less than a minute—usually 45 seconds to a minute. They’ll make the cut and run right back," said Border Patrol agent Jose Hernandez.

The woman was arrested about a mile away from the border fence. The three men were later taken into custody as well.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Balboa Park’s Historic ‘Gate Houses’ Restored]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:01:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Balboa-Park-Gates-0329-3.jpg

After an 18-month restoration project, a couple of small structures that have stood at San Diego’s Balboa Park for more than a century have now been returned to their original glory.

The historic structures – known as the park’s “gate houses” – are each located on both sides of El Prado, as visitors approach the Cabrillo Bridge at the intersection of El Prado and Balboa Drive.

The gate houses were installed 102 years ago – meant to serve as ticket booths for the 1915 Panama-California World Exposition, and designed to welcome visitors into Balboa Park. At the time, they flanked a grand entryway that also included a gate.

After the year-long exposition, the gate was removed but the small structures were left in place. As decades passed, they fell into disrepair.

In 2014, Friends of Balboa Park – a nonprofit organization that helps preserve Balboa Park for future generations – took on the project to help restore the gate houses. The City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department partnered on the project, and the efforts were led by board member Jim Hughes, who saw the project through from beginning to end.

After 18 months, the gate houses were completed in December 2016. On Wednesday, the official ribbon cutting ceremony took place.

“The gate houses have been restored to their original splendor from the 1915 Exposition, thanks to donors, volunteers and local preservation experts,” Friends of Balboa Park Executive Director John Bolthouse said. “Beautiful structures now welcome visitors to the west end of the park, just as was intended more than a century ago.”

Bolthouse said the work falls in line with Friends of Balboa Park’s continued mission to work with the City of San Diego to “help maintain the ‘Jewel of San Diego’ for people from around the world to enjoy.”

According to the nonprofit, the project cost approximately $140,000.

Friends of Balboa Park funds these types of initiatives through donations and park programs. Since 1999, the group – comprised of philanthropists, community leaders and San Diegans – has spearheaded projects like the restoration of Balboa Park’s iconic lily pond, bench tributes, tree dedications and information kiosks.

To learn about other projects in the works, click here.

Photo Credit: Friends of Balboa Park
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<![CDATA[7 More Flu Deaths Reported as Season Dies Down]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:04:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flu+shot+generic1.JPG

Seven more flu deaths have been reported in San Diego County this past week as flu activity in the region slows down, health officials said Wednesday. 

The total number of flu deaths this season has reached 79, compared to 60 the same time last year. 

“It appears that influenza activity is winding down in the region,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement. “However, influenza is still present in the community and can cause illness throughout the year, so people should continue taking preventive measures to avoid getting sick.”

The HHSA’s latest “Influenza Watch” report, from the week ending on March 25, says two percent of all emergency department visits in San Diego were patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

There were 130 lab-confirmed cases of influenza for the week, down from the 207 the week prior.

To date, there have been 5,084 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in San Diego. Last year at this time, there were 5,672.

Wooten said for those with underlying health conditions, influenza can be deadly. This is why health officials recommend getting a flu vaccine, as it is considered the best protection against the illness.

Health officials recommend an annual flu shot; after the vaccination, it takes two weeks for immunity to develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The vaccination is especially recommended for those at high-risk of experiencing complications with the flu, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and people age 65 and older.

Flu season in the U.S. occurs between December and May.

For a list of county public health centers where you can get a flu shot, click here or call 211.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[AP Source: Gas Tax Funds $52 Billion California Road Plan]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:41:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/gas+pump+generic1.jpg

The governor and legislative leaders want to raise $52 billion to fix California roads through a big increase in the gas tax along with higher car registration fees and a $100 charge on emission-free vehicles, a person told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The 10-year plan would boost gasoline excise taxes by 12 cents a gallon -- a 43 percent increase, said the person who has direct knowledge of the proposal but sought anonymity because details were being officially announced later in the day.

The plan also includes a sliding fee on vehicles, with owners of cheaper vehicles paying less.

For the first time, owners of zero emission vehicles would pay a $100 annual fee, since they use public roads but don't pay gasoline taxes.

The proposal includes a constitutional amendment requiring that the money be spent only on transportation projects, and it would create an inspector general to make sure money isn't misspent.

Critics have long complained that money raised by transportation taxes has been siphoned off for other uses, something the constitutional amendment is designed to prevent.

In a news release about the plan, Gov. Jerry Brown's office called it "a landmark road repair and transportation investment package" that would fix roads, freeways and bridges, with other money spent on mass transit. The release didn't provide further details.

The Democratic governor has said California has $59 billion in deferred maintenance on state highways and $78 billion on local streets and roads. Last month he suggested tax increases may be required to address the problem.

He has set an April 6 goal for the Legislature to pass a transportation funding package.

Brown, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon were set to unveil the package at the Capitol.

It's the third time Brown has attempted to address the multibillion-dollar backlog in transportation repairs and upgrades through tax increases. Brown's previous plans and others calling for tax increases have repeatedly stalled in the Legislature, with Republicans and moderate Democrats reluctant to back the higher taxes.

Democrats control enough seats for the proposal to pass the Assembly and Senate with the two-thirds majority required for tax increases. Brown will need nearly all of them unless he can pick up support from Republicans, who have opposed raising taxes to pay for road construction.

The Assembly will be particularly challenging. A number of Democrats eked out wins in the November election and could be vulnerable in the next campaign if they vote to raise taxes. Moderate Democrats, many from inland districts where voters are generally poorer and face long commutes to work, may be concerned about raising gas prices.

"We can no longer afford to ignore our crumbling and limited public transportation infrastructure," Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, said in a statement. He praised the agreement for increasing money for public transportation, but said public transit needs even more money.

In the new proposal:

-- The gasoline tax would raise $24.4 billion over 10 years.

-- The state's current 16-cent-a-gallon diesel excise tax would climb by 20 cents -- a 125 percent increase. It would raise $7.3 billion over 10 years.

-- An increase in the diesel sales tax would raise $3.5 billion over 10 years.

-- The sliding vehicle fee is similar to what owners already pay annually to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. It is projected to raise $16.3 billion.

-- The $100 annual fee on zero emission vehicles would start in 2020 and raise $200 million

<![CDATA[Person Unhurt in Solo Rollover Crash: CHP]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:02:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/police-stock-breaking-119818994.jpg

A driver was unhurt in a solo rollover crash Wednesday afternoon in San Marcos, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials said. 

The crash happened at approximately 12:56 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of Double Peak Drive and Atherton Street in San Marcos. The location is right of San Elijo Road, south of State Route 78. 

No other cars were involved. 

The driver was not hurt. 

No other information was available.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story stated that a Sheriff's Deputy was involved in the crash, as reported by the CHP. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Guilty Verdict in Case of Man Killed by Home Invasion Robber]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:00:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Brent-Adler-0513.jpg

A man with a violent criminal history has been found guilty in the slaying of a San Carlos resident who was shot to death in a home invasion robbery last spring.

Elliot Grizzle, 45, was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday in a San Diego courtroom for the killing of Brett Adler, 33. Grizzle faces 198 years to life in prison when he’s sentenced next month; he’s due back in court on April 26 – one day after his 46th birthday.

Grizzle – who has a criminal record that includes convictions for assault and manslaughter – was one of several armed intruders who entered a home in the 8500 block of Tommy Drive on May 11, 2016.

The group tied up and robbed two residents, demanding money from them. Adler came home in the middle of the home invasion, and was shot to death outside.

Grizzle and the others fled the scene in a green Ford Expedition SUV.

In an interview with a local media outlet, Adler’s sister said the victim had interrupted the intruders and was killed trying to protect his friends. She said Adler had spent 12 years in prison for an armed robbery he committed as a teenager when he and his friends robbed a smoke shop. She said he had since cleaned up his life and was a “good man and a great brother and uncle.”

Grizzle was arrested in connection with this case on Aug. 3, 2016. In addition to first-degree murder, he was also charged with felony second-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.

Photo Credit: GoFundMe]]>
<![CDATA[Mexican Attorney General Charged with Drug Trafficking at San Diego Border]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:03:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/us+mexico+flag.jpg

An attorney general from one of the Mexican states was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego for smuggling and trying to distribute drugs, charges filed by the state of New York in early March.

The State of New York filed drug trafficking charges against Edgar Veytia, state prosecutor from the Mexican State of Nayarit, on March 2, which led to his arrest on Monday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Ralph Desio confirmed Veytia was taken into custody Monday at the Cross Border Xpress bridge, which links Tijuana Airport to the U.S.

Veytia, also known as “Diablo,” “Eepp,” and “Lic veytia,” was indicted on Tuesday for charges, including grand jury charges of international conspiracy to illegally import, manufacture and distribute heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine.

Between Jan. 2013 and Feb. 2017 the amount of drugs that can be attributed to Veytia for manufacture and distribution is at least one kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine, 500 grams of methamphetamine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, according to documents from the United States District Court of Eastern New York.

During that same time, court documents state there is reasonable cause that Veytia knew of and would attempt illegal importation of said substances from outside the U.S. as well.

If convicted Veytia would have to forfeit all property believed to be obtained through his drug manufacturing and distributing, and all property used to commit the offenses, including at least $250 million, according to the United States District Court of Southern California.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sailor Pleads Not Guilty in Coronado Bridge Wrong Way Crash]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:39:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/coronado-crash-0327.jpg

A suspected drunk driver and U.S. Navy sailor who allegedly sped the wrong way onto the San Diego-Coronado Bridge and collided head-on with another car pleaded not guilty to related felony charges from her hospital bed Wednesday. 

Briana Rall, 24, a service member in the U.S. Navy, faces a felony driving under the influence charge in the early morning crash on Monday.

Rall, who does not have a prior criminal record, pleaded not guilty through an attorney. Bail was set at $130,000. 

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) said a white Ford Fusion was seen driving the wrong way across the bridge. A CHP unit at the toll plaza spotted the wrong way driver, but were not able to catch up to the car before a crash occured. 

When authorities caught up with the car, it had collided head-on with a Ford F-150 just 300 yards east of the toll plaza shortly after 4 a.m. that morning. 

The 49-year-old woman was taken to UCSD Medical Center with major injuries, the CHP official said. She suffered three broken ribs and a swollen heart. 

The driver of a third vehicle, a Dodge Ram pickup, was heading to work on base when he was struck by the F-150. The 27-year-old, a U.S. Navy Service member, suffered moderate injuries and was treated at UCSD.

Rall suffered minor injuries in the crash. 

Traffic in both directions was immediately stopped and held for several hours while CHP and Coronado police investigated.

If convicted, Rall could spent six years in prison. 

<![CDATA[Stadium Backers Have Signatures to Get Proposal in Front of City Council]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:23:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Soccer-SD-City-rendering-031716.jpg

Proponents of a new stadium in Mission Valley have collected 108,000 signatures in support of the proposal, they announced Wednesday. The number is more than enough to get the issue in front of the San Diego City Council.

The group behind the proposal, La Jolla-based FS Investors, said they plan to circulate petitions for a few more days before submitting them to the City of San Diego.

FS hopes to build a complex with commercial and office buildings, housing, a river park and a hybrid soccer-college football stadium on 166 acres where Qualcomm Stadium is located.

 The land is up for grabs after Dean Spanos moved his professional football team to Los Angeles.

The so-called "Soccer City SD" project would include nearly 5,000 residential units, two hotels and a 55-acre river park along with the soccer stadium.

The City of San Diego requires signatures from at least 5 percent of registered voters before a referendary petition may be submitted. The registrar still needs to validate 71,646 of those signatures for it to get to the San Diego City Council for consideration.

Once submitted, the petition may be approved by councilmembers or be put up for a public vote.

The project is likely to face challenges from other developers and environmental groups.

Major League Soccer (MLS) will decide by the fall on whether San Diego will be  awarded a franchise.

Photo Credit: FS Investors]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego County Among Healthiest in California: Report]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:37:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-01.jpg

San Diego County is the 12th healthiest in California, according to a newly released report that investigates and ranks livability across the state.

While San Diego didn't crack the top 10, our county still is among the top 20 percent healthiest in the state.

Education, jobs, housing, physical environment and access to care are among the factors that went into determine the California’s healthiest counties report, according to the study done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

San Mateo County ranked No. 1. Marin and Santa Clara counties occupy ranks two and three respectively. Sonoma, Napa, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Cruz counties all made it to the top 20 of nearly 60 counties, the report shows.

Lake, Modoc and Alpine counties occupy the last three slots.

Despite the rosy news for many Bay Area counties, researchers found a dark cloud hanging over California. An alarming number of people are falling through the cracks or dying too soon.

“Our country continues to experience an epidemic of drug overdose deaths,” said Abbey Cofsky of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. “It’s by far the leading cause of death among those between 25-44 years old. Nearly five million between the ages of 16 and 24 are not in school, and don’t have jobs.

The researchers urged people to use the county health rankings to see where they can make changes personally and in their communities.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA['South of the 8' Hopes to Break Old Stereotypes]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:35:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/South-of-I8-stage-play.jpg

There is an expression in San Diego, “South of the 8." 

It describes a geographical location south of downtown San Diego but it’s an area where the perception is sometimes negative.

“I was living in it and I didn’t realize it was dangerous. I was hearing helicopters all the time”, said Omar Romman Johnson who grew up exposed to gangs.

Even though the drugs, the money and the girls were part of a glorified lifestyle in his world at the time, he realized it was not a “blueprint” he wanted to follow.

He may have been motivated by his own initiative but credits his mother as a driving force to help him succeed.

"She’s done her best to raise me and to cultivate me to be a good person in a world in a sense and to contribute to the world in a positive way,” he said.

Iyari Arteaga grew up with a different kind of angst, living in Normal Heights, City Heights and Barrio Logan.

She said her classmates from the high school she attended “north of the 8” didn’t understand her indigenous roots and traditions.

“I didn’t know how to talk about it because I was scared that people were going to look at me differently," she said. 

Arteaga added many hold stereotypes about communities located south of I-8.

"They think it’s dangerous down there,” she said.

Johnson and Arteaga are two of five young adults who will tell their stories in a theater production by  La Jolla Playhouse and Ping Chong + Company. It’s called: South of the 8.

“We’re humanizing south of the 8 because people just have this idea and the stereotype and stereotypes are really just a way to dehumanize people,” said Arteaga.

Johnson said the communities hold promise and the changes are noticeable. 

He said that this non-traditional production allows him and the four others to share their experiences in a bigger spotlight. 

He said he hopes everyone can “try to diagnose the issues so that we can fix them.”

Right now Johnson is cutting hair for a living while pursuing his passion for music and acting.

Arteaga is teaching theater at East Village High School and working at the Children’s Museum. 

South of the 8 opens for three performances March 31 and April 1 at the City Heights Performance Annex.

For more information contact the La Jolla Playhouse.

<![CDATA[Pot, Edibles Seized by Cops in Illegal Dispensary Bust]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:53:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/marijuana-GettyImages_698723.jpg

Narcotics detectives served a search warrant Wednesday at a San Diego business accused of illegally operating as a marijuana dispensary, seizing pot and edibles during the bust.

San Diego Police Department (SDPD) acting Lt. Duane Malinowski said that at around 6 a.m., police searched a business called The Cure Lab located at 6070 Mount Alifan Dr., near Balboa Avenue.

During the search, detectives found about five pounds of marijuana inside the location, multiple types of edibles, concentrated cannabis and money. Two employees of The Cure Lab were arrested, police said, and issued misdemeanor citations for sales of marijuana and for illegally operating a marijuana dispensary business.

According to Malinowski, the SDPD Narcotics Unit and the San Diego County City Attorney’s office are currently in the process of investigating all illegal pot dispensaries operating in the City of San Diego. Their larger-scale investigation led them to obtain the search warrant for this particular business.

The investigation is ongoing; the SDPD said additional charges against others linked to illegal marijuana dispensaries may be forthcoming.

No further details were released.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[High Winds May Trouble Spring Break Travelers]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:46:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rain+wind+palm+trees.png

San Diegans traveling through the mountains on Spring Break may contend with troublesome winds, Thursday and Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Watch for local mountain and desert areas, in effect Thursday at noon, until Friday at 4 a.m. Sustained winds out of the west, of 30 to 40 mph will be accompanied by isolated wind gusts up to 65 mph.

A High Wind Watch means that there is potential for a hazardous wind event. Should those conditions materialize, a High Wind Warning would be issued.

NBC 7 Meteorologist Jodi Kodesh said that a rapidly developing storm system over the Great Basin will pull winds from west to east, through the mountain passes, blowing with strength through the desert slopes and across the desert floors.

“Winds in the mountains and deserts will begin to blow Thursday morning, and strengthen into the afternoon and evening,” Kodesh said. “The strongest winds will be Thursday evening.”

High profile vehicles are urged to use caution. Blowing sand may also reduce visibility to less than a mile, at times.

Palm Springs, a popular Spring Break destination, northeast of San Diego, is also under the High Wind Watch.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Road Rage Incident in Chula Vista Caught on Camera]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:06:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chula+Vista+Road+Rage+fight.jpg

A road rage incident between two couples in Chula Vista ended with a violent fight in the middle of the street.

The brawl happened at 3rd Avenue and K Street on Monday.

The witness who shot the video spoke exclusively with NBC 7.

Cinthia Lara said she was parked in front of a convenience store when she saw two cars moving southbound with horns blaring. What happened next took her by surprise.

The couple in the silver car stopped in the middle of 3rd Avenue, blocked the other car, and then got out arguing.

Ordinarily, Lara said she would walk away from a fight but she caught this one on camera.

“Just in case worse got to worst. I had proof,” Lara said.

Both drivers threw hard punches while passengers punched and kicked each other.

Lara said one woman who suffered a bloody face was actually the aggressor.

"If someone opened my door and came at me like that yeah, I would definitely defend myself,” Lara said.

The fight lasted less than 30 seconds.

An off-duty police officer, not working for Chula Vista Police, joined other drivers to break up the fight.

Chula Vista Police Captain Fritz Reber said this was the second violent road rage incident reported recently. In the last scuffle, a man was stabbed.

"Get out of the way. Make a turn. Go the other direction. Call 911,” Reber said.

"Road rage is not something you should do; you should always be cautious and aware because you never know who you might run into." he added.

Chula Vista Police responded but only the couple in the silver car stayed at the scene. The injured woman refused medical treatment.

No one was charged with a crime in connection with this incident.

Photo Credit: Cinthia Lara]]>
<![CDATA[Hot Air Balloon Makes Emergency Landing Near Homes]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:49:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/RB-Hot-Air-Balloon.jpg

A hot air balloon was reportedly forced to make an unplanned, emergency landing near homes in a Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood Tuesday night.

The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said reports of the hot air balloon descending came in just after 7:30 p.m. Residents told police they spotted the hot air balloon across several locations, including the area of 12600 Creekwood Lane, Texana Street, Pimpernel Drive, Park Village and Black Mountain roads.

Eventually, the balloon landed close to several large trees next to homes. SDPD officers met with the pilot; there were no injuries. About an hour-and-a-half later, the scene was cleared.

NBC 7 viewer Katie Wokas captured the hot air balloon’s descent on video, as well as some photos of the incredible sight over the neighborhood. She said the hot air balloon landed on a street just below her home.

The footage shows the hot air balloon was labeled with a large logo for Hendrick’s, a company that sells gin.

No further details of the incident have been released, including what led to the pilot to make the unplanned landing. SDPD Officer Billy Hernandez said no police report was filed for the incident.

Photo Credit: Katie Wokas]]>
<![CDATA[5.7M Earthquake Strikes in Gulf of California]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:40:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/USGS-Baja-quake.jpg

An earthquake with an initial magnitude of 5.7 struck in the Gulf of California Wednesday at 8:15 a.m. PT, the USGS reported.

The largest population center is approximately 65 miles east of the epicenter in Los Mochis, Mexico.

People as far away as Glendale, California reported feeling the effects of the quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's data. 

No other information was available.

<![CDATA[SeaWorld San Diego Slashes Prices on Limited-Time Tickets]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:18:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mom+and+baby+under+water.jpg

SeaWorld San Diego announced two new limited-time ticket offers Tuesday that could save visitors a pretty penny now through mid-June.

The marine amusement park unveiled a couple of value ticket options: a single-day, $55 ticket, valid on weekdays now through June 16, and a new “any-day” ticket, valid now through June 11, for $69.

The $55 weekday ticket costs $38 less than the regular price of single-day admission ($93). This ticket is valid only for visits Monday through Friday, and if purchased by May 25. The ticket must be purchased in advance either online or by calling (619) 222-4SEA; the offer is not available in person at the park. The $69 “any-day” ticket has a savings of $24 off the regular price. Again, this deal has to be purchased in advance – not at the park – by May 25.

One more deal is the $87 “Fun Card,” which offers unlimited admission to the park now through Dec. 30. Again, it must be purchased in advance, as the offer is not available at the park.

SeaWorld has seen attendance fall since the release of the highly controversial documentary, “Blackfish,” which criticized conditions of the park’s captive killer whales. The film focused on Tilikum, an orca that killed a SeaWorld trainer during a show in Orlando in 2010. Tilikum, who had been seriously ill, died this past January.

Days after Tilikum’s death, SeaWorld San Diego announced it would end its long-running, theatrical killer whale show, making way for a new orca show billed as a more educational experience into the lives of killer whales.

Earlier this month, SeaWorld San Diego launched its new “All Day Orca Play” program, which invites visitors to watch the killer whales interact with trainers and encourages visitors to ask questions.

The program will run for the next seven weeks, leading up to the park’s new show, “Orca Encounter,” where guests will see how orcas eat and communicate.

Photo Credit: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[5 Cars Collide on WB State Route 52 near Mast Boulevard]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:55:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/000ggdgdcms1.jpg

Five vehicles were involved in a crash along westbound State Route 52 just east of Mast Boulevard.

The collision occurred just before 7 a.m. and according to the California Highway Patrol, vehicles were still blocking one lane as of 7:30 a.m.

Medical personnel have been requested for injuries. Tow trucks were also called for four vehicles needing a tow, CHP officers said.

No other information was available.

Please refresh this page for updates on this breaking story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:29:08 -0700 You can get more ticket pricing info here.]]> You can get more ticket pricing info here.]]> http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san-diego-padres-generic-sp.jpg You don't need to spend a fortune to have fun in this city.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Jury Learns New Details in Rat Bite Fever Case]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:56:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Aiden-Pankey-032917.jpg

New details were revealed Wednesday in the case of a 10-year-old San Diego boy who died from rat bite fever after playing with a pet rat purchased from Petco.

Opening statements were presented in Superior Court Judge Eddie Sturgeon's courtroom.

The case stems from the 2013 death of 10-year-old Aiden Pankey.

Pankey died just hours after he was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office ruled the boy's cause of death was streptobacillus moniliformis, better known as rat bite fever.

His family had just bought the boy a pet rat from Petco, a San Diego-based company. The CDC later confirmed the rat was infected.

In opening statements, attorneys for the Pankey family questioned whether the pet could have been tested for rat bite fever, whether the right type of warning was issued by Petco at the time the pet was purchased and whether Petco knew of any other cases of rate bite fever connected to rats purchased at their stores.

In court, attorneys stated there had been two other cases of rat bite fever in San Diego County. In those cases, someone was infected after buying a rat from Petco, the attorney told jurors.

“[Petco] had knowledge that its customers, children, it was selling its pet rats to, were contracting rat bite fever from those rats and getting very, very sick,” said Bibianne Fell, attorney for the Pankey family.

Fell also said in her opening statement that in the months leading up to Aiden’s death, the supplier of Petco’s rats, Barney’s Pet Supply, had rats that were tested positive for rat bite fever.

Attorneys for Petco and Barney’s Pet Supply said testing every rat for the bacteria is nearly impossible, and no suppliers in the nation test every rat for rat bite fever.

“There are no suppliers of rats that can guarantee that they do not carry this bacteria,” Petco’s attorney Kimberly Oberrecht said, “it’s not the customary practice. No one can do it.”

Petco released a statement expressing their condolences to the Pankey family.

"The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority," the statement reads. "We take the family's concerns very seriously."

The jury was also shown the pamphlet given to Pankey and his grandmother when the rat was purchased. A paragraph talks about rate bite fever but it does not indicate the bacteria can be spread by simply touching the rat.

Oberrecht, the attorney for Petco, said rat bite fever is very rare and very treatable with antibiotics.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Sycuan Casino to Add 12-Story Hotel]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:06:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Sycuan_Casino_Property_t620.jpg

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation announced plans to build a 12-story, 300-room hotel adjacent to its current casino on its reservation east of El Cajon.

The band held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its $226 million project on March 28.

Completion is expected by 2019.

The 500,000-square-foot expansion will include 60,000 square feet of new gaming space, able to accommodate 2,500 conventional slot machines, 300 bingo machines and 80 table games.

There will be multiple swimming pools including a “lazy river”-type pool that has proved popular at a neighboring resort.

Fifty of the new hotel’s rooms will be suites ranging from 376 to 1,150 square feet.

Sycuan owns hotel properties — including downtown’s U.S. Grant — but until now has not been able to provide a Las Vegas experience since the hotels are not adjacent to the casino. The band has long owned the Singing Hills resort property, but that is several miles away from the casino along twisting country roads.

Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez recounted the growth of the American Indian gaming business since the start of the Sycuan Bingo Palace in 1983. He spoke of political battles and of business as a way of self-reliance for his community.

Martinez said the Sycuan Band had wanted to move forward on the hotel in 2008, but had to shelve the plans until the economy improved.

“We are taking Sycuan to the next level,” he said as he displayed an artist’s rendering of the built-out site.

The ceremony opened with traditional Kumeyaay songs. Former San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick was master of ceremonies and San Diego Padres relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman was on hand for the ceremony. East County native and basketball player Bill Walton sent video greetings.

Photo Credit: Rendering Courtesy of Sycuan Casino
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<![CDATA[ Hot Air Balloon Lands in RP Neighborhood]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:12:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/RB-Hot-Air-Balloon.jpg A hot air balloon was forced to make an unplanned, emergency landing in a Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood on March 28. These photos were taken by NBC 7 viewer Katie Wokas.

Photo Credit: Katie Wokas]]>
<![CDATA[Vows for Vets, A Gifted Wounded Warrior Wedding]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:55:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Todd_2_Wounded_Warrior_Wedding_1200x675_908746819985.jpg

This Saturday, April 1st there’s a wedding taking place at the Paradise Falls event venue in Oceanside. 

Despite the date, this wedding is no April Fool’s joke.  Instead, it’s a wedding story that involves tragedy, love and generosity.

The groom to be is Veteran United States Marine Cpl. Chris Van Etten.  On June 13th, 2012 Van Etten was on patrol in Afghanistan, when he lost both his legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED).

Van Etten says, “I remember thinking OK, I just stepped on a bomb, I should probably check myself to see if I’m OK.  I prepped myself to look down to see what had happened, at the time it felt like my legs were still there, you don’t realize when you get hurt, then the pain starts happening.”

Shortly after that, military doctors told Van Etten that he had lost his legs, but that “he was stable now and was going to be OK.”

Like many veterans, Van Etten’s injuries and war experience took him to a dark place.

He remembers thinking he was not sure where his “new life” was going to take him.

“It’s not only a physical blow to your body, but a mental blow to your self-esteem because you are now changed and you’re not sure how the rest of the world is going to accept you.”

To help get out of his mental funk, Van Etten started working out and getting in great shape.  The result was an underwear modeling job.  Four years after losing his legs, he was part of Jockey’s Show ’Em What’s Underneath campaign, which focuses on sharing inspirational stories.

When Van Etten was working out, he also found the love of his life, or should we say she found him.

Van Etten says Samantha Yovandich saw him at a gym doing pull-ups with his prosthetics on, then she told a friend “that’s going to be my boyfriend someday.”

Soon Samantha and Chris were dating, about a year later they were engaged and Saturday April 1st they will be married.

The great thing for Samantha and Chris is they won’t have to pay for their wedding, neither will any of their family members.  The entire cost of the wedding…  flowers, music, food, cake, chairs, everything has been covered by Al and Cathie Ransom.

Al is a retired Marine Colonel, together with Cathie they own Paradise Falls and Los Willows wedding and event venues, each year the Ransom’s gift  one couple with military ties an all-expense paid wedding at one of their venues.  Their program is called “Vows for Vets” and this year’s recipients are Chris and Samantha.

Al Ransom says “There’s nothing that makes us more proud than being able to do such a thing because we receive more than we give.”

Various vendors also donate to the wedding, the estimated cost of this wedding will be $50,000.

When asked why he gifts weddings to veterans, Ransom says “For my 30 years in the Marines my war was Vietnam and we weren’t received well when we came home, so I didn’t want that to happen to those I see now.  My wife and I are in a position to do something about it, so for the past 6 years now we’ve done one or more weddings for a wounded warrior.”

Van Etten was originally planning a small wedding in a friend’s backyard, this Saturday he’ll have a dream wedding for free.

“I don’t think that just because you get injured that someone should take care of your wedding for you, but it’s humbling to think that there are people out there that do think that.”

At their facilities, Al and Cathie Ransom put on about 100 weddings a year, but these wounded warrior gifted weddings are the only ones the Ransoms personally attend, that makes Al emotional.

“It’s not just Chris and Samantha, every one we’ve had in the past, I love them all,” said Ransom holding back tears.

<![CDATA[Wrong-Way Driver Sideswipes Car on SR-56]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:49:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Wrong-Way-Driver-SR-56-0329.jpg

A man was recovering Wednesday after driving the wrong way in Carmel Valley, the California Highway Patrol said. Just before midnight, a man was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of State Route 56 near Carmel Country road. The man nearly crashed head-on into another car, CHP officers said. Instead, the two vehicles sideswiped each other. The damage was significant and the wrong-way driver was taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

<![CDATA[Man Captured On Video Making Lewd Gestures at Woman]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 06:09:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/North+Park+man+making+lewd+gestures.JPG

A man was recorded making lewd gestures towards a woman walking near a popular park in North Park.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. on Friday, March 24.

“It’s alarming,” exclaimed resident Marilyn De La Cruz.

A picture shows the man wearing a red t-shirt and long khaki shorts following closely behind a woman walking on Pershing Drive near Upas Street.

The woman who snapped the picture did not want to be identified.

But she said the woman who was walking while being followed had no idea what was happening behind her because she had her earphones plugged in.

“He was lifting his shirt up and making strange gestures towards her and it didn’t seem right to me. She wasn’t aware of her surroundings and possibly in danger of someone not out with the best of intentions," the woman said.

The news has Danissa Cuebas on edge considering her frequent runs through North Park with her earbuds in, pumping music.

“It’s motivation," Cuebas said. "It keeps me distracted. You’re not watching the time if you're listening to music.”

But she is now thinking safety first and considering running with only one earbud in.

Meanwhile the neighborhood remains on watch.

Because the man did not expose himself or touch anyone, police say no crime was committed.

But they said they are adding extra patrols to help keep an eye out in the area. 

<![CDATA[Driver Survives Crash Off Pacific Highway San Diego]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:54:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Pacific-Highway-crash-0329.jpg

A driver crawled out of a pickup truck that veered off Pacific Highway and landed on the street below.

The collision happened just before 3 a.m. on Witherby Street which runs below Pacific Highway, west of Interstate 5 and north of the San Diego International Airport.

The truck landed on its side approximately 20 feet below the overpass.

James Ward ran up to the truck and asked the driver if he needed medical attention.

“Wow! Incredible,” Ward said. “Every airbag went off and he climbed out the back window unscratched.”

The driver was not injured.

A nearby resident told NBC 7 this is not the first time someone has crashed off this particular overpass. He said it's possible the driver misjudged the turn while exiting the highway.

No other information was available.

Please refresh this page for updates on this breaking story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

<![CDATA[Trump Administration Delays Border Wall Bidding Due Date]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 21:07:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/border+wall1.JPG

The deadline to submit bids for President Donald Trump's border wall project has been delayed, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed Tuesday.

Earlier in March, CBP sent two requests for proposals, listing off 12 specific requirements. The deadline to submit them was March 29. 

The requirements include the following:


  • Wall should be 30 feet in height or 18 feet with six feet below ground
  • Difficult to climb and breach
  • Should look good on north side


Around 20 local companies submitted bids.

The new deadline to submit proposals is April 4.

According to Trump's first budget proposal to Congress, he asked lawmakers for a $2.6 billion down payment for the wall.

Trump has suggested the wall could cost $12 billion while Congressional Republicans estimate $12-$15 billion.

<![CDATA[Man Hides from Police in Office Ceiling]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:52:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/office-ceiling-escape.jpg

A man briefly evaded Chula Vista Police Tuesday by hiding in the ceiling of an office building.

Police officers were attempting to arrest the suspect on outstanding warrants near an office building at 22 W. 35th St. before he ran inside.

CVPD says officers spotted the man behind the building near the Sweetwater River and recognized him for having outstanding warrants, including burglary and robbery.

The man attempted to get into a business on the second floor of the building, but was pushed out by people inside the business who then barricaded the door.

Police say that's when the suspect climbed into the ceiling and fell through the panels, crashing onto the ground below covered in dust.

The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution, according to CVPD. Police say he was not armed with any weapons.

NBC 7 first learned of the incident at around 5:21 p.m. The suspect was arrested at approximately 6:15 p.m.

<![CDATA[Rate of Kids with Lead in System Nearly Matches Flint: Docs]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 18:09:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/jersey+city+lead+water.jpg

Children who tested with elevated blood-lead levels at age 11 became adults with lower cognitive function and obtained jobs lower on the socioeconomic ladder, according to a study that suggests childhood lead exposure can have far greater consequences than previously confirmed.

Researchers at Duke University followed a group of kids who had high levels of lead in their blood in the 70s.

Thirty years later, the kids had lower IQs, lost IQ points over time, and became downwardly mobile, losing socioeconomic status from their parents, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of American Medical Association.

"What our study shows is that lead exposures in childhood are going to carry long-term consequences for both intellectual ability and the kinds of jobs that people end up getting," said the study's lead author, Aaron Reuben, a graduate student in clinical psychology at Duke University.

Public health officials have said for years that there is no safe level of lead in a child's blood. Lead is a neurotoxin. Exposure can seriously affect the IQ and cause major cognitive and behavioral problems in children.

What the medical community and public learned Tuesday is that those health impacts continue far into adulthood and can change the entire course of a child's life, according to the author's study.

It's something Grant Hill area mom Silvia Leon says she's been concerned about for a long time.

"Lead in your system, it's a poison," Leon said. "It causes irreversible damage."

In the 92102 zip code, which includes Sherman Heights, Grant Hill, Mount Hope and parts of Chollas Creek, the rate of children with high levels of lead in their blood is nearly as high as the rate found in children across the city of Flint, during its recent water crisis.

In Flint, that rate was 5 percent. In Grant Hill, the rate is 4.09 percent - less than a percentage point of a difference.

That's according to the most recent data available provided to NBC7 Tuesday by the California Department of Public Health.

NBC7 mapped out the top 23 zip codes in San Diego County where the highest rates of lead exposure were found in children. Find the map below.

Currently, less than seven percent of all total children in San Diego County are screened for lead exposure.

Proposed state legislation would require that all children be screened for blood-lead levels.

Mandated screening in San Diego County could happen another way.

The San Diego Unified School District, the second largest school district in the state, is initiating water quality testing at all of its schools.

Under California Code of Regulations § 37100(b)(2)(E), if high levels of lead are detected, it could trigger health care providers of public services to investigate if kids have been impacted by the unsafe levels of lead in the water.

The statute says screening could be triggered: “Whenever the health care provider performing a periodic health assessment of a child 12 to 72 months of age becomes aware that, in the professional judgment of the health care provider, a change in circumstances has put the child at risk of lead poisoning.”

The California Department of Public Health has not yet answered an NBC7 question about whether the discovery in lead in the water at La Mirada Elementary in the San Ysidro School District, and at San Marcos Middle in the San Marcos Unified School District, and in Emerson Bandini Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District, triggers such an investigation.

<![CDATA[Locals Share Mixed Opinions on Trump's Climate Change Order]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:47:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+diego+generic1.JPG

San Diegans are reacting to President Donald Trump’s sweeping order on climate change, which eliminates environmental and pollution regulations put in place by former President Barack Obama.

As is usually the case with President Trump, there are two very different perspectives.

“Unfortunately our president is totally out of step with American families and American values. We all believe in the freedom of enjoying clean air and drinking clean water. Unfortunately, our president is siding with corporate polluters,” said Nicole Capretz with the Climate Action Campaign.

The campaign’s mission is to stop climate change and focus on moving San Diego to a 100 percent clean energy future through solar, wind, and geo-thermal resources.

“We’re all in this together. We’re all impacted. The pollution moves from community to community, from state to state, all across different nations,” said Capretz.

But Ursula Wagstaff-Kuster has a completely different perspective. She co-owns CA Botana International, a skin care manufacturing company in Mira Mesa. She applauds the president’s order, mostly because it cuts back on government regulation of business.

“You have to have common sense, and you have to follow the lases as it is already. We don’t need to double down. So I think if we can reduce all the regulation by 50 percent, I would be very happy,” said Wagstaff-Kuster.

She also made it clear her company is conscientious about the environment, making sure to recycle and follow the rules. Yet she says the company pay $30,000 a year to satisfy government regulations.

“It makes no sense, you lose productivity and it’s almost impossible to stay in business because, what’s the point, if government wants to rule you. What’s the point,” said Wagstaff-Kuster.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[SDPD’s First Transgender Officer Opens Up About Transition]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 18:13:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sdpd+officer+christine+garcia+0328.jpeg

San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Officer Christine Garcia worried that her gender transition from male to female would cost her a job she loved, and her wife and kids.

But she said she had no choice.

“I decided that I was going to transition," Garcia told NBC 7. "And no matter what happened in my life, I knew that after I transitioned, I would be happy. No matter what the cost was.”

Christine said she struggled with her gender identity most of her life, often going to school or work, and then coming home and dressing as a female.

She tried to fight her feminine urges, she said, by choosing masculine activities like wrestling in high school and joining the police force. She hoped it would rid her of her feminine side, but admitted that she would often return to dressing as a woman to bring her comfort.

Garcia said she went to therapy, hoping the doctor could help her lose her feminine tendencies.  But she ended up realizing who she was, and decided to transition from male to female.

After she made the announcement to the Police Chief and other officers in the department, she was overwhelmed by the positive response.

“I got a flood of emails back," Garcia said. "I would say hundreds, four to five hundred emails back from officers just telling me that ‘I support you’, ’ you're family’, ‘You're a good cop, that's all the matters.’”

Her wife was hesitant at first.

She has known about Garcia's need to dress as a woman since the beginning of their relationship. But days after Christine’s decision, her wife had comforting words for her.

“She told me, 'You know I fell in love with you as a person. And I've built this life with you and I can't imagine it anyway else. I can't imagine spending it with anybody else. you know, I wanna stay,’” said Garcia.

Garcia is SDPD's first Transgender police officer and the agency's transgender liaison.

Outside of work, she speaks to transgender people about her experience, attempting to give them hope and trying to prevent suicide. A 2014 UCLA School of Law study showed that 46 percent of transgender people aged 18 to 44 have tried to take their own life.

She asks others to be more accepting.

“Show some support for them," Garcia said. "Because it really helps them come out and thrive and be a contributing member of society.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Driver Sexual Assault Suspect Arrested: Tijuana Police]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 20:54:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/03-28-17+Edgar+Alberto+N+Uber+Driver+sex+assault.jpg

A man wanted for sexually assaulting an Uber driver earlier this year has been arrested, Tijuana police announced Tuesday.

Edgar Alberto N is suspected of sexually assaulting a female Uber driver, robbing and then running her over with the car.

The incident occurred on Jan. 9 of this year in the area of Ejido Villa in Tijuana.

Alberto was the sole passenger after calling for an Uber, police said.

He got into the backseat on the passenger side of the woman's car and then told her to start driving, giving her only verbal directions.

Alberto then allegedly put a knife to the driver's throat and told her to go into the back seat where he sexually assaulted her.

He stole her belongings, including her cell phone and hit her using a screwdriver. When the woman attempted to escape and got out of the car, Alberto ran her over, police said.

At this point, the victim pretended to be dead so that he would leave.

Police said after Alberto left the scene, the victim looked for help.

Alberto was arrested Monday in Colonia El Florido IV at Azafran Street in Tijuana.

<![CDATA[Residential Highrise to Replace California Theatre]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 21:10:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Overture+Highrise+Downtown+San+Diego.JPG

A downtown San Diego landmark that’s gone to ruin is getting closer to new life in the 21st century.

The California Theatre, built in 1927, has been boarded up for more than a quarter-century, gathering graffiti and pigeons.

Civic boosters hope what’s in line to take its place – a 40-story, $125 million residential tower branded Overture -- will jump-start an economic and cultural rebirth in that part of town.

The crumbling theater stands on C Street, a trolley corridor infested with a lot of blight.

“It’s structurally no longer intact,” says Cyrus Sanandaji of Presidio Bay Ventures, who’s heading up the replacement effort. “Its integrity is completely compromised.”

Critics of certain urban settings in the city have dubbed C Street the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams".

Much of the commercial space there is vacant, and the thoroughfare is a haven for the homeless.

The noise of passing trolleys and sight of transients napping on the sidewalks don't exactly add up to an attractive hustle-and-bustle.

State redevelopment incentives ended six years ago, and tax-credit approaches can be financially challenging.

The Overture is designed for 282 living units, a fitness center, lap pool, yoga rooms and seven parking levels – with a replication of the theater’s facades, sign and marquee.

"It'll be (built) with new materials; it won't be contaminated with lead or asbestos,” Sanandaji told NBC 7 in an interview. “It'll be modern in construction, and it'll be one-to-one identical to the original structure that was built -- and incorporated into our development."

Historic preservationists oppose Overture, which is expected to get City Council approval next week.

Bruce Coons, executive director of Save our History Organisation, calls the prospect of the theater’s demolition "a tremendous loss for San Diego".

He told NBC 7 that the group is considering legal action.

Overture’s backers, Sloan Capital and Presidio Bay Ventures, see the project as a catalyst for revitalizing C Street.

“We're hoping that the Overture, and it being the 'second act' of the California Theatre,” says Sanandaji, “will help to bring that life and that play and that entertainment back to 4th and C -- something that's been missing for decades."

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Upset Over Principal's Transfer to New School]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:17:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/3-28-17-Juniper+Wrzeski+Principal+Protest.JPG

A student fight at Rincon Middle School in Escondido appears to be leading to staff changes at Juniper Elementary.

The school’s former principal, Mr. Jason Wrzeski, was transferred from Juniper to Rincon Middle on Tuesday, just a day after Escondido’s Union School District announced the move.

Soon after, a support rally was organized by parents, staff and students who want Wrzeski to stay at Juniper. In the last 29 years, teachers say, the school has had 14 principals.

“We've had awful principals and we've had wonderful principles. This guy has been the best,” said Judy Deyoung, a teacher at Juniper. “The kids are upset and the parents are upset. We just found out yesterday and he wasn't here today.”

The changes follow a fight that broke out between two students at Rincon Middle. The fight was recorded by a student on a cell phone. Questions were raised about how the Assistant Principal Mike Brinkley responded to the fight. Ultimately, the school board decided to replace Brinkley with Wrzeski.

“They said that Mr. Wrezki is the only candidate in the district who had the proper skill set to manage the situation over at Rincon,” said Jane Staples, a Juniper Elementary employee.

Parents say Brinkley watched the fight with his hands on his pocket, and did nothing to try and stop it.

The issue was addressed on Monday through a letter that was sent to Rincon Middle School parents. The letter signed by Superintendent, Luis Rankins-Ibarra, states:

“There were questions that arose regarding the response of the Assistant Principal that was in proximity to the altercation. Our district mandates training for all of our administrators in appropriate and lawful techniques for deescalating situations to preventing dangerous behavior. Administrative staff is definitively taught to physically intervene if there is an immediate threat to student or staff safety.”

Parents from Juniper Elementary say the school district is constantly changing its principals, making it impossible for students to have continuity.

“If the district had something that happened over there, that's the district's problem, not our problem,” George Pena told NBC 7. “We shouldn't have to pay the consequences for that.”

Isaac Martinez, a teacher at Juniper Elementary, voiced similar thoughts. 

“We got the short end of the deal. We haven't had continuity for many years now," Martinez said. "Three principals in three years is not a good thing.”

As part of the staff changes, two additional assistant principals were brought on board to Rincon Middle: Chris Harris and Johnnie Landreth.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Tries to Grab Laptop from Student Crossing Street]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:49:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/police-lights-generic-crop.jpg

Police are searching for a man who tried to snatch a laptop from the hands of a San Diego State University (SDSU) student crossing the street in the middle of the day. 

The attempted robbery happened at approximately 12:10 p.m. Tuesday on the 6000 block of Lindo Paseo, near a 7-Eleven and ARCO, just south of the campus. 

Police said the student was crossing the street when a man attempted to grab a laptop computer from her hands. 

The student resisted, and the man fled empty-handed. 

The suspect was last seen running on foot heading eastbound on Montezuma Road. He is described as 6 feet 3 inches, last seen wearing a black t-shirt and chocolate brown pants. He was unshaven.

The suspect may have been driving a blue BMV convertible with a black convertible top and no front license plate. 

Anyone with information or questions should contact the San Diego Police Department. You can remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers at 619-235-8477.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[Couple Frustrated Over New Refrigerator Not Working]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:32:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Bob+Petralia_Lowes+Refrigerator_Web+Photo.JPG

Bob Petralia holds up a large chunk of frozen ice from his new refrigerator.

“The ice is not supposed to be like that,” Petralia said.

The La Mesa homeowner had never had a refrigerator with an ice maker before and at first, he thought this was normal.

“The ice is all clumped together in one solid mass rather than being loose,” Petralia said.

The Whirlpool refrigerator was the last piece of the Petralia’s remodeling puzzle. At first, they loved the look and design of their new refrigerator but, they said months after they bought it from Lowe’s in Mission Valley, the problems started.

“It seemed like the temperature in the refrigerator would not hold properly, it would go down and shortly after that we started to have problems with the ice maker,” Petralia said.

The couple called Lowe’s and Laurie Petralia, Bob’s wife said the company was quick about sending a repairman.

“We became on a first name basis with our service guy because he was out here so many times, ten or eleven times,” Laurie Petralia said.

Humor turned to frustration though when another problem turned up: noise.

“That thing has been so noisy it’s almost like you had to turn on the TV to drown it out,” Bob Petralia said.

That was the final straw and the reason the couple turned to NBC 7 Responds, Bob Petralia said.

NBC 7 Responds reached out to Lowe’s and within days, a new refrigerator was on its way.

“It was astonishing how quickly things happened,” Laurie Petralia said.

In an email, Steve Salazar, a communications manager for Lowe’s said, “We apologize for the inconvenience Mr. Petralia had, and are pleased to have resolved his concerns to his satisfaction.”

<![CDATA[‘My Son Felt Extremely Violated’: Mom on Teen's TSA Pat-Down]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 16:13:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Jennifer-Williamson-0328.jpg

A mother said a pat-down given by a TSA agent to her teenage son at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport left her son feeling "extremely violated," wondering what he did to deserve that kind of treatment.

In an interview with NBC Nightly News in San Diego Tuesday, Jennifer Williamson said her 13-year-old son, Aaron, "left the area and was upset for quite some time.”

Williamson said her son was detained for more than an hour Sunday morning at the airport while being screened at the security line as the family traveled to San Diego. The mother captured video of her son’s pat-down on her cellphone, posting the video to Facebook as she expressed her outrage over the incident.

In her social media post, Williamson said she had asked TSA to screen her son in “other ways” because he has sensory processing disorder, a condition that can make one sensitive to stimuli like sounds, lights, touch and textures.

"I asked the agent if there was some type of way we could conduct it in a different manner than patting him down. I was then told that we could either be patted down or we could be escorted out by the DFW Police," Williamson told NBC Nightly News.

The video shows a TSA agent telling Aaron about the screening process before the pat-down begins. The teenager nods as he stands with his legs and arms extended to his side. The agent proceeds to thoroughly touch the teen’s body, moving his hands onto Aaron’s shoulders and armpits, then down his back several times, down the sides of his upper body.

The TSA agent then checks all the way around the teen’s waistband, down his legs and the back of his shorts before touching in between the teen’s thighs. Aaron looks straight ahead. The agent walks to the boy’s front and pats him down for a second time before completing the screening.

Williamson said the pat-down was “horrifying” and left her son feeling confused, as if he’d done something to warrant it. She called it "extremely excessive."

“We’ve dealt with questions for several days now asking why that happened, and what he did wrong,” she told NBC Nightly News.

Aaron told NBC Nightly News that the pat-down did not feel right to him, but all he could think about was going on vacation with his family.

"Whenever this officer was touching me in certain areas, I was taught that nobody should touch you in that area," the teenager said. "And whenever someone's touching you like that you would think, 'Oh, Who is this person and why are they doing this?' And for all that reason I didn't want to make a big scene, because my Mom got asked, 'Be escorted out with the police or go to San Diego...' And I really wanted to go to San Diego and I wanted to go to Disneyland and all of that stuff."

In trying to make sense of the incident, Williamson said she's watched the video again.

"I noticed very quickly that my son was pat down in private and sensitive areas repeatedly," she added. "They did not go over those areas one time, they went over them four times. They opened the back of his pants... They opened the front of his pants. They grabbed his arms on either side and grabbed his legs on either side. I don't know what they thought would've been under his skin, but I didn't think that was appropriate, and especially after I had told them that sensory issues were a challenge for him."

In response to the high-profile incident, the TSA released this statement:

“TSA allows for a pat-down of a teenage passenger, and in this case, all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger's laptop.

"The video shows a male TSA officer explaining the procedure to the passenger, who fully cooperates. Afterward, the TSA officer was instructed by his supervisor, who was observing, to complete the final step of the screening process. 

"In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes, and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to mitigate the concerns of the mother.

"The passengers were at the checkpoint for approximately 45 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection.”

Williamson said Aaron “set off no alarms” prior to the pat-down, adding: “He physically did not alarm at all during the screening, he passed through the detector just fine.”

The mother said her family was “treated like dogs” and the incident caused them to miss their flight.

“These power tripping TSA agents who are traumatizing children and doing whatever they feel like without any cause, need to be reined in,” she added.

She said as Aaron's mother, the screening was difficult to watch.

"As a mother I think any mother that saw their child being handled in that way would feel uncomfortable. I think most of the people that have read and commented and been commenting on this situation, that have children, or are involved with children, felt exactly the same way," Williamson said. "It seemed like a gross violation for a child to have to go through."

Williamson said she wants an apology from TSA and for the supervisor in this case to be reprimanded.

Photo Credit: NBC Nightly News
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<![CDATA[Parking Meter Sensors Removed Overnight]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 11:42:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hillcrest+parking+meter+sensors+0325.jpg

Cameras positioned on parking meters in Hillcrest were removed overnight. NBC 7 has been reporting on the new so-called vehicle detection sensors that were temporarily installed to gather data on spot occupancy.

As of this morning, the San Diego City Treasurer's office has not explained how much the cameras cost. NBC 7 has also asked the city treasurer if the cameras could be a precursor to new Smart Meters.

We were told the cameras are gathering data on occupancy rates, which provide information on the how the meters are being used.

However, it was not clear on why the city has decided to gather that data.

In Coronado, they're still working through technical issues, but Smart Meters have been installed with the sole purpose of "Clearing" any unused time once a vehicle leaves.

The small cameras were attached to parking meter poles in Hillcrest on Fourth Avenue between University Avenue and Robinson Avenue.

In Coronado, the city hopes sensors will detect when a vehicle left a spot and recalibrate so that incoming cars won't be able to take advantage of any time left on the meter from a previously parked vehicle.

They would also discourage drivers from coming back and re-feeding the meter when the two-hour time allotment was up.

In a previous interview San Diego City Communications Department Director Katie Keach said the sensors had been in place in Hillcrest for a couple of months.

Keach said the sensors were designed to be installed on a temporary basis in one section of Fourth Avenue.

Photo Credit: Gaby Rodriguez/NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Sinkholes Open up Near Homes in Santee]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 06:30:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Santee+sinkholes.jpg

Some Santee residents say sinkholes have opened up dangerously close to their homes while the city argues over who is responsible.

The collapse of old city drainage pipes running under private property is the problem.

On Monday, city crews covered up one sinkhole, 6-feet wide and 6-feet deep. Workers also shored up a larger hole between two homes on West Hartland Circle.

It's the first effort made to contain this growing problem, but the solution still seems a long way off.

Since January, Sergio Guerre, a father of three children, said he has watched the sinkhole grow five times its original size.

"The one I worry about is the 3 year old," Guerre said. "You can only control him so much."

On the other side of the fence is neighbor Vernon Gilmore. He told NBC 7, he cares for an aging mother-in-law and a 3-year-old grandchild.

“I thought this is where I was going to stay forever but like I said, if it's not safe, it's not worth staying around,” Gilmore said.

A 24-inch drain pipe between the homes used to channel water away from West Hartland Circle collapsed some time ago. Heavy rains washed away the soil, causing two sizable sink holes to form.

“I am out here at all hours of the night constantly waking up in the middle of the night and coming down," Guerre said.

While it's a City of Santee drain pipe, homeowners received letters saying it was their responsibility to fix it.

"They say they have been working on this problem for months but they haven't talked to us," Gilmore said.

Attorney Patrick Catalano filed two complaints on the homeowner's behalf. Catalano said four more clients have similar issues with the city.

Repairing the aging infrastructure and shoring up homes could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I'm cautious because there are band aid fixes and there are real fixes,” Catalano said.

"Is it going to stop or is it going to continue? At what point is my house in danger," Guerre asked.

The City Manager declined to comment for our story.

According to a Development Services report presented to the Santee City Council last week, there are 12 such drain systems on private property.

It's estimated replacing or repairing them all would cost the city more than $1 million.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Died After Rat Bought From Petco: Atty.]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:00:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/3-27-17-Aiden+Pankey.JPG

Pre-trial motions began in Superior Court Monday for a case involving a boy who died after playing with a rat bought from a San Diego Petco store.

The case stems from the 2013 death of 10-year-old Aiden Pankey.

One day, Pankey was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains. He died hours later. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office ruled the boy's cause of death was streptobacillus moniliformis, better known as rat bite fever.

His family had just bought the boy a pet rat from Petco, a San Diego-based company. The CDC later confirmed the rat was infected. 

“The boy's grandmother purchased the male rat because her only grandson wanted a mate for his female pet rat,” the family’s attorney, John Gomez, said to NBC 7 back in 2014.

In a statement, the retailer expressed their condolences about the death. 

"We are deeply saddened by the Pankey family's tragic loss," Petco said in a statement. "The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family's concerns very seriously."

Ahead of opening statements, San Diego attorney Gene Iredale talked with NBC 7 about the case and what may happen going forward. Iredale is not involved with the case. 

He says Pankey's attorneys will try to drive home a particular narrative. 

“This is a rat that Petco sold. They sold it without apparently testing it to see if it suffered from rat bite fever," Iredale said. "And they sold it without giving a warning that rats sometimes develop rat bite fever."

Based off the facts of the case, Iredale said, he believes the attorneys can prove the pet company is guilty of strict liability and tort, as well as negligence. 

Petco's attorneys, he said, will likely dive into the window of time between the rat's purchase and Aiden becoming ill to see if it is at all possible the rat contracted this infection after being bought.

Either way, Iredale said, the case has potentially huge implications for the business and families with these pets.

“Almost 1.2 million households in the US have rats that they keep as pets,” he said.

Opening statements in this case are set to begin on Tuesday in Superior Court Judge Eddie Sturgeon's courtroom. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7/Family]]>
<![CDATA[Oceanside Man Gets Life in Prison for Wife's Murder]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 11:46:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Oceanside-mobile-fire-0222.jpg

An Oceanside man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for setting the fire that killed his wife.

Gertrude Hollis, 74, tried to crawl into a bathtub and turn on the water as a means of escaping a mobile home fire in February 2015.

Her husband, Andrew Hollis, set the fire in the couple's home at the Lamplighter Mobile Home Park on North River Road.

When Oceanside firefighters arrived, they found Gertrude Hollis in the back bathroom with the water running.

Outside the home, firefighters found Andrew suffering from smoke inhalation and serious burns to his face and upper body.

Officials told NBC 7 the next day that he had begged emergency crews to rescue his wife and stepson.

The stepson was found hours later unharmed.

Andrew Hollis was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole for the murder of his wife.

Daughter Vera Cunningham described her mother as the glue that held the family together.

She wore her mother's watch and scarf to the sentencing hearing. When Hollis spoke, he offered no remorse, she said.

“That he took our mother’s life the way that he did,” Cunningham said. “He had every opportunity to save our mom and he didn't.”

The Oceanside Fire and Police departments worked with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to solve the suspicious fire, which burned the home Andrew and Gertrude had lived in for more than 30 years, according to neighbors.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[First Local Zika-Related Birth Defect in San Diego County]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:37:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic+pregnant+generic.jpeg

San Diego County officials are renewing their warnings for pregnant women, women who could be pregnant and those considering pregnancy to avoid traveling to known Zika transmission areas after a baby with severe birth defects connected to the virus was born in San Diego County. 

The infant marks the first born in San Diego County with microcephaly associated with the Zika virus. The mother contracted the Zika virus while traveling in a foreign country where the virus is common. 

Microcephaly stunts brain development in fetuses, causing babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains. The children typically have other developmental and neurological health problems as well. Microcephaly has multiple causes. 

“Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and speak with a health care provider upon return,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement.

Authorities are not releasing details on the case due to privacy concerns. 

The Zika virus can be transmitted through mosquito bites from an infected mosquito or through sexual activity. 

Eighty-seven travel-associated cases of Zika have been reported as of March 24, according to the HHSA. 

Four of five who contract Zika do not show symptoms. Those who do show symptoms report having a fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. In most cases, the illness is mild and symptoms last for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. 

To avoid mosquito bites, the HHSA recommends doing the following:

  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol for long last protection when traveled. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should use an EPA-registered insect repellent. 
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Use air conditioning and keep windows closed, if possible. 
  • Reduce the number of mosquitoes outside by emptying standing water from containers like flowerpots. 

To find a list of countries and territories with known Zika transmission, click here. 

<![CDATA[City of San Diego Pays Out $4.8M to Cyclist After Crash]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:10:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/3-2-17-Uneven+Pavement+San+Diego+Sidewalk+Generic.JPG

The City of San Diego has paid a cyclist $4.85 million after he suffered serious injuries while riding his bike on a sidewalk with uneven pavement, the largest settlement ever paid by the City of San Diego for such a case. 

In an accident in 2014, Clifford Brown was riding his bike on College Avenue in Del Cerro when he hit a portion of uneven pavement raised seven inches high.

He was launched more than 20 feet in the air, crashed into a sidewalk, was thrown off his bike and skidded another 10 feet further.

Brown suffered spinal injuries and head injuries. A neurologist determined that Brown had also suffered a stroke in a deep part of his brain from the impact. Days after the crash, he went into respiratory decompensation and cardiac arrest. Several teeth were also knocked out.

Through an attorney, he filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego.

The lawsuit claimed the City was responsible for the poorly maintained sidewalk in Del Cerro. The City has been made aware of the sidewalk prior to the crash and even sent a crew to inspect it, according to Brown's defense attorneys. 

Tuesday, the City of San Diego will ratify the settlement. 

In a statement through a spokesperson, the City of San Diego said: “the settlement isn’t about making someone rich, but about making sure Brown is able to pay for his medical expenses for the rest of his life."

Local cyclists say they still see dangerous cracks and uneven pavement on City streets. 

“Via Capari, the descent off of Mount Soledad has a lot of very unsafe rises in pavement, cracks,and potholes. You know there are a lot of areas like that around the city," said bicyclist Stephen Roehrs.

Roehrs, the owner of Adams Avenue Bicycles, said he has also seen more and more bicyclists riding dangerously. 

"People driving and using cell phones is a huge risk for bicyclists," he added.

A personal injury attorney not associated with this case said city officials' efforts to save money during the Great Recession are likely coming back to bite them in the wallet.

“When you slash the funding and you have more areas that are in disrepair, you're going to have more injuries," said Nathan Cowan.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[6,767 Oxycodone Pills, 65 Pound of Cocaine in Car Bumper]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 12:10:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/BB-Oxy-0323-Pills.jpg Images of smuggling attempts at their finest.

Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Escapes Human Trafficking in Ventura, 3 Arrested]]> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 18:56:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TraffickingVenturaSuspects032717.JPG

A teenager escaped in Ventura County after being held for three days in San Diego against her will as a human trafficking victim, confirmed police.

Three suspects involved in the case were arrested in Ventura County in connection with the crime Saturday, according to the Ventura Police Department.

Brian Lewis, age 21, DaShawn Jackson, age 18, and Dameon Howard, age 20, from Fresno are all suspected of felony human trafficking and conspiracy charges. Ventura police officers say they discovered a loaded gun in their car.

Lewis also faces a felony charge of carrying a loaded firearm in his vehicle.

The teenager told police she was held for three days in San Diego County before she was taken to the La Quinta Inn in Ventura County.

"We are hoping to be able to eventually pinpoint where this happened but we may never know," said Ventura Police Major Crimes Sgt. Matt Cain.

The victim was from Fresno, and told police she knew she was in San Diego but could not tell exactly where.

At about 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Ventura Police received a call from the National Human Trafficking Center hotline from a teenager who was fleeing human trafficking.

When the suspects left San Diego and went to a hotel in Ventura, police say that's when the victim was able to escape and call for help. She fled and hid near Victoria Avenue and Valentine Road. 

Patrol officers were sent to the area, found the 17-year-old victim and took her to the station. She told officers that she was held against her will and forced to commit sex acts under the threat of physical harm. 

The victim provided police with descriptions of the suspects, their vehicle and a possible room where they were staying.

All three suspects were later arrested and identified by the victim as the ones who held her captive in the La Quinta Inn on Valentine Road in Ventura County, according to Ventura Police.

An investigation into this human trafficking incident is ongoing. Anyone with information can call the Ventura Police Major Crimes Unit at 805-339-4465.

Photo Credit: Ventura Co. Sheriff's Department]]>
<![CDATA[UCSD Grad Donates $75M to Alma Mater]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 12:43:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Taner-Halicioglu_t620.jpg

San Diego angel investor Taner Halicioglu is donating $75 million to his alma mater University of California, San Diego.

The cash, the biggest gift from a graduate in the university’s history, will be used to make the campus a national leader in data science. Halicioglu’s gift will establish the Halicioglu Institute for Data Science.

“Because data science is an extremely cross-disciplinary subject, it only seems fitting that something like an institute should exist in order to support it,” Halicioglu said in a post on Facebook Sunday. “While this Institute’s roots will be mainly with computer science, math, and cognitive science, its reaches will span across the campus.”

Halicioglu is perhaps best known in the community for being Facebook's first outside hire. He joined the social media giant in 2004 as a senior software/operations engineer. Today, he leads angel investor syndicate SEED San Diego while lecturing at UC San Diego.

His gift, announced Saturday at the university’s fundraising gala, comes as UC San Diego begins a $1.6 billion construction program that includes housing, classrooms, laboratories, and a student center.

Photo Credit: Erik Jepsen/UCSD
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