<![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-usThu, 23 Feb 2017 17:32:14 -0800Thu, 23 Feb 2017 17:32:14 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[BMW Allows Local Man To Negotiate Out Of Car Lease Early]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 16:56:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Charlie+Spicuzza_BMW+Lease_2.23.17.JPG

A Ramona man turned to NBC 7 Responds after a dealership wouldn’t let him out of a three-year lease his wife entered into before she died. 

“She was actually in the back seat, in a head-on collision, and go figure, she was the only one that didn’t survive,” Charlie Spicuzza said. “I’ll never forget that day.” 

It’s not easy for Charlie to talk about the day he lost his wife Cindy. It also hasn’t been easy to take care of the details since she passed away, including her favorite car. 

“There’s plenty of reminders of her all over the house,” Charlie said. 

One of those is Cindy’s car. She was eight months into a three-year lease on a BMW. After she died, Charlie drove it to BMW of El Cajon where they originally leased it. 

Charlie said the dealership told him he was still responsible for paying the lease. 

“You can bring us back the car but you need to give us $15,429 which just by coincidence was exactly the total sum of all the remaining payments I still had left to make,” he said. 

Charlie said all he wanted was a small break, he didn’t expect the dealership to forgive the entire debt. 

“And I told them, I said, look I understand. Sell it for whatever you can get for it, I’ll pay the difference, I know I’m not going to get out of this without taking some sort of financial hit,” he said. 

Charlie talked to BMW lease officials and said he got the same answer, he would have to sell the car himself. After nearly eight weeks of trying to work out a solution, Charlie turned to NBC 7 Responds for help. 

“I knew immediately that we had to do something for him,” Selena Hernandez, a Consumer Producer for NBC 7, said. 

She works in the NBC Responds call center in Dallas. After she took Charlie’s call, Selena said she reached out to corporate officials at BMW. 

“It will never replace the life that was lost but perhaps give him some comfort and some peace to some degree,” she said. 

It took less than a week for Charlie to get a call he said he didn’t expect. 

“Just bring that car back down to El Cajon BMW, they know you’re coming, you don’t owe us any more money,” Charlie said. 

BMW agreed to take back the car and cancel any future lease payments. 

In an email, BMW Corporate Communications Manager Dave Buchko told NBC 7 Responds, “BMW is committed to the highest level of customer service. The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all involved."

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<![CDATA[$1M Settlement Reached for Death of Mexican Man Near Border]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 17:28:40 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Anastasio-Hernandez.jpg

A $1 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), seven years after the death of a Mexican man near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas, 42, died in 2010 after he was caught coming into the U.S. illegally and was involved in an altercation with border officers.

According to the Justice Department, Hernandez-Rojas began fighting with agents when his handcuffs were removed and he struggled and kicked them. One officer used a stun gun on Hernandez-Rojas after which his breathing slowed and he became unresponsive.

He was taken to the hospital and died a few days later.

According to his autopsy, Hernandez-Rojas suffered a heart attack during the altercation. The Justice Department said heart disease, electric shocks from the stun gun and methamphetamine intoxication were contributing factors.

Hernandez-Rojas' death raised complaints of excessive force from the then-president of Mexico and others, and investigators with the Justice Department examined the case for evidence of a civil rights violation.

But in 2015, the Justice Department announced that it would not bring criminal charges against the CBP and closed the investigation.

A year later, the CBP's Use of Force Review Board (UFRB) began to review the investigation into the deadly incident.

On Thursday, a settlement was reached in the lawsuit alleging wrongful death, excessive force and failture to properly supervise and failure to intervene.

The $1 million settlement will be paid to the plaintiffs, who are Hernandez-Rojas' children and wife, after the petition is approved.

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<![CDATA[Innovators Lab is Helping Kids Learn Science Using Art]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 16:16:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Innovators+Lab+san+diego+2.jpg

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Innovators Lab Helps Kids Learn Science Through Art]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 16:14:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Innovators+Lab+san+diego+1.jpg

Kids can now learn about science and math by making cool projects, like drones and LED holiday cards, at a new Innovators Lab.

The permanent exhibit recently opened at the New Children's Museum in downtown San Diego. NBC 7 is a proud part of making the lab possible, by awarding the musuem a $25,000 grant through the 21st Century Grant program.

The Innovators Lab is a collaborative makerspace experiment. The museum works with local artists and experts from various fields to create open ended design challenges to nurture creativity, problem solving, skill building, and learning.

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"When you demystify science for them and you turn it into an art and creative and play environment, all of a suddent things that seems impossible beccome possible for them," said Judy Forrester, the museum's Chief Executive Officer.

"What sets this apart from other makerspaces is the collaboration with external professionals," said Tomoko Kuta, director of education and exhibitions. 

The current Spinning Tops Workshop teaches kids about balance and gravity. Kids don safety masks then use a lathe to create their own tops from wax. 

"I think with Innovators lLab we're able to empower kids to think about using real tools and it builds confidence and creativity," said Lani Bautisa Cabanilla, the manager of Visitor Programs.

The workshops will change four times a year. Up next: workshops in collaboration with an architect and an engineer. 

During the lab's first project, children created their own drones to explore the concept of buoyancy.

The second project taught children about electricity and currency by building LED lit holiday cards.

"When you think about workforce development, and you think about, what are those 21st century skills our students are going to need to be in the workforce, things like an Innovators Lab really give kids a leg up for that," Forrester told NBC7.

 The lab is designed for kids who are in the 7 to 13-year-old age range.

"It's a really good way to work with our families as they age up with our museum," said Kuta.

The lab is included with the museum admission.  The museum says 30 percent of children visit at no cost, thanks to fundraising that helps reach community centers, military families and foster children.

"For us, it's really enriching because we get to each out to the broad community and bring resources here and then just share it with the families who come," Kuta said.

For more information about the new Innovators Lab, click here.

To learn more about NBC 7's 21st Century Grant program, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Cop Killer Faces Parole Hearing]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:44:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/archie+buggs+and+jesus+cecena.jpg

A state parole board is convening a hearing in Chowchilla this afternoon to decide whether a prison inmate convicted of murdering a San Diego police officer will get another parole.

The shooting happened nearly four decades ago.

Jesus Cecena was 17 when he gunned down 30-year-old patrol officer Archie Buggs during a traffic stop in the Skyline area in November, 1978.

Since then he's been recommended for parole from Valley State prison twice -- but Gov. Jerry Brown later overturned those decisions.

Buggs was wounded in a hail of pistol bullets, then killed with a shot to the temple while he lay on the ground.

His partner, Jesse Navarro, is now a top executive in the San Diego District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors are at the maximum security lockup to make their case for keeping Cecena under a life sentence.

He was turned down after parole hearings 13 times until 2014 and '15.

The San Diego Police Department and San Diego Police Officers Assn. strongly objected to Cecena's release, prompting the governor to reverse those recent parole decisions.

Prison administrators have cited Cecena for 10 conduct violations over the years.

Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs told NBC 7 that parole officials who approved Cecena’s release insisted on evidence that Buggs was, in effect, "executed" at close range.

The DA's office has since submitted blood spatter material from beneath the patrol car Buggs was lying next to.

Buggs was the first of nine San Diego police officers to be killed in the line of duty over a seven-year period – the most of any department in the nation.

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<![CDATA[Startup's ‘Hidden Money’ Scavenger Hunt Coming to San Diego]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:55:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/120916+cash+money+generic.jpg

A local startup is using its augmented reality app to invite users to a digital scavenger hunt with very real prizes – including money virtually “hidden” around downtown San Diego.

On March 4, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the “Hidden Cash San Diego” scavenger hunt will take place around points of interest across downtown. The event is the brainchild of Dmitry Shapiro, founder of the San Diego startup, GoMeta, Inc., and creator of the augmented reality app, Metaverse.

The app, much like Pokemon Go, is built to allow users to interact with its augmented reality universe. Users can create games and other “experiences,” drop them onto a map of the real world and, using their smartphone as a guide, physically walk up to those experiences and interact with them.

Since the company was founded in September 2016, it has hosted a few hype-inducing stunts around Southern California, including scavenger hunts in San Diego and Los Angeles in late October 2016.

The March 4 hunt, Shapiro said, is another one of those big events, meant to get people to play his company’s app while exploring San Diego for a chance to win money and freebies from local businesses. He said, so far, about 1,500 people have RSVP’d for the event.

“Participants will go on a quest, as we call it, via the app,” explained Shapiro. “They get a map and walk to get closer to clues, and the augmented reality interacts with them. They will encounter 10 to 15 experiences and the last one [will lead to] a prize.”

Shapiro said one of these “experiences” could entail a user coming across some sort of character as they point their smartphone at a spot along the scavenger hunt. That character, via a speech bubble, may ask the user a trivia question. The answer may unlock another clue, leading the user to another experience along the scavenger hunt, or to a prize, such as cash.

The cash – which could be between $20 and $1,000 – is not physically hidden anywhere, but will appear in the game, on the player’s smartphone screen. Shapiro said the winner will be paid digitally, via tools like Paypal or Venmo.

Unlike the viral “Hidden Cash” craze of 2014, Shapiro and his colleague, Jonathan Miller, said this scavenger hunt is all virtual, meaning there is no physical digging for prizes.

“Don’t bring your shovels,” said Shapiro. “There’s nothing to dig; you have to find the cash [via augmented reality].”

For the upcoming scavenger hunt, Miller said Metaverse has also partnered with San Diego businesses to offer other prizes along the way, including freebies at local restaurants such as a side of bacon at The Omelette Factory or a free taco at Cilantro’s Taco Shop.

Other giveaways up for grabs in the Metaverse include: free yoga classes at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga or Full Circle Yoga, an introductory to cooking class at San Diego Culinary Institute, or a free small coffee at Lush Coffee & Tea.

Leading up to the big scavenger hunt, Miller and Shapiro said locals have already started winning cash across San Diego in places like UC San Diego, Westfield UTC, Little Italy and Lake Murray in La Mesa. The company’s Twitter account, @HiddenMoneySD, has been posting happy selfies of winners.

“We see lots of smiles,” said Shapiro. “People have a lot of fun playing and winning.”

Miller said these giveaways will be ongoing, with bigger scavenger hunts happening once in a while as “fun experiments.”

To participate in the March 4 event, iPhone or Android users must download the Metaverse app and create an account. From there, they will be able to navigate a map on their smartphone and then get out and walk around San Diego in search of clues.

GoMeta, Inc., was founded in September 2016. On Halloween, the company held its “Augmented Halloween” event in Los Angeles and San Diego, again giving away cash.

In November 2016, the startup landed $2 million in seed money from several big names including former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, former Myspace CEO Michael Jones, Greylock Partners and Moonshot Capital.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[House Fire Reported in National City]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:51:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/firefighter-generic-san-die.jpg

Firefighters have been called Thursday to a house fire in National City.

Smoke and flames were coming from the side of the single-story home on Roosevelt Avenue just after 2 p.m.

In just minutes, firefighters from National City and Chula Vista had the fire knocked down.

No one was injured.

No other information was available.

Check back for updates on this breaking news.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect's Mugshot Released in North County Murder Case]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:10:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Antonia-Herrera-Castro-crop.jpg

Investigators have released the mugshot of the man accused of killing a young woman found dead last month on the side of a road in San Diego's North County.

Suspect Paul Castro, 27, a resident of Las Vegas, was taken into custody by homicide detectives with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He’s a documented gang member, authorities said.

Castro was an acquaintance of Antonia Herrera, 23, according to San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO) Lt. Kenn Nelson.

Nelson said they met through mutual friends in Las Vegas.

Herrera's body was found on Jan. 12 on Champagne Boulevard in unincorporated Escondido, near Interstate 15.

Her manner of death was ruled a homicide, but her autopsy was sealed.

Nelson said Wednesday that investigators believe Herrera was shot to death inside a friend’s car as she was traveling back to San Diego from Las Vegas on Jan. 12. Castro was in that car, too.

“We do have that vehicle in our possession, and we will be processing it, based on search warrants that we have obtained for that,” Nelson said.

The lieutenant said investigators have not yet determined a motive for the murder.

Castro is believed to be the only suspect in the killing. Other people were in the car, but Nelson said they are not suspected in the shooting of Herrera.

"We believe Mr. Castro is solely responsible for her death," Nelson added.

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<![CDATA[Body Found Inside Burning Car in Lakeside]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:33:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lakeside-Burning-Car-0223_2.jpg

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives are investigating the discovery of a body in a burned car.

A Lexus was found burning in a cul-de-sac in Lakeside Wednesday.

Lakeside Firefighters arrived to Mast Boulevard just before midnight and discovered a body inside the vehicle.

Investigators have not released gender information on the person who died.

They are considering this suspicious until a cause of death is determined.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct an autopsy.

No other information was available.


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<![CDATA[Family Searching for Answer After Arrest in Sister's Killing]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 17:08:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/antonia-herrera-family-photo-011816.jpg

Family members of a 23-year-old woman who's body was found dumped in unincorporated Escondido said they are relieved an arrest has been made, but are still struggling with why her life was taken in the first place.

Dian Cruz, cousin of the victim, Antonia Herrera told NBC 7, the two shared a very special bond.

"We were two weeks apart so we were very close. We had the same friends," Cruz said.

The victim's family and friends knew her simply as "Toni."

Toni was raised by her grandmother but most recently lived in a transitional group foster home in the San Marcos area. She also spent time in Las Vegas.

Authorities said it was when Toni was driving back from Las Vegas with a group of people on Jan. 11, that she was shot inside the car. Her body was dumped along Champagne Boulevard, just off Interstate 15.

Her body were found the next day.

Paul Castro, 27, is suspected of pulling the trigger and arrested on Tuesday.

"During that trip back to San Diego, very near the area where her body was found, Mr. Castro shot and killed Antonia," said Lt. Kenn Nelson with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities said Castro a known gang member and an acquaintance of Toni's, acted alone.

Meanwhile, Toni's family is still in a state of shock.

"She was just such a lovable person. I don't know what she could have said or have done to deserve this, nobody does. It's just so unreal to us still," Cruz said.

Detectives don't have a motive for Toni's murder at this time.

Castro is currently in police custody in Las Vegas.

He most likely will soon be extradited back to San Diego in the coming weeks to face the murder charge.

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<![CDATA[2 San Diego County Beaches Named Among Top 25 in U.S.]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:19:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/La-Jolla-Shores-TripAdvisor.jpg

Two beaches in San Diego County were named among the top 25 beaches in America, according to a recent ranking by Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice.

La Jolla Shores Park ranked at No. 21 and Carlsbad State Beach came in at No. 24.

Of La Jolla Shores, the ranking highlighted a review that said: “My favorite beach in San Diego – giant waves for boogey boarding.”

Of Carlsbad Beach, the review simply said: “Go to Carlsbad!”

Unsurprisingly, the list of the most pristine and picturesque beaches was dominated by destinations in Florida and Hawaii.

The No. 1 beach in the U.S. was Siesta Beach in Siesta Key, Florida, and No. 2 was Ka'anapali Beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

The only other California beach to make the cut was Santa Monica Beach, which ranked 20th.

Noticeably absent was the iconic Coronado Beach, which has made the list in years’ past.



Photo Credit: TripAdvisor]]>
<![CDATA[Peeps-Flavored Oreo Cookies Are Here]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:37:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/oreo-peeps.jpg

Move over peanut butter and jelly, a new flavor fusion is sweetening up store shelves.

Oreo and Peeps have joined forces for a limited edition Peeps Oreo sandwich cookie.

The Oreo features two golden cookies with a marshmallow Peeps-flavored filling.

The new sweet tweet will be sold at Wal-Mart's nation-wide starting Feb. 22.



Photo Credit: Mitchell Communications Group]]>
<![CDATA[Oscar Viewing Parties in San Diego]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:59:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Academy-Award-Shutterstock.jpg

Roll out that red carpet, movie buffs. The 89th annual Academy Awards air on TV Sunday and, if you can’t be in Tinseltown, you can at least watch the Oscars at some viewing spots around San Diego.

THE LOT
3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., Liberty Station and La Jolla
Luxury movie theater, THE LOT, with locations in both La Jolla and Liberty Station, will air the big Hollywood awards show at both locations. The Oscars start at 4 p.m. on Feb. 26. THE LOT at Liberty Station will offer two screenings of the big show: one seating at 3:30 p.m. and the other at 3:35 p.m. THE LOT in La Jolla will offer three screenings, all at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person and include a seat in one of THE LOT’s comfy, cushy recliners. You can also order food and beverages – including beer and wine for the 21+ crowd – served right at your seat inside the theater.

Pacifica Del Mar
4 p.m., Del Mar
Pacifica Del Mar’s Ocean Bar will host an Oscars viewing party, which begins with red carpet arrivals at 4 p.m. Patrons can watch their favorite actors win big while sipping on Happy Hour specials all night. The bar will also host a game in which you can vote for your Oscars predictions for a chance to win a gift card to the restaurant. Here’s a little insight on how to expertly cast your ballots. http://www.nbcsandiego.com/entertainment/entertainment-news/Oscar-Predictions-What-Will-win-what-should-win--414620433.html

San Diego International Film Festival Presents the Oscars
4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., La Jolla
Somewhere in La Jolla, at a private estate, the San Diego International Film Festival will host a swanky Academy Awards viewing party that includes a red carpet, an Oscars prediction game with a chance to win a prize, and tasty dishes created by local top chefs, desserts, cocktails and a champagne toast. Wear a gown or tux and strut your stuff on the red carpet before the fun begins. Tickets to this shindig are $125 per person, with proceeds benefitting the San Diego International Film Festival.

Bella Vista Social Club and Caffé Present Oscar Night 2017
4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Bella Vista Social Club & Caffé
Bella Vista Social Club & Caffé on Torrey Pines Scenic Drive will present Oscar Night 2017 Sunday with a screening of the awards show that will also serve as an inaugural benefit for The Academy, a group of art enthusiasts whose mission is to support young artists on their journeys to stardom. The event will help raise scholarship funds for talented youth who need a little help to be able to attend local performing arts programs including: City Heights Music School; International Academy of Jazz; JCompany Youth Theater; Lamb’s Players Theater; Jazz Camp UCSD; La Jolla Playhouse Tech Theatre Class. The evening includes food, an open bar, live entertainment, a DJ, dancing, a silent auction and, of course, a red carpet. Tickets are $75 per person. Wear your cocktail attire!



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Beyonce Drops Out of 2017 Coachella]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:19:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/beyonce-performance.jpg

Sorry, Coachella festival-goers -- you’ll have to wait another year to see Beyonce.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, Queen Bey, who is pregnant with twins, released a statement via her label, Parkwood Entertainment, and Coachella organizers, Goldenvoice, cancelling her headlining slot at this year’s festival.

The megastar pulled out of the annual, multi-weekend Indio, California event (scheduled for April 14-16 and 21-23) “following the advice of her doctors to keep a less rigorous schedule in the coming months.”

“Beyonce has made the decision to forgo performing at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival,” the statement continued. “However, Goldenvoice and Parkwood are pleased to confirm that she will be a headliner at the 2018 festival. Thank you for your understanding.”

A replacement artist has yet to be announced at this time. Other notable headliners for the 2017 installment of the massive music/arts festival include Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, the xx, Future, New Order, Lorde, Bon Iver and Gucci Mane. Stay tuned to SoundDiego for more info as its made available.

According to Coachella’s official website, passes for this year’s festival went on sale on Jan. 4, 2017 and are currently sold out. For more details and info on Coachella, please check out our previous article here.



Photo Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Attitude at Padres Spring Training]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:31:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/2017+Preller+at+Spring+Training.png

One of the things that immediately sticks out about San Diego Padres Spring Training 2017 is how different it is from Spring Training 2016 or 2015. If the Friars were looking to change the vibe in the clubhouse … which they were … it’s working.

“I think the vibe is unbelievably different,” said outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who is entering his 5th season with the Padres organization but his first as a favorite to win a job on Opening Day. “I think it’s moved more towards a positive attitude and everybody’s having a great time. Everybody’s played with each other for a long time now. Even the new guys that have come in have embraced the movement here.”

Of course that begs the question: What was causing the past negativity?

“It wasn’t negativity it’s just a different mood,” said Renfroe. “Obviously he had some older guys and you try to … I guess … walk on egg shells because you don’t want to insult them. You want to watch them and try to be part of them. I think it’s a deal now where the younger guys are just open and, not necessarily to what they want to do, but they’ve learned from the older guys. Just have fun and relax.”

Last year the clubhouse was dominated by veterans like Matt Kemp and James Shields. Deserved or not, they had the reputation of not being tremendous teammates off the field, although the Padres say the change in culture is not due to any specific individuals.

“I don’t think my tone is relaxed to them when I’m calling them to a higher level of attention to detail,” said Manager Andy Green. “I’m sure the clubhouse environment has changed substantially as there’s been a turning over of the guard from last year’s Spring to this year. Naturally when you’ve played with guys through Triple-A you know them better so it’s a much more relaxing atmosphere in that regard. I don’t think it’s a slight on anybody who was here in the past. You just don’t walk in to the clubhouse and see 35 new faces that you’ve never been around. That’s uncomfortable for anybody. All these guys know each other very, very well and the new guys we’ve brought in have assimilated very quickly.”

The change is noticeable to guys who are familiar with the organization … and even those who are new to it.

“A lot of energy here,” said relief pitcher Keith Hessler, a 27-year-old left-hander who made his big league debut in 2015 with the Diamondbacks. “A lot of great talent; a lot of young players. We believe what Andy is telling us and buying in to the program.”

This is the first time Hessler has spent Spring Training with the Padres. He sees the Padres running things in a unique way because they have so much young talent they need to be in teacher mode.

“It’s a little bit different because it’s teacher mode,” said Hessler. “You can’t just roll balls out and say guys, we understand you’ve been here for a long time so go have fun and get ready for the season. You need to teach guys the right way to do it to be successful for a long time. So it’s kind of different but I like it.”

“It’s just fun,” said pitcher Tyrell Jenkins, a 24-year-old right-hander who was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati. “A bunch of young guys all the same age after the same goal.”

So does that lead to camaraderie … or competition?

“Both,” said Jenkins. “We all know it’s competition to get the spots you need and we’re all out here learning from each other. It’s good to have guys your age you can talk to about certain things and get along with.”

With 21 of the players on the 40-man roster between the ages of 24 and 26, this is a group that the Padres hope will grow together for a long time.

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<![CDATA[San Diego Is Now a 'Coast Guard City']]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:29:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Coast-Guard-City-0223_4.jpg

San Diego is now a Coast Guard City - an honor bestowed to only 20 other cities.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer was all smiles as he accepted the presentation from U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft.

The mayor in turn handed a key to the city to the admiral.

Faulconer said this designation has been a "long time coming" and reinforces how important the U.S. military is to our city. He also said it was the city's chance to thank the Coast Guard for many years of service.

San Diego earned the title after proving the city offered support to the Coast Guard including their welfare and recreational initiatives.

Moving forward, the mayor said he wants to continue strengthening the region's bond with San Diego-based Coast Guard crews.

The designation was done with the approval of the U.S. Congress. U.S. Rep. Scott Peters was on hand for the ceremony.

“The Coast Guard plays an integral role in defending the nation but also helping law enforcement locally with all sorts of issues around the bay and around the region,” Peters said.

San Diego is the third California city to receive the honor following Eureka (2000) and Alameda (2006).

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<![CDATA[Heritage Park Gets New Coral Tree]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:38:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/heritage-park-022317.jpg

A 20,000 pound coral tree was placed in its new home Thursday at Heritage Park in Old Town on Thursday.

Arborists had been looking for a replacement after the old coral tree died of natural causes.

The new tree was planted around 9 a.m. but it’s not exactly “new.”

The tree is already 30 years old and though slightly smaller than the previous tree will grow just as big over the next five years.

The cost is an estimated $23,000.

 

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<![CDATA[Teen Faces Charges in Threat at Coronado HS]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:58:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Coronado-High-School-generic.jpg

A teenager will face criminal charges after a social media post targeted Coronado High School Thursday.

Some concerned students alerted staff to a threat made on social media, the Coronado Unified School District and the Coronado Police Department confirmed.

Soon after, the high school was placed on lockdown. Police sent an alert to the community advising that officers were on the CHS campus and looking into the threat.

Just before 11 a.m., Coronado Police sent out an alert that the campus had been deemed safe, though officers were staying on scene to investigate.

In a joint message, Superintendent Karl Mueller and Chief of Police Jon Froomin confirmed the source of the threat was detained off campus.

No details were given regarding the nature of the threat.

Police later said the 16-year old male student was taken into custody at his home in Coronado.

The unidentified teenager faces criminal charges and was booked into Juvenile Hall, police said.

Officials said schools will be reviewing their procedures in light of the lockdown to "ensure everything is done to maintain the safety and security of our schools."



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Chancellor: CSU Police Will Not Enforce Immigration Law]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 10:33:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Aztec-Student-Union-Unveile.jpg

Police on campuses in the California State University system will not help federal officials enforce immigration law, the chancellor reminded students in a memo Wednesday.

Chancellor Timothy White emailed students, staff and alumni of the CSU system including those at San Diego State University to say the system’s policy regarding immigration enforcement has not changed regardless of a recent directive from Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Millions of people living in the United States illegally could be targeted for deportation — including people simply arrested for traffic violations — under a sweeping rewrite of immigration enforcement policies the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

“Our university police departments will not honor immigration hold requests,” White said. “[Campus police] will not contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being - or suspected of being – a person who lacks documentation."

While calling the new federal directive “complex” and informing CSU staff and students that he is reviewing the potential impact, White also said the university system will not partner with law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law.

“We do advise any member of our CSU community – students, faculty and staff – who is approached while on campus by federal, state or local officials asking for information or documentation regarding immigration status, to immediately contact the University Police Department,” his memo states.

Campus police will then serve as a liaison, White said.

White also assured students under the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that the new DHS direction does not affect them.

Read the entire email here.

San Diego State University's Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Rivera also issued a statement offering information for undocumented immigrants who may have concerns.

A student’s immigration status is considered part of the educational records and is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), he writes said.

"All members of the campus community should respect the privacy and sensitivity of these matters," Rivera said.

He offered services of SDSU's Office of Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) as well as Counseling and Psychological Services to those concerned about themselves or their families.

Read Rivera's entire email here.

According to Homeland Security Department memos signed by Kelly, any immigrant who is in the country illegally and is charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority. That could include people arrested for shoplifting or minor offenses — or simply having crossed the border illegally.

Under the Obama administration guidance, immigrants whose only violation was being in the country illegally were generally left alone. Those immigrants fall into two categories: those who crossed the border without permission and those who overstayed their visas.

Crossing the border illegally is a criminal offense, and the new memos make clear that those who have done so are included in the broad list of enforcement priorities.

Overstaying a visa is a civil, not criminal, offense. Those who do so are not specifically included in the priority list but, under the memos, they are still more likely to face deportation than they had been before.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 News]]>
<![CDATA[Map: Schools At Greatest Risk For Lead In Water]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:59:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/177*120/map_schools.PNG

School districts across the County are requesting water testing after dangerous levels of lead were discovered at a San Ysidro elementary school.

Health experts say the schools most likely to have unsafe levels of lead in drinking water are those built before 1986.

NBC 7 mapped out where schools in the county built before 1986 are located, and found they are spread out throughout the region. 

Clusters of schools built before 1986 are located not just in the South Bay, but also in San Diego neighborhoods like Clairemont, Scripps Ranch and Tierrasanta, the map shows. 

Dina MacDonald has a family member that goes to Tierrasanta Elementary. 

It's one of the approximately 447 schools across the county built before 1986. 

"I think the more years that go by and we see these facilities that were built more than fifty years ago, a lot of them," MacDonald said. "I'm sure there's a lot of other things going on in those schools that probably need to be addressed but like everything you kinda put it off and don't think about it until there becomes a problem."



Photo Credit: Tom Jones]]>
<![CDATA[ACLU Helps Mother Sue SDPD Over DNA Collection of Minor]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:52:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ACLU-DNA-Swabs-Minors.jpg

The American Civil Liberties Union is helping a mother sue the San Diego Police Department after her son's DNA was collected without her consent.

California law states if law enforcement officers want to obtain DNA from minors and enter the information into a state database, they have to obtain parental consent.

However, SDPD believes that because the DNA evidence is being entered into a local database, the state law doesn’t apply.

Attorneys with the ACLU don’t agree. They’ve filed a lawsuit saying SDPD officers are illegally collecting DNA from minors and they want the practice stopped.

The ACLU said DNA records are kept by SDPD in a database with no oversight. The lawsuit is requesting the records of minors be destroyed from the police database.

The minor involved in the lawsuit was walking through a park and wearing attire with some blue coloring, residents told NBC 7.

When San Diego police stopped the minor, they were investigating a recent gang homicide. Four people were later arrested and charged in connection with the killing.

The minor wasn’t a suspect and was not charged in the case, according to his attorney Bardis Vakili.

The teenager had an unloaded gun in his backpack when he was stopped. However, the gun charge was dismissed by a judge because it was ruled the minor should not have been stopped and searched in the first place, Vakili said.

“That case was tried in the juvenile court and the case was thrown out because of the unlawful search,” the attorney said.

Lincoln Park residents are tired of their children being targeted by law enforcement officers.

“He was walking peacefully through the park with his friends. The police found a gun. That’s all the evidence that is out there,” he added.

The minor had no gang affiliation and no criminal history at the time he was stopped, according to his attorney.

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<![CDATA['Stop Playing Nice': San Diego Democrats Demand Action]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 06:35:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Democrat-Town-Hall-0223_2.jpg

San Diego Democrats are clamoring for answers from local representatives about what they can do to preserve their voice on Capitol Hill.

Congressmembers Susan Davis (D-53rd Dist.) and Scott Peters (D-52nd Dist.) held a workshop Wednesday night to address constituents questions at Liberty Station.

Approximately 700 people attended the Town Hall at Corky McMillin Companies Event Center to have their voices heard.

Local democrats said they feared their voices are falling on deaf ears in Washington.

"I want my elected officials to feel enraged and I want to see it in your actions,” attendee Madeleine Falco said.

Peters and Davis invited constituents to a workshop with the objective of politically empowering them.

“My style is not to yell. That doesn't mean I am any less passionate about fixing this country. I dedicated my life to it,” Congressman Peters said.

The town hall, dubbed "Don't Agonize, Galvanize", offered voters a tutorial on sharing their thoughts on social media, participating in demonstrations and other grassroots opportunities to influence Washington leadership.

Top of mind issues at the town hall was immigration and the Affordable Care Act.

"Healthcare is a fundamental human right,” one participant proclaimed.

"What we can do to is give opportunities to people to get jobs that pay well to get an education so they can compete in this economy. Give everybody the same shot that I got no matter race, color, or creed," Congressman Peters said.

With Congress in recess and San Diego representatives back in their respective districts for the first time since President Donald Trump's inauguration, it has proved to be a politically charged week.

Not all San Diego representatives are holding town Hall meetings, but this was Congressman Peters' second.

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<![CDATA[8 San Diego Firms Rank Among Top Company Cultures]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:06:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/startup-office-generic.jpg

Eight San Diego County companies made Entrepreneur magazine’s annual list of the nation’s top company cultures, which includes a total of 153 firms in three size categories.

The magazine’s ranking in the large-company category, with firms of more than 100 employees, includes Solana Beach-based Seismic Software Inc., a provider of sales-related technology and services, at No. 18. San Diego-headquartered Classy, which operates a fund-raising platform for social-impact organizations, ranks at No. 35.

The mid-sized category, with firms of 50 to 100 workers, includes San Diego’s Hughes Marino Inc., a provider of tenant-focused commercial real estate services, at No. 3; digital marketing and technology services firm CPC Strategy at No. 7; and Zeeto, which provides digital customer acquisition and loyalty services, at No. 16.

Entrepreneur’s small-company category, listing firms with 25 to 49 employees, includes San Diego-headquartered HouseCall, which offers a mobile app to summon home-repair and related service providers, at No. 32; San Marcos-based ChicBlvd., a multimedia provider of branding and product development services, at No. 35; and San Diego’s Digital Telepathy, focused on digital marketing services and technology, at No. 49.

The full national list is published in Entrepreneur’s March 2017 issue. Compiled by the magazine and consulting firm CultureIQ, the annual ranking is based on nationwide surveys of employees responding to multiple-choice questions. Workers are asked to assess 10 components including collaboration, communication and innovation, on a scale of zero to 100.



Photo Credit: clipart.com
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<![CDATA[MiraCosta College Introduces Free Tuition Program]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:59:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/money+generic1.png

MiraCosta College introduced a free tuition program on Wednesday which includes providing money for instructional supplies for students.

MiraCosta Promise will provide full tuition for a year and money for textbooks and other school supplies for eligible students who commit to the program's requirements.

To be eligible, students must fulfill the following requirements:

 

  • Graduate from an accredited high school near the MiraCosta Community College District in spring 2017
  • Apply to attend MiraCosta College for fal of 2017 and 2018 semesters and enroll in 12 units or more
  • California resident
  • Fill out FAFSA or Dream Act application by May 11, 2017
Recipients of the program will be notified by May 19.
You can find more information here.



Photo Credit: flickr/401(K) 2013 ]]>
<![CDATA[First Person: San Diego Stories]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:34:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/12-19-16-Betty+Goedhart+Flying+Gif+.gif

The ones who live and work in San Diego, and make it unique, share their stories in their own words:

Urban Beekeeping
Hilary Kearney sets up backyard beekeeping for people, and explains why it's so important.

Helping Homeless Kids Through Art
The David's Harp Foundation helps homeless kids tell their stories through art.

Trapeze is The Fountain of Youth for 84-Year-Old Woman
Betty Goedhart inspires people to think about age in a different way.

The Art of Autism
Jeremy Sicile-Kira puts other people's emotions into color.

A Public Piano with a Private Story
A man named Bernard and an old piano have a lot in common.

Photos Capture the Memories of Fallen Heroes
Remembering the Fallen Exhibit honors 710 California men and women who died for their country.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Super-Soaking Storms Cut Severe Drought to 4 Percent]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:27:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/222*120/02-23-2017-drought.jpg

More than 80 percent of California is no longer in drought after a series of winter storms, including last week's hourslong soaker in Southern California.

About 17 percent of the state remains in drought, according to this week's U.S. Drought Monitor report, the first since last Friday's powerful storm. That's a dramatic turnaround from one year ago when 94 percent of the state was in drought during an historic five-year dry spell.

This week's report even showed improvement for parts of Southern California that have been struggling to escape severe drought.

"Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, which have been the epicenter of drought in California in recent weeks, received much-needed rainfall," according to the Drought Monitor report.

More than 8 inches of rain was reported at two stations near Santa Barbara, one of several Southern California communities that were hammered Friday by one of the state's strongest storms in years. This week's report shows only 4 percent of the state in severe drought, affecting areas in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and extreme southeastern California.

Last week, 7 percent of California was in severe drought. 

At this time last year, 82 percent of California was in severe drought. The Monitor features four drought categories -- moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional. No part of the state is in extreme drought for the first time since August 2013. 

"Generally a one-category improvement to drought conditions was made from central California to the Los Angeles basin," according to the Monitor report.

Santa Barbara County's Cachuma Lake serves as a bellwether for just how dramatic the turnaround has been over the last year. The reservoir rose 24 feet in just one day, bringing the lake to 42 percent of capacity.

Early this month, Cachuma Lake, which has not reached 50 percent capacity since 2014, was at 15 percent of capacity.

The storms, produced by atmospheric rivers that pull streams of moisture up from the tropics, have boosted the state's critical Sierra snowpack and reservoir levels. The Sierra Nevada snowpack is 186 of average, a good sign for spring when that snow melts and runs into the state's water reservoirs ahead of the dry summer months.

In a dramatic turnaround for California from last winter, when reservoir levels were significantly lower and the site of the Sierra snowpack survey was a dry patch of grass, the storms have produced flooding in Nothern California. Some residents returned home Wednesday in San Jose after being evacuated when a bloated creek carrying engine fuel and sewage water flooded thousands of homes.

With water levels from Coyote Creek receding late Wednesday, officials said some of the 14,000 evacuated residents would be allowed to return home, although an evacuation order remained for parts of the city. Authorities warned residents to be careful about hygiene and handling food that may have come into contact with flood water.

Flood warnings were in place until Saturday because waterways were overtaxed, and another storm was forecast Sunday.

Authorities also reopened two lanes of U.S. 101 south of San Francisco after it was closed because of flooding. The California Highway Patrol closed all lanes in both directions at 4:40 a.m. Wednesday when water spilled into a low point on the freeway.

There is no estimate when the key commuter artery will fully reopen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: USGS
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<![CDATA[Woman Struck by Train in Encinitas]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 06:26:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/train-tracks-generic-railroad-2016.jpg

San Diego County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the death of a woman who was hit by a train in Encinitas.

The incident around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on the railroad tracks near Coast Highway 101 and Diana Street.

The woman ran toward the tracks and was hit, deputies said.

Her significant other found the woman and took her to Scripps La Jolla Hospital where the woman died, according to deputies.

Deputies estimate the southbound BNSF Train was traveling at approximately 50 mph when the woman was struck.

Anyone with information about this case can call the Sheriff's Department's non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Aztecs Drop The Ball Against Fresno State]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 00:49:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSUvsFresnoStWEB.jpg

Fresno State ended San Diego State’s three-game winning streak with a 63-55 victory Thursday at Viejas Arena.

The loss dropped the Aztecs into 6th place in the Mountain West.

That is notable because the top five seeds in the league earn a first round bye in the upcoming conference tournament and if the postseason started today, SDSU would have to win four games in a row to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Jeremy Hemsley and Dakarai Allen each totaled 13 points to lead the Aztecs.

SDSU fell behind by 11 in the second half but the home team rallied behind its two leading scorers. Malik Pope chipped in with 11 points.

SDSU running back DJ Pumphrey signed autographs and visited with fans before and during the game.

Pumphrey also drew some attention by wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers hat. The NFL prospect later switched to an Aztecs lid and apologized on twitter.

Ironically, around the time Pumphrey switched hats in the second half, the Aztecs went on a 10-0 run to pull within a point of Fresno State.

But unfortunately, the visitors hung on for the victory and moved into 4th place in the MW standings.

Another group of Bulldogs visit San Diego on Thursday.

Top-ranked Gonzaga visits the Jenny Craig Pavilion at 7 p.m. for a conference meeting with the San Diego Toreros.

It will be an immense challenge for USD considering the top-ranked team in the country is 28-0 and has beaten its last 20 opponents by double digits.

San Diego only managed 27 points in a loss earlier this month to Saint Mary’s.



Photo Credit: Ben Rosehart]]>
<![CDATA[Tires Slashed on Several Cars in Kensington and Talmadge]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 06:48:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kensington+tires+slashed.JPG

Vandals are targeting cars in two different neighborhoods, after reports of 22 cars that had tires slashed in La Mesa.

Several cars in the Kensington and Talmadge neighborhoods of San Diego were vandalized.

NBC 7 spoke to some victims, who voiced their frustration and anger over a possible serial slasher targeting their vehicles and costing them hundreds of dollars.

"People had to go to work. People had to take their children someplace. People take their family members to doctor appointments," said Kensington resident Jocelyn Hough. "No one could do anything."

Hough said one of the tires on her car was slashed and two on her neighbor's car. 

She added that she doesn't understand what the vandals are gaining from slashing tires--saying that it's not as if they are stealing anything.

Residents told NBC 7, at least six cars were targeted overnight Monday on three different streets in Kensington.

Ray Keyes, a Talmadge resident, said he came outside his home to find that his truck had a flat tire. 

"My belief is what goes around comes around. If they do those kinds of things as way of life they don't do well in life," Keyes said.

In La Mesa, at least 22 cars were vandalized Tuesday morning along four streets, the La Mesa Police Department (LMPD) confirmed.

They began receiving several phone calls around 6:30 a.m. reporting vandalism to vehicles parked on Harbison, Stanford, Cornell and Harvard avenues.

According to investigators, the suspects used an unknown sharp object to puncture or slash the tires of cars parked in the area.

La Mesa Police said the vandalism appears to be a random act; no arrests have been made.

The investigation is ongoing and police are looking into whether the crimes in La Mesa, Kensington and Talmadge are related.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Purple Heart Memorial Unveiled at Camp Pendleton]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 21:41:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/02-22-17+Purple+Heart+Memorial+Ceremony.JPG

Some of the most decorated Marines were honored Wednesday during the unveiling of a memorial at Camp Pendleton.

The new 5th Marine Regiment Purple Heart Memorial honors those wounded and killed in combat.

During the ceremony, Purple Heart recipients were escorted by the Marines currently serving in the 5th Marine Regiment.

The Purple Heart, the oldest badge of honor, is awarded to members of the armed services who died or were wounded in combat.

"This monument today is a testament of not just our combat wounded Marines and our fallen Marines, it pays tribute to our veterans, it pays tribute to men and women who have pledged to something greater than themselves and defending our great nation," said Col. Ken Kassner, Commanding Officer of the 5th Marine Regiment.

NBC 7 spoke with some Purple Heart recipients who said the ceremony was meaningful and emotional for them. 

"When you're in a war, you're not thinking about yourself, you're thinking about the Marine to your right and the Marine to your left and make sure they're taken care of and safe," said retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Major Martin Vasquez.

Vasquez told us he served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. 

The ceremony was held on former President George Washington's birthday, since he was the one who first introduced the Badge of Military Merit. The Purple Heart was announced on President Washington's 200 birthday.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Ignoring Free Retirement Money]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:28:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/money+generic.PNG

Certified Financial Planner Mary Beth Storjohann is hardcore when it comes to saving for retirement.

"There is no excuse for not contributing to your retirement," says Storjohann, the founder of Workable Wealth.

She understands how people can feel buried under credit and student debt but she says you still need to make some sort of contribution to a retirement account.

"Your future self needs you to start saving today."

According to a working draft published in the Washington Post, two-thirds of Americans aren't using their company retirement savings plans.  The numbers come from a review of census information.  It says that nearly 80 percent of Americans work for employers that offer retirement programs, whether 401(k) or 403(b), but only 32 percent of workers sign up for the accounts.

Storjohann says that needs to change.

"If you're looking at your employee sponsored 401(k) plan or retirement plan and they offer a match and you are not contributing to the plan, you are leaving free money on the table."

The financial planner says people she works with often say they'll contribute to a plan when they meet other financial obligations but she says that could be too late.

"Are they going to be depending on their children to take care of them?  Do they understand that there aren't loans available for retirement?  It makes me worried about these people actually thinking about the long term."

Storjohann says your future self needs you to start saving today.  She says that can be at whatever amount you can afford, but the most important thing is to start saving now.

"If you don't take care of yourself, who will take care of you?" said Storjohann.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Search For Woman Gone Missing Near Sunset Cliffs]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:32:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Amanda+Cruse.jpg

A 30-year-old woman from out of town went missing near the Sunset Cliffs area of San Diego on Sunday morning, San Diego Police (SDPD) said.

Amanda Cruse had arrived in San Diego on Saturday, Feb. 18 and visited Sunset Cliffs.

Police said the next morning, she may have gone back to the area of Sunset Cliffs and Monaco Street to take photographs of the sunset.

She is described to be 5-foot-3, 115 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Cruse was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and black, white converse shoes. 

Anyone with information is asked to call SDPD at (619)531-2000.

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<![CDATA[Pickup Truck Engulfed in Flames on I-163 Amid Rush Traffic]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:22:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sdfd-generic-firefighters.jpg

A pickup truck caught on fire at southbound Interstate 163 near Robinson and University Avenue amid rush traffic on Wednesday, confirmed California Highway Patrol (CHP).

At about 4:23 p.m., there were several reports of a white pickup truck billowing smoke. San Diego Fire-Rescue crews responded to the scene, said CHP Officer Robert Cantano.

When they arrived, crews found the truck fully engulfed in flames. CHP officer Cantano says no one was injured in the fire.

Check NBC 7's traffic page for instant updates on traffic congestion on the I-163 around the truck fire and surrounding areas.

No other information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this breaking news.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[USA Bobsledders Train in Chula Vista]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:31:10 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/02-22-17+US+Woman%27s+Bobsled+team+in+Chula+Visa.JPG

After two months on the road, in snowy cold places around the world, the USA Women’s Bobsled team returned home to the United States this week for some much needed “R & R”.

They drew a pretty good location: San Diego. 

Seven of the 8 women on the team checked into the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (formerly known as Olympic Training Center) to spend the week working on speed, agility, and strength all the while appreciating the sunshine and warm weather.

San Diegans might complain about the rainy winter, but so far these bobsledders feel like it’s a slice of heaven.

"I love California, this is like the best place on earth," said bobsledder Brittany Reinbolt.

The team arrived in Chula Vista Monday night after being out of the country since Dec. 30.

They will spend just under a week at the center, training with two-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, who grew up in Oceanside.

Bobsledders spend an enormous amount of time working on their explosiveness and very little time on the actual bobsled track.

“If you think of basketball players they can go on the court and take a bunch of shots and practice their skills, for bobsled we're actually only on the ice for two minutes a day," said Jamie Greubel Poser.

Greubel Poser drove her sled to a bronze medal at the World Championships in Germany last week, while Meyers Taylor continued her dominance winning gold.

But along with lifting weights and doing sprints, the women said they are excited to soak up as much vitamin D as possible before heading off to Korea.

“It’s a nice little vacation before we head to South Korea," said bobsledder Kehri Jones. "Cuz we’re not bobsledding. It’s not cold outside, it’s not snowing. We don’t have to run on ice. It’s just—it’s a perfect getaway.”

Being in Southern California also meant spending some time on the beach, of course.

They even took a bit of their sport along with them, building a bobsled out of sand during a trip to Mission Beach.

“Yes, we’re still doing our training, yes we’re still intense, but we get a lot of vitamin D, which we’re solely lacking all year,” said Meyers Taylor.

Team USA is considered the hardest team to make in the world and will send three different teams of two to the 2018 Winter Olympics next February in Pyeongchang South Korea.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[BAE Systems' New Dry Dock To Be Used for First Time]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 15:44:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bae-Systems-DryDock-Twitter1.jpg

The "Pride of California," a new, floating dry dock unveiled by BAE Systems Ship Repair in Barrio Logan last week will be put to use for the first time Thursday.

USS New Orleans (LPD 18), the San Diego-based amphibious transport dock ship, will be the first to dock at the 950-foot floating repair facility. The ship is scheduled to begin docking at 7 p.m. Thursday, with the process expected to take about five hours, BAE Systems said.

The new dry dock is located at the foot of Sampson Street, near Barrio Logan, and is capable of lifting 55,000 tons. It is the largest floating dry dock in California, according to BAE Systems.

“There’s a lot of excitement that goes into a docking,” said BAE Systems Representative Karl Johnson. “With this being the first time using this dock, it just adds that much more excitement to the docking. It really is a neat thing to see a ship come on of the water. There’s a science to it, and there’s only a few people qualified in the United States to do this kind of thing.”

The maintenance and repairs to USS New Orleans will include work on the ship’s exterior and tanks, its crew living quarters, ship ventilation, and its propulsion and auxiliary systems, according to the BAE Systems contract issued this past November.

The repairs are expected to total up to $36 million, but additional repairs could bring the value of the military-contracted deal up to $51.6 million, according to BAE Systems.

Repairs to USS New Orleans began last month but the repairs at the dry dock will last until around July. The ship will then be put back into the water for the remainder of the repair work, Johnson said.

Work is expected to conclude in March 2018.

BAE Systems’ smaller floating dry dock, “Pride of San Diego,” is currently repairing the guided missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60). The combination of the two floating dry docks has drastically increased BAE’s ship repair capacity, said BAE Systems.

Pride of California is capable of dry docking all naval vessels with the exception of air craft carriers and expeditionary staging base ships, said Johnson. He said the reason is because carriers do not fit under the Coronado Bridge, and staging ships displace too much water.

Pride of California was built in Qingdao, China, and towed to San Diego in December. It’s naming and dedication was held on Feb. 11.



Photo Credit: BAE Systems, Inc./Twitter
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<![CDATA[Car Flies 50 Feet Down Ravine in College Area]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:27:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSU-Ravine0222.JPG

A woman’s car went flying 50 feet down a ravine in San Diego’s College Area Wednesday after she reportedly hit a pothole.

The crash was reported just after 10:45 a.m. at 54th Street and Montezuma Road. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) sent officers to the scene; the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) helped rescue the woman from the car. She is expected to survive, authorities said.

It is believe the woman struck a pothole, which caused her to lose control of her car and veer off the roadway.

Resident Armand Cantarini, who has lived in the area for 42 years, heard the commotion in his neighborhood and rushed outside to see what was happening.

“I heard all the sirens going off and a helicopter,” he told NBC 7.

Soon, he realized there had been a bad accident in the ravine. Cantarini said drivers frequently speed in that area, and more enforcement is needed.

“Just goes to show, they need to look for more of these potholes in the city,” he added, saying he has never seen a crash quite like this in his neighborhood.

No one else was hurt.



Photo Credit: Megan Tevrizian
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<![CDATA[High-Tech Makeover Coming to 3,200 Streetlights in San Diego]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:24:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San_Diego_Reflecting_Pond.jpg

The streetlights in San Diego are about to get a high-tech makeover, with the deployment of 3,200 smart sensors, announced Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

At a conference held in East Village at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Mayor Faulconer explained the city is partnering with GE to work on a project unique to San Diego. It will be one of the largest 'Internet of Things' platforms in the world, according to the city. 

"This technology is powerful. Downtown visitors will be able to find parking easily and in real time using a smart phone, and the environmental and transportation data will help Downtown to meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan. This is a huge win for San Diego," said Kris Michell, the President and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, in a statement.

The smart streetlights will reduce energy costs by 60 percent in the city. With the sensors, the streetlights will transform into a connected digital network that can maximize efficiency for parking and traffic, as well as support public safety and track air quality.

City officials say the sensors can use real-time anonymous sensor data to direct drivers to open parking spaces, help first responders in emergencies, track carbon emissions and identify intersections that can be made safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Moreover, the City will replace 14,000 streetlights with more energy efficient versions, according to the city. The improved version allows for dimming and brightening in public venues manually or automatically, with regards to natural light conditions. It will also reduce energy costs by $2.4 million annually.

"We're honored to be part of this historic transformation," said Maryrose Sylvester, President and CEO of Current, powered by GE, in a statement. "We have a proud history of helping San Diego proactively save energy through efficient lighting, and now we're expanding that same infrastructure beyond energy into a new realm of intelligence."

The project is expected to be completed by fall 2018, but installation of the new lights will begin this summer across the city. Although the city will start with 3,200 sensor nodes, there is potential to expand to another 3,000 points later.



Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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<![CDATA[UCSD Astrophysicist Involved in NASA Planet Discovery]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:34:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/UCSD-Geisel-Library.jpg

A UC San Diego astrophysicist contributed to research that supported NASA's discovery of a cluster of seven planets, three of which could potentially support life.

NASA and a Belgian-led research team announced Wednesday that they discovered a cluster of planets less than 40 light-years from Earth. Seven planets were found, and three of them could possibly be habitable for life.

Adam Burgasser is a physics professor at UCSD's Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, who was part of the research team of about three dozen scientists that found the planets. The team is filled with collaborators all over the US, Spain and parts of Asia.

He's known about this for over a year but had to keep the discovery confidential. Burgasser told NBC 7 these new findings open up a galaxy of possibilities that life might exist beyond earth.

"These kind of questions about whether there is life beyond earth are questions that I think scientists have been asking since we saw earth as a system. And now we're actually poised to look at specific locations where we could actually answer that question," Burgasser said.

Burgasser and the international team of scientists have been looking at the Trappist-1 star for more than a year. The star is a low-mass, dim red star, not visible to the human eye without a high-tech telescope.

"It's not the first time we've ever found a habitable, earth-sized planet around any star. There are about a dozen of those known, including earth by the way. We've known about that one for a while," Burgasser said.

"But this is the first time that we've both found these kinds of planets around a very low mass star and more importantly found multiple planets that are potentially in that habitable zone around any star."

With the help of advanced telescopes from Chile, Morocco and one orbiting the sun, they were able to find the planets. At least seven earth-sized planets are orbiting the Trappist-1 star, in the Aquarious constellation.

The team used the transit technique which entails watching the planet pass in front of the star for 20 days, using the NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Burgasser and the team of scientists were able to observe many dips in front of the star as seven planets passed by.

The system is relatively close in terms of outer space -- only 40 light years away. That means it would take about 40 years for light from these planets to be seen on earth.

Scientists will need to study the atmospheres in order to conclusively determine whether these rocky, terrestrial plants could hold some form of life.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Boater Found at San Diego Hospital]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:50:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Garrett-Ferguson-Search.jpg

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) crews in San Diego ended the search for a missing boater after he was found at a local hospital when a nurse recognized him from news reports as one of the hospital's patients.

Officials with the USCG 11th District PA Detachment San Diego said lifeguards discovered a 6-foot dingy about one mile west of Mission Bay on Tuesday at 11:50 a.m. The boat appeared to have been abandoned. Inside, officials found identification belonging to Garrett Ferguson, 36, a former U.S. Army service member, who lives in Huntington Beach, California.

Ferguson, however, was nowhere to be found.

Lifeguards called officials at Coast Guard Sector San Diego's Joint Harbor Operations Center (JHOC) to report the empty boat. On Wednesday, USCG officials announced a search has been launched for Ferguson.

Multiple crews scoured the waters including USCG rescue helicopters, the Navy’s Search and Rescue Helicopter, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter and San Diego Lifeguards.

The USCG said the search spanned from Torrey Pines to the Maritime Border Line.

A photo of Ferguson in military uniform was released by the Coast Guard Wednesday, as well as a photo of his abandoned dingy. The photo of the boat shows what appears to be other personal belongings left on board, including swimming fins, a bag and other gear.

A nurse at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego saw the news reports about the search for Ferguson and recognized him. After his identity was confirmed, USCG ended its search efforts.

At this point, it is unknown why Ferguson was in the hospital or why he abandoned his boat. No further details were released.



Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard]]>
<![CDATA[Man Attacked With Hammer in Ocean Beach, Suspect Detained]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:32:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/OBHammerAttack022217A.jpg

A man was attacked in the head with a hammer in Ocean Beach Wednesday, confirmed police.

It happened near the corner of Niagara Avenue and Cable Street just after 11:00 a.m., according to San Diego Police (SDPD) and San Diego Fire-Rescue (SDFD). The suspect allegedly went back into his apartment after striking the victim with a hammer.

When police arrived at the scene they took the suspect into custody, said SDPD officers. The victim was bleeding profusely from his head.

Medics are evaluating the victim's condition. No further information was yet available.

Check back on this developing story for more details.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Man Robbed Outside Oceanside Hotel: Police]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:28:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Oceanside-police-generic-05.jpg

Police are searching for a suspect involved in a robbery outside a Best Western in Oceanside.

A man was robbed of $5,000 outside the Best Western at 1680 Oceanside Blvd. at 6:40 p.m. on Jan. 23.

Police said that when the victim stepped out of his car holding a satchel and envelope, the suspect approached him and said there something wrong with his car. He then reportedly pushed him into the victim’s car and grabbed the envelope containing the money.

The suspect fled the scene in a white SUV driven by another unidentified person.

The suspect is described as about 40 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 160 lbs.

He was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and dark pants at the time, police said.

Crime stoppers said it is offering up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest of the suspect in this case.

Anonymous tips can be email and texted to Crime Stoppers via www.sdcrimestoppers.org or its tip line at (888) 580-8477.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Transit Officer Hit, Dragged by Cab Driver: PD]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:46:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Marina-Cab-Assault-0222.jpg

A cab driver was arrested Wednesday in San Diego after he allegedly assaulted a transit officer with his taxi, hitting the victim and dragging him down the street in downtown’s Marina area.

“He dragged the officer, with his feet dangling, all the way to the corner,” witness Jorge Soto told NBC 7.

Soto was walking to work when he noticed a San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) security officer trying to stop the driver of a taxi near Kettner Boulevard and Harbor Drive.

“He didn’t want to stop,” Soto recounted.

Soto said it appeared as if the MTS officer asked the taxi driver for his identification. The driver refused and began to drive away. Soto said the MTS officer tried to stop the driver by taking a hold of the cab's steering wheel through the driver’s open window.

As the taxi driver took off, the officer kept hanging on to the wheel and was dragged for a short distance. Eventually, Soto said the taxi driver maneuvered the cab and was able to knock the MTS officer off of the wheel.

The San Diego Harbor Police Department said officers were called to the scene just before 11:30 a.m. They confirmed the MTS officer was dragged after attempting to stop the taxi driver and said he suffered minor injuries – mostly scrapes and bruises.

Officers began searching for the driver of the cab and dispatched a description of the vehicle to other officers in the area.

Just after 12:05 p.m., officers with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) located the taxi in the East Village, near 19th Street and Island. The driver was arrested on suspicion of assault with a vehicle.

No one else was hurt. No further details, including the suspect's name, were immediately released.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Rancho Penasquitos Residents Frustrated With City Trash Bins]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:50:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/rancho+penasquitos+trash+bins+022.JPG

Tuesday is trash day in Rancho Penasquitos. But what is usually a routinely easy chore has become a frustrating task for those whose trash bins are falling apart.

In an online thread, dozens of Rancho Penasquitos residents are complaining about the poor quality of their city-issued trash bins. Some are saying they have replaced the bin themselves and paid out-of-pocket more than once. Others offered do-it-yourself solutions.

At $70 for every trash can, it's an expense many are not happy about. According to the city, their trash cans are under a 10-year warranty.

"If the lid or the wheels break within the first 10 years, the city will come out to replace them at no cost to the resident," said Matthew Cleary, who oversees the City’s Collection Services Program.

Cleary says there are ways to protect trash bins from damage. Storing the container in the shade, keeping the containers three feet away from other objects on collection days, and not overloading the bins with heavy material are ways to make your trash receptacle last longer.

However, many of the residents we spoke to said their bins haven't lasted more than a few years. Frustrated with the inconvenience and the price tag they are hoping the city will provide them with more durable containers.

Have you encountered this issue in your neighborhood? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.



Photo Credit: Gaby Rodriguez]]>
<![CDATA[Arrest in Mysterious Killing of North County Woman]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:11:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Antonia+Herrera.JPG

Investigators have made an arrest in the mysterious killing of a young woman whose body was found dumped on the side of a road in San Diego's North County more than one month ago.

San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO) Lt. Kenn Nelson confirmed an arrest was made late Tuesday in connection with the homicide of Antonia Herrera, 23. Nelson said Herrera was shot to death.

Suspect Paul Castro, 27, a resident of Las Vegas, was taken into custody by homicide detectives with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He’s a documented gang member, authorities said.

Castro will be extradited back to San Diego to face charges in the murder of Herrera. He was an acquaintance of the victim; Nelson said they met through mutual friends in Las Vegas.

Herrera's body was found on Jan. 12 on the side of the 27600 block of Champagne Boulevard in unincorporated Escondido, near Interstate 15.

Her manner of death was ruled a homicide, but her autopsy was sealed. Nelson said Wednesday that investigators believe Herrera was shot to death inside a friend’s car as she was traveling back to San Diego from Las Vegas on Jan. 12. Castro was in that car, too.

“We do have that vehicle in our possession, and we will be processing it, based on search warrants that we have obtained for that,” Nelson said.

The lieutenant said investigators have not yet determined a motive for the murder.

Castro is believed to be the only suspect in the killing. Other people were in the car, but Nelson said they are not suspected in the shooting of Herrera.

"We believe Mr. Castro is solely responsible for her death," Nelson added.

Herrera's sudden death left the young woman's family searching for clues, trying to figure out who was the last person to see her alive.

In an interview in January, Herrera's family told NBC 7 the victim, in her last few months alive, had feared for her life. She was so concerned, she even took out a life insurance policy on herself just a few months before her death.

"Someone has to know something," said Tinamarie Herrera, the victim's sister.

Eliza King, Herrera's roommate at San Pasqual Academy, told NBC 7 she had seen Herrera about a week before her death, during classes for an internship program.

"She was working on getting her life together," King told NBC 7 in January.

King said Herrera told her she was staying with a male friend for the week so she could have a way to get to the program. King said Herrera told her she felt uncomfortable staying with the friend, but it was only for a short time.

King said Herrera was beloved.

"We valued her, people love her and it's just not fair," she said.

Nelson hopes the arrest in this case helps Herrera's family find "just a little piece of solace."

NBC 7 spoke with King again on Wednesday. She said this is just the beginning of seeking justice for her friend.

“To go and see your friend in a casket – that you’re used to seeing so lively and so happy all the time is really hard,” King said, fighting back tears. “It’s really hard to deal.”

King said it’s especially difficult to imagine her friend being dumped on the side of a road like garbage, as if she was “nothing.”

“It’s really hurtful, it hurts, not just me, but my soul like to the core. You don't do that to somebody, like they are trash,” said King. “She wasn’t trash.”

Herrera was originally from Chula Vista but spent time in transitional group homes all over San Diego, including in National City, Oceanside and her most recent group home in San Marcos.

King said she often visits the site where Herrera’s body was found. A makeshift memorial has been set up there, with balloons and candles.

“Every time I go, I stand there, looking and I’m like, ‘How could somebody just do that?’ There's barbed wire there so, somebody just tossed her over there like she was nothing,” she added. “It's really painful.”

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<![CDATA[22-Year-Old Texts Dad for Help During Home Invasion Robbery]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 07:49:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Escondido+Home+invasion+robbery+text+messages.JPG

A 22-year-old woman texted her dad for help after hearing an intruder inside the family's home in San Diego's North County, police confirmed.

According to Escondido police, the woman heard someone inside the home around 12 p.m. Tuesday and sent a text to her dad, who called 911.

Anthony Torres, the woman's father told NBC 7 that a man had come over to their home on the 100 block of East 6th Avenue in Escondido a few weeks ago and had scoped out the house.

Torres said the man claimed to be looking for a woman named Lisa and spoke with his daughter.

"[The man] went for the gate again she told him 'no you need to leave,'" Torres told NBC 7.

He added, "to find out it was the same person two weeks later, it's a little bit scary."

Torres said his daughter came down to the kitchen Tuesday afternoon and saw the door knob to the front door turning. She hid on the top shelf of a closet and sent a text to him to call 911.

"At that point, it was pretty much try and stay in control, pretty much don't feed into the emotional aspect of what's going on," Torres said, describing the moments after receiving the text.

When officers arrived at the home, they saw the suspect leaving and arrested him.

By the time Torres said he got home, the scene had been cleared.

"It started hitting me, well, 'Is she okay? Is she freaking out?'" he said. "Then at that point I started getting emotional. The terror she must have felt hiding in the closet, wondering if this person could find her at anytime."

He added that he was proud of his daughter for her quick actions to hide herself and message him for help.

"I don't think he was here to steal anything because there were so many things he could have taken and nothing was touched," Torres told NBC 7.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, police said. The suspect left the house with only a lighter.

Torres added that if the suspect isn't charged, he is worried the man could come back.

He also added that the incident was a good reminder for him and for his neighbors to lock their doors.

"Need to be aware and keep eye out for each other," he said.

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<![CDATA[California Man Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Buy Drug Planes]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:42:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/courtroom+generic+722.jpg

A Southern California airplane broker has pleaded guilty in a scheme to launder money and buy airplanes that would be used by Mexican cartels to ferry drugs. 

Hector Hernandez of Wilmington entered pleas Tuesday in San Diego to federal conspiracy charges. He could face up to 30 years in prison.

Hernandez owned Pacific Coast Aero, located at the Torrance airport.

In a plea agreement, Hernandez acknowledged helping arrange the purchase of seven small planes for export to Mexico, along with parts such as extra fuel tanks and heavy-duty tires.

Hernandez believed the money came from drug trafficking and the planes were intended for smuggling.

A co-defendant, Vicente Contreras-Amezquita, faces trial for allegedly stashing $3 million in dozens of U.S. bank accounts in order to buy some 35 planes.

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<![CDATA[San Diego County Hotels See Jan. Revenue Rise]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 08:02:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MarriotEmbarcadero.jpg

Revenue at San Diego County hotels rose 4.8 percent from a year ago during the month of January, topping $180.5 million, according to the latest monthly data from research firm STR.

The region’s occupancy rate was 67 percent for the month, down 1 percent from January 2016, while all other reported metrics showed increases. The average daily room rate was $142.41 during January (up 4.5 percent), while revenue per available room (RevPAR) was $95.39 (up 3.4 percent).

Local room-night supply rose 1.4 percent, to more than 1.89 million; while room-night demand (nights booked) for the month rose 0.3 percent, to more than 1.26 million.

According to STR, the San Diego region generally registered annual full-year improvements on most metrics for the past six consecutive years, spurred in part by a strong nationwide tourism economy.



Photo Credit: Monica Garske]]>