<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sun, 01 Mar 2015 11:28:45 -0800 Sun, 01 Mar 2015 11:28:45 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Leads Deputies on Chase, Crashes Into Patrol Car: Sheriff]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 11:23:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+diego+county+Sheriff+generic+logo.jpg

A man that allegedly crashed into a Sheriff's Deputy's patrol car has been booked into jail and identified, officials said.

Police arrested Eddie Martin, 41, of Santee after he led police on a chase and collided head-on with a responding deputy’s patrol car at the intersection of Mast Boulevard and Hartland Circle.

The first incident happened at 10:40 a.m. when San Diego Sheriff's Deputies responded to a domestic violence call.

Martin was reportedly in a domestic violence dispute with his wife and told her he was willing to engage in a gun battle with law enforcement if he was contacted by them, deputies said. He fled before deputies arrived.

Officers were called back to Martin’s house that evening around 7 p.m. for reports of him banging on the front door. Martin left before deputies arrived, officials said.

After a brief search, he was later seen driving his Tahoe on Mast Boulevard in Santee.

Officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop when Martin failed to yield, driving westbound into the eastbound lanes of Mast Boulevard. He then collided head-on with a responding deputies patrol car, leaving major front-end damage.

Both the officer and Martin were taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries. Martin was later released and booked into San Diego Central Jail for felony domestic violence, felony evading, possession of a stolen handgun, causing injury while driving under the influence, and other related charges.

Photo Credit: San Diego County Sheriff's Dept.]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Quentin Reinventing Himself]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 09:58:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/165*120/GettyImages_495662115.jpg

Nobody has ever doubted Carlos Quentin’s ability to play baseball. The problem has been his ability to play baseball.

Quentin’s talent and impact are undeniable. The 2-time All-Star simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Since joining the Padres in 2012, Quentin has never played more than 86 games. In his 9-year career, he’s never played more than 131 games. Injuries have wiped out the rest.

But, Quentin still has lots of baseball left in him.

“I still feel I can be productive,” says Quentin. “The ball still comes off my bat, yes.”

The San Diego native watched in the off-season as the Padres added piece after piece and morphed in to playoff contenders.

“The city of San Diego should be extremely excited,” says Quentin. “The new ownership really changed things. They really brought in a lot of different guys and I think the city is really responding. There’s a buzz around town.”

The problem for Carlos is a lot of the guys who came in (Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers) play Quentin’s position. So, the outfielder was subject to trade rumors. Would an American League team bring him on to be a designated hitter? But, there is another option: Switching positions.

Quentin brought a first baseman’s glove to Arizona for the first time in his career. The change seems to have rejuvenated him.

“Yeah, I mean I’m enjoying learning a new position. My entire career I’ve been an outfielder. I’ve played outfield since high school (at Cathedral Catholic). It’s a lot of fun to do something different.”

The footwork at first base is much different, and can be taxing on the knees, but so far Quentin has had no issues with the move.

“The footwork is different, but everything’s different. It’s the infield. You’ve got to be prepared for the ball every single time. It’s actually easier to focus because you’re focusing every time the pitch is thrown. In the outfield you’ve really got to work on staying focused because you might not get the ball the entire game.”

"He's doing fine," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's getting his grounders, he's getting all the subtleties of the position, he's learning our bunt plays, he's learning the cutoff and relay system. Carlos is a sharp guy. He knows baseball. He's working hard at it, so it's been fun for him."

For now, Yonder Alonso is penciled in as the starting first baseman. But he’s been working more and more at third base, as well, which might open up a little more playing time for Quentin, adding one more bat with 30 home run pop to the Padres already potent lineup.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Foot Pursuit Ends With Suspect in Custody]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 09:53:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Police+Line+Police+Tape+Police+Generic+Frankford.JPG

A suspect is in police custody after leading authorities on a foot pursuit, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The pursuit started at 9:42 p.m. in La Mesa near Jackson and Baltimore Drive, the CHP said.

The chase ended in the 6100 block of Baltimore Drive, where officers placed the suspect in custody.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[How Living Donors Save Lives]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 10:31:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KIDNEY_FOLO_-_PAIRED_EXCHANGE_1200x675_406113859798.jpg

Six months after Susan Woolley donated her kidney to Jesse Macias, the longtime friends and colleagues catch up over breakfast in downtown San Diego.

"It's a new lease on life. I really owe it to Susie and what she did for me. I can never repay her. It just means so much to me, " says Jesse Macias.

"I think it changed my life in the gratitude I feel. I'm so happy that I did what I did to change his life," says Susan Woolley.

Susan is a video editor at NBC7. Jesse is a former local news reporter, who suffers from poly cystic kidney disease.

Until his transplant surgery in August, Jesse says it was a struggle just to eat a meal.

"Now, I can sit down for a while and not worry about the next day, or the next 30 minutes, of what can happen to me," says Macias.

Susan was able to donate directly to Jesse because their blood types match and other markers were compatible.

But often, people who want to donate to a specific person are not a match.

That's where the National Kidney Registry comes in.

It works with transplant hospitals around the country, including Sharp Memorial Hospital in Kearny Mesa, to pair up compatible living donors.

"The main advantage of a living donor is you get a higher quality organ," says Barry Browne, M.D. transplant surgeon at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

Santee resident Anesi Koria donated his kidney to the National Kidney Registry because he was not a match with his wife, Jill, who needed a transplant.

Anesi's kidney went to someone in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In return, his wife Jill got a kidney from someone else in the registry.

"Knowing how my wife's quality of life is, and knowing I'd done it for a young gentleman in Cincinnati, it makes you feel good. You feel good for helping somebody in that way," said Koria.

8 living donors have given their kidneys to the National Kidney Registry through Sharp Memorial Hospital, simply out of the goodness of their hearts.

The hope is more people will follow their lead.

"There are 3 to 4 hundred thousand people on dialysis, most of whom could use a kidney transplant. but there are only about 7 thousand cadaver donors a year. There are another 50 to 100 million potential donors walking around, who could give up one of their kidneys and still live a healthy normal health life," says Dr. Browne.

Kidney failure is not reversible, unlike heart disease or liver disease, which can improve with diet and lifestyle changes.

"By the time we figure out someone has kidney disease, it's usually past the point where we can do much to improve their kidney function," says Dr. Browne.

The wait for a kidney donation can take five to seven years.

In California, only about 11 percent of people who need a kidney actually get one.

A third of those donations come from living donors.

"The problem is, kidney failure is an epidemic in the United States because diabetes and blood pressure are so common," says Dr. Browne.

What's not common are donations from people who are alive, like Susan.

"We have a shortage of donors, not a shortage of organs," says Dr. Browne.

Because she donated her kidney, Susan will get priority at Sharp Memorial Hospital, should she ever need any kind of transplant later in life.

Susan's kidney donation also had an unexpected outcome.

"The positive influence on my children. Afterwards, I think they were very proud. Also, they looked at each other and said, 'You know, I can do that for you. I can do that.' They realized how important it would be in someone else's life. That's huge," says Woolley.

<![CDATA[Snow, Rain Fall Across San Diego County]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 09:05:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/palomar+web+1-PIC_0.jpg

Get your umbrellas and snow chains ready, San Diego.

Rain and snow began to fall across San Diego County Sunday morning as a storm system rolls through. 

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect until Monday afternoon, NBC 7 Meteorologist Greg Bledsoe said.

"We can expect on and off showers around the county today," Bledsoe said. "As for the mountains, the snow started this morning and should continue on and off through Monday."

Areas in the mountains could receive between four to eight inches at elevations higher than 5,000 feet, Bledsoe said.

The Winter Weather Warning will be in effect for San Diego Mountains until 4 p.m. on Monday. 

The San Diego County Water Authority and local lifeguard and fire rescue stations are offering tips to conserve water and keep homes and businesses safe.

Homes and businesses in need of sandbags can go to any San Diego county fire station or to lifeguard stations in Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla Shores.

Crews do need to be present at the stations to receive sandbags. If they are not, they suggest trying a retailer that sells them.

Sandbags do not come pre-filled, but anyone with access to the beach can fill them there, according to city officials.

The San Diego County Water Authority said it is important to have sprinkler systems shut off during the rain to conserve water, and the systems can remain off for a few days after the last rain.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department also reminds those headed to the snow in the Julian, Pine Valley and Descanso areas to be respectful of residents and private property.

They also remind drivers to have a full tank of gas, water and food in the event they get stuck in traffic or stranded by weather for several hours.

<![CDATA[One Dead After Northbound I-5 Collision]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 10:18:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_generic_police_tape_police_lights_fishtown11.jpg

One man is dead and another injured following a crash on Interstate 5 in Oceanside, officials said.

At approximately 6:50 a.m., a 29-year-old San Diego man was driving his 2002 Honda Civic when, according to the passenger, the car started to hydroplane and the driver lost control, the California Highway Patrol said.

The car hit the center divide and overturned. The California Highway Patrol blocked two lanes just south of the Birmingham Road exit to respond, they said.

The 29-year-old passenger crawled out of the vehicle and was taken to Scripps La Jolla Hospital. with minor to moderate injuries. The driver was trapped in the car and pronounced dead on scene.

Drugs and alcohol are not suspected as a factor in the crash.

<![CDATA[San Diego Padres Manager Balances Busy Schedule]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 11:18:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/GettyImages_481616417.jpg

Padres manager Bud Black is a busy man.

Aside from team meetings, scouting reports, in-game management, meeting with players individually when necessary, filling out lineup cards, meeting with team doctors to get injury updates, and throwing batting practice, Buddy meets with the media. He meets with the media a lot.

Amazingly, in each one (with only very few exceptions) he shows patience and humor, which is crazy when you see the full breakdown:

  • About 50 scheduled times during Spring Training.
  • Add around 10 or so more for national or 1-on-1 interviews.
  • In-season he holds a media session before and after every game for a total of 324.
  • Plus about 10 for random workouts, player acquisition press conferences, and awards banquets.
  • About 30 radio interviews.

That gives us a grand total of…424 media meetings every year (give or take a dozen). Buddy did not know that number specifically, but he did explain how he does what he does...

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Community Remembers Skater Killed in Lakeside]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:56:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/donals+webimg+3-PIC_0.jpg

Community members came together Saturday to support a young Lakeside man that was killed while riding his skateboard.

The proceeds from the benefit are going to a scholarship to help underprivileged skaters who may not be able to afford equipment.

Daniel Donals, 21, was riding his skateboard out of a private driveway on Valle Vista Road on Feb. 11 when he skated into the pathway of an oncoming truck, according to California Highway Patrol. He died later in a local hospital.

A group of Daniel's friends came together Saturday to host a spaghetti luncheon in honor of their late friend at the Lakeside VFW at 12650 Lindo Lane.

Jacob Cohen, a friend of Donals’, said at the fundraiser that Donals was loved by many in the community.

“He was just a part of our family, you know? Part of our skating community; not just our skating community, but the Lakeside community. He knew a lot of people always had a smile on his face; we’re doing it for him.”

Donals competed in wrestling and at swim meets in high school, but his friends in Lakeside remembered him best for skateboarding. The money from Saturday’s fundraiser will go toward a memorial brick at the local skate park and will start a scholarship fund to help young skaters in need.

The Local Skate Shop has joined in their efforts.

"He was a really good kid that just sort of stood out in the community," said Local Skate Shop owner Mark Johnson. "He was really kind to everyone. He didn't have a bad bone in his body."

Johnson, who said he plans to close the shop briefly to attend the spaghetti luncheon, just wants to see Daniel's memory live on in the skating community.

"This is our first loss for our brand new skateboard community," Johnson said. "The skate park is barely a year old, and this has really had an effect on our skateboard family."

According to the Donate Life Foundation, Daniel's organs were used to save the lives of four people in need and his tissue donations will be used to heal more than 50 others - something his father said makes him a hero, even in death.

Cohen said at the fundraiser that he wanted his friend to be remembered as an “awesome person” full of love.

“It is hard to put into words for me,” Cohen said. “He was a friend.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7 Staff]]>
<![CDATA[Brother's Surprise Reunion With Hero Soldier Sibling]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:10:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/2-28-2015-HeroReunion.JPG

A brother enjoyed a dream reunion with his soldier sibling as he picked up a commendation on his behalf Friday.

Wyatt Bailey, 17, shed tears of joy when his elder brother Kristopher, who he thought was in Korea, made his surprise appearance in full uniform as he accepted the award in front of his class at Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita.

The U.S. Army Infantryman was given the Orange County Sheriff's Department award for helping deputies catch a suspected drug dealer as he ran through his neighborhood back in 2013.

"He's a once in a lifetime type of person," Wyatt said, "There's never going to be anyone else like him."

Initially Kristopher thought he was being followed by a patrol car, and instead ended up helping the deputy catch a suspect, tackling the man when he realized what was happening.

"The only thing going through my head was just get this guy, stop him and let the sheriff do the rest," Kristopher said.

Kristopher, wanted to join the army since he was eight, will now enjoy a 15-day break back home with his family before he is stationed in New York.

<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get to Know Matt Kemp]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 12:17:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WEB_Get_To_Know_Matt_Kemp_NBC_RSH-MCDS_1200x675_405923395995.jpg The first major move the Padres made in their whirlwind off-season was trading for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. The All-Star and MVP runner-up was not very well liked by Padres fans. But, he’s quickly winning over the Friar Faithful, who are pinning their hopes to the slugging star having a sensational season. NBC 7’s Derek Togerson talked 1 on 1 with Kemp to see how he views himself as a leader, and just how good he thinks his new team can be.]]> <![CDATA[Child Thrown from Vehicle in Otay Mesa Crash]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 11:00:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/OtayMesa+Crash+Web+img-PIC_0.jpg

A four-year-old boy is recovering after he was thrown from an SUV during a crash, police said.

The incident happened just before 8 p.m. Friday at Del Sur Boulevard and Agosto Street in Otay Mesa.

Police said the driver lost control and swerved onto the other side of the road, where the car crashed into a pickup truck, a trailer and an SUV, all parked on the street.

The impact of the accident spun the car 180 degrees and crushed the car.

A woman inside her home heard the crash as it happened and ran outside to find the boy crying, she said. She ran across the street to help.

San Diego Police arrested the driver after a field sobriety test, they said.

The boy has minor injuries.

A witness said she also saw a young girl in the car but she did not appear to be hurt, the witness said.

<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: First Pitcher Is Revealed]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 10:37:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/GettyImages_452851902.jpg

Padres manager Bud Black shared a secret on Saturday morning. We now know who the team's opening day starter will be. The Cactus League opening day starter, that is.

Left-handed reliever Jason Lane will take the ball when the Padres play the Mariners in their annual charity game on Wednesday. Among the reasons for the decision is Lane is one of the closest guys on the staff to being game-ready.

Minor league prospect Justin Hancock is also scheduled to throw in the exhibition opener.

As for the regular season Opening Day starter, that's still up in the air. Now, this is purely speculative, but the guy who gets the ball on Saturday, March 7, which would be the fourth Cactus League game against the Giants in Scottsdale, might be the answer.

If the Padres were already setting up their regular rotation based on pitching every fifth day (and Buddy says they have things "mapped out"), the person who goes on the 7th would have his spot naturally come up on April 6th, which is the first real game of the year against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Poway Company Creates Less Lethal Bullet]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 10:28:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sdpd-badge_1200x675_402098243860.jpg

A modified bullet made by a company in Poway could save officers and citizens in dangerous situations.

Alternative Ballistics is lethal force option for police officers, without the deadly result.

The device is designed to stop you but not to kill you.

"Obviously you rather be hit with this than a bullet," says Alternative Ballistics CEO Chris Ellis.

The "Alternative" can be placed onto an officers gun. Once the weapon is fired the bullet embeds into a circular, alloy projectile.

"Which will then make contact with the person knocking them down without doing the internal damage that a bullet will do," says Ellis.

Ellis says he comes from a family of law enforcement and created this device to give officers more tools when they may be forced to use their weapons.

"That's what we designed this product for to give them another option and save as many lives as we possibly can," says Ellis.

During a press conference about officer involved shootings, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman stressed the importance of having less lethal options more readily available.

But will the San Diego Police Department start adopting the new technology?

The department released as statement saying: "While we do have subject matter experts constantly testing and evaluating different products and technology as it becomes available, we don't endorse or discredit vendors that are trying to market their product."

"We need this product, we've been waiting many years for something like this," says Ellis. "There's a big gap between bullets and less lethal devices. We want to help bridge that gap with something that kind of falls in between."

<![CDATA[Exclusive: MTS Officers Refuse to Help on Video]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 09:36:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/trolleygeneric_trolley_generic.jpg

The Metropolitan Transit System is investigating an incident last Monday where several of its security officers were seen standing at a trolley stop in Downtown San Diego apparently refusing to help a bleeding man across the street.

San Diego police confirmed that shortly before 11 p.m. on February 23rd, two men were playing around when one accidently pushed another into a window near the intersection of 6th Avenue and C Street. The injured man was bleeding at the time.

Joseph Hernandez witnessed the accident and started filming with his cellphone. The injured man was on ground near a building and the five or six security officers were standing on the trolley station platform across the street.

In the video, Hernandez asked the MTS security officers, “Do you guys have radio, like on channel two or three or anything like that? You got walkie-talkies here. [Can you call] dispatch or something?”

One woman can be heard screaming, “Why aren’t you guys doing anything?”

One of the security officers told Hernandez, “We’re strictly transit. We’re not…that’s off our property.”

MTS provided NBC 7 with this statement:

“The role of Transit Security Officers is to help ensure a safe and secure environment for MTS passengers on board the Trolley and at Trolley Stations. While they have no enforcement authority outside of MTS property, security officers are trained to provide assistance to people when warranted. MTS is investigating this incident to determine whether protocol was properly followed.”

An MTS spokesman says the agency is currently speaking with the security officers involved to determine what exactly happened.

Hernandez says he does not know the current condition of the injured man.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Hit By Car in Critical Condition: Police]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:10:40 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDPD-Golden-Spoon-Robbery.jpg

A woman is suffering from life-threatening injuries after she was hit while crossing the street.

Police said the 45-year-old woman was running on Lytton Street across Rosecrans Street around 9:30 p.m. Friday when a car slammed into her.

The woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police said the woman broke one of her arms, her pelvis and both legs and suffered a brain bleed.

The San Diego Police Traffic Division is investigating.

<![CDATA[Calif. Condor Breeding Season Starts With 2 Eggs]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:50:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Condor+Egg_002_Web.jpg

After the California condor came dangerously close to extinction 30 years ago, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has two new hopeful additions to the protected population.

Two recently laid condor eggs are now under the watchful eyes of zookeepers, marking the kickoff of the 2015 breeding season.

On Friday, the zoo sent out pictures of senior keeper Debbie Marlow holding a 2-week-old egg up to a warm light – a process called candling, where they check the air cell, position of the embryo and blood vessel development.

She then discovered the egg weighed 249 grams, a 14 percent weight loss from the previous check. But unlike with newly born zoo babies, who they hope will gain weight, the loss is a good thing. The zoo says it means the fluids inside the egg are decreasing and the chick is growing at a healthy clip.

"All eggs lose weight as they develop," said Marlow. "It seems counterintuitive because as the chick grows you would expect there to be a weight gain, but egg shells are porous and moisture is lost through the shell by evaporation during the incubation process."

It’ll be a warm little life in the incubator until the chick is ready to “pip,” or emerge from its shell. That typically happens about 55 days after it’s laid.

Animal care staff takes condor eggs out of their mother’s nest to monitor their growth and replace them with artificial eggs so the mother bird is not concerned or confused. But when the chick is ready to pip, staff puts the real egg back into the next so the parents can help it hatch.

The zoo says in the 1980s only 22 condors were left in the world. Now, there are more than 400, more than half of which are in California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico. The Safari Park has hatched 185 chicks and released more than 80 birds into the wild.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn]]>
<![CDATA[Men Run Bleeding from 5-Car Pileup]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 11:01:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_line_generic722.jpg

Deputies and K-9 units are searching for two men seen running from the scene of a five-car pileup on State Route 76 in Pala.

The California Highway Patrol says the incident started at 7:22 p.m. when a truck towing a trailer crashed, sending debris flying into other cars on SR-76 at Pala Mission Road.

Soon after, witnesses saw the two men, bleeding from their heads, run from the scene.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department's helicopter was called in to help search for the men. CHP has shut down the eastbound SR-76 while the hunt continues.

Officials believe they may be hiding on property in that area.

<![CDATA[Protesters Oppose Charges Against 'Tiny Doo' Rapper]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:13:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Black+rally+0227-PIC_0.jpg

Community members on Friday rallied outside the downtown San Diego courthouse, calling for justice for several men charged with “criminal street gang” conspiracy charges.

The rally came an hour before rapper Brandon “Tiny Doo” Duncan was supposed to appear in court.

Protesters believe Duncan is unfairly charged and said in an announcement of the rally that the chargers were an “unjust and inaccurate documentation of black men as gang members.”

The rally was organized by the Black Student Justice Coalition.

“The DA is arguing that everyone in a gang is automatically guilty because everyone in the gang benefits from any crime committed by another gang member,” said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli of the ACLU of San Diego. “That’s dead wrong.”

Duncan faces conspiracy charges because prosecutors say his rap lyrics promote gang violence.

The district attorney has said Duncan can be charged under a section of the penal code approved by California voters in 2000 because he profited from these gang activities through album sales, even though there is no evidence connecting him to the actual shootings.

He and nine others are accused of conspiracy related to two dozen shootings in San Diego starting in 2012.

Duncan’s trial is expected to begin in April; his hearing on Friday was a status hearing.

Still, protesters in a statement called the charges an “overreach by the district attorney.”

<![CDATA[Police Can't Substantiate Allegation Against Bus Driver]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:00:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_school_bus_generic1.jpg

The investigation into allegations a local bus driver forced a special needs student to urinate on a school bus and then touched the student inappropriately cannot be substantiated, according to San Diego Police.

Lt. Scott Wahl, spokesperson for the San Diego Police Department, confirmed Friday the investigation into the incident is over. Wahl also said no arrest has been made.

The allegations stem from a local family who is going to trial over a lawsuit they filed against the San Diego Unified School District. According to court documents, a special needs student on his way home from Riley Elementary School was forced to expose himself and urinate on the bus in January 2012.

The claim says the bus driver took photos and video of the child’s exposed penis with his phone and then touched the boy, who was eight years old at the time, in a sexual manner.

The school district, in an answer to the complaint, denied all charges made by the family. A spokeswoman for the school district told NBC 7 she could not comment on ongoing litigation.

Click here to read more about the lawsuit in the original story.

A family member of the boy reported the incident to the San Diego Police Department a week after it happened, according to a district spokeswoman.

SDPD has not released the full police report, citing exemptions in the California Public Records Act, but the agency confirmed it received a report and has provided some details related to it and the incident.

According to that information obtained from SDPD, a police officer “responded to a call regarding a bus driver who grabbed the victim as the victim urinated inside the school bus” on Feb. 6, 2012 around 5:35 pm.

In details of the report provided by police, the answer “none” was given, when asked to provide a “general description of any injuries, property, or weapons involved.”

<![CDATA[Government Workers Steal $2.4M in Gas: Audit]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:01:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/gas15.JPG

Federal workers, including two from the San Diego area, have illegally purchased more than $2.4 million worth of gasoline since 2010 by using taxpayer-funded government gas cards for their personal vehicles, according to federal investigators.

A review of federal audits by NBC 7 Investigates found about 260 cases of gas theft by government workers nationwide in the past five years. Taxpayers are forced to foot the bill when government employees fill up for their own personal use.

The U.S. General Services Administration, which oversees a federal government fleet of 150,000 automobiles, has distributed 590,385 gasoline purchase cards to federal employees. Investigators with the GSA track purchases through a database that alerts them to suspicious gas purchases made on the same day.

In the San Diego area, two members of the military were caught and prosecuted for stealing more than $5,000 between them. A lance corporal stationed at Camp Pendleton faced a special court martial in July 2013 for making $2,201 worth of purchases in unleaded plus and super unleaded gasoline. Investigators say the individual purchased gas fraudulently at gas stations in West Virginia and Newport News, Virginia.

In another case, a Navy engineer technician from El Centro was convicted in federal court with a misdemeanor count for stealing government funds. He was sentenced to paying $3,169 in restitution and 6-months probation in 2012.

Bob Erickson, acting inspector general of the GSA, is tasked with overseeing the $514 million federal gas program.

"I think it's opportunistic. It's human greed," Erickson said of the thefts. "There is a variety of motives. Sometimes it's a well put together scheme to defraud the U.S. Sometimes it's just someone who decides they're not getting paid enough and wants to get a bonus using the government credit card."

GSA investigators have prosecuted more than 260 gas theft cases since 2010, recovering $2.4 million nationwide.

"When we catch them red-handed, it's 'I knew this was coming. I've been waiting for this day,'" said Special Agent Eric Radwick. "Most of them, they know what they're doing is wrong."

The FLEET cards require workers to enter the odometer from their government cars and their government tag numbers to prevent theft.

But cases reviewed by NBC 7 Investigates show workers can and do falsify the information.

Radwick says his team goes undercover and reviews a federal database looking for similar gas purchases on the same day to catch the crooks.

"It is a crime. You're stealing from the federal government. The government is paying for the fuel and they're not getting it, so you're stealing the fuel from the federal government."

<![CDATA[Gas Prices Soar in California as Supply Shrinks]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:58:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6PM_SOT_GAS_PRICES_JUMP_KNSD5U87_1200x675_400141892002.jpg

Gas prices are soaring in California in a classic example of supply and demand after an explosion stopped gasoline production at an Exxon Mobil refinery while another remains offline due to labor unrest.

Average retail gas prices in the state have surged 25 cents a gallon in less than a week, from $2.98 per gallon for regular on Monday to $3.23 per gallon on Friday. That caps a run that saw the price of regular unleaded go up 60 cents per gallon since Jan. 30 as refineries prepare to shift to a summer blend of fuels.

In some areas of Southern California, gas station owners were forced to pass price hikes of 24 cents per gallon along to consumers on Thursday after seeing wholesale prices shoot up. Prices in Northern California lagged a day, but by Friday were also rising; an independent operator with a chain of gas stations around the San Francisco Bay area boosted prices 20 cents a gallon for regular on Friday, to $3.19.

The situation underscores the frustrating complexity of the gasoline market in California, where state environmental regulations mandate a specialized blend of fuel that isn't used anywhere else in the U.S.

Because of that, California is economically isolated and can't easily or quickly purchase fuel from outside the state in a crisis.

"Your market in California has about as much margin for error as Jennifer Lopez's Academy Awards dress," said Tom Kloza, global head of energy at the Oil Price Information Service.

"If you're not a refiner who had a problem with a refinery this month -- if you're not Exxon Mobil -- you have been rewarded with incredible profits this month. That's just the way the market works."

A unit of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance that's critical to producing California-grade gasoline exploded on Feb. 18, causing a fire and stopping new production there while the state investigates. The blast injured four contractors and rained a fine white ash on nearby homes and cars. State air quality regulators confirmed last week that the ash was not toxic.

At the time, another Tesoro oil refinery in Martinez, in Northern California, wasn't producing oil due to labor unrest.

The two facilities combined make up 17 percent of the state's crude oil processing capacity, said Gordon Schremp, a senior fuels specialist with the California Energy Commission.

Refineries in a few other places have the ability to produce gasoline that would meet California's strict standards -- including parts of Canada and Korea -- but most refineries don't want to because it's expensive and prevents them from making other types of gasoline, he said. Also, the product would have to travel to the market, a process that could take weeks.

"It takes a while to get some significant supplies from outside," Schremp said. "It's very normal that we'd see a significant price spike."

But consumer advocates are asking state lawmakers to investigate the sudden surge at the pump, seeing if reactions to the refinery problems are rightfully to blame for these rising prices.

"What we need to do is get refinery inspectors on the scene to make sure one, the refineries  are safe and two, that they're not intentionally creating disasters to panic the market and drive up prices," said gas price analyst Charles Langley.

There are two hearings scheduled for next month to look into all this. A joint state Senate committee in Los Angeles wants to look closer at the Torrance explosion on March 5. The second hearing will discuss will how refinery troubles are impacting gas prices.

Gas station owners, meanwhile, chafed at having to pass the costs on to consumers. The profit margin for station owners was 18.5 cents per gallon in California on Friday, a break-even or money-losing proposition for many independent retailers, said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores.

In Torrance, station owner Frank Scotto was forced to increase his prices by 24 cents per gallon on Thursday. He hasn't seen such a spike since he went into the gas station business in 1967, he said.

"I printed out the price change and I'm framing this thing because I've never seen this kind of thing in all my years," said Scotto, who owns a Mobil and Exxon station.

<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Live BP Adds New Challenge]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:23:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Padres+L-Screen.jpg

One of the milestone days of Spring Training is the first day of live batting practice. That’s when the pitching staff gets its work in with a batter actively trying to hit the ball. The Padres hit that fence post on Friday.

James Shields was the first to work off the mound to live hitters. The other three guaranteed members of the starting rotation, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, also threw with live ammo for the first time.

It’s not going full game speed, but it’s also not just working on mechanics.

“You’re trying to get quality pitches, quality out, and throw quality strikes” said Kennedy. “For me it’s about getting the work, but also getting the little extra adrenaline.”

We saw an awful lot of swings and misses and foul balls. As happens every spring, the pitchers are further along than the hitters.

“We have the advantage right now because they don’t see a lot of live pitching,” said Kennedy. “It’s a lot different when someone is throwing like a real pitcher and not just laying it in there for BP.”

Much like batting practice, the guys on the mound throw from behind a protective L-screen, which takes a lot more adjusting than one might think.

“For me, it’s hard,” said Kennedy. “You’ve got that bar right there and I couldn’t tell if the catcher caught it in the center, down low … we’re not used to it. It’s having something right in front of us, you feel like you’re going to hit it or you can’t see because the bar is right there in the middle of your vision.”

Hey, at least they’re well-protected. Aren’t they?

“When a guy swings, you have no idea where the ball is going. Will (Venable) hit a ball today and I had no idea where it was going. I just flinched because I didn’t know if it was at me, first base, third base, whatever it was. It’s almost as dangerous to have it there as it is not having it there.”

On Saturday, manager Bud Black expects to have a preliminary plan for his Cactus League pitching rotation. Games get underway on Wednesday with the annual Charity match against the Mariners, where they won’t have to worry about any L-screens.

<![CDATA[How a DHS Shutdown Would Affect San Diego]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 09:15:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/department+of+homeland+security+sign.jpg

While the political fight over funding the Department of Homeland Security is playing out in Washington, the dilemma could hit close to home for thousands of DHS employees in San Diego.

More than 500,000 people cross the border between San Ysidro, Tecate and Otay Mesa a day, keeping officers with Customs and Border Protection on their toes as they look for threats — DHS shutdown or not.

“We're essential personnel and we'll be there without a paycheck, but we will still be out there protecting the border,” said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.

However, some of the area’s 2,200 Border Patrol agents might be called in to replace other furloughed border employees.

Moran said a loss of income would greatly affect many workers living paycheck to paycheck.

“Obviously our newer agents are not making the same amount of money as our veteran agents, but even those agents, this is a high cost of living area -- -the highest along either border,” he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard has nearly 500 people, active duty and reserve, protecting San Diego's port and coastline.

“Most Coast Guard personnel in the San Diego area are military members and will remain on the job in the event of a lapse in funding,” spokesperson Dan Dewell said in a statement. "While such a lapse has significant impacts to our workforce and long term planning, the Coast Guard will continue activities that provide for national security, or that protect life and property."

But discretionary training, routine patrols or other operations may be reduced, deferred or canceled.

Also under the DHS umbrella are Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Safety Administration, charged with securing the skies operating out of Lindbergh Field. There are 400 TSA employees working at the San Diego International Airport, many of whom are essential employees.

A spokesperson for TSA said they too will report to work whether they are being paid.

Moran said while DHS employees worry about security of the nation, many of them are wondering Friday who has their backs.

“Our agents are basically hostages in a political standoff between Congress and the President,” he said.

On Friday, Congress narrowly avoided a DHS shutdown when the House passed a one-week extension of its funding just two hours before the deadline. The impasse began after congressional Republicans tried to add measures in the bill that would halt President Obama's executive action on immigration, which they call unconstitutional.

Democrats, however, refused to pass anything other than a clean funding bill. The House will reconvene Monday to take up the debate again.

<![CDATA[Record-Breaking Bust: 15 Tons of Pot Seized]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 04:44:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/otay+mesa+record+breaking+seizure+%282%29.jpg

More than 15 tons of marijuana hidden in a mattress shipment was seized at the Otay Mesa cargo port of entry — the largest narcotics bust in the history of that border crossing and the second largest seizure at any crossing nationwide.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers made the find as they inspected a truck claiming to carry mattresses and cushions on Thursday evening.

The officer inspecting it referred it to an x-ray exam, where an anomaly was detected.

As the truck was docked for a more intense examination, a CBP officer raised the trailer's door and found plastic-wrapped packages, stacked floor to ceiling and front to back, filling nearly the entire truck. Just a few mattresses were stacked along the wall at the other end.

Officers tallied the find, which came to 1,296 packages containing about 31,598 pounds of marijuana. That load has an estimated street value of about $18.96 million.

The driver, a 46-year-old Mexican citizen with a valid border crossing card, was turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. The tractor-trailer, cargo shipment and drugs were all seized by CBP officers.

The Otay Mesa cargo port of entry saw its last record-breaking bust in 2003 when 19,999 pounds of marijuana was discovered. The largest seizure ever recorded by CBP officers was 35,265 pounds of marijuana at the Calexico East port of entry in 2013.

Photo Credit: CBP]]>
<![CDATA[Fundraiser Held for Skateboarder Killed in Lakeside]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:33:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/daniel-donals-photo2.jpg

A young man in Lakeside who was killed after being hit by a truck while riding his skateboard is being honored by friends at a fundraiser Saturday, and the proceeds go to a scholarship to help other young skaters.

Daniel Donals, 21, was riding his skateboard out of a private driveway on Valle Vista Road on Feb. 11 when he skated into the pathway of an oncoming truck, according to California Highway Patrol. He died later in a local hospital.

A group of Daniel's friends are joining together Saturday to host a spaghetti luncheon in honor of their late friend at the Lakeside VFW at 12650 Lindo Lane.

Daniel's father, Christopher Donals, who lives in Arizona, said his son was survived by many, including his mother Krista, his brother Dill, sister Katy and extended family, all of which he shared time living with before moving to San Diego at 18.

"My son was articulate. He liked to speak his mind," Christopher said in an email memorializing his son's life. "Once in middle school, the counselor told me he would be a good attorney when he grew up because he liked to argue. I have held onto that through the years and had a goal to fund his college and encourage him to become an attorney."

Daniel competed in wrestling and swim in high school and even lettered for his participation, his dad said. And he enjoyed skateboarding.

"That was usually a bone of contention for me and him," Christopher said.

The skateboarding, however, is what his friends in Lakeside remember him for best, and because of that, are raising money for a memorial brick at the local skate park and starting a scholarship fund to help young skaters in need.

The Local Skate Shop has joined in their efforts.

"He was a really good kid that just sort of stood out in the community," said Local Skate Shop owner Mark Johnson. "He was really kind to everyone. He didn't have a bad bone in his body."

Johnson, who said he plans to close the shop briefly to attend the spaghetti luncheon, just wants to see Daniel's memory live on in the skating community.

"This is our first loss for our brand new skateboard community," Johnson said. "The skate park is barely a year old, and this has really had an effect on our skateboard family."

According to the Donate Life Foundation, Daniel's organs were used to save the lives of four people in need and his tissue donations will be used to heal more than 50 others - something his father said makes him a hero, even in death.

"As a last heroic effort, Danny was able to provide life-saving organ donations by becoming an organ donor when he passed," his dad said.

To other skaters, Johnson said it's important to watch out for yourself and others to stay safe.

"Safety gear is always encouraged, but more than that, make sure you're looking out for yourself and your local skateboarders," Johnson said.

Ottavios Italian Restaurant is providing the food for the spaghetti luncheon, which starts at 11 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m. Gift cards to local shops and eateries will be raffled off to raise funds, and food costs $10 per plate.

Daniel's friends are also requesting supporters to wear bandanas of any color in his memory, as he owned two dozen of his own, a trademark, if you will.

For more information or to RSVP, visit the event page on Facebook by clicking here.

<![CDATA[Search for Missing Hiker Suspended]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:52:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rory6P0227_1200x675_405758019626.jpg

The search for a hiker who disappeared in the Anza Borrego desert will be suspended Friday night due to weather, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

An avid hiker, 28-year-old Christopher Sylvia set out Feb. 12 on the Pacific Crest Trail with a week's supply of food. He was reported missing by his roommate the following Monday when he failed to show up at a meeting spot to refill his food and supplies.

On Tuesday, other hikers on the trail found Sylvia's sleeping bag, backpack and other personal belongings just north of Warner Springs about 13 miles off Highway 79.

Rescue crews from San Diego, Riverside and Los Angeles have been searching for Sylvia since Thursday, but the search will be suspended due to a winter storm headed into the area this weekend.

Christopher's mother, Nancy Sylvia, spoke to NBC 7 Friday and said all five of her children are experienced hikers and she suspects her son's disappearance is foul play.

"Why was he going alone? That is very unusual," Nancy said. "Especially when they found his gear... He would not have left his gear."

Christopher's mother said his roommate is his best friend from middle school and he did not come to bring provisions, but to pick up her son and take him back to Vista.

She said he left the rendezvous place when Sylvia didn't show because he had to go to work.

"I'm very concerned, I'm very upset," Nancy Sylvia said. "I'm poor...I'm trying to get the money...I want to go out in the mountains and find him myself."

The Sheriff's Department said they do not suspect foul play, but the investigation is open and ongoing.

Sylvia is described as 5-feet, 8-inches tall, 155 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen in brown hiking boots, dark colored jacket and green pants.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Diego Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200.

<![CDATA[$19M in Pot Seized at Otay Mesa Port]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:00:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/otay+mesa+record+breaking+seizure+%282%29.jpg More than 15 tons of marijuana hidden in a mattress shipment was seized at the Otay Mea cargo port of entry -- the largest narcotics bust in the history of that border crossing.

Photo Credit: CBP]]>
<![CDATA[Neighbors, Classmates Mourn Boy Killed by Car]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:59:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/angel+cruz.jpg

A balloon with the name “Angel” floated above a sidewalk memorial that grew in El Cajon Friday.

It's on Peach Avenue, where 7-year-old second grader Angel Cruz was hit by a car Thursday afternoon. Early Friday morning, Angel died from a traumatic brain injury, the medical examiner's office says.

“It’s horrifying,” said resident Christine Gram. “I’m just saddened by this whole situation.”

The entire community, including the boy's school, are now dealing with the loss. Crisis counselors were sent to Naranca Elementary School. The school district superintendent said he met with teachers and staff.

“I shared the tragic news, prepared for the day emotionally and are doing everything we can to prove as much normalcy for the kids as we communicate and go through various steps of grief,” said David Miyashiro, Superintendent of the Cajon Valley Union School District.

Back at the family apartment complex, a steady stream of family and friends walked up to the family home to offer condolences. Among them was the owner of the building, who says the family has lived there for the past eight years.

Right now, El Cajon police are investigating the accident, but right now have not filed any charges against the 18-year old driver, another resident of the neighborhood, who hit the boy.

“Preliminary evidence from the scene, as well as witness statements, indicate that speed and alcohol were not a factor in the collision,” said Lt. Randy Soulard with the El Cajon Police Department.

But while speed may not have been a factor in the accident, residents say drivers often exceed the posted 25 mile per hour speed limit.

“What’s really bad is this street is well known for speeders. They want to try to dodge Broadway, so they come down Peach, thinking they’ll miss the lights,” said Gram.

Family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for medical and funeral expenses. Click here for more information.

Photo Credit: GoFundMe.com
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<![CDATA[Cirque Du Soleil Dazzles at Valley View]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:17:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Varekai+0227.jpg

This weekend is your last chance to catch Cirque Du Soleil at Valley View Casino Center.

The thrilling performance’s final four shows happen Saturday and Sunday at the event center at 3500 Sports Arena Boulevard.

The show, called “Varekai Cirque Du Soleil,” follows a young man who’s parachuted into a magical forest with fantastical creatures.

“This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Verekai,” Valley View writes.

Show times are at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday.

Ticket costs range from $44 to $169. Parking costs $20.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Rain, Snow Expected Over the Weekend]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:02:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic+umbrella+rain+storm.jpg

San Diego is expecting another storm this weekend, and the San Diego County Water Authority and local lifeguard and fire rescue stations are offering tips to conserve water and keep homes and businesses safe.

Rain is expected to hit the East County Saturday morning and shower hard into the middle of the day before widespread showers hit the rest of the county Saturday night.

San Diegan's can expect anywhere from a half inch to an inch and a half of rain between Saturday morning and Sunday night.

Snowfall is also expected at 4,000 feet.

Homes and businesses in need of sandbags can go to any San Diego county fire station or to lifeguard stations in Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla Shores.

Crews do need to be present at the stations to receive sandbags. If they are not, they suggest trying a retailer that sells them.

Sandbags do not come pre-filled, but anyone with access to the beach can fill them there, according to city officials.

The San Diego County Water Authority said it is important to have sprinkler systems shut off during the rain to conserve water, and the systems can remain off for a few days after the last rain.

“While these rainstorms are welcome, they will not break the serious drought conditions that exist statewide, and we need to continue to take advantage of these opportunities to reduce our use as much as possible,” said Mark Weston, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors.

The water authority said it would take three full months of heavy precipitation and cooler temperatures for the state to begin recovering from the drought, so taking advantage of the little bit of rainfall we are getting is crucial.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department also reminds those headed to the snow in the Julian, Pine Valley and Descanso areas to be respectful of residents and private property.

They also remind drivers to have a full tank of gas, water and food in the event they get stuck in traffic or stranded by weather for several hours.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Scripps Unveils New State-of-the-Art Heart Center]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:27:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/prebys-heart-center.jpg

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in the county, and Scripps Health has unveiled its new state-of-the-art hospital dedicated to treating the heart.

The Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, which opened Thursday, has more than 160 rooms specifically designed to treat patients with heart problems, and six high-tech operating rooms used for less invasive procedures - something Scripps employees said can't be found in any other hospital.

San Diego loses nearly 4,000 people to heart disease annually, so the new facility will be a major benefit to locals, particularly the elderly.

Darla Calvert was diagnosed with heart failure in 2003 and underwent heart surgery that left her with a five pound device that pumps her blood for her.

Calvert said she credits Scripps Health doctors for saving her life.

"So far Scripps has approximately 23 patients with the L-VAD and as a result, all of us are alive and we wouldn't be without it," Calvert said.

The Prebys Cardiovascular Institute will treat its first 100 patients in under two weeks.

For more information, click here.

Photo Credit: Scripps Health]]>
<![CDATA[PB AleHouse Crew to Help Open New Restaurant]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 20:16:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Backyard-Kitchen-and-Tap-PB.jpg

Staff who have been out of work since a grease fire burned the kitchen at PB Ale House are getting a second chance.

They'll start working at Backyard Kitchen and Tap when it opens Friday in Pacific Beach.

Close to 120 people escaped injury Feb. 16 when the popular PB AleHouse on Grand Avenue was damaged by fire.

A grease fire traveled through the building's exhaust system and started a second fire in the attic.

Since the business has closed for repairs, the community has pitched in according to Johnny Leal, General Manager with PB Ale House.

“They're really stepping up to the plate and reaching out to us and trying to find different ways to help our staff which is great,” Leal said.

“We're a lot more of a family versus a place of employment for a lot of these people," he added.

So now, the restaurant is putting employees to work its three locations.

The restaurant is part of OMG Hospitality Group, which includes PB AleHouse, and Union Kitchen & Tap restaurants in Encinitas and the Gaslamp.

PB Alehouse was expected to open in the next 60 to 90 days, he said.

Photo Credit: Backyard Kitchen and Tap Facebook page]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Who Hits First?]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:45:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages_456113586.jpg

Although the Padres overhauled their roster this off-season, they could not possibly get to all the issues that need addressing. The addition of power and youth were paramount, and both accomplished.

There's a lot of new pop in the lineup. Matt Kemp, Justin Upston, Wil Myers and Derek Norris can all drive in runs. The question is, who will be the runners they drive in?

The Padres don't have a true leadoff hitter anywhere on the projected, Opening Day 25-man roster. But, don't worry. Neither do most teams.

"In this day and age, I think the true, prototypical leadoff hitter is hard to find," said Padres manager Bud Black. "There are some out there. I think (Marlins second baseman) Dee Gordon is a prototypical one. Obviously, Rickey Henderson was probably, arguably the best leadoff hitter of all time."

If you have to go that far back, you know there's a dearth of "true" leadoff hitters in the 2015 world of Major League Baseball. So, since there's not a guy who really stands out (prospects Rico Noel and Jose Rondon seem to fit the mold but they're not MLB-ready yet), who does Buddy see as the guy who sets the table?

"I think if you look at (Will) Venable, (Cameron) Maybin, (Wil) Myers, (Yangervis) Solarte ... let's get started there," said Black

Shortstop Alexi Amarista is one option many people thought would be in the mix for the top spot in the order because of his speed, but a low on-base percentage has Black thinking something else.

"Alexi and (fellow shortstop Clint) Barmes fit, maybe, down at the bottom of the order."

Catcher Derek Norris is another guy people thought would have a shot at leading off. He has that high OBP, but not the speed you need from a leadoff guy, so Black sees him in the middle of the order with Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks.

When Cactus League play begins, expect to see multiple guys getting the first at-bat of the game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trees to Be Planted in Newborn's Memory]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:30:38 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/go-fund-me-2015.jpg

A newborn that lived only moments inspired a San Diego man to raise money for a memorial that may outlive us all.

Michael Rothstein of San Diego learned a Boston couple lost their newborn just moments after the birth. He was friends with little Eva's parents and felt he had to do something.

So, the Mira Mesa man set up a fundraising site to raise money to plant trees in Eva's honor.

Using a Go Fund Me site, he set an original goal of $500. In just six days, people donated more than $4,200.

As a result, Rothstein said 2500 trees will be planted in New Jersey as part of a restoration effort in areas hit by Superstorm Sandy.

He purchased the trees through TheTreesRemember.org, an organization that uses programs established by the U.S. Forest Service.

"It’s good for the environment, it’s a positive thing,” Rothstein told NBC 7. "These trees will last a long time."

He added that he couldn’t think of a better way to memorialize the newborn than planting trees.

<![CDATA[Cox Wants Congress to Overturn FCC Vote]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:56:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/internet-generic-021715_2.jpg

Cox Communications, one of the region’s dominant cable providers, came out against the Federal Communications Commission’s Feb. 26 decision to regulate the Internet, saying the move was “sure to be challenged in court” and calling for congressional action.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to regulate the Internet like a utility. The FCC said the move would preserve the Internet as a platform for innovation, free expression and economic growth.

President Obama recently called for such a move, saying that otherwise Internet providers would play favorites with certain traffic.

New Media Rights, a San Diego organization led by attorney Art Neill, hailed the FCC’s move, saying the three commissioners who voted for the measure were voting for strong net neutrality rules.

“Cox is disappointed in today’s FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a Title II utility-style service using 80-year-old telephone regulations,” said a statement from Dave Bialis, senior vice president and region manager for California. “Enacting Title II is an unnecessary government overreach that goes beyond Net Neutrality protections and is a risk to the Internet, which has been an ever increasing robust engine of commerce, communications and learning since its creation.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said in a statement that the decision fixes something that was not broken. He said the House Judiciary Committee plans a hearing on the matter March 17.

“Competition in private industry drives prices down,” Issa’s statement said. “Government regulation ensures a lack of innovation.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7
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<![CDATA[Motorcyclist Loses Leg in Mission Valley Crash]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:09:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Motorcycle-Crash-022715.jpg A motorcyclist was in critical condition, after severing his leg in a crash in Mission valley. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Search for Hiker Intensifies]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 07:17:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chris-Sylvia-search-22715.jpg

Search crews are racing against an incoming winter storm as they cover San Diego’s East County Friday looking for a hiker last seen two weeks ago.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said it expects search teams from Riverside and Los Angeles to help look for Chris Sylvia.

Sylvia, 28, left Anza Borrego on Thursday, Feb.12 to hike the Pacific Crest Trail south to Campo.

He was supposed to meet a friend in Lost Valley for a refill of food supplies but he never arrived. The friend assumed he had kept hiking but when Sylvia didn’t arrive in Campo, the friend called officials.

On Tuesday, other hikers on the trail found Sylvia's sleeping bag, backpack and other personal belongings just north of Warner Springs about 13 miles off Highway 79.

That area was searched Thursday by 50 to 60 people.

Sylvia is described as 5-feet, 8-inches tall, 155 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.

He was last seen in brown hiking boots, dark colored jacket and green pants.

A winter storm watch has been issued for the mountains east of San Diego with up to a foot of snow expected to fall in some places.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Diego Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200.

<![CDATA[Families Split by "Voluntary Return" May Be Reunited: Ruling]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:11:55 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Isidora+Lopez-Venegas.JPG

The search begins for hundreds, if not thousands, of non-U.S. citizens who may have been forced into signing a voluntary return form.

A judge gave final approval Thursday to settle a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Custom Enforcement, claiming its officers were using deceptive tactics to get people to sign the forms--which basically denies their right to due process.

Isidora Lopez-Venegas is just one of the people who signed the voluntary return that sent her back to Mexico.

“When I found out I had been lied to, I felt cheated," Lopez-Venegas said in Spanish. She was the lead plaintiff in the federal ACLU lawsuit.

"They didn't tell me what the consequences were. They were telling me that I could be detained for a period of time, and I have a son that I needed to take care of, and they told me they were going to send him to foster care,” she explained.

"Voluntary return is sort of like an informal deportation procedure in which someone waives their right to see an immigration judge instead accepts immediate repatriation to Mexico,” said Gabriela Rivera with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Lopez-Venegas was told she could fix her paperwork once she got to Mexico. For three years, she wasn't allowed back into the United States to see her family.

“When they got to Mexico they realized there was actually a ten year bar returning to the United States, even if they had US citizen spouses or children,” said Rivera.

The lawsuit settlement means those like Lopez-Venegas, who were tricked or forced into signing the form, could be authorized to return to the U.S. and go before an immigration judge. However, it still does not change their legal status.

"I'm really excited and hopeful that people will be able to be reunited with their families like I was,” said Lopez-Venegas.

The ACLU has 120 days to find people who signed the voluntary return forms. After that outreach period, the organization has six months to file applications on behalf of potential class members, so it could be summer before some people are allowed to return to the U.S.

"We can expect the government to respond in about a month from the time that they receive the first applications," said Rivera. "Then hopefully, a month for then, we should be seeing some class members returning to their families in the United States."

To qualify as a class member under the Lopez-Venegas “voluntary return” settlement, an individual must:

  • Have signed a “voluntary return” form between June 1, 2009 and August 28, 2014 and been expelled to Mexico.
  • Have had certain reasonable claims to reside in the U.S. lawfully at the time the “voluntary return” form was signed.
  • Have been processed by Border Patrol officers from the San Diego Sector or by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers from the San Diego or Los Angeles field offices.
  • And be physically present in Mexico at the time of submission of application for class membership.

"If someone is listening to us right now and thinks. 'I might be class member,' we encourage them to contact us and there will be an initial screening and consulation to determine wether or not that person is a class member," said Rivera.

Potential class members should be wary of notario fraud. Only the ACLU and ACLU-approved service providers will be able to submit applications for approval to the government for relief under this settlement. The application for relief under this settlement is free, as are consultations related to determining class eligibility. Potential class members and their families should write to avd@aclusandiego.org or call 619-398-4189 within the United States, or from Mexico, use toll-free number 01-800-681-6917 to schedule an initial consultation.

Local representatives have reached out to Border Patrol officials in Washington D.C. and are awaiting guidance from their command until they can respond to the ruling made Thursday.

<![CDATA[San Diego Moving Ahead With Proposed Plastic Bag Ban]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:22:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/122814+plastic+bag+DFW.jpg

San Diego is moving ahead with plans to ban plastic bags, although a referendum to appeal a statewide ban is headed to the November 2016 ballot.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer confirmed Thursday that he has directed city staff to resume with the environmental review of San Diego’s proposed plastic bag ban.

“San Diegans treasure our natural resources, which is why I’ve made protecting our environment a top priority by releasing a forward-thinking Climate Action Plan and advancing the innovative Pure Water program,” said Faulconer in a statement.

He said the local ban would be for consideration by the public and San Diego City Council.

The Surfrider Foundation says San Diego would join 138 other California communities, including Encinitas and Solana Beach, if it approves the plastic bag ban. The group met with Faulconer on Wednesday to request San Diego’s measure be put back on track.

Last year, California lawmakers passed a law prohibiting stores from handing out single-use plastic bags for free, which would have gone into effect in July. However, a trade group turned in enough signatures Tuesday to suspect the implementation and put it on the ballot.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance told the Associated Press the ban would amount to a cash giveaway to grocers that would cost thousands of manufacturing jobs.

Ban supporters say the move is a way to cut down litter and protect marine life.

Photo Credit: Patric Alva, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Appointments Required at Kearny Mesa Traffic Court]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:20:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/traffic-ticket-generic.jpg

If you plan to go the Kearny Mesa for a traffic court appearance, you’ll soon need to make an appointment first.

Hoping to make the process more efficient, San Diego Superior Court’s Kearny Mesa Traffic Court will require all those who must appear in the courtroom to schedule it in advance, effective March 1.

A reduction in staff and a high volume of cases forced the change, officials say.

“This will make a traffic court appearance operate more smoothly for the public,” said Mike Roddy, executive officer of the Superior Court, in a statement.

Last fiscal year, that traffic court processed more than 170,000 cases.

You can make an appointment three ways: on the court’s website, calling the court at (858) 634-1800 or in person at the public counters.

The Kearny Mesa facility is also rolling out new express payment windows outside so visitors don’t have to wait in line for security.

Walk-in services without an appointment will still be available at the court’s North County, East County and South County branches.

The change to appointments first is similar to policies in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino superior courts.

<![CDATA[New Details About Who Put Boy's Body in Freezer ]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:28:55 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/barona+swat.jpg

A newly obtained court document may shed light on why a woman has not been charged after her son was found dead in a freezer and her boyfriend shot to death.

The awful event unfolded on Jan. 16 when security was called out to a home on the Barona Indian Reservation.

According to a Jan.21 search warrant affidavit obtained by NBC 7 Thursday, the first Barona security officer to arrive saw a man — 32-year-old Julio Ricardo Moggiotti — outside with “an ax in his hand and was using it on the ground.” The officer asked if the woman inside the house was OK, and Moggiotti said yes.

Moggiotti went back inside, and a few seconds later, the officer heard one gunshot. Moggiotti appeared for a moment, holding his stomach and saying he had been shot. He then turned back inside, and his girlfriend, 32-year-old Elaina Welch, emerged from the home with a shotgun, the affidavit says.

Welch told the security officer, “He’s in the house. I shot him. I’m so scared,” according to the document. She asked to be taken somewhere else and believed she shot Moggiotti in the hand.

Saying she was 3-months pregnant with Moggiotti’s baby, Welch told the officer “she had recently been beaten by Julio and he had been forcing her to stay against her will.” However, Moggiotti’s mother told investigators Welch had used a bat to hit her boyfriend.

According to the document, Welch told investigators Moggiotti had been acting weird lately and was taking medicine for psychological issues, saying things that did not make sense.

“Elaina said Julio made her beat her own child,” the affidavit says. She said Moggiotti killed her 3-year-old son Roland, taped him up, put him in the freezer and zip-tied the freezer.

On Jan. 16, Welch claimed she unplugged the house phone so Moggiotti could not hear 911 dispatchers try to call her back after she reported Roland’s death. 

After Moggiotti was found dead in the house, Welch was taken into custody. When deputies obtained a search warrant for the property, they found Roland's body buried under frozen food in the freezer. 

However, Welch was released from jail days later with no explanation from the district attorney’s office. A spokesperson just said the case is still under investigation. There is no word on if Welch is cleared or if she will face charges in the future.

Another search warrant obtained by NBC 7 details items found in the house during a search by deputies shortly after the alleged crime was reported. Among the 54 pieces of potential evidence seized by investigators were a Mossberg shotgun and shells, a .22 caliber rifle, a  box of ammuniton, a knife, marijuana, prescription medicines, $600 cash, pepper spray, a knife and an ax.

<![CDATA[New San Ysidro Supe: District Not So Broke After All]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:09:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KNSD_CA_Schools_Money_Starved_012012_39_mezzn_722x406_2188947280.jpg

Last year, the San Ysidro School District was on the brink of fiscal insolvency, at risk of being taken over by the state, in a bitter labor dispute with its teacher’s union and answering to county officials about its $4 million budget hole.

On Thursday, the new interim superintendent is projecting a positive certification from the San Diego County Office of Education after submitting a draft budget that projects $1.4 million reserves for the current and next two fiscal years.

“All I can tell you is this: I don’t know what happened before and I don’t know when it happened,” said Interim Superintendent Edward Velasquez. “Based on what I know, now looking at the budget, looking at the Governor’s January proposed budget, we will do fine.”

The small South Bay elementary school district, which has an annual spending plan of $36.4 million, accepted help in April 2013 from a financial adviser with the county in an attempt to stave off a state intervention.

Assistant Superintendent Lora Duzyk with the County Office of Education said she hasn’t yet reviewed the draft budget submitted by the San Ysidro School District, which is the only district in the county with a negative rating.

She said the school district continues to deficit spend.

“Deficit spending is a problem because that means they’re spending more than they receive, which is what got them into trouble in the first place,” Duzyk said.

Dena Whittington, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, said the district was able to project the required 3 percent reserves for the next three budget years because of increases to projected LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan) funding, locally controlled money.

The district is also negotiating a deal with a contractor who won a $12 million settlement against the district. The settlement agreement would include reinstating the contract and would help save the district legal fees in appealing the case.

Board President Antonio Martinez said he was pleased.

“I think it’s great news,” Martinez said. “I’ve been there two years and it’s the best news I’ve had in those two years.”

But he recognized the work is far from over.

“The way we got to this point is not something that happened overnight,” he said “It's been years in the making.”

Last fall, San Ysidro teachers went on a three-day strike following a year and a half of tough bargaining. The contentious labor dispute ended with a slight pay bump for teachers.

The union repeatedly pointed to forensic accounting by the California Teacher’s Association that said the district had money in restricted funds that could be used.

President of the San Ysidro teacher’s union Carol Wallace said she wasn’t surprised by Thursday’s news.

“I’m glad we have someone now as superintendent who cares about the parents, students, teachers, classified employees and all stakeholders in the district, and not just their own personal agenda,” said Wallace. “The money was always there. And there was no reason for us to go on strike.”

<![CDATA[Flaws in Proposition 47 Make Solving Crimes Tougher]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:07:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DNAsamples-PIC_0.jpg

A measure passed by voters last November that reduced crimes from felonies to misdemeanors also resulted in the elimination of DNA collection.

Proposition 47 apparently ended up reducing the number of DNA samples collected from suspects, which law enforcement and government agencies use to find suspects in violent crimes such as rape and murder.

Because the proposition lowered many non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, these now lower-rung criminals are not being required to submit the same samples they would have before.

With less DNA in the system, investigators say it makes it harder to solve older crimes and just because a criminal was caught for petty theft, doesn't necessarily mean they haven't or wont commit a violent crime.

The proposed solution is corrective legislation allowing DNA collection from everyone convicted of crimes lowered to misdemeanors by Prop 47.

But criminal defense attorney Marc Carlos said it's not as simple as just amending the previous law.

"The problem is that the voters voted on this initiative and this initiative only, the way it was written, so it's going to be difficult...without having a full vote once again," Carlos said.

Pam Lewis who owns Allen's Flowers thinks the DNA testing is a good idea and allows law enforcement to keep track of violent criminals.

"I do believe that even if it's a misdemeanor or petty theft that, you know, it's safer to be tracked," Lewis said.

But down the block, Jeremy Price feels differently.

"There's already enough infringement on our privacy and our personalities in general," Price said. "I don't think that we need to invite more."

Carlos said the jails are dangerous for those inside those who commit petty thefts, beer runs and low-grade drug offenses are better off outside the jail walls.

"I think, though, what the public needs to be aware of is that they're not talking about violent people who now are being tested for DNA," Carlos said. "This are essentially non-violent offenders."

The other question pending in the courts is whether the 225,000 samples already in the state database can be used to solve past crimes.

<![CDATA[Family Hopes $10K Reward, Billboard Will Solve Murder]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:50:29 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CrimeStoppers+billboard+0226-PIC_0.jpg

The family of a man killed in Chula Vista 13 years ago is hoping a new billboard and $10,000 reward will unearth new leads in the case.

Salvador Mercado would be in his late 30s today, raising a teenaged daughter. Instead, his life was cut short at 25, leaving his daughter with no memory of the man who should’ve raised her.

His unknown killer remains on the loose and his family is determined to do everything to change that.

They believe so much in finding a resolution to his case that they put up $9,000 for a reward. CrimeStoppers added the $1,000, bringing the total to $10,000.

“There has to be someone who saw something, there has to be, it can’t have just gone unnoticed,” said Angelina Najera, Mercado’s sister who was 15 at the time of his death.

Mercado was stabbed outside a home along the 800 block of Harris Avenue on Nov. 16, 2003. He was attending a Quinceanera party when uninvited guests showed up, crashing the party.

A fight broke out inside the home and guests dispersed. In the chaos that ensued outside the home, Mercado was stabbed in the street. He later died at the hospital.

The case remains unsolved and detectives continue to look for eyewitnesses or news tips.

While a CrimeStoppers spokesperson said investigates have seen a San Diego homicide get solved as a result of a billboard, the family is hopeful.

It was the family who organized and funded putting up the billboard, as well.

“People that were there had the opportunity to grow up, maybe to find a little stronger morals and conscience and maybe build their own families and have learned what it is to love a child” said Maria Najera, Mercado’s mom. “We’re not going to heal, we’re not going to stop thinking about it, it’s always gonna hurt, but finding his killer will be a start.”

<![CDATA[El Cajon Child Struck by Neighbor Dies ]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:53:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/child+hit+in+el+cajon+0226.JPG

A 7-year-old boy died overnight, hours after he was hit by a car while crossing an El Cajon street as his family looked on.

At 3:45 p.m. Thursday, the boy named Angel went to throw a handful of garbage from his family's minivan into a dumpster across the street.

When he turned back to meet his mother and siblings, he walked in front of a gray Hyundai heading westbound in the 900 block of Peach Avenue.

"He crossed the street and all I saw was him, that the car throwed him past and he fell, and I was really sad and crying," his 10-year-old sister Sinay said.

Witnesses said Angel did not notice the car, and the driver did not notice him.

"All I saw was him flying over, then he dropped in front of our car," said Marreilla Ronquillo.

The force of the impact left a large dent in the hood of the car. Angel was taken to the hospital for serious injuries where he was listed in critical condition, police say.

In an early morning update, El Cajon Police said the child was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. Friday.

The 18-year-old male driver of the car pulled over but did not get out when he first hit the boy.

"Shock," said Susan Ronquillo, Marreilla's mother. " He did not move anything, just stayed inside, maybe until police arrived. He is still in the car."

Police said the driver has cooperated fully with investigators and was released without charges, pending an investigation. However, his car has been impounded. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors, according to police. 

El Cajon Police said the driver lives in the same neighborhood as the child and was on his way to work when the collision occurred.

El Cajon police say officers arrived so quickly, bystanders initially thought the incident was a police pursuit and reported it to 911. Investigators later determined police were not involved in the crash. Peach Avenue was closed between Peach Court and Mollison Avenue until about 7:30 p.m. 

<![CDATA[SDPD Traffic Data Raises Racial Profiling Concerns]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:17:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDPD-Golden-Spoon-Robbery.jpg

The San Diego Police Department has released traffic stop and search statistics for the first time in more than a decade, and the data is raising concerns for the ACLU over racial profiling.

The statistics, presented to the San Diego City Council public safety committee Wednesday, show that from January to December 2014, SDPD officers made 144,164 recorded traffic stops and searched 7,142 people.

The racial breakdown of those numbers shows Hispanic drivers made up 30.2 percent of traffic stops and 40.1 percent of searches, although they are 27 percent of the population, according to 2013 SANDAG statistics for people 15 and older.

African American drivers made up 11.2 percent of traffic stops and 23.4 percent of searches, and they comprise 5.5 percent of the San Diego population. Looking at the numbers, black and Hispanic people are stopped and searched at a higher rate than their proportion of the driving population.

Comparatively, 47.2 percent of the population is white, and 43 percent of 2014 traffic stops and 27.6 percent of searches were for white drivers. While Asians and other ethnicities comprise the remaining 20.2 percent of the population, police pulled over Asian drivers 15.6 percent of the time and searched them 8.8 percent of the time.

ACLU Policy Director Margaret Dooley-Sammuli said the SDPD fails to identify where the numbers are troubling and what they play learn from them.

“The rate of disproportion is so great, it’s not acceptable to throw up ones hands and say we can draw nothing from that,” Dooley-Sammuli said.

But the SDPD report says after its officers started collecting vehicle stop data in 2000, they began turning in data less and less. Fewer data entry staff and technical issues with the database also led to gaps in data.

While data collection efforts were revamped in 2013, the department does not have a reliable demographic benchmark, SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman said, “and analysis of exact comparisons continues to be difficult.”

“It cannot be determined with any confidence whether the data indicate any systemic patterns of bias in vehicle stops or searches,” the chief said. She released a PSA last August, encouraging victims of racial profiling to come forward.

Still, the ACLU’s concerns remain.

“Law enforcement does have an important role in preventing crime, but we need to make sure it’s targeted toward preventing crime and not just based on stereotype,” said Kellen Russoniello with the ACLU, “that if you enforce in certain communities, it will drive down crime, so we need to parse data and make sure we’re preventing crime and not just enforcing against communities of color and low income.”

Zimmerman also noted that although cities use the driver population as a comparison, this is a challenge for San Diego because of its proximity to the border. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 12 million vehicles crossed at the San Ysidro Border Port of Entry and 6.4 million vehicles crossed at Otay Mesa Port of Entry last year.

The SDPD report also broke down traffic stops based on the reason drivers were pulled over. See the infographic below for the top explanations.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[SeaWorld Attendance and Revenue Continues to Decline]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:41:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP120317138978.jpg

Attendance and revenue at SeaWorld continued to decline in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to an earnings report from SeaWorld Entertainment.

The report shows 22.4 million people visited SeaWorld parks last year, compared with 23.4 million in 2013.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, SeaWorld reported $264.5 million in revenue, compared with $272 the previous year.

The continued decline in business has followed the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish,” which was critical of SeaWorld’s handling of killer whales.

In December, more than 300 SeaWorld employees were laid off and the CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment stepped down. The company said it was attempting to cut about $50 million by the end of this year.

Overall in 2014, attendance dropped 4 percent.

SeaWorld has long defended its practices and last year announced the construction of larger environments for animals, namely Orcas, and that it would fund research programs to protect whales in the wild.

The company also said Thursday that it expects to select a new CEO within the next six to nine months, according to published reports.

<![CDATA[Execs Plead Guilty to Workers Comp Death Case]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:05:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/three-frogs-execs-PIC_0.jpg

Three executives of a local real estate investment firm that failed to meet insurance requirements when a construction worker died on the job changed their pleas to guilty Thursday and agreed to pay out a trust fund for the man's infant son.

"Three Frogs" of La Mesa bought, renovated and sold homes for profit - a process called "flipping."

Joshua Pudsey, 42, was killed on the job in November 2013. Pudsey was on an aerial lift trimming a 60-foot eucalyptus tree, which he was not licensed to do, when a branch fell and crushed his head.

Prosecutors said the Three Frogs executives – David Wolf, John Murphy and Jonathan Cox – violated OSHA safety regulations and workers insurance laws.

Because the company failed to have workers compensation insurance, the man's son, 8-month-old Jackson, did not receive the payout he should have for his father's death - the father he'll never meet.

The three entered guilty pleas in a San Diego courtroom Thursday and the judge said if the men paid the nearly $300,000 Jackson would have gotten from workers comp by their sentencing date, the plea deal stands.

That deal, he said, could mean up to one year in jail followed by probation.

Judge Timothy P. Walsh said the three men were under the impression they had all the necessary licensing and insurances, but "these pleas reflect the fact that you were wrong."

Early in the proceedings, there was some question about whether Pudsey was an independent contractor or an employee of the company. His mother argued it shouldn't matter.

The charges, originally felonies, were dropped to misdemeanors as part of the deal. Judge Walsh said because the crime was failing to ensure the man's beneficiaries were properly taken care of in the event of his death, paying out what should have been available to Jackson makes up for that crime.

Jackson's mother and Pudsey's fiance Vangie Richards said she is pleased with the change in plea and the three needed to admit they were wrong.

"What they need to remember is a man was killed," Richards said. "A man lost his life due to their incompetency."

Richards said the argument is about insurance and the enforcement of employers to have workers compensation available.

"Insurance needs to be made a big deal. It's a very practical thing that a lot of people take advantage of. It's a corner they cut," Richards said after court Thursday. "Because they cut this corner, obviously a man died, and there's more punishment now for not having insurance and for them being idiots."

Richards was pregnant with Pudsey's son at the time of his death. The family had to fight to have Pudsey's name put on the birth certificate.

Now, Richards said Jackson is sure to be a successful adult.

"Well, if he doesn't get his first round draft pick, then I'm sure he'll pick a very wonderful college to go to," she said.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA['Yellow Fever' Mosquito Found in Chula Vista]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:26:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Yellow+Fever+Mosquito.jpg

Another “yellow fever mosquito” has been found in Chula Vista, near the place where the potentially dangerous mosquitoes were found last October.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito was discovered in an office in Chula Vista, the first such one discovered this year. Four of the mosquitoes were found last fall in offices on Naval Base San Diego and also at a Chula Vista home.

At total of nine mosquitoes and two larvae sources have emerged since last October, according to county environmental officials.

The tropical disease that the mosquito is best known for carrying are rarely seen here: yellow fever, chikungunya and dengue fever. There hasn’t been an outbreak of yellow fever in the United States in more than a century, according to the county.

Still, health officials want to prevent the spread of these potentially dangerous mosquitoes and have been putting up and monitoring traps for them.

Yellow fever mosquitoes are more common on the East Coast but started appearing in California in 2013, officials said. The mosquitoes have recently been found in Commerce and Pico Rivera in Los Angeles County.

Unlike native California mosquitoes, these insects feed during the day. They can breed almost anywhere there’s standing water, including indoors, according to the county.

To help prevent mosquito breeding, the county is urging residents to dump out anything that can hold water – such as plant saucers, buckets or wheelbarrows – and report any standing water or dead birds to Vector Control.

Photo Credit: County News Center]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Park Residents Wary of Development Proposal]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:18:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bay-Park-development.jpg

The recent approval of a dense development project in Carmel Valley is getting the attention in San Diego's Bay Park neighborhood.

Real estate agent James Lamattery is going door to door in the community he's lived in for about 25 years,  handing out fliers and asking for input.

Lamattery is talking about this, the most recent plan for the future of the far western portion of Clairemont and Linda Vista.

The 256 page report presented to a community planning group earlier this week includes plans for more growth and new trolley stops along Morena Blvd.

What this draft does not include is a very controversial idea to double the height limits from 30 to 60 feet.

After strong opposition from the community, San Diego City Councilmember Lorie Zapf wrote a letter asking the height changes be removed from the plan. And they were.

The fear is basically what happened this past week, when the city council voted to allow the huge One Paseo project despite previous zoning, and a lot of opposition.