In Case You Missed It: San Diego Weekend News Digest for Saturday, Feb. 23

Five local news stories from the previous week

To help make sure you stay informed on the most shared and talked about stories in San Diego County, each Saturday we'll revisit five stories from the previous week and capsulize them in this digest with the most recent updates.

1. Family Trapped on SeaWorld Ride Recalls Cold, Windy Night

What was meant to be one last thrill before leaving SeaWorld San Diego turned into an hours-long ordeal for the Ince family and nearly a dozen other people. A strong gust of wind tripped a circuit breaker on SeaWorld's Bayside Skyride, a gondola lift ride that goes over Mission Bay, leaving 16 people trapped for about five hours.

The Ince family described how their carts shook in the wind as they dangled over the bay in wet and cold conditions. San Diego Fire-Rescue said crews had to be slow and methodical because a fall from that height could be "catastrophic." Luckily, no one was hurt. 

Crews rescued 16 passengers from the gondola ride but the guests were stuck for hours first. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala has more.

2. February Storms Wipe Out Drought for Most of California

A report released this week confirms that most of California is no longer in drought thanks to a series of winter storms that have walloped the state in February. San Diego County is part of the 33 percent of the state that remains in the abnormally dry category but it is a stark improvement from three months ago, when the entire state was in that category.  

US Drought Monitor
A look at drought conditions Feb. 19, 2019 in California in contrast to those three months earlier.

3. Major Shake-Up at San Diego’s Water Department

The city of San Diego announced a major overhaul of its troubled water department, including the departures of five top directors and managers, after a year of public outcry over billing concerns and accusations of mismanagement. There will now be new management to oversee the customer service division as well as restructuring in the division that oversees the smart meter program. 

That internal review started last summer after NBC 7 Responds and media partner Voice of San Diego discovered the department had failed to release accurate information about its smart water meter program.

Following high water bills and complaints of a lack of transparency, the city announced a major shake-up in the water department's management. NBC 7's Consumer Bob has more.

4. Hiker Thanks SD Firefighters After Nearly Freezing on Pacific Crest Trail

Gary Ashby was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when a strong storm system began pouring rain. Overnight, the rain turned into snow and as Ashby slept, his feet went numb. I was in some deep trouble," he told NBC 7. After hitching a ride into Pine Valley sought shelter but everything was closed. "Out of desperation, I started pounding on the windows here at the fire station," he said.

Ashby choked back tears recalling how quickly firefighters rushed in to help. "These guys are incredible," Ashby said. "It’s like you get in any kind of trouble or you need help and they do everything they can."

5. San Diego Woman’s Mobile Bakery Totaled in Hit-and-Run

"It killed my dream." Natalie Christensen’s mobile bakery, The Sweet Bee – which is operated out of a vintage 1951 Crown Trailer – was destroyed in a hit-and-run in Pacific Beach over the weekend and the news devastated her, she told NBC 7. She used the mobile bakery mostly to cater parties, and she's only been in business for nine months. 

"It’s a real bummer," she lamented, holding back tears. "I don’t want my business to be dead. I hate that someone took that away from me."

Christensen hopes the hit-and-run driver will fess up and in the meantime, has launched a GoFundMe page to try to raise money for a new one. 

The Sweet Bee, a mobile bakery, was heavily damaged by a hit-and-run driver in Pacific Beach over the weekend. The business owner said the incident killed her dream.

6. Pothole Repair Requests Pile Up in San Diego's Rainy Weather

In a rainy month in San Diego, there were more than 4,500 complaints of potholes on city streets reported through the Get it Done app. It’s not a number the city is especially proud of but a city spokesperson did note the heavy rain had lead to an unusually high amount. 

The city spokesperson said once a break in the rain comes they will once again focus their efforts on road repair. Read the city's entire statement here

The City of San Diego's Get It Done app has had thousands of pothole complaints in the past 30 days. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda has more on the progress.
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