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Bay Area News Briefs

By Mike Aldux

January 12, 2008

Two Travis Air Force Base airmen found dead

Police are investigating the deaths of two Travis Air Force Base airmen whose bodies were found in their parked car Friday afternoon.

The victims, a husband and wife in their 20s, were found dead in the front seats of their sport utility vehicle at around 12:45 p.m., according to Vacaville police.

Their car was parked outside an apartment complex where they lived, which is located in the 1100 block of Farmington Drive, police said.

There are no obvious signs of trauma or foul play, police said. Investigators searched their vehicle and apartment for leads Friday but could not definitively determine how they died.

Their vehicle was brought to the police department for inspection, in part to see if a mechanical malfunction was responsible for their deaths.

An autopsy is scheduled for early next week, according to the Solano County Coroner.

Oakland boy struck by stray bullet could be permanently paralyzed

A 10-year-old boy who was hit by a stray bullet while he was taking piano lessons could face permanent paralysis in his legs, Oakland police said Friday.

However, doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland, where the boy is being treated for his injuries, won't have a clear picture of the boy's medical future for several days, police spokesman Roland Holmgren said.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums expressed his sympathy for the boy and his family as well as outrage about the incident.

In a statement, Dellums said, "I extend my deepest condolences and prayers to the young man and his family. I am deeply troubled when anyone in this city is harmed by violence, but this shooting is especially tragic."

Dellums said, "This is yet another reminder why public safety is on the hearts and minds of all Oakland residents and why it is the top priority for my office. I have instructed the Police Department to keep me apprised of the situation going forward."

Holmgren said the bullet that injured the boy was from one of several shots fired during a robbery attempt at a Chevron gas station at 4400 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley Road about 4:30 p.m. Thursday and traveled across the street and into the Harmony Road Music School, where the boy was taking a lesson, according to police spokesman Roland Holmgren.

CHP investigating accident that killed off-duty sheriff's deputy

All lanes were cleared Friday afternoon on eastbound state Highway 4 just west of Bailey Road in unincorporated Contra Costa County north of Pittsburg after an off-duty San Francisco County sheriff's deputy was killed in an accident around 8 a.m.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the three-vehicle accident that sent two others to the hospital, including an off-duty Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy, said CHP spokesman Scott Yox.

The accident involved a Saturn sedan driven by the 45-year-old San Francisco County deputy who resided in Oakley, a Honda CR-V driven by the 42-year-old Contra Costa County deputy and a GMC pickup truck driven by a 52-year-old Antioch man, Yox said.

The San Francisco County deputy died on the scene, said Yox. The Contra Costa County deputy who lives in Brentwood was transported to John Muir Medical Center with moderate injuries. He lost consciousness and received lacerations. The Antioch resident was also transported to John Muir Medical with minor injuries after complaining about pain in both legs, Yox added.

Olympic track star Marion Jones sentenced to six months

Former Olympic track star Marion Jones was sentenced in federal court in New York Friday to six months in prison for lying about her use of steroids to investigators in a probe centered on the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, in 2003.

Jones, 32, was also sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains, N.Y., to two concurrent months in prison for a second count of lying in an unrelated counterfeit check case in New York in 2006.

Jones pleaded guilty to the two counts before Karas in October and soon afterwards returned the three gold and two bronze medals she won during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

The steroids and check fraud investigations were carried out separately by federal prosecutors in San Francisco and New York. But when the plea agreement with Jones was reached, the two cases were combined in a two-count prosecution in the federal court in New York.

The San Francisco probe of Jones stemmed from agents' discovery of receipts and other evidence implicating her during a search of BALCO in Burlingame on Sept. 3, 2003.

In her guilty plea, Jones admitted to making a false statement when she told U.S. Internal Revenue agents on Nov. 4, 2003, that she had never taken a steroid derivative known as "the clear" and that she had never received the drug from coach Trevor Graham.

Ten other people have been charged in federal court in San Francisco in connection with the BALCO probe.

Seven, including BALCO founder Victor Conte, pleaded guilty to various charges including distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.

Three others -- baseball star Barry Bonds, Graham and championship cyclist Tammy Thomas -- are awaiting trial in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on charges of perjury.

Drowned surfer was on methamphetamine

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office announced Friday that a surfer who drowned off of Pebble Beach in December was on methamphetamine at the time of his death.

Peter Davi, 45, died Dec. 4 while surfing off of Stillwater Cove. The Monterey County coroner listed the cause of death as asphyxia due to drowning.

"Blunt force injuries to the top of the head and front of the chest likely contributed to death. Acute methamphetamine intoxication may also have played a contributing role. Toxicology tests revealed that Mr. Davi presented acute methamphetamine intoxication,'' according to the sheriff's office announcement.

The blunt force injuries were consistent with Davi being thrown against the rocks in the cove by the heavy surf that day, according to the sheriff's office.

Environmentalists urge spectators to protect wildlife during Mavericks Surf Competition

As surf competitors face 20 to 35 foot wave faces Saturday in Half Moon Bay, environmentalists are urging spectators to protect the delicate ecological region from where they will be viewing the world-renowned Mavericks Surf Competition.

The competition started at 8 a.m. with 24 of the world's best big wave surfers paddling out to sea. They come from as far as Australia, South Africa and Brazil to catch the monster waves. There will be four initial heats with six surfers, followed by the semi-finals and finals.

The Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau is expecting between 35,000 and 40,000 people to descend on the region to watch the contest.

An unpleasant aspect to the contest is the lack of adequate viewing areas, according to Chamber President and CEO Charise McHugh. Spectators must park and walk to the bluffs. Unfortunately, the bluff area is also home to a bird refuge so visitors must stay in designated areas.

McHugh has said that if the refuge starts to get trampled there may not be a surf contest anymore.

Officials from the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary have also issued restrictions for vessels and aircraft that are taping or viewing the surf contest. In order not to disturb the variety of federally protected marine mammals and sea birds in the area, boats should stay at least a quarter mile from shore, and aircrafts should maintain at least 2,000 feet in altitude.

Foster City middle school evacuated following bomb threat

A bomb threat evacuated a Foster City middle school Friday afternoon, police said.

Someone called Bowditch Middle School at about 1:20 p.m. saying he was going to blow up the campus, said Foster City police.

School administrators evacuated the campus, keeping students and staff outside while a team of explosives experts and bomb sniffing dogs searched the campus, police said.

No bomb was found.

The search for the bomb lasted longer than the school's dismissal time so students were sent home, police said. Classes will resume as usual Monday.

An investigation into the threat is ongoing.

Bowditch Middle School is located at 1450 Tarpon St.

Santa Clara County Department of Correction employee charged with having sex with a female inmate

The Santa Clara County Department of Correction announced Friday that a 41-year-old department employee has been arrested and charged with having sex with a female inmate at the Elmwood Correctional Complex in Milpitas.

Mario Palomo, a 19-year department employee, was arrested on Tuesday. He is currently free on $50,000 bail and is on paid administrative leave from the department pending the results of an internal investigation.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is conducting the criminal investigation.

The inmate Palomo allegedly had consensual sex with was released on Tuesday after having been in custody since May 2007, according to sheriff's Office spokesman Don Morrissey.

"As far as we know it was a one time thing,'' Morrissey said about the sexual contact between Palomo and the inmate.

Cascade oil barge accident under investigation

Authorities are still trying to figure out why an oil barge carrying nearly 3 million gallons of oil crashed into the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge last night, Coast Guard Capt. John Long said Friday.

Speaking at a news conference at Coast Guard offices on Yerba Buena Island, Long said it doesn't appear that fog was a factor, as visibility was one to two miles at the time that the barge Cascade crashed into the bridge about 6 p.m. Thursday and heavy fog didn't come in until later.

In addition, the water in the area was fairly calm and mechanical and equipment failure have been ruled out, Long said.

Alcohol tests on the crew members of the two tug boats that were towing the Cascade were negative but results from drug tests are still pending, he said.

Long said authorities will look at whether crew fatigue, crew error or environmental factors played a role in the crash.

Long told reporters, "You see me smiling today" because the good news is that no oil spilled into the bay, no one was injured and it appears that the bridge wasn't harmed.


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