Fog City News in Brief
By Lara Moscrip
May 22, 2007
Humpbacks become science experiment
The mother humpback whale and her calf, Delta and Dawn, swam
three times beneath the Rio Vista Bridge on Monday and traveled
at least fives miles north of the bridge Monday afternoon before
they reversed course around 6 p.m. and made their way south toward
the bridge, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish
and Game said.
Researchers were able to take a tissue sample from the mother
whale about the size of a pencil eraser from which they hope to
evaluate her overall health and confirm whether she's a whale
out of California/Mexico or Alaska, spokeswoman Bernadette Fees
A plan to outfit the mother whale with a barbed tracking device
into the base of her fin had to be abandoned because of the windy
conditions Monday, but if conditions are right, an attempt could
be made today, Fees said. The tracking devise would be helpful
as authorities try to guide the whales back toward the ocean.
The hope is, according to Fees, that authorities can keep the
whales just close enough to monitor them, without causing undue
"It's up to them, we want to be there when they make a decision
to move," Fees said.
On Sunday the whales traveled about 25 miles and Fees hopes that
the whales can make some additional progress today. The whales
are still at least 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
The monitoring of the whales will begin again around 7 a.m. today,
Santa Clara Count District Attorney's Office not pursuing
charges in alleged rape case
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office announcement
Monday that it will not pursue charges in an alleged rape at a
party attended by De Anza College students in March is a learning
opportunity for students, De Anza College spokeswoman Marisa Spatafore
said on Monday.
Eight baseball players at the college were suspended from the
team after the rape allegations surfaced and authorities began
to investigate what happened at the party, at a home on south
Buena Vista Avenue in unincorporated San Jose the evening of March
Spatafore said the eight students were suspended for not adhering
to an athletic code of conduct but she wouldn't give specific
details about what behavior had sparked the school's concern.
The college's baseball coach passed along information that led
to the school's decision to suspend the students, she said.
The students allegedly involved in the incident were likely in
their first or second year at the college, she said.
Privacy issues would prevent her disclosing anything further
she learned about the suspensions in any case, she said.
"The legal process has clearly taken its course," she
said. "We really are taking the opportunity to turn this
into a learning experience for students, quite frankly."
Classes remains in session this quarter at the 22,000-student
community college in Cupertino, although the baseball season is
Spatafore said she wasn't sure how quickly news of the decision
had spread among students Monday.
Solano County Public Health Officials evaluating tuberculosis
Solano County Public Health officials confirmed Monday afternoon
that someone associated with Vallejo High School has active, contagious
Public Health and school officials are evaluating all students
and staff to determine who may have been in close contact with
the individual, officials said.
"Our number one priority is to ensure the health and safety
of the staff and students at Vallejo High School," said Ronald
W. Chapman, MD, MPH, Health Officer and Deputy Director of Solano
County Health and Social Services.
Vallejo High School Principal Phil Saroyan said the school is
cooperating with the public health officials.
"We have very few days left in the school year to do the
investigation and provide free tests for the TB germ before our
staff and students go on summer vacation," Saroyan said in
a written statement.
Chapman said the risk of contracting TB is generally low but
health officials must find anyone who had significant contact
with the contagious person and test them and treat them if necessary
to stop the spread of the disease.
TB is a serious and treatable bacterial lung disease that is
transmitted from person to person through microscopic droplets
that enter the air while coughing, sneezing, talking or singing.
Health officials said the most common way to get the disease is
by spending a lot of time in enclosed spaces with a person who
has active TB disease.
Health officials immediately began a thorough contact investigation
starting with the patient and his or her immediate family and
close friends, Chapman said.
An informational meeting for students, parents and school staff
is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday May 31 at the Vallejo High School
Sonoma County autopsy results in presumptive identity of missing
Santa Rosa woman
The Sonoma County coroner's office said Monday afternoon an autopsy
indicates a body found in a secluded area Sunday is that of a
missing Santa Rosa woman.
Coroner's Sgt. Mitch Mana said a "presumptive identity"
is that the body is 39-year-old Lolita Courts who has been missing
since May 15. Mana said a positive identity is one that is established
through DNA, fingerprints or dental records and toxicology tests
should be completed in three or four weeks. A presumptive identity
is made through photographs or tattoos, Mana said.
Santa Rosa police said the body found in a secluded area within
a mile of Courts' home on Cooper Drive at 9:20 a.m. Sunday matches
Preliminary indications are the victim committed suicide, police
Courts called her ex-husband May 15 and told him she was going
to commit suicide, police said.
Santa Rosa police Sgt. Lisa Banayat said the body resembled Courts,
it was close to her home and Courts personal items, including
medication, were where the body was found.
Lake Berryessa waterway to be closed Memorial Day Weekend
A popular party spot at the Pope Creek Bridge waterway at Lake
Berryessa will be closed this Memorial Day weekend because of
overcrowding, near-drownings and disorderly conduct.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation is
closing the area to all motorized and non-motorized watercraft
between 1 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. May 29. The area at the northwest
section of the lake will close again for several days over the
July 4 and Labor Day holidays.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the Napa County Sheriff's Office
say that when as many as 400 boats with thousands of visitors
tie together at the Pope Creek Bridge, problems happen.
"Overcrowding on boats, near-drownings, disorderly conduct,
offensive behavior, underage drinking and assaults have occurred,"
Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Jeff McCracken said.
Major injuries and several deaths have occurred from people jumping
off the bridge and from a huge rock at Pope Creek. Buoys will
mark the closed area and the gates at the Pope Creek parking lot
will be locked by 10 p.m., McCracken said.
This is the first time the area will be closed during the three
"We've been working on this since last summer," said
Napa County Sheriff's Capt. John Robertson.
Robertson has seen as many as 400 boats tied together in the
water at the Pope Creek Bridge and there have been alcohol-related
crimes, including sexual assaults, in the past few years, he said.
The Sheriff's Office assigns as many as a dozen deputies to patrol
the water along the lake's 160-mile shoreline and an additional
20 deputies patrol the area on land, Robertson said. California
Highway Patrol officers also provide enforcement on the holiday
weekends, Robertson said.
San Jose grass fire threatened homes
Firefighters got a taste of what could be a familiar sight this
summer when a 30-acre wind blown grass fire threatened homes Monday
on San Jose's Communication Hill.
The call came in just after 11 a.m. and crews responded, eventually
reaching four alarms until firefighters from San Jose and Cal-Fire
gained control of the blaze at 1:13 p.m., according to San Jose
fire Capt. Alberto Olmos.
The fire reached the opposite side of a street lined with nearly
completed condominiums at the peak of the hill but firefighters
formed a line and saved the new homes.
Residents were blocked from returning to their Communication
Hill development homes until 1:45 p.m. when San Jose police allowed
them back in.
On an adjacent hill about 15 people gathered to view the burned
hillside as a helicopter continued to dump large amounts of water
on the still smoking hill and firefighters walked the black ground
No injuries were reported and no structures were lost.
Fire crews will monitor the scene throughout the night, Olmos
said. Olmos said it is just the beginning of fire season and that
it will likely get worse.
"We should always be cognizant that we are in fire season,''
Olmos said. He also reminds people to keep their homes defensible
with 100 feet of cleared brush and vegetation surrounding homes
and to keep firewood at least 30 feet from homes.
Olmos also warned against using motorized gardening tools that
can kick off sparks. If they must be used it is safest early in
the morning when the ground and vegetation are still moist.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Girl stabbed in a San Francisco bakery is expected to survive
A 15-year-old girl who was stabbed in a San Francisco bakery
Saturday is expected to survive, police reported Monday.
"She's doing much better. She's in stable condition,"
said San Francisco police Sgt. Steve Mannina.
Police arrested a suspect Saturday thanks to a person who witnessed
the stabbing at Creighton's Bakery at 673 Portola Drive and then
followed the suspect when he fled. The suspect eventually ran
behind the Laguna Honda Hospital, where the witness pointed him
out to police, Mannina said.
The suspect is described as a man in his late 20s who is a parolee
out of Los Angeles.
Another person who was in the bakery during the stabbing that
occurred just after 4 p.m. tried to intervene between the suspect
and the girl. That person also was stabbed, Mannina said. Both
people were taken to San Francisco General Hospital.
Police don't know what motivated the attack, Mannina said Monday.
San Francisco police seek public's help in solving murder
San Francisco police on Monday asked for the public's help in
solving the murder of a 17 year-old boy on a Tenderloin street.
The teenager, whose name has not been released pending notification
of his family, was shot in the head at 5:20 a.m. Friday and died
at San Francisco General Hospital at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, San Francisco
police Sgt. Steve Mannina said.
"We're still actively investigating. Any witnesses to the
event or anyone who may have information about this crime should
contact us," he said.
The boy was seen walking in the 700 block of O'Farrell Street
just before police were called to a report of a shooting in the
area, police said.
Officers found the wounded victim on the street and transported
him to the hospital.
Anyone with information is being urged to call the Police Department's
confidential tip line at (415) 575-4444.
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