<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:21:15 -0800 Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:21:15 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Window Washer Survives 11-Story Fall From SF Building]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:34:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF-WINDOW-WASHER-CHOPPER-RAW-SD---14451915.jpg

A window washer fell screaming about 11 stories from the top of the Sterling Bank and Trust building in San Francisco Friday, landing on a car in the middle of a busy street, police and witnesses said.

The man suffered critical injuries, but he was conscious, and the driver was not injured, police said.

San Francisco Police Lt. Ed Del Carlo said the worker was getting ready to work when he "fell off the apparatus" and landed on a car about 10 a.m. after falling from the building at 400 Montgomery Street, near the intersection with California Street. The roof of the car, a green Toyota Camry, was smashed in, and the rear windshield shattered.

"The driver didn't know what happened," Del Carlo said.

The window washer, who has not been identified by police, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he remained in critical condition late Friday afternoon. Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Julia Bernstein said the man suffered a broken arm and injuries to his side. He was with a partner, who was not hurt. Bernstein said a safety engineer was on scene, trying to determine what happened.

The intersection of Montgomery and California was closed to traffic for several hours as police investigated.

Sam Hartwell, who was on his way to a meeting, saw some of what happened: "I saw a blue streak out of the corner of my eye," and then that "streak" hit a car with a great "thud." Soon afterward, Hartwell realized that "streak" was a person.

Hartwelland about 20 other people ran to the man, who was on his back. The man was lucid, though he was bleeding.

"He understood we were with him,'' Hartwell said.

The bystanders, who included a nurse, put clothing on the man as they waited for the ambulance.

Hartwell said of his reaction, "It was utter, immediate shock. How do you react to something like that?''

The window washer worked for Century Window Cleaning. A man who answered the phone there on Friday had no comment, but the company's website states it carries a $5 million worker compensation insurance policy and a $5 million general liability insurance policy. Public records show, in 2008, the company was fined nearly $3,000 for a safety-related issue and advised to retrain its workers on the use of all safety equipment.

The fall comes about two weeks after two window washers were stranded on top of the World Trade Center in New York City. On Nov. 12, two workers were rescued in dramatic fashion after scaffolding collapsed.

Last month in Irvine, California, two window washers stuck for hours near the top of a 19-story high-rise were pulled to safety by members of a search-and-rescue team.

Window cleaning is one of the safer industries, according to Stefan Bright, the safety director for the International Window Cleaners Association based in Zanesville, Ohio.

Among the 15,000 to 20,000 professional cleaners working on high-rises each year, there are typically fewer than three fatalities a year, he said.

While figures for window washers specifically were not available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that seven workers in the janitorial or cleaning professions died as a result of on-the-job injuries sustained while working with scaffolding from 2011 to 2013.

The Associated Press and NBC Universal's Noreen O'Donnell and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area chopper
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<![CDATA[Giants to Host 'Orange Carpet' World Series Film Premiere]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:30:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/141029-giants-royals-world-series-game-7-wednesday.jpg

The San Francisco Giants are celebrating their 2014 championship with an "Orange Carpet" event that will premiere their official World Series film, Giants spokeswoman Shana Daum said.

The event will take place on Monday, Nov. 24 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The red carpet arrivals are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the film is expected to start at 7:30 p.m.

National League Championship Series hero Travis Ishikawa, broadcaster Jon Miller, public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon, and mascot Lou Seal are expected to attend the premiere. The World Series trophy is also scheduled to be at the event.

Season ticket members can buy general admission tickets for $25 on the Giants' web site.

The World Series video will be available in stores Tuesday morning, Daum said.

The film is narrated by Colin Hanks, who is a Giants fan and star of the FX series "Fargo." The film will include highlights, behind-the-scenes access, and interviews, the team said.

Major League Baseball is also hosting the event. It has produced World Series films since 1943.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lost Kitten Wanders 2,300 Miles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:32:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Maine+Kitten+Thumb.jpg

How did a kitten travel all the way from New Mexico to Maine? It's a mystery to her owner and the shelter where she's been staying.

According to the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook, "Spice" was put inside a duffel bag and someone dropped her off at a thrift shop in Portland. A shopper found the bag and brought Spice home for a few days before bringing her to the shelter.

At the shelter, they scanned for a microchip and discovered not only did Spice have an owner, but her home was over 2,000 miles away in New Mexico!

According to Jeana Roth at the Animal Refuge League, "We were in disbelief when we called the microchip company and they told us. They were in disbelief too to see a cat from New Mexico came to Maine in just five days."

Spice apparently escaped from her house on Halloween when her owner was opening
the door to trick or treaters. How she managed to get from there to Maine, no one has any idea.

The kitten's owner doesn't have the money to pay for Spice to return to New Mexico, but another pet owner is stepping up to help.

Jon Ayers is the CEO of Idexx. The company makes pet testing kits and Ayers has several shelter cats at home. He has offered to pay to send Spice back home and as soon as she recovers from a small cold she will travel with a shelter employee back to New Mexico to be reunited with her owner.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Farmers Spray Pesticides Near Schools ]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:08:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/pesticide+drift+pic.jpg

Wineries and vineyards dot the landscape of Livermore with brand new homes and schools popping up right next to them. It’s this picturesque atmosphere that drew Paola Reyes to the East Bay town. “We thought, ‘this is Livermore. This is wine country.’ Everybody wants to live next to a vineyard,” Reyes said.

The beauty, however, soon became overshadowed by her family’s illnesses, and nobody knew why it was happening. “Things were at a breaking point with my family,” Reyes said. “My son’s health, especially, to the point where he couldn’t go to school, and I looked at the vineyard and I said, 'Oh my God, maybe it’s the vineyard. They must be spraying something at that vineyard.'”

Reyes started researching. She requested records from Alameda County, which showed pesticides were being sprayed at the vineyard next to her home. “The first thing I thought when I found this information was, ‘This charter school is going to open in a few months and I need to inform the principal,’” Reyes said.

She sent multiple emails, including the pesticide reports, but only received an email response from the Livermore Valley Charter School Parent-Teacher Organization, which said, in part, “I do find it hard to believe that the vineyards behind our school would use any pesticides. The state would have never allowed them to use pesticides near any school campus.”

In fact, state law does allow it, leaving the decision as to what to do with that information with individual counties. Reyes never got a response from anyone at the school on the issue and parents were never informed.

Records obtained by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit show pesticides were sprayed months later on school days.

The head of Livermore Charter School defended the school’s decision not to notify parents: “The simplest answer I guess is that it was a one time a year process,” said Bill Batchelor, CEO of the Tri Valley Learning Corporation, which includes Livermore Valley Charter School.

In fact, the spraying happened over several days. Batchelor said he only learned about it after the pesticide spraying took place, but conceded there could have been a better process. “We weren’t notified by the county. We weren’t notified by the vineyard itself,” Batchelor said.

Several reports, including one published in 2012 by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found a link between health problems and pesticide exposure for young children. “In the short term we worry about kids having skin and eye irritation. They can have headaches. They can have nausea,” said Dr. Alice Brock-Utne, an East Bay pediatrician who contributed to the report. “Even if you get an exposure today and that has no effect on you today, it’s possible over time, when you are being continuously exposed, you can still have long-term effects.”

In San Bernardino County, schools sit just feet away from farms where pesticides are sprayed. That’s why that county created the School Protection Act, which requires farms to notify the county at least 24 hours before spraying.

“Reporting it afterward doesn’t do much except tell us what was used,” San Bernardino Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Allen Lampman said. “We do encourage the grower to contact the school, and quite a few of them do because that directly tells the school what’s happening, when it’s happening and how it’s happening.”

After the Investigative Unit contacted both Alameda County and Livermore Valley Charter School, they sat down to discuss the issue and are now making changes. “We’re going to get more proactive,” said Alameda County Agricultural Commissioner Scott Paulsen. We have a work plan, and we’re going to amend the work plan for further outreach for schools and vineyards.”

Batchelor said the school will start notifying families going forward:

“Assuming that the vineyard is cooperating with us and notifying us, obviously we’ll notify our families so they can make the decision of whether to send their student to school that day,” Batchelor said. “Our goal is actually to alleviate from happening during the school year.”

It’s exactly what Paola Reyes wanted to see happen a year ago. She can’t prove her family’s sickness was directly related to the pesticides sprayed at the vineyard, but she’s since moved away. “I can tell you, we felt ill when we moved here. We got better when we moved out. We were seeing doctors on a weekly basis when we were living here. We haven’t seen a doctor in a year since we moved out,” Reyes said.

NBC Bay Area reached out to the company that leases the vineyard, Diamond West Farming, numerous times. No one from the company gave us a statement.

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<![CDATA[Boy Who Fell Off Bodega Bay Cliff Awakens From Coma]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:04:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/1110-2014-CliffRescue.jpg

After nearly 10 days, a 4-year-old boy who fell off a cliff in Bodega Bay has woken up from his coma.

Sebastion Johnson fell more than 200 feet down a cliff nearly two weeks ago, as he was throwing rocks into the ocean when he slipped over the edge.

Rescuers rappelled down the cliff to save him. Johnson ended up with a broken leg, arm, and jaw.

But on Friday morning, Johnson's father said his son is breathing on his own and had his neck brace removed.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills Hitch Rides Aboard Snowmobiles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:46:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KRAIG+URBIK1.JPG

Up to seven feet of snow wasn't going to stop the Buffalo Bills from flying out to Detroit for Monday’s game against the Jets — even if some players needed a novel way to get to the Bills’ stadium and a bus to the airport.

“Just texted with a Bills player who was picked up on a snowmobile to head to his game,” tweeted Albert Breer, national reporter for the NFL Network. “So in 10 years of covering the NFL, that’s a first.”

The game was supposed to have been played in Buffalo on Sunday, but was moved to Detroit because of the deadly storm.

On The MMQB, Peter King describes the planning that went into the "snowmobile rescues."

"I have covered the NFL for 30 years, and I must say I have never heard an NFL executive say he hoped a snowmobile would come up big for his team in advance of a game with big playoff implications," he wrote.

Photo Credit: EMILY URBIK
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<![CDATA[$139M Settlement in Sex Abuse Case]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:32:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/miramonte112912.jpg

A settlement in the long-fought Miramonte sex abuse civil case has officially been accepted by both sides, with Los Angeles Unified School District paying a record $139 million to more than 70 victims of sexual abuse.

Each child will receive about $1.7 million, according to counsel for the plaintiffs. The total will be $139,250,000, according to the district.

The case was to be the first trial of lawsuits stemming from the sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School.

Attorneys for LAUSD and former students of teacher Mark Berndt -- who was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading no contest to 23 counts of lewd conduct with a child between 2005-10 -- have been meeting all week in an effort to reach a settlement.

"In 2012, the school district shared in the shock and disgust upon learning of the misconduct committed by one of its teachers at Miramonte Elementary School," a statement issued by the district reads. "Even though the school district didn’t know about Mr. Berndt’s behavior, we have an obligation to protect the students we serve. We are truly sorry that these students had their trust violated by this sick individual."

Read the full statement and fact sheet here.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley has been urging the attorneys to try to resolve the case without a trial, but with no settlement in place, jury selection began Monday morning.

The lawsuit involves former Miramonte students, with dozens of other cases are still pending. The district has already settled more than 60 claims for about $30 million over the abuse, and this settlement will largely end all current litigation stemming from the Berndt case, the district said in its statement.

Earlier in the week, attorney Luis Carrillo, who represents some of the Miramonte students and their families, said he wanted to take the case to trial.

"We're anxious. We want to get in front of a jury, a representative jury so that the community can see 30 years of abuse," he said.

Attorneys contended the district should be held responsible for Berndt's actions, alleging district officials were aware of complaints about his behavior for years.

In a written statement, Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the settlement struck a balance between sparing the students and Miramonte community the pain of a trial and the financial burden to the district.

"Throughout this case, we have shared in the pain felt by these children, their families and the community. Each day, we are responsible for the safety of more than 600,000 students. There is a sacred trust put in us to protect the children we serve," Cortines said in the statement.  "While we know Mr. Berndt went to extreme lengths to hide his conduct, we know that our job protecting students is never done. While we are proud of the steps that we’ve taken to enhance student safety, the only way we can have the safest schools is through partnerships with parents and the community."

Read Cortines' full statement here.

The district will self-fund the settlement, according to General Counsel Dave Holmquist. The district hopes to recoup the settlement through its insurance company. Since the Miramonte scandal broke with the arrest of Berndt, the district has been putting aside a reserve fund in anticipation of any pay out.

Sheriff's officials said the investigation of Berndt began when a film processor turned over more than 40 photographs of children in a classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered in tape. Some of the pictures showed Berndt with his arm around the children or with his hand over their mouths, according to the Sheriff's Department.

A sheriff's sergeant said some of the photographs "depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance."

Some photos also showed children with a large roach on their faces, sheriff's officials said. Sheriff's officials said detectives found a blue plastic spoon and an empty container in the trash in Berndt's classroom.

Both items tested positive for semen, and DNA testing matched it to Berndt, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Patrick Healy and Kelly Goff contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Critics Call for Investigation into PG&E Substation Security]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 00:02:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/lorretta.jpg

Two prominent critics are calling for an investigation into Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s efforts to protect the infrastructure that controls electricity in California, following an NBC Bay Area investigation about electric substation security.

California senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and former president of the state’s Public Utilities Commission Loretta Lynch are upset with the lack of security upgrades exposed in the NBC Bay Area reports.

“The evidence that I’ve seen is certainly more than sufficient to open an investigation,” Lynch said.

Security at substations is critical because experts say a successful attack could knock out power to the Bay Area for weeks or even months.

In August, NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit visited 14 of PG&E’s largest and most critical substations in Northern and Central California. NBC Bay Area discovered what experts have called vulnerabilities in PG&E’s security network. Two facilities appeared to be unmanned. At seven others, security guards failed to patrol the perimeter of the substations. At another, an open gate provided direct access to critical electric hardware. At five substations, NBC Bay Area was able to stand close enough to the outer fences to use a thermal imaging camera and identify transformers in the dark.

“It was upsetting to me,” Hill said after reviewing the findings of the NBC Bay Area investigation. “It said PG&E has not done enough to protect the infrastructure that we so rely on.”

Hill has authored a successful bill that will force California utility companies to increase security at substations next year. Earlier this month, Hill sent a letter to the CPUC calling for the regulator to review security at PG&E’s critical substations.

Hill wrote, “…all the public has is the word of PG&E’s public relations office for assurance that its efforts to secure the electric grid are appropriate and effective.” Hill added that the CPUC has “an opportunity to demonstrate that the Commission has the courage and the capability to challenge PG&E’s assertions and the dedication to communicate to the public an evaluation of PG&E’s performance.”

Last April attackers shot 100 high powered rifle rounds into 17 transformers at the Metcalf substation in South San Jose. The incident lasted just 19 minutes, and had the potential to black out much of Silicon Valley. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has not officially labeled the attack an act of terrorism, but many high-ranking government sources and congressional leaders have raised concerns that the Metcalf attack may foreshadow a more robust attack plan.

PG&E promised to spend $100 million over three years to improve security at critical electric substations. A year and a half later, the Investigative Unit discovered what appeared to be a highly simplistic security network. A military veteran trained in special operations who visited PG&E’s most important substations concluded that PG&E would only get a passing grade when it comes to security.

“Metcalf could be repeated at all the sites you showed me in less than 15 minutes,” he said. He asked to keep his name anonymous, citing future undercover assignments.

PG&E calls its current security “high level.” After visiting 14 facilities unannounced, the Investigative Unit asked PG&E if it could provide details that indicated the utility knew when and where the visits had taken place. Senior director of corporate security Stephanie Douglas wouldn’t answer directly.

“I’ll let you give me some ideas,” she said.

Just nine days after that conversation, intruders cut through a fence at the Metcalf substation and stole construction equipment. Security guards were on the premises at the time of the break-in, which went unreported for more than four hours.

PG&E’s “high level” security network so far has failed to produce any public photos or video of the break-in. As a point of contrast, earlier this year surveillance cameras at a South Bay car dealership captured video of multiple car thefts in action.

Lynch said that the CPUC, led by president, Michael Peevey has both the power and the responsibility to look closer and demand accountability from PG&E.

“The concern I have,” she said, “is that the CPUC under Mike Peevey has been very slow to investigate when it would embarrass the utility.”

CPUC commissioners declined multiple requests for interviews but CPUC Executive Director Paul Clanon responded to Hill’s letter. Clanon said that the Commission’s investigation into the August break-in at the Metcalf substation is ongoing and “includes interviews with PG&E staff, data requests and other standard investigative steps.” Clanon also said that the CPUC has directed the utility to perform a “root cause analysis” of the incident. He said that the CPUC is monitoring PG&E’s progress of substation upgrades and “will conduct audits to assure compliance with safety requirements.”

Stephanie Douglas also denied a request for an update on substation security.

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit email theunit@nbcbayarea.com or call 888-996-TIPS.

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<![CDATA[Cop Shoots, Kills Unarmed Man in Stairwell: NYPD]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:56:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Pink-Houses-Accidental-Shooting-NY-Gurley-Inset.jpg

A probationary NYPD officer is being placed on modified duty after he apparently accidentally shot and killed an unarmed 28-year-old man in a dimly lit stairwell while on foot patrol at a Brooklyn housing project late Thursday, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Friday.

The officer, Peter Liang, and another officer, both with less than 18 months on the force, were part of a violence reduction overtime detail on vertical patrol, which is when police conduct floor-by-floor sweeps of a building, at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York around 11 p.m.

They had gone to the eighth floor, the top floor, via elevator to check the roof when they noticed that there were no lights in the stairwell leading to the roof, Bratton said. Given the location and lack of light, Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight for safety reasons, Bratton said. The other officer kept his service weapon holstered.

As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, Akai Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned square to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. That's when Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him.

Bratton said no words were exchanged.

"All indications are this was an accidental discharge," Bratton said, calling the shooting "an unfortunate tragedy."

Bratton said Gurley and his girlfriend apparently had opted to take the stairs because they didn't want to wait for the elevator, and law enforcement officials say the girlfriend was a flight of stairs or so ahead of him at the time of the shooting. She didn't see the officer's gun fire.

Gurley stumbled down to his girlfriend on the fifth floor after being shot, and she ran to a fourth-floor apartment to ask for help and called 911, a law enforcement source said. She was given a towel to put pressure on Gurley's chest as she waited for paramedics to arrive. 

Liang and the other officer, who initially walked out of the staircase onto the eighth floor, soon realized someone had been shot, and went down to the fifth floor to attempt to render aid, the source said. 

Gurley was pronounced dead at a hospital. Gurley, who has multiple previous arrests on robbery and other charges, was not armed when he was shot, authorities said. He lives in Red Hook and has a 2-year-old daughter, though it's not clear where the child lives. Gurley's mother lives in Florida.

Mayor de Blasio called his death a "tragic mistake."

The Brooklyn district attorney's office and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating. The New York City Housing Authority said it was cooperating. 

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson called the shooting "deeply troubling."

"Many questions must be answered, including whether, as reported, the lights in the hallway were out for a number of days, and how this tragedy actually occurred," Thompson said in a statement.

Both officers were taken to the hospital for ringing in their ears, according to the NYPD. The housing project they were assigned to patrol has seen several serious crimes over the last month, including two robberies and two assaults. Two people were killed there this year, Bratton said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement that the Pink Houses are among the city's most dangerous projects.

"Dimly lit stairways and dilapidated conditions create fertile ground for violent crime while the constant presence of illegal firearms creates a dangerous and highly volatile environment for police officers and residents alike," Lynch said. "Only time and a thorough investigation will tell us what transpired in this case."

Community leaders blasted the NYPD and called for immediate reform. 

"We should not have rookies, inexperienced police officers who are frightened of us, doing vertical patrols," said longtime councilman and incoming assemblyman Charles Barron. 

The shooting comes as the department is changing how rookie cops are used fresh out of the academy to give them more training and time with more senior officers.

Bratton is implementing a program that pairs less experienced officers with veteran officers on vertical and other patrol, but the program has had to be a roll-out process rather than an immediate overhaul due to staffing constraints, law enforcement officials said.

Lori Bordonaro contributed to this report.  

<![CDATA[Members of LGBT Community Fear Exclusion From Immigration Order]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:01:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gayimmigrant.jpg

Moments after President Barack Obama announced his immigration reform plan on Thursday, members of the gay community began fretting aloud about how the executive order would affect LGBT families.

Specifically, many wondered how Obama is defining families, as the centerpiece of his immigration order allows about 4 million people to become eligible to defer their deportations and allow them to work legally if they pass background checks and pay taxes. But the plan focuses on undocumented immigrants who are the parents of United States citizens. 

Just what defines a parent and a marriage? asked  Caroline Dessert, a self-described "queer Latina" from El Centro, Calif., who is also executive director of Immigration Equality.

If it's DNA and a municipal marriage certificate, Dessert pointed out that would leave out roughly 267,000 undocumented members of the LGBT community who could likely be excluded from Obama's intended relief. While the order is a "historic moment," she said, "once again, it appears as though the LGBT community has been excluded from a law designed to protect vulnerable people."

"If family relationships through marriage, or blood, is the only way that you can seek deferred action, or you can seek recognition or seek to come into status, " said Kate Kendall, with the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights - another group worried about the same issues. "That will leave out tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of LGBT families."

Specifically, Dessert, Kendall and other lesbian, gay and transgender activists are worried about a few things that Obama has yet to address. Many lesbian and gay groups were part of a White House conference call on Thursday ahead of the president's announcement, but there was no time to ask the questions many in the LGBT community wanted to ask.

Emails to White House representatives were not immediately returned on Friday.

Specifically, Dessert and other LGBT immigration advocates have these questions:

  • About half the states in the United States don't recognize same-sex marriage. How will Obama define families if the parents aren't legally married?

  • LGBT parents often don't have biological children. Will this be count against them as Obama outlined the relationships between fathers and mothers who adopted their sons and daughters.

  • Being gay is a crime in about 80 countries around the world. Will Obama deport gay undocumented immigrants to these places if they've fled them recently?

  • The transgender community has historically been targeted by police and arrested; Will these "crimes" and arrests count as Obama's program would not allow criminals to be eligible to stay in the country.

Activists are hoping that if they express their concerns publicly, then Obama will heed their worries as the order won't formally be implemented for another 180 days.

 "In the past, you needed a blood relationship," Dessert reiterated in a phone interview. "We hope that won't be the case, here."

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Immigration Equality
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<![CDATA[Famous SF Twin Marian Brown Dies at 87]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:31:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/172*120/twins9.jpg

Marian Brown, one half of San Francisco's best-known set of twins, has died.

The Brown twins cheerfully walked the city in matching outfits over five decades.

Last year, Vivian Brown died. Thursday, her sister, Marian, died at a San Mateo hospice.

Marian was 87 years old.

“The one thing that caught my eye was how well dressed they always were,” Sir Francis Drake Hotel doorman Laban Wade said last year, when Vivian died.

The sisters were known for walking the Union Square streets, together, decked out in fashionable matching outfits, greeting visitors and locals with unison hellos.

The twins often appeared in advertisements and commercials, serving as unofficial ambassadors for the City by the Bay.

The late San Francisco columnist Herb Caen often mentioned the twins in his column, bestowing on them the kind of status reserved for the most revered icons.

Following the death of Vivian Brown, NBC Bay Area’s Joe Rosato Jr. reported a picture of the twins was taped to the window of Uncle Vito’s pizza on Nob Hill, where the Brown sisters dined nightly on twin pizza slices and red wine. Workers in the pizzeria said Marian Brown continued to dine there without her sister.

Joe Rosato Jr. contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Students Help to End Hunger With Holiday Food Drive]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:32:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/claireoconner.png

Students hopped into grocery carts at a Pleasanton Safeway Friday morning, all in an effort to fight hunger and deliver beans, peanut butter, pasta and more nations to seven food banks throughout the Bay Area.

Claire O'Connor, student body president at Piedmont High School, dropped an "Help Us End the Hunger" bag into a donation barrel - from a sitting position inside a cart - to "give back to the community." She was surrounded by friends blowing their trombones and french horns from inside the store to promote the annual pre-Thanksgiving fundraiser.

All the help is sorely needed, said Michael Altfest, spokesman for the Alameda Community Food Bank.

"There's a lot more working families coming to food banks," he said. "The cost of living has skyrocketed in the Bay Area."

The food drive, a monthlong partnership between the food banks, Safeway and NBC Bay Area, is taking place at 155 Safeway locations throughout the Bay Area. The big day to donate is on Saturday. To make the donation process easier, a specially produced shopping bag filled with items that food banks need the most will be available for $10 at all local Safeway stores. Items include pasta and sauce, canned vegetables and important protein items like peanut butter and canned tuna.

For the last five years, NBC Bay Area has partnered with Safeway to help stock the shelves of local food banks. Last year, the food drive collected more than 134,000 bags at Safeway Stores across the Bay Area, amounting to over 1.6 million pounds of food for those in need.

Photo Credit: Henry Jerkins]]>
<![CDATA[BART's "Train to Plane" Service to Oakland Airport]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:48:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/BART+to+OAK-2.jpg

Four years after crews broke ground and $484 million later, BART’s new "train to plane" service, formally opens on Saturday - just in time, airport officials point out, for the Thanksgiving holiday rush.

The “BART to OAK” line now connects BART passengers to Oakland International Airport, where riders will be able to board one of four three-car automated people movers at either the Coliseum Station or the Oakland International Airport Station and take the eight-minute ride at 30 mph, BART officials said.

"The reliability should be much greater," BART's Project Group Manager Tom Dunscombe said Friday morning.

The 3.2-mile link will replace AirBART with a driverless automated people mover, which will arrive at the Coliseum Station every 4 1/2 minutes and can get passengers to the airport in eight minutes and 12 seconds, Dunscombe said.

BART already takes passengers to the San Francisco International Airport.

A big party to celebrate the opening is on Friday at the Coliseum Station from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. BART officials are so excited, they even created a Storify page to show off photos and videos of the new system. Click here for schedules and pricing.

In other Bay Area airport news, Mineta San Jose International Airport is offering discounted parking rates through the Thanksgiving holiday, and live musci starting on Friday through Thanksgiving Eve. The airport's volunteer ambassador and therapy dogs will be strolling through the airport so stressed out travelers can give them a pet before flying off to Grandma's.

Photo Credit: BART.gov]]>
<![CDATA[Burglars Targeting San Jose Schools]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 05:32:07 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1120-2014-SchoolBurglar.jpg

Burglars appear to be targeting the Mount Pleasant School District in San Jose.

Sanders Elementary School is the latest campus to be broken into after thieves Wednesday made their way onto the campus and took cash intended to help low-income students pay for everyday necessities.

"Gave me the absolute chills," Principal Julie Howard said. "Made me sick to my stomach."

Wednesday's incident is the third time the school has been hit by burglars since August. Sanders Elementary is one of five schools in the Mount Pleasant School District. School officials report all five campuses have been burglarized this year, with thousands of dollars of equipment taken.

District officials said they have installed bars over windows and security cameras at schools this year, which has not stopped burglars from breaking into the campuses. The district reports seven break-ins this year.

"It's devastating," Howard said. "They're stealing from all of our kids."

Howard and other school officials hope surveillance video of two suspects from Wedneday's incident will put an end to the rash of burglaries.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[FSU Shooter Heard Voices]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 23:51:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/myronmay112014.jpg

Police have described, Myron May, the gunman who opened fire inside a library at Florida State University Thursday morning as in a “state of crisis.”

Team 6 Investigator Dan Krauth has obtained reports from New Mexico, where May lived, that paint a picture of delusional man on prescription medications and who had been admitted to the hospital a short time ago for a full mental health evaluation.

May, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, moved to Florida as a teenager, police said. He graduated from FSU in 2005 and later from Texas Tech Law School in 2009, police said. He only recently moved back to Florida from New Mexico.

According to Dona Ana County's District Attorney Mark D'Antonio, May was briefly employed at his office as an Associate Trial Attorney after having worked in Las Cruces as an Assistant Public defender. May resigned his position abruptly on October 6, 2014.

"[May] was an effective Prosecutor who was deeply commited to his work and serving the public while employed at our office," D'Antonio said in a statement.

While he worked there, two police reports from the past two months showed that he thought he was being watched.

On October 7, reports showed he went to his ex-girlfriend’s house and told her police placed cameras in his home and car. Police said he handed a piece of his car to her because he thought there was a camera inside.

In a separate report from September 7, May told police he could hear voices “coming through the wall” of his home. Police described May as “in a state of crisis.”

May’s ex-girlfriend told police that his mental condition was getting worse and that he was staying up for four to five days at a time without sleeping.

Police are currently searching for May’s car and cell phone trying to determine what happened in the three weeks since he moved to Florida that led up to the Florida State library shooting.

On his Facebook page, which has since come down, May frequently posted biblical verses and said that he feared the government was watching him. His last post on Tuesday was quoting Matthew 5:3 and read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Professor Awarded National Medal of Science]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:44:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1120-2014-ThomasKailath.jpg

Only now do I realize what was happening at the kitchen table all those days and nights. Stacks of paper, books and mugs of cold chai crowded my uncle and a few of his students.

This was a Silicon Valley think tank, before the days of the Silicon Valley. Or think tanks.

In 1977, my family and I arrived at the doorstep of my Uncle’s house in Stanford, California.

We moved from Bombay to start a new life in America.

Thomas Kailath had already started his new life in America in 1957.

To me, he wasn’t the world renowned Stanford professor, engineer and entrepreneur who President Barack Obama awarded the National Medal of Science.

Instead, he was my uncle. A man with an intense focus, contagious laugh and penchant to fall asleep in the middle of a party.

That kitchen table was legendary. He mentored dozens of Stanford PhD students who would go on to revolutionize the Silicon Valley. He researched, wrote books and started companies.

On Tuesday in the East Room of the White House, President Obama honored 18 of the country’s leading scientists and innovators. The President singled out Professor Kailath, remarking on his journey from India, to MIT and then to Stanford.

"In 1957, when I came to this country you could never imagine all the nice things that have happened to me," said Kailath after the ceremony. "All the people who have helped me. My wonderful students. It’s a dream."

It’s a shared dream by his family, students and his little nephew in the kitchen, watching a genius at work.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Scantily-Clad Techie Graces Silicon Valley Billboard]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:49:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/alex-dice.jpg

Silicon Valley commuters, meet "Alex," an underwear-clad "techie" who graces a billboard set up along Highway 101, which is now the "Gold Coast" of advertising space, according to reports.

Bloomberg notes that billboard space is so in-demand in the Silicon Valley corridor that billboard renter Dice.com, an Iowa-based career website, may be paying as much as $40,000 a month to subject commuters stuck in traffic to a "pasty" lad in polka-dotted underpants.

And Alex, for the record, is no model: he's a real-life engineer.

Photo Credit: Dice.com]]>
<![CDATA[Carr Leads Winning Drive to Snap Losing Streak]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:01:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/191*120/murrayvschiefsnov.jpg

Finally. So that's what winning feel like.

After 368 days without a win, the Oakland Raiders can at long last put a “W” in the standings.

The Raiders, who started this season 0-10 and were 0-16 dating to last Nov. 17, pulled out a 24-20 victory over the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs on national television Thursday night at O.co Coliseum.

It was an improbable win over a team that had won five straight and came into the game a heavy favorite.

After taking a 14-3 halftime lead – their first halftime lead in almost a year – the Raiders stumbled, allowing Kansas City to go up 20-17 with 9:30 remaining.

But the Raiders came roaring back, with Derek Carr leading a clock-eating, 17-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with Carr’s 9-yard touchdown strike to James Jones with just 1:42 left in the game.

The Raiders then withstood one final possession by the Chiefs, who got great field position on a kickoff return to their own 39, then drove into Oakland territory, aided by a Raiders penalty on a Chiefs fourth-and-3 play to keep it alive.

Finally, after a Sio Moore sack of Chiefs QB Alex Smith on third down, a fourth-and-13 pass from Smith with 28 seconds remaining fell incomplete, and the Raiders could celebrate a victory.

From the start, it looked like it might finally be Oakland’s night.

The Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their second possession, driving 60 yards for a touchdown, with running back Latavius Murray going around left end for 11 yards.

It was a great-coming out party for Murray, who had a good game last week against the Chargers and was given an opportunity Thursday night to show what he could do.

He certainly proved himself, following up his first TD with a 90-yard burst for another score to put Oakland up 14-0.

But after gaining 112 yards on four carries and giving the Raiders the running game they’ve been searching for all season, Murray took a blow to the head and was knocked from the game.

The Raiders offense then proceeded to go flat, and Kansas City climbed back into the game.

The Chiefs caught the Raiders at 17-17 on a 30-yard pass from Alex Smith to Jamaal Charles with 12:29 left, then forced a three-and-out by Oakland. Kansas City then drove for a go-ahead 25-yard field goal by Cairo Santos with 9:30 remaining.

That’s when Carr and the Raiders offense came alive, engineering the 80-yard, game-winning drive.

Now 1-10, the Raiders return to action Sunday, Nov. 30, with a game in St. Louis against the Rams -- and a chance for a two-game winning streak.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman With Gun Arrested Near W.H.]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:35:52 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/April+Debois+sketch+Bill+Hennessy+20141121_163224.jpg

A 23-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly carrying an unregistered 9 mm handgun near the White House late Thursday evening. 

April Debois of Mount Morris, Michigan, is charged with carrying a pistol without a license and will remain in custody until a preliminary hearing Monday morning.

Debois was participating in a demonstration along the north fence line of the White House when a plainclothes Secret Service officer observed the firearm holstered on the front of her hip and informed another Secret Service officer, who was monitoring the demonstration.

A U.S. Park Police officer searched Debois and found several rounds of ammunition in her jacket, according to charging documents.

Debois was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, possession of unregistered ammunition and carrying a pistol without a license.

Debois was in the company of another person who was not arrested, according to a Secret Service official.

Debois has not been cooperative in interviews, that official said.

Her arrest came less than two days after an Iowa man was arrested. R.J. Kapheim, 43, had weapons in his car and claimed that President Obama called him directly and asked him to go to the White House, authorities said. Kapheim has pleaded not guilty to unlawful possession of a rifle.

The Secret Service has been under scrutiny since a Texas Army veteran, Omar Gonzalez, leapt over a White House fence on Sept. 19 and charged into the White House. Gonzalez made it all the way into the East Room before he was tackled, thanks to a string of Secret Service failures detailed in an internal review released last week.

Photo Credit: Bill Hennessy]]>
<![CDATA[4 Killed in Maine Mobile Home Fire]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:32:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/202*120/caribou1.jpg

A mother and her three young children were killed in a mobile home fire in Caribou, Maine on Thursday morning.

The Maine State Fire Marshal's Office said the fire was reported around 7 a.m. at the Westgate Mobile Home Park. A team of fire marshal investigators and inspectors have begun working to determine the cause of the blaze.

Caribou firefighters entered the burning mobile home and removed the victims from a back bedroom. The three children - 3-year-old Trenton Delisle and 2-year-old twins Mason and Madison Delisle - were taken to Cary Medical Center in Caribou, where they were later pronounced dead. Their mother, 28-year-old Norma Skidgel, died at the scene.

Their bodies will be transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Augusta for autopsies, which are expected to be performed on Friday.

Skidgel's sister Amy Bouchard and her two sons also lived in the mobile home. Bouchard and one of her sons left the home a short time before the fire to go to a bus stop, and the dwelling was on fire when she returned. Her other son had spent the night elsewhere. Bouchard is being treated for smoke inhalation, as she attempted to gain entry to to home.

Inspectors found a smoke detector inside the mobile home, but the batteries had been removed. It isn't clear yet if there were other smoke detectors that were working.

Officials said the mobile home park is located on the city's outskirts, about four miles from Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge. The small park consists of three rows of trailers in a sparsely populated, rural area.

Public safety officials said this is the deadliest fire in modern times in Caribou. It also comes only a few weeks after six people died at a fire in an apartment building in Portland.

Twenty-five people have died in fires this year in the state, the most in 21 years. Fires killed 27 in 1993.

In light of the recent fire deaths, State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said Maine residents need to make sure their homes have working smoke detectors, and that families review and practice fire escape plans.

Photo Credit: Maine Department of Public Safety]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Undocumented Immigrants Live in Fear of Being Deported]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:21:25 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/459063526.jpg Mayra Diaz has been living and working in the Bay Area for 26 years as an undocumented immigrant. The single mother of three is praying President Barack Obama's executive order will change that. Jodi Hernandez reports.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Rally for Missing Students]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:26:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/209*120/11-20-14-Downtown+LA+Protest+Mexican+Students.JPG

Crowds of protesters swarmed the streets of downtown Los Angeles Thursday night as they marched to the Mexican Consulate-General to call for the removal of Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and demand justice for a group of missing college students.

Hundreds of marchers could be heard chanting and counting to 43 — the number of Mexican students who were last seen alive Sept. 26 in the city of Iguala, when police reportedly attacked a group of student protesters, killing six people and taking away dozens of students.

One protester on a loudspeaker announced that the Los Angeles Police Department would give the crowds one hour to protest in front of MacArthur Park.

The protest comes after Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam recently offered evidence of hundreds of charred fragments of bone and teeth fished from a river but admitted it would be difficult to extract DNA to confirm identities of the victims.

Mass protests were also expected in parts of Mexico Thursday in response to alleged political corruption in the disappearances.

Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[Obama's Immigration Action Will Likely Energize GOP: Political Expert]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:13:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP977736028841.jpg Political observers say around the country President Barack Obama's immigration policy will likely energize the GOP base, and may be just what the president is hoping. Mark Matthews reports.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley CEOs Say More Immigrant Visas Needed to Keep Tech Industry Strong]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:11:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tlmd_barack_obama_accion_ejecutiva_inmigrantes.jpg NBC Bay Area's Business and Tech reporter shows how the immigration debate also impacts visas for highly-educated tech workers.]]> <![CDATA[Man Arrested Outside WH Claimed Appointment With Obama]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:46:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/RJ+Kapheim+Sketch.jpg

A man arrested with weapons in his car outside the White House Wednesday afternoon told the Secret Service the president called him directly and asked him to go to the White House, according to the police report.

R.J. Kapheim, 43, pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to one count of unlawful possession of a rifle. The judge ordered him held until a hearing at 9 a.m. Friday.

Kapheim approached a Secret Service officer just before 1 p.m. Wednesday and said he had an appointment with President Barack Obama, authorities said. The officer checked his ID and determined he did not have an appointment.

Kapheim insisted President Obama had called him and began shaking his head, according to the police report. The officer called for backup to check on Kapheim's welfare. They asked him if they could check his car and he agreed.

As Secret Service walked Kapheim to his car at 16th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, he told them he had a weapon in the car, authorities said. The barrel could be seen sticking up from the backseat, a position from which it could be reached from the front seat.

Officers found the .30-30 rifle was loaded with six rounds of ammunition. Another 36 rounds and a 6-inch fixed blade also were found in the car, according to the police report.

There's no indication Kapheim made any threats.

Kapheim told police he drove to D.C. from Davenport, Iowa, where he reportedly works as an inventor.

Court records from Iowa show Kapheim was charged with several traffic violations over the years, and in 2012, he changed his name from "Rachael" to "R.J." to make it easier to get a job.

The arrest came just as Secret Service Acting Director Joseph Clancy was testifying in Congress about low morale he said has contributed to high-profile oversights by agents recently.

The agency has been under scrutiny since a Texas Army veteran, Omar Gonzalez, leapt over a White House fence on Sept. 19 and charged into the White House. Gonzalez made it way all the way into the East Room before he was tackled, thanks to a string of Secret Service failures detailed in an internal review out last week.

Photo Credit: Bill Hennessy]]>
<![CDATA[New Oakland School Chief Pushes For Big Raises For Teachers]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:48:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_school_generic.jpg

Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson says that he's "dead serious" about "finding ways to pay [teachers] more," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Specifically, he's looking to give teachers a 10 percent raise over the next three years, the newspaper reported, with "incentive pay" in store for teachers who work in the toughest schools.

He's looking to increase the graduation rate from 67 percent to 85 percent, and increase the fluency of English learners from 7 percent to 50 percent, according to the newspaper.

So far, the "ambitious" plan is just that -- a plan, the newspaper reported, with no details on "how" it would be achieved beyond "hard work and sacrifice," Wilson told the newspaper.

<![CDATA[Alamo Students Taken to Hospital After Hazmat Scare]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:26:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_generic_ambulance.jpg

Three Alamo middle school students were taken to the hospital Thursday afternoon after a hazardous materials scare in a science class, according to school district officials.

Hazardous materials crews were called to Stone Valley Middle School at 3001 Miranda Ave. around 11 a.m. after several students in a forensic science class reported not feeling well, San Ramon Valley Unified School District spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said.

The class was evacuated and three students were sent to hospitals "as a precaution," Graswich said.

Those students were back in class by the end of the day, according to Graswich.

"Whenever it's a science class, the fire district treats it as a hazmat incident," Graswich said.

Fire and hazardous materials crews did not find any hazardous materials in the classroom and all of the students involved were wearing protective gloves and goggles, the spokeswoman said.

It's still not clear what made the students sick, Graswich told NBC Bay Area.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Telemundo ]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Asleep in Fast Lane Arrested on DUI Charge]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:43:26 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/highway+generic.jpg

A man who was asleep at the wheel in the fast lane was arrested Thursday morning in Marin County on charges of drunk driving, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Michael Morgan, 29, of Crownpoint, New Mexico, was book on two misdemeanor DUI charges, when officers found his silver 2014 Ford Focus blocking the two left lanes of U.S. Highway 101, north of the Freitas Parkway, Officer Andrew Barclay said.

When officers found Morgan at 3:10 a.m., there was no movement in his Ford, and the brake lights were shining bright, Barclay said. They found him asleep with his foot on the brake and the Ford still in drive.

When officers tried to wake Morgan, he took his foot off the brake and began driving forward. Officers commanded him to stop and put his car in park. Finally he did. And he was arrested after officers determined his Blood Alcohol Content level to be greater than the legal limit.

His passenger was also "sound asleep" in the car, Barclay said, and was so "intoxicated," wouldn't wake up despite "verbal commands" and "sternum rubs." Officers finally rousted him and paramedics took him to the hospital.

Barclay said the CHP encounters drivers who fall asleep at stop signs but rarely on traffic lanes of freeways. "It's remarkable no one hit them," he said.

Barclay also said the bizarre incident is a reminder to drivers to be alert for drunken drivers during the holiday season.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[CA Hospitals Make Hundreds of Errors Every Year]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:34:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/chris_canevaro.jpg

Medical mistakes, or “adverse events” are the leading cause of death in the US after heart attacks and cancer. According to a new study from the Journal for Patient Safety, up to 400,000 people die each year from "adverse events" or medical mistakes.

State law requires hospitals to report medical errors to the California Department of Public Health, but the department only publishes the total numbers in an annual report. The official definition of “adverse events” is in the Health and Safety Code.

The state’s report does not identify the hospitals responsible, dates of the occurrences or corresponding fines. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit discovered that meaningful details about adverse events are not readily available or easily searchable for California consumers.

The Investigative Unit filed a public records request  to CDPH obtain this information and have now posted it online as well as the database of fines levied for adverse events and fines for failing to report adverse events to the state. It’s a process that took nearly nine months to complete.

According to the data, hospitals in California have reported 6,282 adverse events to the state in the last four fiscal years. They range from “death associated with an error”, to “stage 3 or 4 decubitus ulcer,” or bedsores. However, the state has no way of ensuring that every hospital is reporting every error that occurs.

A half-dozen medical experts told NBC Bay Area they believe not all hospitals report adverse events to the state. And there is no mechanism to ensure that they do.

Deadly Knee Surgery

When Holly Stewart’s mother, Diane Stewart, had double knee replacement in 2007, she was 72-years-old, a mother of four and grandmother to seven. Just one day after the surgery she began complaining of a severe pain unrelated to her knees.

“She said my knees don’t hurt, it’s my stomach,” Holly told the Investigative Unit. “It still shocks me to think she was going in for common knee surgery.”

Diane Stewart died days after the surgery when she became septic from a twisted intestine.

Holly recalled her last moment with her mother: “I gave her a big hug and she opened her eyes and then she closed them and she didn’t open them again.”

“We’re going to live with this forever,” Holly said. “It’s like it happened yesterday and we are learning to live with our grief and disappointment.”

Brain Surgery Infection

Chris Canevaro had a brain tumor removed last year. He is 42 years old, a Santa Clara law graduate and yoga instructor.

“The doctors did a wonderful job,” he told the Investigative Unit. But just days after returning home, he experienced seizures and blindness on his right side.

He returned to the hospital, where doctors discovered an infection in his brain where the surgery had been performed.

“Everything went to hell,” said Chris.

Because the infection created so much damage, doctors had to remove part of Chris’ skull. He now wears a helmet to protect his head. He also suffered brain damage and continues to have speech issues.

“You carry that extra burden of knowing what it could’ve been, what it might’ve been like if this hadn’t happened. If the infection hadn’t happened,” said Kathy Canevaro, Chris’ mother.

Chris was given only a few months to live, but he has surpassed survival expectations.

“We are already on borrowed time,” Kathy said. “Every day is a gift.”

See this map in full-screen.

The Data

Both the Canevaros and the Stewarts believe serious medical errors were made, but we will never know for certain if their cases were reported as adverse events to the state. California law says hospitals must report adverse events within five days of knowing about them. If there is a failure to report, the state can fine the hospitals.

According to the state data obtained by the Investigative Unit, over the past four fiscal years, two bay area hospitals, Stanford Medical Center and UCSF, lead the state in total number of adverse events. However, the majority of the adverse events at both of these facilities were bedsores.

When we asked about these adverse events, Stanford Hospital issued this written statement and also said:

“Patient safety is always our top priority at Stanford Health Care. A variety of factors can make patients more susceptible to pressure ulcers, including having multiple medical conditions, being bedridden, and being on certain medications. As a leading academic medical center, Stanford Health Care (SHC) treats some of the sickest patients in the nation, many of whom have much more complex medical conditions than typically seen at community hospitals.”

Statewide, the most prevalent adverse event across all hospitals was bedsores with 3,959 reported cases. Next was “retention of a foreign object in a patient” with 986 reports.

Some hospitals have fewer total numbers but also have the highest numbers in more serious categories.

For example, during the past four years, according to the state’s data, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) had a total of 64 adverse events, but 30 of those were “retention of a foreign object” in a patient during surgery, the most in the state during that time period. 

When asked about this, SCVMC issued this written statement:

“Our focus remains patient safety and since 2011 we have had a significant and steady decrease in the number of retained foreign objects. In 2014, there have been only two (2) such events. As always the safety of our patients is our priority and we continue to make improvements to the care we provide to every person in need of our services."

To read SCVMC’s full statement, click here.

Feather River Hospital near Chico had 22 adverse events in the same time period and one event at the Feather River Hospital Health Center and 10 of them were listed as “performing the wrong surgical procedure,” the most in this category in the state.

Feather River Hospital said, “Because it is not always black and white as to whether something meets the definition for reporting, we make the report if there is any possibility that there might be a reportable adverse healthcare event.”

Click here for Feather River Hospital’s full statement.

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in San Bernardino County had 110 total errors and 32 of them were death or serious disability from the use of restraint or bed rails which is more than any other hospital statewide, according to the data. The hospital told the Investigative Unit that none of these events resulted in death and that “the patients died from the underlying medical illness that prompted restraints and not from the restraints.” Click here for the hospital’s full statement.

All hospitals mentioned told the Investigative Unit that reporting adverse events triggers an on-site inspection by the California Department of Public Health.

Other States

California consumers would never know about these events from looking at the state website. When the Investigative Unit searched for “adverse events” on the Department of Public Health’s Website, the report where the department annually publishes total numbers does not appear.

States such as Washington and Minnesota have specific sections on their public health websites dedicated to adverse event reporting.

Washington even tracks and publishes adverse events by type and location on a quarterly basis.

California Department of Public Health declined the Investigative Unit’s repeated requests for an interview. The department also failed to respond to our requests for backup documentation related to the numbers.

More Transparency and Better Reporting

“Patients have a right to know what the quality of care is in their institutions,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, an ethicist and medical doctor at University of South Florida.

“Unless we’re transparent in hospitals,” Wolfson said, “we can’t make informed decisions about what the best place to get care is and we’re never sure what’s happening when we’re inside a facility.”

“It is absolutely important to track them, particularly preventable adverse events,” said Dr. Josh Adler, Chief Medical Officer at UCSF.

Adler said his staff is dedicated to tracking every error that occurs in order to better prevent them in the future and improve care for patients. He said that’s part of the reason UCSF is second highest in the state with number of errors over the last four fiscal years and the reason why they’ve received the most fines from the state for adverse events.

“I believe we are a very safe hospital and part of the reason we are safe is that we have been in the error-finding and resolving business for a long time,” Dr. Adler said. “We are dedicated to finding all our errors if we can, and then reporting them”

The Investigative Unit found several hospitals with very low numbers.

197 of the states 410 hospitals in the database report having 5 or fewer mistakes in the four year time period. Some said they had only made one mistake in that time period.

“I can’t emphasize enough how challenging it is to actually count and monitor and know when those things are happening,” Dr. Adler continued. “I certainly think we need to be more transparent as a medical community even to the point of, is everyone doing their best to report adverse events.”

Adler said UCSF has come up with solutions for preventing certain types of adverse events, like retention of foreign objects. The hospital now employs sponge counting so that all sponges are counted before and after a procedure. Adler says the hospital has had zero sponges left in patients since implementation of the policy.

“We were watching what we were doing. We found problems and we have implemented a solution that so far is operating extremely well,” Adler said.

“I think transparency helps generate action because you are exposing yourself to public scrutiny,” he added.

Chris and Holly

Both families the Investigative Unit spoke to have endured loss and pain that caused them to turn to legal action for help.

Holly, whose mother suffered problems after a knee surgery, said she only got her mother’s medical records through a subpoena. Her mother’s case was settled.

Chris, who suffered an infection after brain surgery, cannot drive a car or work. His case is currently under litigation.

“Life gave me this hand,” Chris said. “So I’m living this hand to the best that I can. This is my hand.”

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Ports Shut Down Following Worker Death]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:31:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/port-of-oakland-closed.jpg

All Bay Area ports were closed Thursday following the death of a longshoreman at the Port of Benicia Wednesday night, a union spokesman said.

Thomas Hoover, 56, apparently collapsed while on the job at the Port of Benicia, International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said.

The work stoppage shuts the ports in Benicia, Redwood City and Oakland.

Hoover was rushed from the Port of Benicia by ambulance to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vallejo, where he later died, Solano County coroner's officials said.

The coroner's office was notified of the death at 4:38 p.m. but no autopsy is planned since it appears Hoover suffered an asthma attack or cardiac arrest and his death was due to natural causes, according to the coroner's office.

Regardless, all worker deaths are treated as workplace fatalities and subject to investigation and workers routinely stop work for 24 hours without pay following an on-the-job fatality, according to Merrilees.

Hoover was a member of ILWU Local 10, Merrilees said. "Deaths do occur more frequently than anyone would like. This one may or may not be related to safety issues on the job, that won't be known until the investigation is complete," Merrilees said.

Operations at the port are expected to resume Friday morning.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Traveling Nurse Accused of Abuse]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:55:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/kline+mugshot.jpg

A Falls Church, Virginia, man is accused of sexually abusing female patients at D.C.-area hospitals while providing care for them as a nurse.

According to court documents obtained by News4, 37-year-old Jared Nathan Kline, a traveling nurse, is facing three sexual abuse charges stemming from incidents at D.C. hospitals, and is also accused of similar behavior at a Prince George’s County, Maryland, hospital.

All four victims reported they were disoriented from severe pain or semi-conscious when the abuse allegedly occurred.

A woman receiving treatment for asthma at United Medical Center in late August 2014 reported her nurse, later identified as Kline, intentionally rubbed her hands against his erect penis while he checked her vitals.

She says that later that day, the same nurse began massaging her underneath her hospital gown. She told police she was scared and pretended to be asleep during the incident. She told police the nurse went on to kiss her and touch her face until someone else entered the room.

When she was discharged from the hospital, she got a text message from the nurse saying she had left behind a makeup bag. She met the nurse outside the hospital for the bag, and he later texted her, "Anytime [sic] love, get better."

She told police she hadn't given her phone number to Kline, and was "upset" he had contacted her in the first place.

After the woman came forward, police realized Kline was a suspect in two other D.C. sex assaults -- one in May 2013, and another in December 2013.

In the May 2013 incident, a woman reported she was sexually assaulted by an emergency room nurse named Jared at the George Washington University Hospital when she was treated for a migraine headache. While receiving treatment, the woman said her nurse gave her a blanket, then "proceeded to pat and grope [her] buttocks."

She said he returned to her room several times later that evening, and rubbed the back of her hand against his erect penis as he was checking her IV.

When interviewed by police, he said her hand touched him "in places that it should not have," that he’s a "pretty lucky white guy," and that because he’s "well-endowed, it is possible her hand could have touched his penis and may have mistakenly believed he was aroused."

The woman texted her boyfriend about the incident, saying she wanted to leave the exam room, calling her nurse's behavior "creepy."

Seven months later, another woman accused Kline of rubbing his penis against her hand at least three times while she was receiving treatment for intoxication at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

In addition to the three incidents at D.C. hospitals, Kline is also accused conducting an inappropriate chest examination of a 22-year-old patient at Bowie Health Center in Maryland last January. 

D.C. police said Kline likely had more victims.

"We do believe that it's possible he had sexually abused other patients," George Kucik with D.C. police said. "They may not have been aware of it or understood what was going on."

Kline was released on bond Wednesday, and is required to stay away from his alleged victims. His lawyer hasn't released a statement, but told News4 several times he has no comment.

Kline's neighbor Karen Parelhoff told News4, "I'm a nurse myself. It's a huge breach of the trust that people place in your hands when you take care of them."

GW Hospital officials said they're committed to the well-being of their patients.

"In matters such as this, our practice is to act swiftly and responsibly in collaboration with law enforcement and regulatory agencies," Lyndsay Meyer with GW Hospital said Wednesday.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center officials said they're aware of Kline's arrest but unable to comment at this time, though they said they're fully cooperating with local police.

<![CDATA[FSU Gunman Was in "State of Crisis:" Police]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:30:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/fsupresser13pm.jpg

Police said the gunman who opened fire inside a library at Florida State University early Thursday was in a "state of crisis" at the time of the shooting.

The gunman who was shot dead by police was identified by law enforcement officials as Myron May, a lawyer who graduated from the school.

Police said May injured three students before being shot dead at the Strozier Library. Two of the wounded students were admitted to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital and the third was treated and released at the scene, police and a hospital spokeswoman confirmed.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, police said May was struggling psychologically and emotionally. May feared government targeting and expressed these concerns in his journal, police said. Yet, police said it was unknown why May attacked or why he targeted Strozier library.

May, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, moved to Florida as a teenager, police said. He graduated from FSU in 2005 and later from Texas Tech Law School in 2009, police said. After practicing law in Texas and New Mexico, May moved back to Florida just three weeks ago, police said.

Police said May had two previous encounters with law enforcement. In 2002, he was suspected of using marijuana, and in 2003 he was the victim of a vehicle burglary, police said.

At a news conference Thursday morning, police called the shooting an "isolated incident" and said May had acted alone.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he hoped to visit the victims at the hospital later Thursday and said authorities were still investigating the shooting.

"We still have a lot of questions that are unanswered," Scott told reporters at a news conference.

Amid the chaos, students immediately took to social media with messages of concern and prayers.

“Please say a prayer for us. We’re stuck in a library with a shooter in the building,” tweeted a person whose profile says he’s a student at FSU.

Another tweet came from the father of a FSU student who took a screen shot of her text message to him, stating, “There’s a man with a gun in the library. I love you.”

Jason Derfuss, a 21-year-old humanities student at FSU told NBC News  his backpack full of books stopped a bullet from hitting him during the rampage. Derfuss only realized hours later the gunman had tried to shoot him after he discovered a bullet lodged in "The Oxford Context of Wyclif’s Thought."

"There is no way I should be alive," Derfuss told NBC News. "Literally, those books saved my life."

The campus scare began when police at Florida State University responded to a "dangerous situation" at the library around 12:30 a.m. ET Thursday, as a witness reported gunshots. A campus telephone alert urged people to take shelter in a nearby building and stay away from "doors and windows."

When officers arrived, they commanded May to drop his weapon, Tallahassee Police Department spokesman David Northway said. Police said May was using a .380 semi-automatic handgun and had additional ammunition in his pockets. May fired a round at police, who responded with shots, killing the suspect, police said.

Officers searched the area and found three victims suffering from gunshot wounds, police said.

According to officials, May never made it past library security and only shot from the library lobby. One victim was shot in the library lobby and the two others were shot outside the lobby area, police said.

All three victims were immediately given treatment, police said. Two victims were taken to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital. One was in critical condition and the other was in stable condition, officials said.

One of the victims was identified as Nathan Scott, according to a statement released by the hospital. Scott was shot in the leg and is recovering with the support of his family who has asked for privacy at this time, the hospital said.

Police said the library was packed with between 300 and 400 students at the time of the shooting.

Steven Dawson, 19, a freshman biology major said he was studying on the library's third floor at the time of the incident. Dawson told NBC News that shortly after 12:30 a.m. ET someone started shouting about a gunmen in the building. "Everyone just dropped everything and started running," Dawson said.

The university announced on Twitter early Thursday that the lockdown had been lifted and the area was secured. 

FSU President John Thrasher said there will be increased security measures and a greater law enforcement presence on campus Thursday.

"The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected," Thrasher said in a statement.

Classes were canceled for Thursday but the campus will be open, the university announced. Strozier Library will be closed until further notice. Meanwhile, students were gathering for prayer vigils on campus throughout the day.

Thrasher said counseling would be provided for students, faculty and staff.

"The three students who have been injured are our highest priority followed by the needs of our greater university community," Thrasher said. "We will do everything possible to assist with their recovery."

Photo Credit: NBC 6
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