<![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, 18 Apr 2014 07:25:19 -0700 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 07:25:19 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[SJPD Fails to Produce Burglary Response Times]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:55:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/police_generic21.jpg

Emergency calls for burglaries in San Jose come in about 100 times per week and roughly 5,000 times per year. Burglary has increased nearly 50 percent in the past decade, according to records kept by the San Jose Police Department. The combination of more calls for service and fewer officers on the streets can mean residents have to wait a lot longer than anticipated for police to respond.

Burglars broke into Chris Hennessy’s south San Jose residence in February. He dropped off his daughter at preschool and came home to find a brick thrown through his kitchen window. His television, computer and some hard drives were all gone.

“My heart sunk all the way down to my belly and it was just a tremendous shock,” Hennessy said.

He called 911, thinking the perpetrators may have still been on his property.

“After that, it was at least an hour until police arrived,” he said.

With burglaries up in San Jose over the last ten years, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit wanted to know if other residents had to wait that long for officers to respond to their emergency calls. Is Hennessy’s story unique or testimony of a growing problem?

In response to a request to review their records, the San Jose Police Department confirmed that it does not track burglary calls. The police department’s public records office reported that producing the information would require a computer programmer, weeks of time and a cost of more than $10,000.

NBC Bay Area shared SJPD’s response with four members of the city council who are running for mayor. Here is what they said:

  • Pierluigi Oliverio: “I think the public should be disappointed."
  • Sam Liccardo: “There’s no question we can do better....No one should be satisfied until the information is made public."
  • Rose Herrera: “We need to make sure we can get information fast in the best way we can.”
  • Madison Nguyen: “I’m actually disappointed that members of the public or the media have to go through such a challenging process in order to get the data they need so they can provide information to the public.”

Other law enforcement agencies, by comparison, quickly provided burglary response times for analysis. Here are the average response times to confirmed burglaries since 2011 in the following areas:

Not only could SJPD not provide data regarding its average response time to all burglary calls, it also failed to produce the exact response time to just one burglary call—the 911 call made by Hennessy.

Deputy Chief Dave Hober said the call took more than an hour because responding officers were dispatched to a high priority call after Hennessy’s call came in.

“Would we like to have a quicker call time than that? Yes,” Hober said.

He said burglaries are “absolutely a priority” but pointed to staffing and budget issues in explaining his department’s inability to quickly and efficiently provide burglary response time records for public review.

“I think there are significant challenges but I think we are doing everything we can in an attempt to deal with the burglary issues,” Hober said.

Hennessy says the police department failed to meet his expectations the February morning he got robbed.

“Is it going to take someone getting killed before we have the police coming out sooner for a burglary?” Hennessy said.

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

More on San Jose Burglaries:

<![CDATA[Second Hiker in 1 Week Found Dead at Mt. Tam Park]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 03:56:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-sanner.jpg

For the second time in less than a week, a female hiker has been found dead near a popular hiking trail at one of the Bay Area’s most scenic spots.

A sheriff's deputy made the discovery at Mount Tamalpais State Park early Thursday evening after a concerned father reported his daughter missing.

Authorities say Marie Sanner, 50, of Mill Valley, was found dead in a drainage area.

She was last seen near the Mountain Home Inn a mile east of the Pantoll Ranger Station, where 33-year-old Magdalena Glinkowski was last seen on March 30, authorities said. Glinkowski’s body was found April 12.

Sanner’s car was found in a parking lot across from the Mountain Home Inn on Panoramic Highway. Her body was found close by.

At this point, investigators say both cases appear to be horrible accidents.

“She went hiking (Wednesday) with a friend and her dog some time … after dark,” sheriff's Lt. Doug Pittman said. “The two separated from one another, she left with the dog to return to her car here in the parking lot.”

The Marin County Sheriff’s office doesn’t know why the pair split up, but investigators do know Sanner didn’t make it back to her car.

But her dog did. Thursday morning, a hiker spotted the dog alone and called the number on its tag.

Pittman said Sanner’s father said his and the dog were “inseparable,” so “he knew something was wrong.”

Sanner’s father reported his daughter missing around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. It took the sheriff’s department about an hour later to find Sanner’s body once the search began.

The body was found about an eighth of a mile away from Sanner’s car, above the Panoramic Highway in what authorities say is a wet, slippery area.

Investigators say there are no signs of trauma and it’s possible the woman fell down a slick 30-foot hillside.


It’s the second woman’s body found on Mt. Tam in less than a week. Glinkowski, of Menlo Park, went missing about a mile away on March 30. After days of searching, her body was found near the Bootjack parking lot.

The sheriff's department said her body did not show signs of trauma. Toxicology test results are pending.

The sheriff's department is not linking the two cases at this point. They are waiting for a positive ID on the body to be sure it’s Sanner.

Investigators say, at this point, there is no cause for alarm.

“Both of these very possibly are nothing but a terrible accident,” Pittman said.

Sanner’s father is in close contact with the sheriff's department, waiting to find out if the body found is in fact his daughter.


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[108th Anniversary of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 07:00:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/quake31.jpg

Crowds gathered early Friday in San Francisco - as they have done every year for 108 years - to remember the great quake of 1906.

Children and grownups gathered at 5 a.m. around Lotta's Fountain to lay a wreath and sound sirens remembering the moment the quake struck.

The gold-painted fountain on Market Street served as a meeting point during the earthquake and its aftermath.

The early 20th century earthquake struck at 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906 in San Francisco, leading to a devastating fires that lasted for several days. In the end, about 3,000 people died and more than 80 percent of San Francisco was destroyed. It is remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[SJSU Task Force Urges President to Act Following "Ugly Incident"]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 03:55:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-ladoris-cordell.jpg

The president of San Jose State University is promising action in response to a long list of recommendations issued in the wake of a racially charged incident on campus last fall.

The Special Task Force on Racial Discrimination was convened after an African-American student said he was bullied by his white roommates on the SJSU campus.

This was the sixth and final meeting of the special task force, and it came up with a list of more than 50 recommendations outlining changes to be made on campus.

The university’s president said he is committed to following through.

Task force leader LaDoris Cordell, directly addressing SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi, said “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” urging him to act on her task force’s long list of recommendations.

“Now is the time to use this ugly incident of racial bullying to bring long lasting change to San Jose State University,” said Cordell, a retired Santa Clara County judge. Qayoumi previously said that he appointed Cordell because she "has sought to give a voice to the unheard."

The task force, made up of students, faculty and community members, said “the university should create an office of diversity, enable students to anonymously report online incidents of discrimination, and require diversity training for faculty and staff.

The university’s president says he’s committed to taking action.

“One thing I can give you is 100 percent assurance that each and every one of those recommendations will be closely looked at and seriously reviewed,” Qayoumi said.

The task force came together after a racially charged incident on campus last fall that received national attention. An African-American freshman reported his white dorm mates taunted him with racial slurs, put up a Confederate flag, barricaded him in his room and placed a bike lock around his neck.

Gary Daniels is a San Jose State student who served on the task force. He said he isn’t optimistic the university will act on the recommendations.

“Based on this administration’s track record, I’m not very confident,” Daniels said. “I’m very skeptical. Time will tell.”

The student who was bullied has filed a $5 million lawsuit against San Jose State.

The accused bullies now face hate crime and battery charges.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ad Claims Gun Accidents Happen "All the Time"]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:20:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP13050612144.jpg

Pushing back against a gun lobby that has long ruled the landscape of firearm regulations in this country, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new web-based ad this week -- and it’s not for the faint of heart.

The ad depicts two kids, initially engaging in an innocuous game of hide-and-go seek, that turns deadly when the young girl uncovers a family handgun and manages to remove the safety and fire the weapon.

After a pregnant pause, the ad tells the audience, “Scenes like this happen all the time.”

The spot is the launch of a $50 million campaign that Bloomberg is bankrolling through his firearm safety group, Everytown, meant to stir both emotions and legislative change when it comes to our gun laws.

When asked why he’s taking this approach, Mayor Bloomberg said recently on the Today Show,
"To make sure that we reward those who are protecting lives, and make sure that those who are trying to keep people from being protected- lose elections!"

But Bloomberg’s claim isn’t about losing elections. Rather, it’s about losing lives.

Specifically, the high-profile gun control activist is crafting a message that young kids are losing their lives “all the time” because of accidental gun deaths.

Is that true?

Part of the answer lies in how one defines ‘all the time,’ but data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) clearly shows accidental child deaths in this country come from a variety of causes, and firearms is not the primary contributor. In fact, it’s nowhere near the top half of the list.

Here is a chart highlighting the various causes of accidental child deaths in this country for 2010, per the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/10LCID_Unintentional_Deaths_2010-a.pdf

A child is defined as a person up to the age of 14.

After crunching the numbers, we found that the top four causes are as follows:

  • Unintentional Motor Vehicle Traffic: 1,225 deaths
  • Unintentional Suffocation: 1,118 deaths
  • Unintentional Drowning: 726 deaths
  • Unintentional Fire/Burn: 308 deaths

Unintentional death by firearm isn’t even listed among the top causes for any of the age brackets, other than 10-14, which saw 26 such deaths in 2010, the latest data.

Across all age groups, there were 62 kids who died in 2010 from unintentional gunfire. That figure is actually a noticeable drop from a decade earlier, when such deaths approached 90, according to the CDC.

So this begs the question, has Mayor Bloomberg been truthful? And would 62 annual deaths really qualify as “all the time?” 

Larry Gerston, NBC Bay Area’s political analyst, said the intent behind Bloomberg’s campaign is to emphasize that this sort of outcome could happen in any household, even if the frequency is rare-
a strong tug on parents’ heartstrings, especially for moms.

"Is it accurate?” Gerston posed. “Well, it's accurate in terms of the fact that children die from gunshot wounds, yes. Where it gets hazy is, do the numbers rise to the level of the attention that they’re getting? And that's where people have a reason to look at it, and think twice."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service Threatened to Shoot Mr. Met: Book]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:11:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mr-met-cohen.jpg

A Secret Service agent once threatened to shoot Mr. Met if he approached the president during a baseball game at Shea Stadium, according to a man who once worked as the baseball-headed mascot.

AJ Mass, who was the Mets’ mascot from 1994 to 1997, said a member of former President Bill Clinton’s security detail told him they’d “go for the kill shot” if he tried to pal around with the then-commander-in-chief at a Mets-Dodgers game on April 15, 1997. The account comes from an excerpt of Mass’ new book, “Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots,” published on Sports Illustrated’s website this week.

Mass wrote that he had planned to make his way to see Clinton, who was at the game commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major-league appearance, calling the photo-op "the holy grail for all mascots."

Before he could make it to the president’s box, Mass wrote, he was stopped by an agent in a dark suit and a businesslike demeanor.

“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen,” the agent told Mass. “Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”

Then the agent, who Mass wrote was staring into the mouth of Mr. Met’s head to make eye contact with the man inside, repeated himself.

“Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot,” the agent said to Mass. “ARE-WE-CLEAR?”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SJPD: Baby Forgotten in Backseat Dies]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 03:56:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-baby-in-backseat.jpg

San Jose police are investigating the death of a 9-month-old baby after they said the father forgot to drop him off at the babysitter's before he went to work.

Sgt. Heather Randol said police received a report on Wednesday about 7:15 p.m. about an "unresponsive" baby in a car in the 3700 block of Payne Avenue. Police arrived, and the baby was declared dead a short time later. Randol said the father was supposed to drop off the baby at the babysitter's house before he went to work but forgot.

Instead, Randol said he parked his car on the street with the baby strapped in his car seat and went to work. At the end of his work day, he returned to his car to discover his baby was unconscious. When he called 911, it was too late.

"People always want to vilify these parents," Janette Fennell, president of Kids And Cars, told NBC Bay Area by phone from Philadelphia when she heard the news. "But 90 percent of the time, they are not bad people or drug addicts. They are parents who love their children."

She added that this baby death is the first of its kind this year in the country.

On average, 38 children die from heat stroke every year after being left in a car nationwide, her organization said. Last year, however, the heat stroke car death toll hit 44.

Yousif Njimeh told NBC Bay Area that the father worked for his brother at his vending machine company, Star Vending. The father's usual routine was to park his silver Honda SUV on Payne Avenue and then take off in the company vending machine truck. The father, who had two other children, worked from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Njimeh said. Njimen said sister-in-law was supposed to babysit the boy, but there was some "misunderstanding."

He added that the father loved his "baby the most in the whole world.

Njimeh was actually repairing his car Wednesday near the father's parked Honda. He said he had no idea that a baby was inside; he didn't hear or see anything. The Honda's windows were tinted.

When he saw the father return to the car after work, Njimeh said he was "sobbing uncontrollably."

The father has not been arrested. The Santa Clara County Coroner's Office did not identify the baby.

Wednesday's temperatures in San Jose reached 81, and Fennell noted that a baby younger than a year old would not be able to tolerate that heat for very long.

In addition, since the baby was so young, he would have been in a rear-facing car seat, which makes it much more difficult for a driver to actually see if a child is inside or not.

More than 33 percent of the heat stroke car deaths involve children younger than one, Fennell said, often because they are harder to see.

Without knowing specifics of the case, Fennell added that the number one reason for parents who inadvertently forget their children in cars is a change in their daily routines.

Fennell also offered two quick tips to remember that your child is in the car: Leave something like your wallet or work badge next to your baby, so that when you head to work or home, you can't get inside without them. And tell the babysitter or daycare center to call you if you are late bringing in your child.

More tips can be found at KidsAndCars.org.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Sick Seals, Sea Lions Turning Up At Record Pace]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 03:55:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-sea-lion.jpg

Seals and sea lions in California are turning up sick or injured at a record pace this year.

Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center has more animals in its care right now than ever before in its 39-year history.

There are three factors at play: First of all, this is the time of year when pups get stranded or separated from their mothers for an unknown reason. Alsoast year's sea lion epidemic sent malnourished, sick pups onto California shores at record levels.On top of that, a Monterey Bay algae bloom is making a lot of animals sick. Experts say it’s creating the worst kind of perfect storm.

A sea lion pup nicknamed "Hoppie" is on the mend now, but he was near death when the little guy was rescued, not at the beach, but 100 miles inland in an almond orchard along the San Joaquin River.

"That's unusual,” the Marine Mammal Center’s Jeff Boehm said. “How he got there we can only speculate, but (he’s) a little guy, trying to find food, not experienced, not mature as he should be."

Unfortunately, Hoppie has a lot of company. The Marine Mammal Center currently has 195 sick or injured sea lions and seals. The Marine Mammal Center in Southern California was caring for more than 200 mammals Thursday, most of them California sea lion pups.

"It was definitely linked to food availability or the distribution of their normal food source last year," said David Bard, the director of the San Pedro center, of last year's epidemic. "If we see the same sort of thing this year, well, we are certainly hoping it's on a downward trend."

Boehm says the numbers are extraordinary.

"Out of the gates this year, it's a record-setting pace,” he said. “We don't know what May is going to bring us yet. We don’t what June is going to bring us yet. We've had peaks of activity as late as October some years"

"Hoppie" the sea lion pup is seen recuperating in this image captured at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

"Is it related to human activity along the coastline? Is that what's causing the numbers, or is it something of a natural source?" Bard said.

Experts hope what they were dealing with last year was an anomaly rather than a new normal for California's sea lion pup population.

In January, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the cold water conditions in the Pacific Ocean have caused a crash in the number of sardines, which may be one contributing factor.

Back in Sausalito, Volunteers are working around the clock caring for and feeding the animals.

Some of them eat just a couple of pounds of fish a day, but some of them are eating much more than that.

With all the seals and sea lions being cared for at the Marine Mammal Center right now, they're going through a whole lot of fish: 1,000 pounds a day to keep everyone fed.

"Our volunteer teams are running full tilt,” Boehm said.

The Marine Mammal Center has about 1,100 volunteers. They’re asking for donations so they can buy more fish to feed the animals. They say every $1 donated will bring in about a pound of fish.


Hetty Chang contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Kittens Survive Accidental Mailing]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:29:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/cox+kittens+3.jpg

These two kittens are just a few weeks old, but they’ve already taken the trip of a lifetime.

A worker at Cox Communications in San Diego County discovered the kittens inside a box of equipment. They had been accidentally packed up and shipped from Cox Communications in Hollywood.

Somehow, they survived the journey to San Diego.

The kittens, named Mouse and WiFi, are now being cared for at the San Diego Humane Society’s 24-Hour Kitten Nursery. Humane Society workers believe the mother cat was looking for a safe, warm place for her babies and put them in the box.

San Diego Humane Society public relations manager Kelli Schry said it’s a miracle the kitties survived.

“They were just a few days old, and at that young age kittens have to be fed every two hours,” she said via email.

Mouse and WiFi will be available for adoption when they are 8 weeks old. 

Photo Credit: San Diego Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[Lights Go Out Before Sharks-Kings Game 1]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:16:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-sap-center.jpg

The lights went out at SAP Center in San Jose less than 30 minutes before the puck was scheduled to drop for Game 1 of the Sharks first-round playoff game against the Los Angeles Kings.

“Entire SAP Center just lost power,” CSN Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil tweeted about 7 p.m.

The arena was pitch dark for a couple seconds until emergency lights came on, NBC Bay Area’s Geraud Moncure reports.

Power was restored within 10 minutes.

Moncure reports fans inside the arena remained calm during the outage.

Players later took the ice for warmups, but there was none of the usual music blaring over the public address system

One Bay Area sports franchise apparently could empathize with the pre-game situation:

The cause of the outage is unknown, according to the Sharks. A spokesperson for PG&E said the outage did appear to be related to the utility.

“SAP Center Management will continue to work with PG&E to determine a cause for the outage," the team said in a statement released Thursday night.

Photo Credit: Brodie Brazil]]>
<![CDATA[Courtroom Erupts After Conviction]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:34:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AlHimidi-Verdict-1.jpg

A broken family’s screams erupted in a San Diego courtroom after a guilty verdict was announced in the trial of an Iraqi immigrant who killed his wife.

As the defendant cried out in Arabic "not guilty," his mother-in-law flailed her arms, screaming "you killed my daughter," while his two teenage sons chose opposing sides.

Jurors found Kassim Al-Himidi, 49, guilty in the death of his wife Shaima Alawadi -- a bloody, brutal beating once considered a hate crime that was, in the end, an act of domestic violence.

After Judge William McGrath handed off the verdict for reading, several family members began screaming, including the defendant's oldest son, who yelled profanities, saying he disagreed with the jury's verdict.

"This is bulls---!" This is f---ing bulls---!" the son yelled. "My dad is innocent. He was tried unfairly."

Al-Himidi smirked, crossed his arms, shook his head, wagged his finger and began praying as the jury was polled one by one. At one point, he put his head on the table in front of him. Then, he too began yelling.

According to a translator, Al-Himidi screamed out in Arabic, "God knows I'm not the killer. I'm not the killer! I'm innocent. Not guilty."

As deputies rushed to place handcuffs on Al-Himidi, he continued to yell, telling his family to seek international help on this case and have investigators look at it as a hate crime. He said to get him help from overseas to get him out of jail, the translator said.

Meanwhile, the mother of the victim stood up in court, flailing her arms, and screamed,"You killed my daughter. This is not a mistake, you did kill her."

Another one of Al-Himidi's sons sided with his grandmother and said his father did kill his mother.

Outside of the courtroom, through a translator, the victim's mother said a guilty verdict is the least Al-Himidi could have gotten in this case.

"If you killed her, you deserve to be killed as well," she added, with tears in her eyes. "My daughter was home, as you probably all know. He's the one."

The grandmother went on to say that she disagreed with her oldest grandson about the verdict.

"He does not believe that, but I do," she added.

She said she heard about the problems between her daughter and Al-Himidi before the killing, but she never imagined it would lead to murder.

Ron Rockwell, attorney for Al-Himidi's children, including daughter Fatima Al-Himidi, said the tension in the courtroom was from years of pent-up emotions. Despite the oldest son's outburst, which surprised the attorney, Rockwell said all of the siblings agree with the guilty verdict.

He released this statement, on behalf of the children:

“Fatima and her brothers and sisters respect the integrity of the jury system and find it unfathomably sad that their father found life so difficult that he resorted to taking the life of their dear mother but hope that this is justice for her and for them, her children that miss her dearly. We agree with the jury’s decision and although we love our father, we hate what we also believe that he did.

After over two years of great sadness, Fatima and her brothers and sisters find relief in now believing that they can begin to heal as a family while knowing in their minds that while missing their mother more and more with each passing day, whether that is with or without their father, it will always be without their mother.”

Al-Himidi will be sentenced on May 15, Judge McGrath said Thursday.

Alawadi, 32, was beaten in a bloody attack inside the family's home on March 21, 2012. She suffered critical brain injuries and died three days later.

At first, the case was investigated as a hate crime because of a handwritten note found at the crime scene that read: “This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist.”

Just before they entered deliberations, jurors were reminded of the defendant's timeline on the day of the beating.

According to phone records, Shaima called her husband at 8:04 a.m.

Video from a nearby middle school shows a burgundy Nissan Quest going and leaving the home that morning.

At 8:15 a.m. the van was seen traveling southbound along Emerald Avenue toward Skyview Street as Al-Himidi returns to the house from taking the children to school, prosecutors said.

Then, at 9:49 a.m. a vehicle matching the description stopped at the curb, just north of the intersection of Emerald and Skyview.

Prosecutors say 30 seconds later, a pedestrian can be seen moving from the vehicle towards the house at 564 Skyview Street, three homes from the corner.

At 10:10 a.m., cell phone records show someone called Al-Himidi’s cell phone but it goes unanswered.

Prosecutors say the phone communicated with the cell tower that serves the same area as the family’s home on Skyview.

“At 10:10 he’s still in his home tower area,” Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals said Tuesday.

The next phone call to Al-Himidi’s cell phone was from his daughter, Fatima, at 11:18 a.m. after Shaima is discovered.

Defense attorneys poked holes in the prosecution's case in their closing arguments.

Investigators did not find any forensic evidence linking their client to the crime scene, the defense argued.

They reminded jurors that witnesses testified how violence is not in Al-Himidi's character.

Throughout the trial, the defense raised questions about the role of Shaima's daughter, Fatima, who was in the house at the time of the attack.

She was called to testify several times and shared details of her parents’ tense marriage.

The defense believes Fatima was somehow involved in her mother’s murder.

“You don’t have to solve this mystery to acquit Mr. Al-Himidi,” defense attorney Richard Berkon told the jury. “You don’t have to figure out who did it.”

In closing, even Mechals told jurors, "Fatima doesn’t make your job easy, that’s for sure."

"Whether you can believe anything she says, that’s up to you," he said.

However, Mechals urged the jury to use their common sense to find what is reasonable and what isn't.

Al-Himidi has been visibly emotional throughout the trial, at times crying and wailing loudly as evidence was presented to the jury. He wept uncontrollably when 911 tapes were played in the courtroom at the beginning of the trial.

Cameras were only allowed in the courtroom during opening statements and closing arguments.

“He thought he had committed the perfect crime. He thought he had nothing to worry about,” Mechals said.

Both the defendant and victim are Iraqi immigrants. The murder investigation reverberated across the nation when it first happened because of the discovery of a threatning note.

However, in November 2012, El Cajon police announced the arrest of Al-Himidi and said the killing was not a hate crime, but rather one of domestic violence.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Teachers Rally in Belmont for Higher Pay]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:42:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-belmont-teachers.jpg

Teachers on the Peninsula say they’re being priced out of living in their communities, and they say that's not a good sign for the future of the Bay Area.

About 75 teachers rallied outside the Belmont-Redwood Shores Faculty Association office in Belmont Thursday night, where the superintendent and school board were meeting behind closed doors to discuss labor negotiations.

According to teachers’ union poll, 58 percent say they’re struggling to pay their mortgage and rent, 26 percent plan on moving in the next three years, 18 percent say it’s tough to put food on the table, and 6 percent have lost their homes.

In addition to pay, at the heart of the issue are health plan costs. According to the teachers’ union, 10 years ago they paid 7 percent of the costs, and now it’s 50 percent.
Those numbers show that, for a family plan, teachers went from paying $800 to now paying $15,000 a year.

According to the California Department of Education, when it comes to average salary, Belmont-Redwood Shores is actually 8th on the list out of 23 school districts in San Mateo County, but teachers say, with the district doing better financially, it’s time they get paid back for previous concessions.

“The district over last three years needed us to concede class sizes,” said Michael Bradley, who's taught at Ralston Middle School for 22 years. “They have not been putting any money into health and welfare benefits over last 10 years. They are paying benefits, but they have not increased their portions of the payments. The teachers have been absorbing all the costs.”

Ralston 8th grade teacher Angela Sveda said she would like to upgrade from her studio apartment.

“I would like to branch on out. I would like to start a family of my own,” Sveda said. “I would like to own a home.”

The superintendent, Michael Milliken told NBC Bay Area he has been in the position for nine months and says talks before him stalled because the district wasn’t sure it would get money from a parcel tax that contributes roughly $2 million to a $33 million budget. Voters passed it in November. Milliken says, since then, talks have improved.

“I think [Milliken’s] open to working with us,” Bradley said. “We just have to convince him this is the right path to go and he needs to, with the district, take the teachers into consideration and put them as the top priority.”

The problem is there have only been a handful of meetings. No next meeting is scheduled.

Both sides say if they could meet now – they would – but they have to agree on a middle-person and scheduling. Both sides say that has been difficult.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA["Alcohol Involved" in Fatal SJ Accident: Police]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:50:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/accident4.jpg

San Jose police said it looks like a driver ran a red light early Thursday morning and killed another driver who had a green light.

San Jose police first said the driver of a black Suburban had been killed, but later said that he was at the hospital on life support. A source told NBC Bay Area that the driver of the Suburban is a parole agent. Early Friday, the Santa Clara County Coroner said the 42-year-old driver had died.

The accident occurred at 12:06 a.m. at Almaden Expressway and Coleman Avenue. Sgt. Matt Christian did not specifically say the driver was drunk, but did say it appeared as though "alcohol was involved."

The driver in the Suburban was on northbound Almaden with a green light when the driver of the Hona CRV allegedly ran a red light on Coleman. The driver of the Honda was taken to the hospital in serious condition, too.

Both drivers were in their 40s.

A driver in a black Suburban was on life-support after an accident occurred at 12:06 a.m. at Almaden Expressway and Coleman Avenue in San Jose. April 17, 2014 .

 Damian Trujillo contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[Teacher Arrested For Sexual Involvement With Minor]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 23:30:03 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-san-leandro.jpg

A San Leandro High School teacher turned himself in to the San Jose Police Department Thursday after police started investigating whether he was involved in a sexual relationship with a minor.

Calculus teacher Leon Chang was charged by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for his involvement in a sexual relationship with a teenage minor.

The San Leandro Unified School District was notified several months ago that Chang may have been having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. School District administrators reported the incident to the San Leandro Police Department who began investigating the allegations.

During the investigation, additional information and forensic evidence was located and reviewed, leading to Investigators determining that there had been an ongoing sexual relationship that occured between Chang and the teenage minor.

On April 15 the Alameda County District Attorney's Office reviewed the case and charged Chang with two felonies.

According to the complaint from the DA's office, Change, in arranging the meeting with the minor, "was motivated by an unnatural and abnormal sexual interest in children."

Students said Chang also coached boys’ volleyball.

The San Leandro Unified School District released a statement Thursday, saying that the district was "deeply concerned" by the information shared by police. The district has placed the teacher on administrative leave and asked him not to return to work or be on district property unless otherwise asked. The district is conducting its own investigation, the statement said.

"This was a collabarative investigation between our detectives and school administrators, Lt. Randall Brandt, who leads the Criminal Investigation Division, said. "This close working relationship is a force multiplier when it comes to keeping our minors safe."

Officials did not release any other information at this time.

Photo Credit: San Leandro Police]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Research Shows Achievement Gap Begins Early]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:26:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000006551656_1200x675_229846595656.jpg Could the achievement gap in school between minority kids and their white counterparts start as early as age one? Stanford University is doing cutting edge research in the heart of East San Jose - it involves looking into babies' eyes. NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo is live outside the Grail Family Services Center where the researchers have set up shop.]]> <![CDATA[Hayward Bank Robber's T-Shirt: "I Have Issues"]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:04:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-17-2014-HAYWARD-BANK-ROBBERy-suspect.jpg

A man accused of robbing a bank in Hayward Tuesday was caught on surveillance camera wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed: "I have issues."

Hayward police released his picture, describing the suspect as a man in his 20s, 5'8" tall and weighing around 185 pounds.

The suspect entered the bank at 27000 Hesperian Blvd. and approached the teller window, according to police. He then presented a note to the teller that stated he was armed and robbing the bank, police said.

The teller gave the suspect cash from out of her drawer, and the suspect immediately left the bank through the front door, police said. No firearm was actually seen during the robbery, they said.

Anyone with any information on this suspect should contact Detective Ray Bugarin at (510) 293-7085 or Inspector John Lage at (510)-293-8688.

Photo Credit: Hayward Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Laughs at Man Named Cocaine]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:41:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000012359097_1200x675_229639747887.jpg Broward Judge John Hurley thought he had heard it all, until this man walked into his courtroom.]]> <![CDATA[BART Riders Get Sneak Peek At New Fleet of Cars]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:56:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000006549510_1200x675_229626947804.jpg

BART unveiled its new fleet of cars in San Francisco Wednesday, inviting the public on board. NBC Bay Area's Monte Francis reports live from Fremont.

For more information on BART's fleet of the future and how to provide feedback on the project, visit: www.bart.gov.

<![CDATA[Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:05:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/198*120/chelsea-clinton-pregnant.JPG

The Clintons are going to be grandparents -- Chelsea Clinton is expecting her first child later this year.

Chelsea Clinton, who married Marc Mezvinsky in 2010, made the announcement Thursday during an event in New York with her mother. 

"Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year," she said. "I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child, and hopefully children, as my mom was to me."

Chelsea Clinton, 34, delivered the news as she and her mother hosted "Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation," which is part of their project that works to advance progress for women and girls around the world.

The former New York senator and secretary of state, who is considering another presidential run in 2016, said she is thrilled.

"It makes this work even more important because we've made a lot of progress," said the former first lady.

"Obviously we are very excited about what's happening in our family," she said. "But we're also very excited because of what we are doing that we hope gives confidence and support to so many of you across our country as you make decisions about the lives you want to lead."

Later Thursday, the Twitter account for Bill Clinton posted a tweet that said "Excited to add a new line to my Twitter bio ... grandfather to be! @hillaryclinton and I are so happy for Chelsea and Marc!"



<![CDATA[911 Calls Reveal Chilling Moments After Calif. Bus Crash]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 03:57:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/217*120/AP619076443222.jpg

The 911 calls released Thursday reveal audible cries of fear in the moments after the fiery Northern California bus crash that claimed 10 lives while en route to Humboldt State University last Thursday.

The distressed caller tried to explain what happened over screams in the background.

"We crashed into a bus...a truck. I don't know where we are," the caller said. "We were coming from LA and we're going all the way to Humboldt State University."

Ths bus erupted into flames when a FedEx big rig crossed a 60-foot median and slammed head-on into the bus.

"The bus is on fire," the caller said as others could be heard screaming and crying. "We are getting away from the bus actually."

California Highway Patrol Capt. Todd Morrison said that investigators will conduct vehicle tests using a 2014 tour bus and a 2007 FedEx tractor-trailer truck to learn more about characteristics such as braking and visibility.

“We are hoping to learn how it happened so that we can identify what to do to prevent it from happening again,” Morrison said.

Investigators were also still interviewing passengers, witnesses and urging anyone with video of the crash to send it to authorities. They also attempted to recreate the crash scene with similar vehicles to try to gain insight.

"We owe it to the families of the involved families and the victims of this tragic collision that we tell the story of what happened, and that we tell it as accurately as possible," Leal said.

All 10 victims in the crash had been identified, some by authorities and others by family, including a recently engaged couple, a college admissions counselor and the the drivers of the truck and bus.

Fellow students returned to the scene of the crash Thursday to pay tribute to those killed one week ago.

Glenn County Sheriff-Coroner Larry Jones said most of the victims had been positively identified by his office, but their causes of death were being withhel pending toxicology testing.

"That can be several weeks out before we receieve all of that data from the labatory," Jones said.

Michael Myvette, 25-year-old Mattison Haywood, 26-year-old counselor Arthur Arzola, students Adrian Castro, 18, Marisa Serrato, 17, Denise Gomez, Ismael Jimenez , Jennifer Bonilla, bus driver Talalelei Taiao and FedEx driver Tim Evans were among those killed in the wreck.

The news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. near the collision site.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[FAA Invites Comments On Flight Path Changes]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:42:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000006544572_1200x675_229063747743.jpg

Flight paths all across Northern California are about to change. The FAA says it's a massive effort to modernize air traffic in and out of all three bay area airports.

But many are worried about what it will mean for the noise from airplanes flying overhead. NBC Bay Area's Chase Cain is live at San Jose Mineta International Airport.

FAA is holding workshops/public forums about the changes to flight paths across Northern California.

Bay Area workshops include:

April 17, 2014
San Mateo Public Library
55 W 3rd Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94402
Attend anytime between:
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

April 18, 2014
San Francisco Federal Building
90 7th Street, Suite 1-120
San Francisco, CA 94103
Attend anytime between:
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

<![CDATA[BART Fined $210,000 After 2 Worker Deaths: Cal-OSHA]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:31:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/barttrain.jpg

The state agency that oversees workplace safety cited BART on Thursday for willful serious safety violations that resulted in two workers being killed by a fast-moving train in Walnut Creek last October during the height of a contentious BART strike.

The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $210,000, the largest penalties California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ever levied against a transportation agency.

Cal/OSHA issued the citations for three "willful serious" violations, which have since been "abated," or fixed.

The violations are:

  •  The two workers who were killed, Christopher D. Sheppard, 58, and Laurence E. Daniels, 66, did not meet the qualifications to perform work near hazardous energized third-rails. Sheppard was a BART special projects manager, Daniels was a contractor and consulting engineer.
  •  A trainee was at the controls when the accident occurred—his trainer, a high-ranking transportation manager, was seated in the passenger car with other BART managers and another trainee. He could not view the track from his vantage point in the passenger car.
  • BART’s “simple approval” procedures for employees working on the tracks were both inadequate and not followed.

In response, BART's General Manager Grace Crunican issued this statement: “The BART family has spent the past six months mourning the loss of Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E. Daniels while making permanent changes to our safety procedures.  Passenger and employee safety is our top priority at BART.  BART has fundamentally upgraded its safety procedures with the implementation of an enhanced wayside safety program and a proposed budget investment of over $5 million in additional resources to bolster BART’s safety performance. "

BART did not immediately address the question whether the agency would appeal the fines.

But Crunican did emphasize that BART invested $5.3 million in additional maintenance, engineering, transportation and safety departments. She said BART also implemented rail safety regulations by the California Public Utilities Commission that were designed for trail transit agencies across the state and will add extra trackside protections for workers, including have a "mandatory watch person" when maintenance vehicles are on the tracks. Changes will go into effect next month.

The OSHA citations outline the backdrop of what happened on Oct. 19 - during a heated BART strike over salaries - and seems to come to a different conclusion  than the National Transportation Safety Board ruling over "simple approval." Simple approval means that workers communicate their position over the radio, but then are largely on their own on the tracks - with one doing the work and the other being on the lookout.

At the time, NTSB Investigator Jim Southworth told reporters the "responsibility of their safety is on themselves."

However, the day after the two workers were killed last fall, BART suspended the “simple approval” process for track maintenance. Shortly after the deaths, the unions and BART management reached a deal, ending the strike.

At the time, the trains in Concord were being operated on a non-passenger basis. BART train 963, a four-car train operating in automatic mode traveling at more than 65 miles per hour with an inexperienced operator-in-training at the controls, was heading toward Pleasant Hill station around 1:45 p.m.

The high-ranking manager designated as the trainer was seated in the passenger area with three BART managers and another trainee instead of maintaining a position next to the trainee in the control cab, according to the OSHA report.

Although he could see the trainee at the controls from behind the open control cab door, the trainer was not located in a position to closely view the trainee’s actions and observe the track, OSHA investigators found.

The trainee saw the workers and was attempting to sound the horn and stop the train when the workers were struck.

Cal-OSHA noted that the  "simple approval" process didn't really work: On two previous occasions, in 2001 and 2008, employees were killed while operating under “simple approval” authorization. Cal/OSHA issued citations after investigations of both incidents.

Cal-OSHA issues citations for serious workplace safety violations when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation. The violation is classified as willful when an employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists and no reasonable effort is made to eliminate the hazard.

“Employers in California must comply with safety standards to protect their employees, and diligence is vital in hazardous working conditions,”  Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations said in a statement.

BART is also awaiting a final NTSB report into the fatal accident.


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Zynga: Back On The "Farm"]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:54:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/162*120/04_16_farmville.JPG

Attention "FarmVille" fans (and, clearly, there are many of you still out there): The sequel is here.

San Francisco's Zynga just launched "FarmVille2: Country Escape," an attempt to boost its fortunes, by returning to the site of its original hit. This time, though, the emphasis is on mobile play - a good move, given the recent rise in mobile fortunes hauled in by the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

In a release from Zynga (ZNGA) this morning, its President of Games, Jonathan Knight says "we've reimagined the franchise as a mobile experience to match how players want to connect with their farm and with their friends," A big nod to how players want to connect with both their friends, and their own devices, anywhere at anytime.

Will this be enough to bring Zynga back to the levels it held during the original "FarmVille" era? Not sure about that, but stressing mobility is important. After all, it's where the money, players, and now the cows, are all hanging out.

Scott hangs out on Twitter: @scottbudman


Photo Credit: Zynga]]>
<![CDATA[Condom Shortage in Cuba]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:20:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WEB_CONDOMS_BY_MAIL.png

The latest food and product shortage to rock Cubans is being felt in the bedroom.

Complaints that condoms are scarce are emerging from the island, part of a dry spell that has lasted several weeks, The Miami Herald reported. 

One Havana author wrote on a Spanish-language website based in Miami that some shops continue to sell condoms, but at prices tailored to tourists that are unaffordable for most Cubans, according to The Herald. The shortage has lasted about two weeks, she wrote.

A report in a Communist Party newspaper pinpointed the prophylactic pinch to labeling and packaging issues with a batch of condoms purchased wholesale from China, The Herald reported.

Residents have also reported recent shortfalls of staples like toothpaste, toilet paper, soap and beer, the paper reported. 


<![CDATA[San Francisco Officials Plan "420" Party Crackdown]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:54:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/224*120/04_16_Haight.JPG

“It was a little insane.”

San Francisco Supervisor London Breed is talking about last year’s April 20 "420" marijuana celebration in Golden Gate Park.

A video posted on Youtube shows a fight breaking out in the middle of thousands of people on Hippie Hill.

A soccer mom who uses the field where people gathered says the smoke-filled event was shocking.

"It was insane -- you couldn't find parking -- it was wall to wall zombie people," Linda Ravano said.

When thousands of people got into their cars and poured into the Haight Ashbury last year, Breed got an eyeful.

"I really had a problem," Breed said. "There were so many underage kids drinking and they were high ... and to see adults passing marijuana from their car windows to people they don't know the age of, that's a problem for me."

The crowd also left a mountain of trash.

San Francisco Rec and Park said it cost $15,000 to clean up 10,000 pounds of litter.

This year, Breed said, the San Francisco Police Department is stepping up patrols.

"We want to make sure there’s enough law enforcement in case there are issues," she said.

The owner of The Booksmith on Haight said last year, when she called police for dealing with a fight, officers had trouble getting through the crowd.

This year, many business owners say they are ready for "420." Some are adding staff while others are closing down.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Are Bay Area Rental Prices At All-Time Highs?]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:58:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/marina2.jpg

Rental prices have been rising in virtually every part of the Bay Area. The oft-repeated, off-the-cuff comment about the Bay Area, and San Francisco in particular, is that it’s among the costliest places to live in the entire country.

And, a new report states rental prices in the Bay Area are at all-time highs.

Is that true?

The report was published by RealFacts, a real estate data company. It cited the “average” cost for renting, lumping 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments together. This is what the group found for the Bay Area’s three biggest cities in 2014:

• San Francisco: $3,057 per month.
• Oakland: $2,187 per month.
• San Jose: $2,066 per month.

These costs are no drop in the bucket, by any means. But are they all-time, record-setting highs?

It’s hard to say simply by glancing at the report, since RealFacts told NBC Bay Area that the figures are *not indexed to inflation (meaning the raw figure may be higher than ever before, but not necessarily the true value).

Many will remember the dot-com boom – rental prices soared during the late 1990s and early 2000s. When you adjust the “average” cost of renting in 2001- the peak of the boom- to reflect inflation, or the cost in 2014-dollars, here are what the dot-com rental prices project to:

• San Francisco: $2,842 per month.
• Oakland: $1,908 per month.
• San Jose: $2,228 per month.

So, for San Francisco and Oakland, the average monthly rent is at all-time highs.

But it’s a different story in San Jose. As the numbers show, it cost about $200 more to live in the South Bay’s biggest city at the peak of the dot-com boom than today.

The reality, though, is that renting in each of these cities and around the Bay Area is incredibly expensive.

“It’s as hard a time certainly as I can remember in the Bay Area in terms of housing affordability,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, an online real estate company. “Rents have risen even throughout the housing bust. Remember, [home] prices fell significantly in many places in the Bay Area after the housing bubble burst, but rents continued to rise.”

And, as for San Francisco being one of the most expensive city in the country to live, well, that is true – in fact, it’s the most costly city to live in right now.

“When we compared two-bedroom units across the country, the most expensive rental housing now is in San Francisco. Even a bit ahead of New York," Kolko said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Drives Van Into River: Police]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:05:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Delaware-River-Mom.jpg

A man swooped in to save a South Jersey family after a mother allegedly tried to kill her teenage children.

Darnell Taylor is mourning the loss of his father, who died from cancer Wednesday morning. Yet while Taylor is now coping with the tragedy, he can take solace in the fact that he prevented another one from happening just a day before his father's death.

Police say 49-year-old Joann Smith was driving her van on West Front Street in Florence Township, N.J around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. With her 15, 14, and 13 year-old children inside the vehicle, Smith allegedly accelerated onto a boat ramp and into the Delaware River.

Investigators say she was intentionally trying to kill her children.

Taylor says he was driving to dinner with his wife when he noticed the vehicle partially submerged in the water and the family trapped inside.

"I got out of the car and heard people screaming," Taylor said. "I took off my jacket, jumped in and swam out there."

Taylor swam towards the family while his wife called 911.

"I couldn't get the window open because the window in the van was not a pop out window," Taylor said. "So I kept telling the young lady to kick the window out and she kicked it out."

One by one, Taylor grabbed Smith, her daughter and two sons to safety. Taylor claims Smith didn't say anything during the rescue except for "Thank you."

One of the children suffered cuts on the leg while Smith was checked into a medical facility for a mental evaluation.

Police claim Smith intentionally drove the van into the water. She was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child endangerment.

Smith’s bail was set at $600,000. Officials originally said that Smith would likely appear in Superior Court in Mount Holly Thursday afternoon. Thursday morning however they said her first appearance wouldn't occur until Monday morning at the earliest.

Detectives with the Florence Township Police Department along with officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating the case.

Smith's three children are currently staying with relatives, shaken by their terrifying experience but still alive thanks to Taylor.

"He was a godsend," said Bob Lane, a Florence Township resident. "He saved them. That water is not warm and he jumped in."

While many people are calling him a hero, Taylor disagrees.

"I'm not a hero," he said. "I'm just a member of this community and anyone else would have done the same thing."

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Truck Crashes Into Restaurant]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:55:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/217*120/firetruckcrash1.JPG

Monterey Park's fire chief said during a news conference on Thursday that he had never seen an accident the magnitude of Wednesday's crash that left 15 people hurt when two fire trucks plowed into a restaurant.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time ... we don't have anything like this occur," said Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell.

Lu's Dumpling House owner Vivian Lu said a man was on the sidewalk when the 40,000-pound fire engine jumped the curb, pushing him as it slammed through her restaurant near Garfield and Emerson avenues about 3:25 p.m.

When the fire truck came to a stop, a man was found pinned beneath it.

Cellphone video captured the moment when a firefighter attempted to help the man under the front bumper of the engine. The victim was believed to be hospitalized in critical condition.

"A lot blood,” Lu said. ”I see a lot blood."

Lu said the impact of the crash also pushed a built-in cashier's table across the floor, sending a waitress into a wall and making the building unstable.

Six firefighters suffered minor to moderate injuries, and eight other people had minor injuries. One person was in critical condition. A total of 15 people were hurt.

"I see a few people sitting on the street and all this blood," Lu said.

The crash happened down the street from Garfield Medical Center, where many of the victims were being taken on foot by firefighters.

The crash occurred when a fire truck and a fire engine crashed while responding to a house on fire. Both trucks were blaring sirens and running lights, one truck from Montery Park Fire Department and the other from the Alhambra Fire Department. All firefighters on board were wearing ear protecting headsets to dampen the sirens noise.

"It is ear protection from the noise of your own sirens so they do diminish the sound from outside," Alhambra Fire Department Chief Bill Walker said.

Neighbors ended up helping put out the house fire that both departments were responding to at the time of the crash.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[California Drought Drives Up Food Prices]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:31:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0415-foodprices.jpg

California's severe drought is expected to cause a drastic increase in food prices.

A new study said produce prices could skyrocket -- a head of lettuce could go up as much as 62 cents, an avocado may increase by 35 cents and a pound of tomatoes appears to be headed for a 45-cent hike.

Consumers are already feeling the effects.

"It seems like they fluctuate a lot," shopper Benisa Berry said of food prices. "It seems like it's on sale one week and then you go the next day and it's like twice as much."

Carol Benevidez of Windmill Farms in San Ramon said the freeze in January combined with the unpredictable weather and drought are driving prices up.

"Customers are definitely going to see the cost increase and it's going to be across the board for everyone, from owners to customers unfortunately," Benevidez said.

A lime that used to sell for 33 cents is now 79 cents, and come summer Benevidez said more produce will be impacted by the state's lack of water including squash, lettuce and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines.

"We have gotten word from farmers that they either have to cut back on crops or just not plant at all," Benevidez said.

Grocers in response will have to import the produce, which comes at a cost.

"So we're paying over a $150 per box of limes and we're mainly only able to get those out of Mexico right now because we have nothing really here in California," Benevidez said.

Shoppers said they are now limiting their grocery lists to items they really need.

"You got to eat you know? So I just cut out some unnecessary things," shopper Susan Ni said. "Like what? Luxury things like cake, party things, drinks, all those things."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Jose Man Dies from Legionnaires' Disease]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:39:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0415-NancyWhitney.jpg

What was supposed to be a vacation to consider Palm Springs as a retirement location turned into a nightmare for one San Jose couple.

Nancy Whitney said she and her husband of 30 years, Bill, stayed at the Hyatt Regency Suites in Palm Springs for three nights in October 2011. When they returned, she said they both began to feel sick.

“We had headaches and our stomach wasn’t feeling good. It just felt like the flu,” Nancy said.

She would recover. Her husband did not. Nancy said she took him to Washington Hospital in Fremont where doctors soon had questions.

“They asked us where we had been, if we had been on any trips, had we been to warm weather where there was air conditioning?” Nancy recalled. “And they already had a feeling it was Legionnaires' Disease.”

It was confirmed after the tests came back.

“Already it was through his system, even that fast, already, he was having internal bleeding,” she added.

Just five days later, Bill was gone.

“I didn’t get to say bye or anything to him,” said his widow, her eyes welling up with tears two-and-a-half years after losing the man she called her best friend. “I wanted really to find out what happened to my husband. I felt anger from him. He wanted to live.”

She learned that during the stay at the Hyatt, the two of them had been just about 50 yards from the hotel cooling towers. They had slept all three nights with the door open.

Nancy hired Jeff Lawson, an attorney with the Silicon Valley Law Group. Lawson said he rarely takes on this kind of case, but added he felt compelled after hearing her story.

“What we discovered later is in response to that, the hotel, Hyatt, went out and had their systems checked. They tested it and found dangerous levels of legionella bacteria in the cooling tower,” Lawson claimed.

According to court-submitted documents, the cooling towers would later show detectable levels of legionella bacteria, which build up as slime.

In fact, one testing date revealed that the level of bacteria approached 1,000 colony forming units per milliliter – that’s a level that OSHA says requires “immediate cleaning and/or biocide treatment. Take prompt stems to prevent employee exposure.”

Lawson also argues this was not the first time a hotel guest got sick from a legionella bacteria-contaminated source at the same Hyatt hotel in recent years.

“In 2006, there was another Legionnaire’s incident at the hotel where a guest had gotten sick and Hyatt had found out about it. They did testing of the hotel, they found legionella bacteria in the water system,” he said. “After that, they put in a water treatment system but they never cleaned and disinfected the cooling tower so it stayed the way it was. And then eventually Mr. Whitney goes there, gets sick and dies.”

The Hyatt issued the following response, but would not mention specifics or details because of the pending litigation:

“The safety and welfare of our guests and associates is a top priority for all Hyatt hotels, including Hyatt Palm Springs. Hyatt hotels take appropriate precautions in an effort to ensure guests and associates remain in a safe environment and follow rigorous procedures to ensure that all practices meet or exceed recommended health standards.”

However, it did tap a couple doctors as expert witnesses. One of them, Dr. Paul Edelstein, testified that Mr. Whitney was already high-risk for Legionnaire’s because he “suffered from diabetes, was elderly and obese,” describing them as “factors that increased his likelihood of acquiring Legionnaire’s Disease from any source.”

Moreover, Edelstein claimed it would be impossible to determine exactly where Bill got the Legionnaire’s because there was no record of any other case of it at the Palm Springs Hyatt in the months before and after Bill died.

Lawson tapped medical experts of his own who countered that and said considering the incubation period of two to 14 days and the likeliest sources of legionella bacteria build-up, it had to be the Hyatt.

“It wasn’t just an oversight. It was a complete failure of a very important safety system. People need to understand that Legionnaires' Disease is a deadly disease. It killed Mr. Whitney,” Lawson said. “It’s not that common in California although it’s growing a lot.”

According to the California Department of Public Health’s most recent data summary on Legionnaire’s, the rate of the disease skyrocketed 325 percent from 2001 to 2011.

It’s not transmitted person-to-person. Someone must breathe in the bacteria to get infected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is heavily under reported with only 3,000 cases reported to the agency each year out of up to 18,000 people who are hospitalized with it each year.

“You can’t see it, you can’t smell it, you can’t look around the hotel and say, ‘Oh, I think this place is dangerous.’ You have to rely on them complying with their safety systems,” Lawson said. “You are at their mercy.”

The Whitneys’ case is headed to a jury trial this year in Riverside County.

The irony of what happened isn’t lost on Nancy. The disease was named after an outbreak killed 29 people at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976. Bill, himself, was a legionnaire who had served in Vietnam.

“I miss my husband a lot. I miss him each day.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Egg Sale Causes Ruckus, Fight at Chinatown Walgreens ]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:59:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/generic-eggs-food-generic.jpg

"Hundreds" of elderly women descended on a San Francisco Walgreens on Tuesday to do battle over deeply-discounted eggs, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Walgreens dropped jaws by offering up cartons of a dozen eggs for the rock-bottom price of 99 cents per dozen, the newspaper reported. But fisticuffs ensued when the sale proved so popular that the store ran out -- leading the remaining shoppers to scuffle over the last few cartons.

Police told the newspaper that about 20 agitated shoppers were "fighting over" what was left of the egg stock upon their arrival at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the newspaper reported.

No injuries were reported and no police report was filed.

Chaos and conflict were settled a few hours later when a truck delivered more eggs, the newspaper reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cow Hollow/Marina Are The Places For Millennials]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:18:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/marina2.jpg

Millennials seeking a home in San Francisco, stop and seek no longer.

Sign a lease in Cow Hollow to be with your peers.

For people born "after the early 1980s, Cow Hollow is the place to be," according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which sifted through data presented by Niche.

Niche took a look at median rent, median income, and how many other people in the area are Millennials, the newspaper reported. It found that the "well-paid and well-educated" people of Cow Hollow are also somewhat young.

The area is also "pre-gentrified," the newspaper reported, making it a guilt-free place to live well.

80 percent of the 8,000 people who live in the Marina-adjacent neighborhood are white with bachelor's degrees, the newspaper reported.

Then again, the site also says that the average rent is $1,700 a month. Maybe it was ... when the Millennials were in school.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Robbed of $1 in NYC Subway]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:47:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/girl-robbed-1-dollar.jpg

Police are looking for a man who approached a teen girl in an Upper West Side subway stairwell and tried to rob her before assaulting her and fleeing with $1.

The 15-year-old girl was entering the B and C subway station on 96th Street and Central Park West at about 10 a.m. Saturday, police said.

The suspect approached her and demanded her valuables.

He then assaulted her and took $1 from her jacket before fleeing.

Police released surveillance images of the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Pricey Hotel Could Be Rare Berkeley "Skyscraper"]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:18:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/downtownberkeley.jpg

To change downtown Berkeley, all you need is $100 million.

That's the price tag to build one of the famously-stodgy East Bay city's few allowed downtown-area skyscraper, a 180-foot hotel project that could replace a one-story Bank of America on Shattuck Avenue.

The San Francisco Business Times reports that the 12-story, 297-room hotel doesn't yet have a tenant, and that the planning process has yet to begin in earnest. But for now, there "are no real pushbacks," a project sponsor told the newspaper.

Construction could begin in early 2015 -- that is, if "reticent" neighborhors can be won over. The same with a picky design review board that took issue with the building's entrance facade.

Jim Didion and Center Street Partners LLC are the main backers of the hotel. Only three highrises are allowed in the area under the 2012 Downtown Area Plan, the newspaper reported.


<![CDATA[In California, A Push To Restore Bilingual Education]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:53:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/201*120/chinese3.JPG

Some California residents are pushing to change a 16-year-old California law and restore bilingual education.

At West Portal Elementary in San Francisco, classes are taught in Chinese starting in kindergarten.

“Our graduates will graduate into a global world, a global economy, where they will be interacting on a daily basis, not just with the person next door, but with the person in the next continent,” said San Francisco Superintendent Richard Carranza.

It’s hard to start a language immersion program in California because of Proposition 227, a 1998 voter-approved law requiring that non-English speaking students be taught in English.

Waivers must be granted every year if schools want to teach in another language.

Some say that law is to blame for the state’s decline in immersion programs.

“I think voters understand now the importance of having their children be mulit-lingual, and I think it’s time for us to revisit the proposition,” said Los Angeles County State Sen. Ricardo Lara.

Lara and other supporters launched a new effort to change Proposition 227 and allow more California schools to offer multi-lingual education without the bureaucracy.

But Prop. 227’s sponsor Ron Unz doesn’t want the law changed because it’s working the way it is.

“In the first four years after the passage of Prop. 227, the test scores of over a million immigrant students roughly doubled," Unz said. "While the test scores of those who were kept in bil-lingual programs showed no improvement.”

Whether the law is changed or not, Chinese immersion student Quiaoying Chen knows that in this ever-changing world, they will have an advantage over most kids.

“There are a lot of languages in the world and if you learn some them, you get around pretty easily.” Quiaoying said.

If state lawmakers approve the change, voters will see it on the November 2016 ballot.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>