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Law and Disorder 9-25


Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 84-year-old James Wheeler on 9/17 on charges of trying to murder his dementia-stricken wife, Betty, and also commit suicide by filling their home with carbon monoxide via a hose attached to a running car in their driveway. On 9/22, attorneys tussled over whether Wheeler should be released on bail, which is currently set at $1 million. Prosecutors say Wheeler is a threat to his wife, while Wheeler’s attorney countered that Wheeler’s act aimed only to prevent the couple from being separated. (/wheeler925)

Christopher Sorrow, a 30-year-old Santa Barbara resident, was reported missing on 9/20 in the Huntington Lake area of Fresno County. The Fresno Sheriff’s Department on 9/23 suspended the search, declaring that Sorrow was “a missing person by choice.” Though police had claimed that Sorrow might be suicidal, witnesses have reported seeing him in good health. (/christophersorrow)

A woman sustained what California Highway Patrol officials described as major injuries after her car suddenly veered off the southbound lanes of Highway 101 between Montecito and Summerland on 9/20 and plunged off the cliff. The woman, whose name has not been released, is at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. (/accident925)

Santa Barbara police on 9/22 arrested 24-year-old Jeovany Jose Rodriguez for the 9/14 stabbing of a 23-year-old man in the parking lot of Mi Fiesta Market at 410 S. Salinas St. According to police reports, Rodriguez stabbed the man once in the abdomen after yelling a gang slogan. (/arrest925)

According to Santa Barbara police, the alleged hit-and-run driver who struck a toddler on the 700 block of San Pascual Street on 9/13 has been cooperating with authorities in the investigation. After allegedly stiking the toddler, Freddy Pacheco, 31, drove both the girl and her mother to Cottage Hospital. He then reportedly fled, but came to the Santa Barbara Police Station on 9/16 and allowed officers to inspect his vehicle. On 9/17, police spokesperson Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte said the district attorney would now decide whether to charge Pacheco with felony hit and run. (/hitandrun925)

Two non-injury collisions shut down traffic on 9/22 on Highway 101 south of Milpas Street from 1:48 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. In the first, big rigs collided, causing one to jackknife and block southbound traffic. Just after, another collision occurred a quarter mile north of the first accident when a third big rig struck a Jaguar. CPH spokesperson Officer Dan Barba noted that southbound motorists who exited the 101 by going the wrong way on the Milpas Street onramp made it difficult for responding emergency vehicles.

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief John Scherrei announced on 9/22 that he intends to end his nine-year stint at the job in January 2009. Scherrei oversaw the merging of the Solvang and Orcutt fire departments as well as operations to fight 2007’s Zaca Fire and this year’s Gap Fire. Deputy Chief Tom Franklin, a 31-year veteran of County Fire, will act as interim chief until the county selects an official replacement. (/johnscherrei)

A small vegetation fire on the center divider of Highway 101 just south of San Ysidro Road, reported to the California Highway Patrol at 12:45 p.m. on 9/18, was contained by 1:10 p.m. that day. Traffic lanes were temporarily closed. The Montecito Fire Department responded and received assistance from the Carpinteria Fire Department. (/101fire925)



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