Police investigating fatal crash
LOMPOC — One person was killed in a single-vehicle crash early Wednesday morning in Lompoc, police said.
The Lompoc Police Department responded around 2:12 a.m. to the area of State Route 1 and Hancock Drive. Officers located the involved vehicle near the intersection, according to a department news release.
The driver, whose identity was withheld pending next of kin notification, was declared dead at the scene, police said.
It was unknown on Wednesday whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash. The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information regarding the incident is urged to contact the Lompoc Police Department at 805-736-2341.
— Annelise Hanshaw
Structure fire near Trout Club
GOLETA — A three-story home was damaged in an early morning fire on Wednesday, authorities said.
The Trout Fire was reported around 12:21 a.m. at a residence along Valley View Road near the San Marcos Trout Club above the city of Goleta. Santa Barbara County Fire Department crews arrived on scene and reported heavy smoke coming from the bottom level of the structure, said Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, fire spokesman.
Units on scene conducted an interior attack and extinguished the blaze. Crews were assisted by personnel from the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.
All occupants were out of the home by the time crews arrived on scene and no injuries were reported, Capt. Bertucelli said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
— Mitchell White
Settlement reached in Bed Bath & Beyond case
VENTURA — Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Wednesday that the Ventura County Superior Court has ordered New Jersey-based Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. to pay $1.49 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.
The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit collaborated with 30 other California district attorneys and the Los Angeles City Attorney to achieve this result.
The judgment is the culmination of a multijurisdictional civil enforcement lawsuit filed last month in Ventura County Superior Court alleging that more than 200 Bed Bath & Beyond stores throughout California (including Cost Plus, buybuy BABY, Harmon, Harmon Face Values, World Market, and Cost Plus World Market stores) unlawfully handled, transported, and disposed of batteries, electronic devices, ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials, at local landfills that were not permitted to receive such wastes, Ms. Dudley said in a statement.
The investigation was initiated by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit after a fire broke out in December 2015 at the city of Oxnard’s Del Norte Transfer Facility. The fire was caused by a load of store waste from the trash compactor of the Oxnard Bed Bath & Beyond store. The bagged store waste suddenly burst into flames when a city employee used a front-end loader to spread the freshly dumped trash pile. A subsequent investigation by the VCDAO CEPU led to the recovery of numerous items of regulated waste, including several electronic items and hazardous waste, lithium batteries, and a small can of lighter fluid, authorities said.
Only four months later, in April 2016, the Oxnard Fire Department responded to a fire emergency in the trash compactor attached to the rear of the Oxnard Bed Bath & Beyond store. After that fire was extinguished, a VCDAO environmental specialist inspected the waste and again discovered numerous items of regulated waste, including batteries, broken compact fluorescent bulbs, and various discarded electronic devices.
Following these local events, the VCDAO CEPU worked in conjunction with other district attorneys, a city attorney, and local environmental regulatory officials throughout California to conduct a series of undercover inspections of Bed Bath & Beyond store waste around the state. These inspections revealed that Bed Bath & Beyond had been routinely and systematically sending regulated hazardous wastes from stores to local landfills throughout California, Ms. Dudley said.
When notified of the investigation, Bed Bath & Beyond took steps to cooperate and to dedicate additional resources towards environmental compliance and improving its regulated waste management program, including performing regular self-audits of its compactors and waste bins throughout California, officials said.
Under the final judgment, Bed Bath & Beyond must pay $1,327,500 in civil penalties and reimbursement of investigation and prosecution costs, of which $31,500 will be paid to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and $1,150 to the Santa Barbara County Department of Environmental Health.
The company will pay an additional $171,250 to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement in California. The retailer will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.
“Hazardous waste laws must be enforced to prevent long-term threats to public health, air quality, and water quality, and to prevent the costs of proper hazardous waste management from being absorbed by taxpayers,” Ms. Dudley said in a statement. “We are grateful that Bed Bath & Beyond cooperated with our enforcement efforts.”
— Mitchell White
Man arrested on child porn charges
SANTA MARIA — A Santa Maria man has been arrested and is accused of possessing child sexual abuse material and committing lewd acts with a child, police said.
The Santa Maria Police Department began investigating 31-year-old Joel McClain after receiving information that he possessed child sexual abuse material. The investigation began in June, which led to police obtaining a search warrant at his Santa Maria residence. Multiple follow-up search warrants were obtained in the following months, according to a department news release.
During the course of the investigation, detectives were able to identify a possible child of sexual abuse. Detectives obtained a warrant for Mr. McClain’s arrest and he was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of possessing CSAM and committing lewd acts with a child. His bail was set at $350,000.
An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 805-928-3781 ext. 277, or contact Detective Silver at 805-928-3781 ext. 1346.
— Mitchell White