Police recover stolen pothole filler
SANTA BARBARA — The Santa Barbara Police Department recovered a stolen city vehicle a little after 11 a.m. Wednesday morning in Santa Maria.
The orange truck used for filling potholes was found unoccupied with no noticeable damage.
Details on the thief or thieves are unclear, but Anthony Wagner, police spokesman, told the News-Press that he imagines it was “just joyriders of some sort. Maybe they did it just to be comical.”
He added, “We are unaware of any potholes that were filled outside the city’s jurisdiction.”
— Grayce McCormick
Police detain “mentally distraught” man
SANTA BARBARA — Santa Barbara Police officers subdued and transported a mentally distressed man to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Tuesday evening, authorities said.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, officers were dispatched to the area of State Street and Broadmoor Plaza for a subject who was reportedly making statements of distress.
Dispatch reported the subject was armed with a metal pole and walked out into traffic. When officers arrived, the subject began advancing on the officers, yelling, “Shoot me,” and stated he wanted to kill someone or himself. A crowd of onlookers gathered in the area, said Anthony Wagner, police spokesman.
To keep the onlookers safe, an officer intentionally positioned his car behind the subject as a barrier between him and the group of residents as the incident unfolded.
After unsuccessful attempts to effectively communicate with the subject and de-escalate the situation, officers used a less lethal apparatus causing the subject to drop the weapon. K9 Murdoch was released and bit the subject, preventing him from picking up the weapon again as officers moved in to successfully handcuff him.
The subject, whose identity was withheld, was transported to the hospital for medical clearance and a mental health evaluation, Mr. Wagner said.
— Grayce McCormick
Consumer warning issued for COVID fees
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued an alert earlier this week warning consumers about some healthcare providers reportedly charging patients a “COVID FEE” when seeking care.
The fees are an additional charge, purportedly for more frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and greater use of Personal Protective Equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.
Those enrolled in Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal are not allowed to be charged a COVID fee, and those who are charged should alert their doctor’s or dentist’s office and call the California Department of Health Care Services Medi-Cal Member and Provider Helpline at 1-800-541-5555.
Those enrolled in Medicare may not be charged a COVID fee, and those who are charged can call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it or ask questions about the free.
Those who have private insurance have the right to ask their provider about the free and what it covers. They also have the right to ask their insurer if your provider can charge the free under their plan rules. Private insurance holders can also call the California Department of Managed Health Care at 1-888-466-2219, or the California Department of Insurance at 1-800-927-4357.
Patients enrolled in Tricare may not be charged a COVID fee at in-network providers. It may only be appropriate to charge the fee to a Tricare member when the patient does not inform the provider ahead of time that they have Tricare, or if the provider sends a written notice about a COVID fee to the patient before an appointment.
Those who have been charged a COVID fee by your doctor or dentist are asked to contact your health or dental insurance company and request a reimbursement. Those who have been charged can also file a complaint at www.oag.ca.gov/report and report which healthcare provider charged a COVID fee.
— Mitchell White
Vehicle catches fire in carport
SANTA YNEZ — A vehicle inside of a carport next to a mobile home caught fire Wednesday afternoon in the 2000 block of State Route 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley, authorities said.
The fire was reported around 2:40 p.m. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department launched a full structure response and arriving units found a trailer adjacent to a structure involved in fire, said Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, fire spokesman.
The fire was quickly knocked down and crews remained on scene for salvage and overhaul. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
— Mitchell White