Local News - San Mateo

Bay Area professor speaks out against how American universities are responding to Ebola 'crisis'

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 19:52

UC Berkeley and UCSF Public Health Professor Dr. Phuoc Le is headed to Liberia for a month to help teach local health workers how to detect Ebola and triage patients. It's a journey he says he's prepared for through previous visits to the nation and prevention training at the Centers for Disease Control.

He leaves Thursday but is also leaving some scathing notes on how American universities are responding to the crisis.

"It is absolutely crucial for universities and hospitals all over the country to rise to the occasion and stand in what we call 'pragmatic solidarity,” Le told KTVU Monday. " It's really been a disappointing display nationwide amongst the leading universities because they just haven't stood up 5.07 and voiced their solidarity... and support of West Africa."

Le co-authored a recent Huffington Post opinion piece that says medical schools have failed to allow staff opportunities to train with the CDC and aren't offering to cover their salary and benefits during their trip and 21 day-quarantine.

"What we've been seeing is statements that have discouraged and disincentivized the faculty and staff who are really passionate and want to go," said Le. "So if they go, they may lose their salaries, they may lose their health benefits, they may not have the evacuation insurance that's absolutely crucial 5.41 to get them back here if they actually get Ebola."

Le said he's lucky. UCSF has offered him evacuation insurance to bring him back on a private plane if he becomes sick and sent him to the CDC for training.

"Doctors in my division have covered my shifts voluntarily. So I won't be losing salary when I'm over there [in Liberia]," said Le. "And when I come back and I'm quarantined for 21 days, again, I won't be losing salary because people have volunteered to take those shifts."

Alameda couple hopes get precious memories back from stolen cell phone

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 19:46

An Alameda couple who tried for years to have a baby documented every bit of the journey in cell phone pictures, only to have that phone stolen photos and all.

The couple is hoping for another miracle that will bring their precious memories and photos back to them.

"It's heartbreaking," said Marie Mouat as she held her 3-week old daughter, Mia. "What they took from us is just, it's irreplaceable." Mouat is talking about photos taken on her husband, James', cell phone.

On October 28th, James Mouat stopped in for a much needed jolt of caffeine at his regular coffee shop, Kefa Coffee, on 29th Avenue in Oakland.

"He's here maybe less than 3 minutes," said barista Sara Cartagena.

In those 3 minutes, surveillance video shows a BMW pull up next to Mouat's car, then someone got out of the passenger's side and broke Mouat's window, stealing his computer and cell phone.

"I felt really bad because he was more concerned about the pictures than anything else," Cartagena said.

"Its memories and stuff," explained Mouat about the photos he lost. "Yet it's tangible. You can hold it in your hand."

He printed off a couple of photos from the birth, but wanted to keep the others for a surprise slide show.

Because the birth was 3-weeks early by emergency c-section, Marie Mouat was unable to see most of it.

"When I was in the surgery room, I didn't see her being bathed," the mother said crying. "I missed all of that and so all of those pictures, I didn't get to see any of that."

The couple says they don't care about getting the expensive electronics back, they just want the SIM card with all those priceless photos.

"Turn that one little tiny piece of plastic in," pleaded Mouat. "It's worthless to them."

Anyone who has any information or can help get the Mouat's photos back to them, no questions asked. Parties can also drop get in touch via KTVU by sending an email to newstips@ktvu.com.

Man accused of fatally shooting mother of 4 confesses to crime

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 19:00

The man accused of fatally shooting mother of four who was riding passenger in her husband’s car last week, confessed to the crime.

The incident had been described as road-rage but Oakland police say there is more that led up to the incident. However what that more is, has not been released.

On Monday 20-year-old Carl Stephen Dubose appeared before a judge in Alameda County Superior Court where he confessed to the murder of 30-year-old Perla Avina.

Dubose requested more time from the judge to hire a private attorney.

Dubose was arrested on Wednesday in Elk Grove, the car and firearm police believed were used in the shooting were both confiscated. At this time it is not clear why he was in Elk Grove.

According to court documents Dubose lives in the same neighborhood where the shooting happened, he actually lives just four blocks from the victim’s home.

Investigators say Dubose did not know Avina but according to the same court documents a witness identified Dubose as the shooter. Police have also said that surveillance video in the area helped solve the case.

Dubose is facing a murder charge for death of Avina and an attempted murder charge for her husband Luis Gallegos.  While her husband believes it was a road rage shooting, police will only say that there are more details that they cannot yet release.



Former Concord teacher to be re-tried on 22 child molestation counts

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 18:26

Most of the charges filed against a Concord elementary school teacher who was initially accused of inappropriately touching more than a dozen former students have been dropped, his defense attorney said Monday.

Joseph Martin, 46, will now be re-tried on 22 child molestation counts after the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office dismissed more than 70 remaining counts against him following an August mistrial, attorney Patrick Clancy said.

The Martinez resident and former Woodside Elementary School teacher was initially charged with 150 counts of lewd and lascivious acts against 14 male former students. The alleged acts including rubbing boys' bare chests and other inappropriate touching, according to prosecutors.

The longtime teacher was arrested in June 2013 after a student came forward to report the alleged acts.

A trial earlier this year led to a jury deadlocking on 95 of the counts against Martin and acquitting him of 21 counts. He remains in custody in lieu of $10 million bail.

But prosecutors have since dropped 73 of the remaining counts against him, leaving 22 counts involving eight purported victims, Clancy said.

"It has definitely made our case stronger than it was," he said of the amended complaint against Martin.

"Every count that gets dropped is good news," he said.

Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts, who is set to re-try the case, was not immediately available for comment.

Opening statements in the case could begin as soon as this Friday or next Monday, Clancy said.

The attorney said Martin's continued incarceration has been extremely difficult on the former teacher's family both financially and emotionally but it is prepared to return to court.

Reaction mixed to possibility of Casino relocating to Milpitas

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 17:38

It's known for being one of the best small cities in America, and now voters in one South Bay city must decide if it's ready for a casino. Operators of Bay 101 Casino in San Jose are looking to relocate five miles away to Milpitas for the tax benefit.

If voters pass Measure E, Bay 101 could leave its current home of 20 years in San Jose and end up behind the McCarthy Ranch shopping center on North McCarthy Ranch Boulevard in an industrial area away from schools and homes.

While supporters say this casino could bring in much-needed revenue to the city, opponents argue it will ruin the city's image and small town feel.

"If they move into the city of Milpitas it brings $8.4 million in annual tax revenues to the city alone," said former Milpitas mayor Henry Manayan who supports Measure E.

Manayan said the money would expand public safety and other vital city services not to mention bring 900 jobs. The card club could expand its tables and its tax rate would lower from 15 percent in San Jose to 10.5 percent.

"If we don't take it," said Manayan. "Another city like Union City would or someone else would offer 9 percent if you were to come to our city."

Manayan is one of three former mayors along with the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce, Milpitas Police and Fire Associations who support it. Local businessman Ken Reed is strongly against it.

We are visualizing giant signs on I-880, giant signs on I-680 saying come to Milpitas," said Reed. "It's Silicon Valley's gambling capital."

Opponents like Reed are adamant Bay 101 would destroy the city's family friendly reputation. He's also concerned with the potential for crime.

"Why should we look for a sugar daddy to come in with eight million dollars? There's something wrong about this," said Reed.

Current Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves was initially in favor of the card room. He recently reversed his decision, against the idea of gambling in general.

The measure needs a simple majority to pass, which is 50 percent plus one vote. If passed, it would still need to be approved by the state.

Man breaks into chocolate store on Halloween night

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 17:18

A man broke into a Seattle candy store to steal a box of chocolates – on Halloween night.

The incident happened shortly after 8:20 p.m. at the Pioneer Square location of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, at 99 Yesler Way.

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Surveillance video shows the man throwing a rock through the glass door and going inside to take the single box of chocolates.

It took three minutes for police to arrive, and officers said they found their suspect in a nearby alley stuffing chocolate into his mouth.

CHP officer accused in nude photo-sharing scandal appears in court

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 17:18

A former Dublin-area California Highway Patrol officer charged with computer theft for allegedly stealing explicit photos from female suspects' cellphones appeared in a Martinez courtroom Monday but did not enter a plea.

Sean Harrington, 35, who resigned from the CHP last week amid allegations that he forwarded nude and semi-nude images from at least two female DUI suspects' phones in August to himself and to colleagues appeared in court on two charges of unauthorized access to a computer and copying computer data.

Harrington, a Martinez resident, surrendered on the charges at county jail in Martinez Monday morning and was later released on $10,000 bail. He could face up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted of the charges, according to prosecutors.

The former officer appeared in court Monday afternoon with his wife and his attorney, Michael Rains.

The arraignment was postponed until Nov. 14 after Rains requested time to review the evidence in the case.

Saying nothing except "Sorry, no comment today," Harrington didn't answer questions as he rushed out of a Contra Costa County courthouse.

However, the attorney said outside of the courtroom that Harrington has already admitted to Contra Costa County investigators to stealing cellphone images from multiple female suspects and forwarding the photos to himself and to two other CHP officers within the Dublin area office.

Prosecutors said neither of the other two officers would be charged at this time and Rains said it appeared those officers had "minimal involvement" in the exchange of explicit photos.

Rains extended apologies to the victims on Harrington's behalf.

"His apologies extend certainly to the women who were victimized by this, but his apology extends also to all of the men and women in law enforcement whose reputations were potentially tarnished," said Rains.

When asked if his client gave any indication about why he copied the photos, Rains said: "His statement to authorities is that this was a joke. He thought it was humorous at the time."

Rains said his client is "very sad about what his own conduct has cost him and his family, but he acknowledges his mistakes and he's going to try to move on with his life."

That conduct included the theft of more than half a dozen nude or semi-nude photos from the cellphones of two different young women in police custody in August, according to search warrant records.

The first theft happened on Aug. 6 after Harrington arrested a 19-year-old woman for DUI in Livermore, then searched her phone while she was being treated in a hospital and sent private images from her phone to his, court records show.

About two weeks later, the then-officer arrested a 23-year-old woman in San Ramon on suspicion of DUI. While she was in county jail, Harrington accessed the woman's cellphone and sent half a dozen explicit images from her phone to his own, according to search warrant records.

The former officer also admitted to investigators that he forwarded some of the stolen images to two fellow CHP officers in an exchange that he referred to as a "game" and that he stole images from female suspects' phones four to six times over a three-year period.

"He knows it was inappropriate and it's just too bad he wasn't thinking about that at the time it occurred," Rains said of his client's conduct.

Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson said this is the first time in the county's history that his office had charged a law enforcement officer with a crime of this kind.

"If you go into somebody's cell phone and you take their nude selfies without their permission, that's a crime," said Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Barry Grove.

Grove said other DUI cases Harrington had been involved in are now under review and could be dismissed. He said his office had already decided not to press DUI charges against the San Ramon woman whose photos Harrington copied.

Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the Alameda County District attorney's office said they are also reviewing the criminal cases Harrington was involved in that county.

"It's egregious because not only is it an invasion of privacy, but because it undermines the public trust in the criminal justice system," Grove said of Harrington's alleged actions.

1 arrested in Halloween hit-and-run deaths

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 17:17

A California driver who police say struck and killed three teenage trick-or-treaters on Halloween before fleeing with his own children had recently pleaded guilty to a separate hit-and run, authorities said Monday.

Jaquinn Bell, 31, of Orange drove a black Honda SUV through a marked crosswalk on Friday near an elementary school in Santa Ana, hitting 13-year-old twin sisters Lexi and Lexandra Perez and their friend Andrea Gonzalez, police said.

The victims, wearing costumes, were found lying in the street.

Authorities believe Bell fled with his two teenage children after ditching the damaged car in a nearby parking lot. He was arrested Sunday at a motel in Stanton, Santa Ana police Chief Carlos Rojas said.

"He left. He did not try to render aid, and thank God for other witnesses there who contacted the police department and allowed us to respond rather quickly," Rojas said. "Unfortunately it was a tragic end."

It was unclear why the driver fled the scene.

Brenda Gonzalez, Andrea's 24-year-old sister, said she went looking for the girls after her mother heard a loud car crash and wanted to warn them to be safe. As Gonzalez neared the scene, she saw the pillowcases the girls had been carrying to collect candy and the tutu her sister wore.

"The first thing that came through my mind was, why isn't anybody helping them," she said. "A few seconds later I realized, you know, there's a reason they're not helping them. They're gone."

Trick-or-treaters were also injured and killed in collisions in New York, Florida, Washington state and the nearby Orange County, California, city of Irvine, where a 65-year-old man died after he was struck by a car. His 4-year-old son was in critical but stable condition.

In Santa Ana, Bell was arrested for investigation of felony hit-and-run causing death and was being held on $500,000 bail. The case has been referred to the district attorney for possible charges. It was unclear if Bell has an attorney.

Online court records show Bell pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor counts of child abuse, driving under the influence and hit-and-run with property damage. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail, three years' probation, and alcohol and child abuse treatment programs, according to a court spokeswoman.

He has prior convictions for reckless driving, spousal injury and violation of a protective order, the records show.

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said Bell also had two outstanding bench warrants for $30,000 as of Monday. Further details on the warrants were not immediately available.

Police said they initially also detained Bell's 17-year-old son, 14-year-old daughter, mother and half-sister at the motel with Bell but later released them.

At the scene of the crash, residents have set up a makeshift memorial with dozens of balloons, flowers and candles. People gripped by the tragedy continued to stop to pay their respects.

Gonzalez said her younger sister, who loved music and baking, decided not to go to a Halloween party this year so she could trick-or-treat with her family. She tried to choose the least expensive costume.

"She was so selfless. She never asked for anything," Gonzalez said, wiping away tears. "She didn't even want to ask my mom for a costume for Halloween."

Police ask for help locating woman reported missing last month

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 17:00

A 53-year-old Boulder Creek woman was reported missing last month and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in finding her, sheriff's officials said Monday.

Jeanette Stevenson was last seen boarding a Santa Cruz Metro bus on the afternoon of Oct. 25 and was later reported missing by a friend, according to the sheriff's office.

Sheriff's officials said Stevenson has medical issues that place her at risk if not treated.

She is described as a white woman who is about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs about 125 pounds and has brown, unevenly cut hair and green eyes, according to the sheriff's office.

She was last seen wearing a black jacket, gray sweatpants and black "Ugg" boots and has been known to stay at hotels throughout the Santa Cruz area.

Anyone who sees Stevenson or has information about her whereabouts is asked to call sheriff's dispatch at (831) 471-1121.

Man shot in front of Vallejo home

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 13:50

A man was shot multiple times in front of a residence in Vallejo Monday morning, a fire captain said.

The fire department responded at 10:08 a.m. to 501 Maple Ave. and the victim was taken to Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center, Vallejo Fire Capt. Kevin Hickey said.

The victim appeared to be a man in his 20s and did not have any identification with him, Hickey said.

Man with Down Syndrome gets birthday surprise of a lifetime

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 13:24

Who says stars don't listen to their fans? Dan McGurk, a 30-year-old man was shocked when his favorite rock star paid him a visit on his birthday.

McGurk, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome, recorded an invitation to the superstar in hopes that he would attend his party.

The invitation was sent back in mid-August where we explained to Kid Rock why he was his number one fan. Unbeknownst to him, Kid Rock actually received the invitation and would be attending his party in Michigan.

No one told McGurk that Kid Rock would be in attendance at his party last week, and his arrival was shot on video and uploaded to YouTube.

McGurk is more than amazed when the star arrived at the restaurant singing Happy Birthday with a cake in hand. Dan expresses to Kid Rock that he has seen him in concert six times and how big of a fan he is. Kid Rock gifted the fan with numerous one of a kind gifts including an electric guitar.

The video has been viewed more than 13,000 views.  We're sure this will be a birthday that Dan or Kid Rock will never forget.

Feminist T-shirt caught up in sweatshop controversy

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 13:13

A U.K. women's rights charity behind a popular pro-feminism T-shirt has vowed to investigate claims the shirts are produced in sweatshop conditions.

The shirts, which are a collaboration between the Fawcett Society and Elle magazine, sell for £45, or more than $70 each, with all the profits going to the charity.

But a Mail On Sunday investigation revealed the shirts are produced on the island of Mauritius by migrant women. They are allegedly forced to sleep 16 to a room and paid just $1 per hour — around a quarter of the country’s average wage.

The factory produces 40 million shirts a year for clients including Topshop and Urban Outfitters.

The feminist shirts gained publicity after celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and politicians Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg were photographed wearing them. Prime Minister David Cameron controversially refused to join the campaign.

Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman drew even more attention to the issue after wearing the shirt in the House of Commons during the prime minister's questions.

The shirts are produced by high-street fashion chain Whistles, though the chain has taken the item down from its website.

The Fawcett Society responded to the allegations in a statement saying Whistles assured the charity the shirts were produced to "ethical standards." It added if there is evidence the workers were mistreated, "We will require Whistles to withdraw the range with immediate effect and donate part of the profits to an ethical trading campaigning body."

A Labour party spokesman refused to address the issue, only saying the party is happy to support a campaign to promote feminism.


Man says image of Jesus found in tree

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:41

A man from Rhode Island who was mourning the loss of his father says he found a sign from him in a place special to both of them.

Brian Quirk says he discovered an image of Jesus engraved into a tree in his yard.

Quirk and his father often sat in the garden together right at the spot where the image appeared.

"It brings a smile to my face. Yes, he's always in my heart. I'll never forget the man. He was very, very special," said Quirk.

His father died from cancer. Seeing the image of Jesus, has given Quirk comfort.

Antifreeze in your Fireball Whiskey?

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:36

You may have been consuming a similar chemical compound without knowing, if you're a fan of the popular cinnamon whiskey, Fireball.

The company's motto: "Tastes like heaven, burns like hell", and the company has taken some serious heat over what's used as an artificial sweetener, even though it's found in thousands of other products.

Propylene Glycol is used to enhance flavor, and in a statement, Fireball explained it uses less than one-eighth of the amount allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The parent company Sazerac, based in New Orleans, has been putting out fires and addressing social-media driven concerns since large shipments of Fireball were recalled in Europe last week.

Finland, Sweden and Norway took the whiskey off shelves after it was determined an American blend was shipped instead of the European one.

The European Union has much stricter propylene glycol guidelines compared to the FDA.

"Regulations for the product formulation are different in Europe, which explains why recipes for products like soft drinks, alcohol/spirits and even candies and confections are slightly different than their North American counterparts. Fireball, therefore, has a slightly different recipe for Europe," the statement read.

There is no recall in North America, and the FDA does not plan to ban Fireball in any way.

"The product is perfectly safe to drink," the company posted in part on its Fireball website.

Scientists use penguin look-alike rover to study penguins

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:17

It appears a group of scientists are subscribing to the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy when it comes to studying penguins. 

Scientists in France have created a robot penguin — equipped with wheels, a camera, and a fake look-alike — to help them get up close and personal with the feathery creatures. 

The study, published in Nature Methods, focused on how to reduce the stress to penguins while researching them. The study notes, "Approaching wild animals to collect data on their phenotypic traits induces stress, escape behavior and, potentially, breeding failure and therefore jeopardizes the quality of the collected data."

When approached by humans, the penguins' heart rates shot way up — an average of 35 beats more a minute. They hoped the rover would change that.

Researchers tried a few different versions of the rover, including a fiberglass one that didn't work and scared the penguins. When the scientists finally got the latest model made, they got pretty impressive results — heart rates only increased about 24 beats per minute.

Study leader Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg noticed the penguins reportedly didn't flee from the device and even sang songs to it, though the penguin bot isn't equipped with sound and couldn't sing back.

Maho and his team studied penguins in the same area of Antarctica where "March of the Penguins" was filmed. Maho and his 40 years of researching penguins contributed to that movie.

Other researchers have tried out these faux-penguin cams before, though. In 2013, Discovery and BBC teamed up for a special called "Penguins: Waddle All the Way" where a camera-wielding robot penguin infiltrates various groups of penguins. 

The researchers say they plan on using the device more in the future and will read signals from radio tags on the birds. 

Israel considers harsher jail sentences for stone throwers

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:15

In Israel's latest bid to restore calm in east Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet has approved a jail sentence of up to 10 years for anyone convicted of throwing stones at Israeli vehicles, and the state doesn't need to prove intent to harm. 

In Netanyahu's words, the proposal is designed "to return quiet and security to every part of Jerusalem."

But as a law professor at Hebron University of Jerusalem told Bloomberg, "The concern is that it could hurt people who didn't intend to harm or kill someone."

Although the Israeli cabinet has approved the amendment to Israel's penal code, it must still win backing in the Knesset before it can take effect.

It's one of several new security measures Israel is weighing in the face of this latest outbreak of violence. After this summer's 50-day war in Gaza, the clashes moved to east Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods. (Video via RT)

Palestinians who oppose Israel's control of the West Bank have protested by throwing stones at cars and buildings. They've been met with tear gas and rubber bullets from police. (Video via Euronews

After a rocket was fired into Israeli territory this weekend, Israel sealed off its two operating border crossings with Gaza, which critics called a punitive measure that would isolate an already impoverished region. 

And after the attempted assassination of an Israeli activist, Israel briefly closed the holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Al-Aqsa — a move Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called a "declaration of war" before it reopened Friday. 

The holy site was last closed in 2000. The unrest that followed led to the Second Intifada — an uprising that left thousands of Israelis and Palestinians dead. (Video via Channel 2

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

2 Investigates: Tunnel lighting project falls short on savings; SFPUC employee raises safety concerns

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:15

 A lighting retrofit project inside Broadway Tunnel was designed to save San Francisco's electric rate payers $40,000 a year, but a city audit and internal documents from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission reveal the project fell far short of its goals.

An SFPUC employee first brought the issue to the attention of 2 Investigates and says the lighting conditions inside the tunnel may also be unsafe.

298 years of payments

The SFPUC targeted the lighting inside Broadway Tunnel for one of several projects for its Energy Efficiency General Fund program in 2009. The agency says it spent $310,000 to install new lights inside the 1,600-foot long tunnel, which takes 30,000 drivers a day between Chinatown and Van Ness Avenue.

But one current employee says he noticed a problem after crews installed the new lighting.

"It was a lot brighter than it should've been," said the employee, who spoke to 2 Investigates on the condition of anonymity.

Two years later, the city's Office of the Controller conducted an audit of the projects under the SFPUC's Energy Efficiency Fund. The majority of the projects were saving enough money to pay back their investments in 15 years or less.

But the audit found the "payback" time for the new lights in the west bore of Broadway Tunnel was more than 298 years.

"It almost comes to a point where it looks like it would never pay for itself," said the employee.

Like passing "through a supernova"

SFPUC managers concede the new lighting inside Broadway Tunnel did not initially achieve the savings they were hoping for.

"Part of the challenge is, whenever you perform an energy efficiency audit... you're always going to find what you predicted isn't exactly you're outcome," said SFPUC Assistant General Manager for Power, Barbara Hale. "In this case, the system wasn't performing like it should have in the first place."

In a memo obtained by 2 Investigates, design firm Emcor wrote "savings were below expectations" and "light levels were higher than expected."

So bright, internal emails at SFPUC described driving through the tunnel at night like passing "through a supernova."

"I experienced driving through the tunnel and coming out with essentially would be described as 'flash bulb' blindness for certain distance," said the employee who spoke to 2 Investigates.

Safety concerns disputed

The same SFPUC employee documented conditions inside Broadway Tunnel with his own light readings and recorded video, comparing it to the much lower lighting in Stockton Tunnel a few blocks away. The employee raised concerns, but says the agency was slow to act.

"You have managers who didn't want to be the person to walk in and say, ‘You know that half million dollar tunnel project we did? Well that's just a half million dollars we threw in the garbage. We're going to have to redo the whole thing because the tunnel's unsafe,’" said the employee.

He sought protection through the city's Whistleblower Program. In 2012, that office responded to the employee in an e-mail saying "the PUC has acknowledged they are aware of the lighting condition in the Broadway Tunnel and are taking steps to correct the problem."

That year, crews changed the tunnel lights again with the goal of improving energy savings. The change also slightly reduced the brightness in the tunnel, but SFPUC managers insist lighting levels were never a problem.

"I don't think there's an issue of the tunnel being too bright," said Hale. "We have heard that and we have looked into that. And in advance of (KTVU) coming, we looked even closer."

SFPUC paid $10,000 for another study of the lighting inside Broadway Tunnel in 2013. Lighting design firm Studio 321 concluded "current lighting levels generally meet (industry) guidelines."

However, the employee who first raised concerns worries the transition from the bright tunnel to the dark street at night still poses a danger to drivers.

"Somebody's going to get hurt or killed," he said.

Dueling ballot measures to determine fate of Beach Chalet soccer fields

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 11:08

Two competing initiatives on Tuesday's ballot have pitted San Francisco residents against each other over the fate of athletic fields in Golden Gate Park.

How San Francisco residents vote on Proposition H and Proposition I will determine whether a multi-million dollar private donation will be used to install artificial turf and nighttime lighting above the Beach Chalet soccer fields on the western edge of Golden Gate Park.

While artificial turf and nighttime lighting would allow more soccer players to enjoy the athletic fields later into the evening, opponents of the project say that newly designed real grass fields with below-ground drainage systems and proper maintenance would suffice while posing no threat to the natural beauty of the park.

Critics also say that nighttime lighting on the fields would be visible from Ocean Beach and would spoil one of the few natural spaces left in the city.

Proposition H, if passed, will stop Golden Gate Park athletic fields from being turned into artificial turf fields with nighttime lighting.

According to San Francisco City Controller Ben Rosenfield, if Proposition H is approved, the $6 million private donation to the Recreation and Park Department will be affected.

The other voter initiative concerning soccer fields on the ballot in November is Proposition I.

If passed, Proposition I will allow for the renovation of city playgrounds, walking trails and athletic fields to include the installation of nighttime lighting and artificial turf if an environmental impact report by city officials determines the changes will double usage of the site.

If both Propositions H and I are approved, the one with the most "yes" votes will take precedence with regard to the Beach Chalet soccer fields.

Krysta Jenkins, a 29-year-old San Francisco resident who teaches soccer in the city and lives in the Sunset District, said she supports the installation of artificial turf and nighttime lights. She said children in San Francisco should be able to use Golden Gate Park athletic fields rain or shine, day or night.

Jenkins, a semi-professional soccer player, said the fields near Ocean Beach are "career-ending fields" due to their lack of maintenance and their state of disrepair.

She said the proposed new field "helps me help the kids and it helps my business."

Jenkins said she will vote no on Proposition H and yes on Proposition I.

Those who have also come out in favor of the turf and lighting project include the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Democratic Party, as well as the City Fields Foundation, which is managed by the sons of the founders of Gap Inc., William, Robert and John Fisher, among others.

Greg Miller, who is voting in favor of Proposition H and against Proposition I, said artificial turf and nighttime lighting sets a "terrible precedent" for the park.

Miller said the space was designed to allow individuals and families access to forest and meadows. He said he's worried that the tranquility of the park is in jeopardy.

He said the lights proposed for the athletic fields will rise high into the sky and above the height of the trees there now. While Miller admitted that the current fields are in need of an upgrade, he said artificial turf isn't the answer.

He said the fields have poor drainage but nothing that can't be rebuilt as beautiful grass fields with proper drainage.

Miller also suggested that the Recreation and Park Department look into acquiring new land or placing the artificial soccer fields and lights in already urbanized areas outside of Golden Gate Park.

Those who stand with Miller against the artificial turf and lighting include the Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society and 44 groups that make up the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, among others.

BART service resumes after body found on tracks

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 10:51

BART service has resumed Monday afternoon with 15-minute delays between the Pittsburg/Bay Point and Pleasant Hill stations, hours after police found a body on the tracks between the Concord and North Concord stations, according to the transit agency.

The resumed train service comes after the tracks were shut down in both directions between the Pleasant Hill and Pittsburg/Bay Point stations for about three hours.

A report came in around 8:50 a.m. of blood and human remains on the tracks, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said. Contra Costa County coroner's personnel were called to investigate the death.

Trost said she did not know whether the case was related to reports around 4:30 a.m. of a person walking on the tracks between the Concord and North Concord stations. She said BART personnel went to check the area multiple times this morning but did not find anyone walking on the tracks.

BART trains were shut down in the area to ensure the safety of emergency responders at the location of the body.

County Connection provided bus service to the Pleasant Hill, Concord, North Concord and Pittsburg/Bay Point stations as the coroner's office responded to the area.

Mom wakes up from coma, gives birth to baby girl

KTVU's Top Stories - Mon, 11/03/2014 - 10:45

A family in Florida is celebrating a miracle after a woman in a coma suddenly woke up to give birth.

Jenny Quiles was hit by a tow truck two weeks ago as she tried to cross the street to get to a doctor's appointment.

In the moments before impact, her motherly instincts kicked in. She shielded her belly, likely saving her baby girl.

Jenny still suffered a traumatic brain injury and was placed in a medically induced coma.

There were plans to deliver her baby via c-section in a few weeks, but little Angel Noemi Quiles decided to come early.

“She's here! She's finally here!” said Angel Quiles, Jenny's husband. “She's amazing. She looks like mom and dad.”

The baby was born via emergency c-section just before 2 a.m. Thursday. She weighed about 6 pounds.

And much to everyone's surprise, Jenny woke up from her coma and began trying to communicate in her own way.

“She was in labor and she was trying her hardest to let it be known,” Angel said.

Jenny is still in intensive care, but remains alert and is improving. Her daughter is thriving and doing well in the NICU.

“When Jenny gets out of this, I'm going to tell her 'Thank you.' Thank you ten thousand times! If it wasn't for her protecting the baby at the time, we wouldn't have the baby or this conversation right now,” Angel said.

Two weeks of pure terror have turned to joy.

“From day one, none of this was expected. I thought I was going to lose my wife. I thought I was going to lose my baby. And here we are celebrating the fact that the baby is born and Jenny is doing a lot better today," he said.

He can't wait for the day that all three are home together as a family.

“My hope is to see Jenny hold her baby girl and do what moms do best,” he said.

LINK: http://www.gofundme.com/jennyquiles