Entries in California (368)


Police Locate Missing 10-Year-Old Girl in California

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A young girl who disappeared from her bedroom late Tuesday night was found in Woodland Hills, Calif., according to police.

The 10-year-old girl had apparently disappeared from her bed at  approximately 3:30 in the morning.  After a house-to-house search she re-appeared -- seemingly out of nowhere -- close to 12 hours later at a Chevron gas station.  

According to the Los Angeles Times, there was no sign of forced entry at the girl's home. However, the back door was left unlocked and a side gate was found to be open.

According to LAPD Captain Chris Pitcher, a suspect took the girl from her home and later dropped her off.

This young girl was taken to an area hospital to be checked out, as she has cuts and bruises. Police are now investigating multiple crime scenes and searching for the person who took the young girl.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sea Lion Caught Lounging at California Hotel

ABC News(LA JOLLA, Calif.) -- A sea lion with a taste for luxury, or perhaps just in a state of confusion, made its way out of the Pacific Ocean, up a beach and across a road before finding itself poolside at a California hotel.

The sea lion, a female pup, was first spotted around 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday by the overnight front desk worker at Pantai Inn, an all-suite hotel in La Jolla, Calif., hotel manager Shane Pappas told ABC News.

“I received an email while I was getting ready for work stating that we had a baby sea lion in our courtyard,” Pappas said. “I called and said, ‘What are you talking about?’”

Pappas had reason to be surprised because the hotel is located across the street from the beach, meaning the pup had to slither up a set of stairs to reach the road from the beach, then cross the road and then find its way into the courtyard.  Video captured by the hotel’s surveillance cameras show the pup did, in fact, make that trek.

When Pappas arrived at the hotel, he found the front desk attendant frantically calling officials from SeaWorld in nearby San Diego to come help, and the pup enjoying her poolside perch.

“The sea lion was sleeping on our chair in the courtyard and looking pretty relaxed,” he said.

When a SeaWorld official arrived less than an hour later, he and Pappas scooped her into a net and loaded her into a SeaWorld truck.

The whole rescue, according to Pappas, took less than 25 minutes, but it took that long because of the attention the unusual sight garnered.

“We had to stop for photo ops and the SeaWorld official did a Q&A with the kids staying on the property,” he said.

Now that the sea lion’s 15 minutes of fame have wound down, she will stay under the care of SeaWorld for the next six weeks to ensure she is in good health before being returned to the sea.

“We have a lot of seagulls and an osprey who visits but, outside of that, no, we’ve never had anything like this,” Pappas said.  “It was pretty unique.” 




Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


California Police Investigating Jewelry Allegedly Found in Sewage

ABC News(MODESTO, Calif.) -- Sanitation workers in Modesto, Calif., received an unexpected surprise Wednesday on a routine cleaning expedition: gold, worth $2,500.

“[It was] from the city sewer traps, and they cleaned it up,” Modesto Gold, Jewelry and Coins employee Yvonne Brawley told ABC affiliate News 10. “And some of it wasn’t gold and some of it was.”

The majority of the gold jewelry appeared to be in twisted fragments, stained and discolored from being submerged in the sewer, which spans 641 miles beneath the city.

Modesto police told News10 they are investigating the workers who sold the gold to explore whether the jewelry was really found in the sewer, or if it came from somewhere else. A routine audit of the pawn shop led the police to begin an investigation earlier this year, prompted by the sales that occurred over the course of a couple of months.

Brawley said the three employees, two men and one woman, came into her store wearing their City of Modesto uniforms. She said the woman had sold jewelry several times over the course of a couple of years and that she has also sold jewelry at a pawn shop in Oakdale, Calif. The two men sold jewelry at Modesto Gold, Jewelry and Coins one time last month, she said.

According to police, the investigation is nearing completion. Officials said they will not comment on the identity of the workers because the investigation has not been completed.

Either way, Brawley said she hopes the employees get to keep the money received for the jewelry.

“They should be able to keep it if they found it.  Nobody’s going to want it.  It took a lot of work trying to get that out,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


ABC News Exclusive: Cat Haven Employee Recounts Deadly Lion Attack 

A male lion (pictured here) killed a person at the Sierra Cat Haven in Dunlap, CA on March 6. ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- An employee at a big cat California sanctuary where a volunteer intern was fatally attacked last week called the attack an unfortunate mistake, saying that nobody was to blame.

Employee Meg Pauls was performing her regular cat feedings and enclosure cleanings with intern Dianna Hanson right before the 24-year-old Hanson was attacked and killed last week.

Hanson was two months into an internship at the Cat Haven in Dunlap, a small town in Fresno County near King's Canyon National Park, when she was killed.

Each woman had taken a separate enclosure trail, but when Pauls got to the end of her trail, she didn't see Hanson or her golf cart where they should have been.

"I came around the corner and saw her behind a bush on the ground, and I called to her, and Cous Cous [the lion] was near her and I called to her and it looked as if she was unconscious," Pauls said. "I stopped my cart and ran up there to find out why she wasn't where she should be at that point."

When Pauls got to Cous Cous' enclosure, she found a door within the enclosure was open when it should have been closed. It is still unclear what exactly caused the attack.

"She was in the main enclosure under some bushes in an opening," Pauls said. "I could see her lying down there, and I was calling to her. There was no response."

Pauls couldn't secure the lion and get to Hanson, so she kept Cous Cous next to her while she called 911. Less than 30 minutes after Hanson entered the cage, Cous Cous was shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who had responded to the call, authorities said.

Dale Anderson, Cat Haven's founder, said that at this point nothing on the enclosure appears to have been broken or malfunctioning. Everything was in place and operating without violation for 15 years.

The enclosure has four separate areas inside, three for the cat and one for a person. Anderson believes the lion was in the food area inside his enclosure, but the door to keep him away from Hanson had been left open.

Anderson also shot down reports that Hanson had been on her cell phone at the time of the attack. She had a walkie-talkie on her but did not use it for assistance at the time of the attack.

"How and why he [Cous Cous] did that is kind of a mystery," Anderson said. "He came out of the cage and saw somebody. Did he run in to her? Did he hit her? We don't know. When you say attacked, it sounds gruesome, but it sounds like he just knocked her down and broke her neck."

Anderson started raising Cous Cous when he was 8-weeks-old. Anytime you are dealing with a 500-pound cat, he said, there is risk of an accident.

"Dianna and I had dinner the night before and were talking about cat philosophy. Cats mean a lot to us," he said. "When you do that kind of stuff, there's an inherent risk and we accept that because we love it. Worst case scenario, there's a death involved, and that's what happened here. Again, the risk that's involved is less than what's involved satisfaction wise."

Hanson's family members knew their daughter loved Cat Haven, and they don't want anything to happen to the sanctuary as a result of their daughter's death, Anderson said.

"We've been telling stories about Dianna," Pauls said. "She still makes us laugh. She was an incredible person. Cous Cous is not to blame. He wasn't doing anything to cause that. That's not at all what I think. He was just being a cat. He was just being a lion."

Pauls said she never questioned her training or the way the cat enclosures are set up. She has never feared the animals and feels safe at her job. Anderson said Hanson's death was an unfortunate accident and didn't want people to think any less of her.

"We've all ran a red light or a stop sign, but sometimes it's a fatal incident," he said. "It wasn't anything about her work. She had an accident. She left a door open.

"Nobody's to blame in this. It was a terrible accident and we lost two good friends."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Did California Teacher Put Sleeping Pills into Toddler’s Sippy Cups?

Morgan Hill Police Department(MORGAN HILL, Calif.) -- A teacher at a Morgan Hill, Calif., preschool has been arrested after the school accused her of slipping sleeping pills in sippy cups of children under the age of 2.

“We do not know the quantity, but we believe she was breaking the pill into smaller pieces and putting it into the children’s sippy cups,” Morgan Hill Sgt. of Investigations Troy Hoefling told ABC News.

The school told ABC News it had “terminated” Debbie Gratz, 59, last Friday “for failure to follow Kiddie Academy standards and processes.”

“Ms. Gratz was witnessed adding a substance to the water cups for her classroom of 10 children,” Morgan Hill Kiddie Academy added in a prepared statement.  “The cups were confiscated before they came in contact with any children prior to the academy opening for business that day.”

A fellow employee saw Gratz place an unknown substance in the toddler’s sippy cups on Friday and notified school officials, according to Morgan Hill Police -- though police apparently weren’t told until Monday.

“They made notifications internally.  Unfortunately, the problem with that is not only do we not get on the case right away but we lose precious evidence,” Hoefling told ABC News.  “We only found out those cups had been washed out and rinsed.”

Police said they had no plans to charge the school regarding the delay in reporting the incident, but the district attorney could review the matter.

The school’s statement said it now was “actively working with the authorities and California State Childcare Licensing to aid in their investigation.”

Gratz was charged with two counts of child endangerment and released on her own recognizance.  She was set to appear in court later this month, police said.

She did not return telephone calls from ABC News.

Gratz was responsible for 10 children, all under the age of 2, Hoefling said.

After the witness told school officials about Gratz apparently putting a substance in the sippy cups, facility administrators confronted Gratz, who then allegedly admitted to those administrators that she slipped sleeping pills into the toddlers’ cups, a police news release said.

“The pills that she said were used were Sominex, which is over-the-counter sleep aid medicine,” Hoefling said.

Police said they were notified on Monday, when they arrested Gratz and served a search warrant at her home.  While the teacher allegedly admitted to the accusations, police said, she had not yet commented on a motive.

“We’ve contacted all 10 parents [of the children] that were under her care.  We’ve received 30 to 35 phone calls, either past or present parents at the Kiddie Academy, so we’re still trying to determine if this has been going on for some time,” Hoefling said.  “We don’t think it’s a one-time occurrence.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


California City Bans Gun Shows

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(GLENDALE, Calif.) -- Glendale, Calif., has told the organizers of an annual gun show to find a new home after the City Council on Tuesday voted to approve a ban on the possession and sale of firearms by private dealers on city property.

The vote, a reaction to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., was attended by supporters of the ban and members of the National Rifle Association, who opposed it.

The Glendale Gun Shows have generated about $158,000 in revenue over the last three years and was projected to have brought in another $57,000 in 2013 if the ban was not put in place by a three to two vote.

Gun enthusiasts spoke passionately against the prohibition that goes into effect on April 19.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


California Yacht Club Mourns Member Killed in Sail Boat Race

U.S. Coast Guard(SAN DIEGO) -- A California yacht club on Sunday mourned the death of one of its members who was killed in a sail boat race over the weekend.

Craig Thomas Williams, a 36-year-old married father, was killed and five crew members were injured when their sailboat, christened Uncontrollabe Urge, lost steering and broke apart in the surf.

"[Williams] was a very integral member at our yacht club and it's a tragic loss," said Carey Storm, the commodore of the Silver Gate Yacht Club.

"To have one of our top racers to go out and for a weekend of a competitive race and have it end in tragedy, the loss of life, the loss of… injuries, the trauma to the entire crew, the loss of the vessel…It's just really difficult," Storm told ABC News' San Diego affiliate.

The Uncontrollable Urge was one of 40 vessels in the annual Islands Race, fighting to make their way along a 139-nautical mile course from Long Beach to San Diego.

A mayday call was issued by crew on board the 30-foot sail boat around 9:26 p.m. Friday after the boat's rudder failed, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

"The crew initially stated they were not in need of assistance and declined assistance from both the Coast Guard and other boaters involved in the race.  The sailors requested assistance from a commercial salvage company, however they were unable to launch due to weather conditions," the release said.

An attempt to anchor the boat around 11 p.m. failed, the Coast Guard said, and the boat drifted closer to San Clemente Island.

When the boat entered the crashing surf, the sailors were forced to abandon the vessel.

A helicopter crew rescued the six sailors and took them to a Coast Guard station where they were met by paramedics, however, officials said Williams was dead on arrival.

Chuck Hope, commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, one of the sponsors of the race, said it could have been much worse.

"This was an excellently prepared boat," he said.  "The fact that we didn't lose six was a testament to the fact that they did have safety equipment on board.  They followed the procedures.  It could've been a much worse scenario."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


California Animal Sanctuary Reopens in Wake of Lion Attack

ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- The California animal sanctuary where an African lion killed a 24-year-old volunteer intern reopened on Sunday.

Dale Anderson, the founder of Project Survival Cat Haven outside Fresno, said the sanctuary was reopened to visitors with the consent of the victim’s parents.

Authorities say Dianna Hanson died almost instantly of a broken neck last Wednesday afternoon after she was attacked when she entered the enclosure of a 4-year-old male lion.  The lion was shot and killed by deputies who were called to the scene.  A moment of silence was observed Sunday in honor of the Hanson.

Anderson said it was important to return back to normal operations, and “Dianna would really want us to do that.”

Fresno County Sheriff’s Department investigators believe the tragedy occurred because someone accidentally left a door open that allowed the lion to enter the enclosure where Hanson was working.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Intern Killed in Lion Attack: Was a Gate or Door Left Partially Open?

ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- Dianna Hanson, the intern killed by a lion inside an enclosure at a big-cat sanctuary in California, died of a broken neck, a Fresno County coroner said on Thursday, although it's still unclear why the lion attacked her.

Fresno County coroner David Hadden told ABC News that he believes a gate or door was left partially open when the 4-year-old male African lion named Cous Cous attacked Hanson Wednesday afternoon.

"The cat had just been fed and there was food in the bowl and the cat had ignored the food in order to have access to this young lady," Hadden said Thursday night.

Fresno County Sheriff's Lt. Patrick Hanson, who's not related to the victim, told ABC News Thursday night that he "cannot confirm or deny which gates were working or which gates weren't working."

Dianna Hanson, 24, died instantly but Cous Cous caused additional wounds to the woman's body after her death.

"She did not suffer.  As tragic as this death is, it's important to know that she wasn't alive for a long time," Hadden said.

Less than 30 minutes after the attack began, Cous Cous was shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who responded to a call, authorities said.

The body of the 500-pound lion is now at a vet facility in Tulare County awaiting a necropsy to determine what may have caused the fatal attack.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Intern in Lion Attack Died of Broken Neck

ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- Dianna Hanson, the 24-year-old intern killed by a lion inside an enclosure at a big cat sanctuary in California, died of a broken neck, a Fresno County coroner revealed Thursday.

The coroner said that Hanson died instantly and that the 4-year-old male African lion named Cous Cous caused additional wounds to the woman's body after her death.

The body of the 500-pound lion, shot dead after killing Hanson, is now at a vet facility in Tulare County awaiting a necropsy to determine what may have caused the fatal attack.

Hanson was two months into an internship program at the Cat Haven in Dunlap, a small town in Fresno County near King's Canyon National Park, when she was killed.

Her father said Thursday that she never feared working with big cats, but he always feared something might happen to her.

"Anybody who works with cats knows that they are wild animals and they can turn even on people closest to them. So I always had this horrible, nagging premonition that I would get a call like this," Hanson's father, Paul, told ABC News overnight by phone from his home in Washington state.

Hanson said his daughter loved to be around big cats and that working with them was her true passion in life.

Dianna Hanson was inside the cat enclosure when a Cous Cous attacked her around 12:30 p.m., officials said. It was not immediately clear what Hanson was doing inside the enclosure or what prompted the attack.

Another employee tried unsuccessfully to lure Cous Cous away from Hanson and into another enclosure.

Less than 30 minutes after Hanson entered the cage, Cous Cous was shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who responded to a call, authorities said.

"The lion was shot and killed per our safety protocols," Dale Anderson, founder and executive director of Project Survival Cat Haven, which manages Cat Haven, said Wednesday.

The park was closed at the time of the attack.

Hanson's grief-stricken father is now left with the question of why his daughter was in the enclosure with the lion.

"How she ever got inside the cage and why she would be inside the cage [is unclear], because I thought she made it real clear that they don't let anybody in the cage except the owner," Paul Hanson said.

In a statement on Facebook, Hanson reflected on his daughter's time working at the sanctuary.

"Once there, she gave me the tour and showed me all the big cats there with which she would be working. Of course, Dianna being Dianna, her favorites were the tiger and the lion ... who killed her today," he said.

Dianna Hanson trained with three tigers and a lion while in college at Western Washington State University. She also traveled to Africa to work with large cats, Paul Hanson said.

"Di, we will always love you. And we will miss you so much. But I know that you will be happy. For now, you truly are in the eternal 'Cat Haven,'" Paul Hanson said in the statement.

The sanctuary will remain closed to the public Thursday.

Cous Cous was raised at the preserve from 8 weeks old, and even made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show when he was a cub.

Cat Haven was founded in 1993 and is run by Project Survival, a privately funded education and conservation organization.

The 100-acre facility is home to a variety of wild cats -- including tigers, leopards and other threatened and endangered species that are kept for limited breeding and use in educational programs, according to Cat Haven's website.

Officials said the park has had a good history, and had an active permit to operate.

Cat Haven also runs an outreach program, and its "cat ambassadors" may sometimes be taken off-site to make appearances as part of that program, according to the website.

The preserve is run by a core staff supported by volunteers.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that an internship is required by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in order to work at an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium. No such requirement is in place, according to AZA Senior Vice President Steve Feldman.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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