Entries in California (368)


California Teen Alyssa Byrne Missing Since New Year's Eve

ABC News(STATELINE, Nev.) -- Investigators say they have new evidence in the search for Alyssa Byrne, the 19-year-old California woman who has not been seen since New Year's Eve.

Byrne's cellphone might have been used after she was last seen close to midnight on New Year's Eve as she attended Snow Globe, a three-day music festival in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., that attracts thousands of people, police said Thursday.

Investigators are still unsure, however, whether the phone was used by Byrne or someone else.

"We have no evidence that there is criminal activity or foul play involved but we are worried for her," Paul Howell, the Douglas County undersheriff, said at a news conference Thursday in Stateline, Nev.

"The nighttime temperatures here are very cold so if she's exposed to the elements, that could be a major concern," he said.

Byrne, of Petaluma, Calif., was last seen by friends around 11:30 p.m. Monday.  One friend says Byrne quietly disappeared from her group of friends without saying a word.

"But that New Year's Eve she didn't say a word," said Jay Donnellan, according to local ABC News affiliate KGO-TV.  "She basically just left and I called her back and she was on the bus back to the hotel."

Byrne reportedly told friends she was returning to the group's hotel, the Horizon Casino Resort, in Stateline.  When Donnellan returned to the hotel around 12:30 a.m., Byrne was not in her room.

"Once we got back to the room, we noticed she wasn't there.  We were calling her, back-to-back, sending her text messages," Donnellan told KGO.

It's unclear whether Byrne ever arrived at the hotel after the phone call with Donnellan.

Byrne's family in Petaluma says she has no history of running away.

"My level of hope is that she's out there," her father, Kevin Byrne, said.  "Alyssa, if you are, just come home.  We miss you."

"Anybody out there that has any information please pick up the phone and call the tip line that's established," he added.

Kevin Byrne has joined search teams in South Lake Tahoe, where police have checked the teen's bank and cellphone records.  Police are also scouring surveillance video from nearby hotels.

"I'm waiting for her to come through the doors," her mother, Kim Byrne, said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Douglas County Secret Witness phone line at (775) 782-7463, or the sheriff's office investigation division at (775) 782-9905.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Man Drowns Trying to Save Wife, Dog in Rough California Surf

Photos[dot]com/Thinkstock(NOVATO, Calif.) -- A California man who went into rough ocean waves to try and rescue his wife and dog drowned when he was pulled more than a half-mile off shore on New Year's Day.

The man, who was identified by Mercury News as 59-year-old Charles Quaid, went into the water at Point Reyes National Seashore to try and help his wife and dog, according to officials.

Quaid's wife was caught in the wake of 10- to 12-foot waves that were crashing on the beach, which is particularly exposed to swell, Capt. Chris Martinelli of the Marin County Fire Department said Wednesday.

Temperatures in the water are in the low 50s right now, he said.

Bystanders on the beach helped pull Quaid's wife to shore, while the dog made it back onto the beach as well, Martinelli said. They were not able to assist Quaid, and called for emergency help around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Helicopters and boat rescue teams from the fire department, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Park Service scoured the water off the coast for Quaid.

Quaid's body was spotted around 4 p.m., and located by rescuers on jet skis who were part of the rescue operation. A paramedic on board the jet ski declared Quaid dead during the recovery, Martinelli said.

Quaid's wife and dog were not injured. The Coast Guard would not comment on the identity of those involved in the incident, and Martinelli referred the matter to the Fire Department spokesman, who did not return a call from ABC News.

"That beach is notorious," Martinelli said. "There are signs posted pretty well in that area warning of danger. This beach in particular is very exposed to the swell, and this time of year there are very large swells. If you aren't watching the water they can come up out of nowhere."

The rough surf off the northern California coast claimed three other lives in November 2012 when a family was swept out to sea after the family dog was caught in a wave near Big Lagoon.

A teenager and his mother and father all drowned in the Nov. 26 incident, in which a "sneaker wave," which was larger than previous sets of waves, came up onto shore forcefully. An older daughter and the family dog survived the incident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Soldier Surprises Wife, Son During Rose Parade

Visions of America/Joe Sohm/Thinkstock (file photo)(PASADENA, Calif.) -- While many families attended the 2013 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day, military wife Miriam Pazz wished her husband could join her and their 4-year-old son in the stands.

What Pazz didn’t know was that her husband, Army Sgt. First Class Eric Pazz, was hidden on a nearby parade float and was about to give them the best possible start to the New Year.

Miriam had been told she had won a contest to attend the parade and did not know her husband, who is deployed in Afghanistan, would be there.

“My husband just entered his name, I guess.  I just got a call letting me know that we won,” Miriam said moments before the surprise reunion.

Spectators rose to a standing ovation when Eric, who was riding on the Natural Balance Pet Foods float along with other service members, got off the float and walked over to his surprised wife and son, Eric Jr.

The family immediately lunged out of the stands and embraced the 32-year-old soldier, who was away from his family for seven months.  Eric handed his wife a red rose.

“It was a really great experience,” said Eric.  “First thing I thought was, ‘I hope she’s not going to slap me for lying to her.’  After that, seeing our son’s face, how he reacted, I was really caught up into the moment.”

Eric is a highly decorated soldier who has also served in Iraq.  The family, who currently lives in Germany, climbed aboard the float for the rest of the five-mile parade route.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Body Found Encased in Cement at California Plumber’s Shop

Comstock/Thinkstock(WHITTIER, Calif.) -- The body of a man who police believe was murdered was found encased in freshly-poured concrete inside a California plumbing business.

Police in Whittier, Calif., said on Tuesday that they received information on Sunday about a possible homicide that had occurred in Santa Fe Springs.

“Detectives did some follow-up research and were able to make contact with a man named Juan Alberto Galviz on Sunday evening, and after some more investigation, determined that a homicide had occurred.  He was placed under arrest, and we obtained a search warrant,” community relations officer Brad White said on Tuesday.

Whittier police and investigators from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, as well as cadaver dogs, went to the business Monday morning and searched the room, White said.  The cadaver dogs hit on something in one part of the room.  Workers broke open the concrete floor, and the body of a man was found there.

Police have not yet determined how old the man was or how he died.

Galviz was arrested in connection with the murder, which police believe stemmed from a feud, White said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Three Dead in San Jose Apartment Fire

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- An apartment fire in San Jose, California left a woman, man and child dead late Saturday night, The San Jose Mercury News reports.

The blaze reportedly broke out just after 11 p.m. in the 3600 block of Bridgeport Court. Firefighters responded to multiple emergency calls, along with reports that people were trapped inside the second-floor apartment. Fire crews extinguished the blaze and prevented it from spreading to other units in the building, the paper says.

The fire department confirmed that a man, woman and young child, whose names have not been released, died from their injuries. Three other people, including a police officer on the scene who assisted in a rescue, were taken to local hospitals to be treated for smoke inhalation, according to the Mercury News.

About 56 residents were displaced from the building.

The fire is under investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dramatic Ice Rescue in California Caught on Tape

Micky Herman(WRIGHTWOOD, Calif.) -- A sledding excursion turned into a rescue operation after a man fell into a frozen lake in Wrightwood, Calif.

The incident was caught on tape as one person after another tried to save the man only to slip on the ice themselves.

A crowd gathered on shore, frantically screaming for help.

After five minutes, nearly a dozen people were in the water while others threw ropes and inner tubes to no avail.

Mickey Herman pulled double duty. You can hear him calling for a rope to help in the rescue efforts all the while capturing the ordeal on camera.

“When the people started going through the ice, it was just total panic. You saw people taking their belts off. It was just total chaos and out of control. We saw that poor guy, the first one to go in, it was obvious he didn’t know how to swim,” he said. “We thought that might be it. We wouldn’t see him again. Fortunately he came back up.”

Nine minutes later, the man who first fell in along with all of his would-be rescuers managed to make it out of the water.

All of them are doing just fine.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Missing 17-Month-Old Found on University of Kentucky Campus

University of Kentucky Police Department(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- A 17-month-old California girl is in the custody of Child Protective Services in Kentucky since Friday after being reported missing more than two months ago.

Alouette Day-Moreno-Baltierra of Los Angeles was found Thursday at the University of Kentucky after two police officers received a phone call about a suspicious woman pushing a stroller on the university’s parking lot.

“This is an example of where the responding officers followed a gut feeling that something just wasn’t right with the situation,” said University of Kentucky Police Chief Joe Monroe in a news release on Friday.  “We have been working with the Child Protective Services, LAPD and the FBI to make sure that we get Alouette returned safely to her legal custodian.”

University police officers Jennifer Ockerman and Emily Smith watched as 62-year-old Maria Baltierra-Dejesus pushed a baby stroller in a school parking lot in below-freezing temperatures. The baby had no shoes, gloves or head covering, police said.

When the officers approached Baltierra-Dejesus, who claimed to be the child’s grandmother, she was uncooperative, police said.

After further investigation, university officers were able to locate the child’s birth certificate, which indicated the toddler was born in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department said the child was reported missing on Oct. 16 from the 700 block of West Olympic Boulevard near the business district of Los Angeles.

“The child’s mother, Dominique Baltierra, indicated [on Oct. 16] she did not know the whereabouts of her child and mother. The following day, she wanted to cancel the missing children’s report, citing the child and grandmother had been located,” said Norma Eisenman, public information officer for the LAPD. “When LAPD asked Baltierra to produce the child, the mother refused and was evasive.”

LAPD added that the Department of Children and Family Services simultaneously placed a warrant in its system for both the grandmother and child.

“University police arrested Baltierra-Dejesus on the warrant and the child was then placed into protective services,” said Eisenman.

On Friday, the LAPD confirmed Baltierra-Dejesus was the grandmother to the 17-month-old baby.

At the time of her arrest, evidence of wire transfer receipts from Baltierra-Dejesus’ family members were found in the woman’s possession.

“Family members were financially supporting the alleged grandmother since the baby has been missing, since October, while she’s been on the run with the child,” said Monroe. “We’ve received word [that] on one occasion she’s tried to leave the country with the baby, possibly a second time.”

Monroe said Baltierra-Dejesus tried to flee to France or Holland.

“She received passports issued while she was in California, which dated a week before the child went missing in October,” said Monroe.

University police have charged Baltierra-Dejesus with endangering the welfare of a minor and custodial interference. Further charges will be made from the state of California.

As of Friday, Baltierra-Dejesus had not requested an attorney, Monroe said.

The police are also trying to determine why Baltierra-Dejesus chose to come to Kentucky, according to Monroe.

Baltierra-Dejesus is currently being treated at a university health care facility. Once she’s released, university police will transfer her to Fayette County Detention Center in Lexington, Ky., where she’ll await extradition from California.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Monroe.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California First to Endorse Comprehensive Social Media Privacy Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Starting Jan. 1, 2013, California will be the first state to enact comprehensive social media privacy legislation, officials say.

As he signed the measure known as the Social Media Privacy Act on Sept. 27, California Gov. Jerry Brown posted on his Google+ page: “Today I am signing Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349, which prohibit universities and employers from demanding your email and social media passwords. California pioneered the social media revolution. These laws protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts.”

Bill number SB 1349, authored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco-San Mateo, provides protections for students and applicants at colleges and universities throughout California. And bill number AB 1844, authored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, gives the same protections to employees and job applicants.

“Violation of online privacy has become a trend nationally, we wanted to put an immediate stop to it and stop it from reaching to California,” Adam J. Keigwin, state Capitol-based chief of staff of Yee’s office, told

In May 2012, Maryland became the first state to pass social media legislation that protects employees’ digital privacy. In July 2012, Delaware enacted a similar legislation that protects college students and post-secondary schools. In August 2012, Illinois passed social media legislation similar to Maryland’s.

Bradley Shear, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney practicing social media and technology law, served as an adviser on California’s bills. He told on Thursday that the states of New Jersey and Michigan will follow suit next year.

“This means that a total of six states will enact the social media privacy acts, with Michigan being the second after California to enact a comprehensive one,” said Shear.

“The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities,” said Yee in a news release issued by his office. “Today, California has declared that this is an unacceptable invasion of personal privacy.”

But Shear thought that there was more to these bills than issues of privacy.

“This is a win-win situation for all parties. People should understand that it is pro-privacy and pro-business because with access comes responsibility,” said Shear, adding that employers deciding to keep profit-generating employees while aware of their legally questionable acts can get in legal trouble.

“I would tell such employers, careful what you wish for,” Shear said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Good Samaritan Finds Man's Lost Wedding Ring

Spike Mafford/Thinkstock(KINGVALE, Calif.) -- Douglas Benedetti was a man on a mission when he returned to a snowy California highway to find what seemed like a needle in a haystack: a wedding ring lost in the piles of snow.

The ring was not even his own but that of a complete stranger, a man Benedetti, a snow chain installer by trade, had stopped to help one Friday night along Interstate 80 near Kingvale, Calif.

"He was installing his chains without gloves on, his hands got cold [and] he didn't realize his ring had slipped off," Benedetti said.

That is what the driver, whose name Benedetti still does not know, told Benedetti when he pulled over to help the man. Instead of helping with his car, Benedetti watched the driver frantically sifting through the snow.

"He was using the light on his cell phone to look for it in the snow, and he had no luck," Benedetti said.

The driver, whose wife was waiting in the car, eventually quit the search and drove off. Benedetti, however, could not get the search out of his mind and returned to the scene at one o'clock the next morning to search again.

"I decided to go look for the ring because I knew approximately where it was," he said. "I was hunting with my head lamp and hand light."

Less than an hour later, Benedetti found the ring submerged in the snow next to a semi-truck. The platinum ring was inscribed with the words "Lisa, 5th June, 2010."

Benedetti is now on the search for the driver and his wife to return the ring, another needle-in-a-haystack search considering he knows only the wife's name, Lisa.

"It happened so fast," he said of not getting the driver's name. "I've never been married, but I know that if a husband loses his wedding ring someone else is going to be very upset."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mammoth Boulder Crashes into California Home

KGTV/ABC News(POWAY, Calif.) -- A boulder, estimated to weigh 12 tons, rolled into a house in Poway, Calif. Thursday, wiping out its garage, crushing gas and electric lines, and barely missing a propane tank.

Poway Fire Department officials said the boulder was apparently dislodged during heavy rains Thursday, and traveled about 300 feet before crashing into the San Diego County home.

“I heard a loud booming sound and the walls of my house were shaking … I rushed to the patio and then the garage and that’s when I saw a big hole,” said Janielle Gendelman, who lived alone in the house with her dog and two cats.  “My gosh! Pieces of the siding of the garage were sticking… It was a disaster! I saw the washing machine upside down.”

Kevin Hitchcock, fire division chief for the Poway fire department, told ABC News, “It is not clear what caused the boulder to come loose, but it could have been the torrents of rain.”

Poway firefighters said they put a rescue plan into effect. “First, we made sure there were no injuries, we secured the leaks in the propane and electric lines and sent out a MATS [Mercury and Air Toxics Standards] unit to contain the toxic leaks from pesticides and gasoline products stored in the garage,” said Hitchcock.

“This is my family home,” Gendelman said in an interview with ABC News. “I grew up here.”

Deanna McGough, who has lived nearby for 10 years, said that rolling boulders are not new in the area. “Three years ago a boulder rolled into a house in this neighborhood,” McGough told ABC News. “And occasionally I see boulders on the sides of the street.”

Hitchcock said the rock that hit Gendelman’s house was more than 5 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide. It was made of granite. “We’re still not sure how it will be removed from the garage,” he said.  “Most likely it will have to be pulled out of the garage with a cable because it can’t be drilled where it is.”

Gendelman said she is not sure if her home insurance would cover all the expenses to repair the damage. “I was told by my agent that they might not cover the damage. This is really upsetting because this is my only home and I had to pay extra to insure against damage from natural disasters like earthquakes,” she said tearfully.  “I mean, what will I do with this big rock in my garage? Can’t they at least seal the walls?”

ABC News contacted Gendelman’s insurer. The company confirmed that it is aware of Gendelman’s claim and is looking into it.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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