Car Plunges 200 Feet off Cliff; Passengers Live

Two men are in the hospital today after their car careened off of Highway 101 near Summerland early yesterday morning and plunged 200 feet down a cliff.

Both the passenger and the driver – who was later determined to be driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident – suffered multiple lacerations, abrasions and contusions, and were brought to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The driver, 36-year-old Domingo Reyes of Santa Paula, will be booked on felony DUI charges once he is released from Cottage Hospital, said Officer Don Clotworthy, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

From what investigators can determine, the pair was driving southbound on Highway 101 near Ortega Hill Road at approximately 4:40 a.m. yesterday morning when their vehicle left the road, flew off the adjacent cliff and came to a stop on its wheels 200 feet lower – about 10 feet away from the Union Pacific railroad tracks, Clotworthy said. The wreckage disrupted train traffic until approximately 8 a.m.

Because of the vehicle’s awkward location and difficult accessibility, a local tow truck could not remove the vehicle. Union Pacific sent a rail car with a crane from Guadalupe, Calif., up to the incident later in the day to remove the wreckage.

Former Faculty Member Gives UCSB $2 Million

Earlier this week, a former UCSB professor and his wife donated $2 million – the largest gift ever given by a faculty member – for new research on globalization.

The gift will allow UCSB to hire four scholars that will be in charge of starting an interdisciplinary academic research initiative to study the effects of globalization. Emeritus professor Duncan Mellichamp and his wife, Suzanne, have already created five such endowed chairs, four of which are dedicated to systems biology and one to process control in the Chemical Engineering Dept.

The gift stipulates that the chairs’ research focus will rotate every 15 years to a new issue of priority to the campus. Issues of campus priority may include establishing a new program or school, studying emerging research, continuing successful research or securing long-term funding.

The couple said they donated the money because they wanted to see the full effects of their gifts. Duncan Mellichamp was a founding member of the Chemical Engineering Dept. and a professor at UCSB for 40 years. He also held a number of campus leadership positions during his tenure. Suzanne Mellichamp is a retired schoolteacher of 30 years, who received her master’s in education from UCSB.

Ocean ‘Twilight Zones’ Release Carbon Dioxide
UCSB marine science professor David Siegel and 16 other scientists from around the world have just published findings that change scientists’ beliefs on the ocean’s role in equalizing the effects of greenhouse gases.

Research from two Pacific Ocean cruises have confirmed that carbon dioxide, which is absorbed into the ocean by green surface plants, is recycled to an area located 100 to 1,000 meters below the surface instead of being stored in the deep ocean as previously believed. This “twilight zone” allows the gas to escape into the atmosphere, where it can contribute to global warming.

The findings also mar proposals to slow climate change by sprinkling the oceans with iron, an element that would help multiply surface plants and transfer more carbon dioxide into the deep ocean.

The research expedition was originally launched at sites off Hawaii and Japan in 2004 and 2005 to study what happens to marine plants’ remains when they die. The carbon is stored in these remains, decomposed, dissolved and recirculated back to the twilight zone.

Siegel, who is also director of UCSB’s Institute for Computational Earth System Science, tracked ocean currents and the paths the sinking particles took. Siegel joined scientists from Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Hawaii, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, among others, to perform the study.

Sandbar Keeps Dancing Permit Despite Protests

Despite many local business owners’ wishes, the Santa Barbara City Council decided to uphold an existing permit to allow dancing at the local club, Sandbar.

The Police and Fire Commission approved a dancing permit for the outdoor club last February, but several local business owners went before the council yesterday to appeal the decision. Kay Morter, the general manager of the Holiday Inn Express on Haley Street, wrote a letter to the council expressing her concern that an outdoor club would disturb the neighborhood.

“It is impossible to soundproof,” Morter wrote. “Every time I have walked by this location the doors, windows and curtain have been open and loud music is projecting onto State Street.”

The council’s decision to uphold the permit comes in the wake of discussions to place a cap on the number of dance permits that would be issued on State Street. Currently, there are 14 valid permits.

Club owners like Bob Stout, owner of the Wildcat Lounge, hope that number will not be limited because they say it would make it more difficult to sell their business in the future.

“I want to be able to guarantee the prospective buyer that they will be able to get a dance permit, not get put at the bottom of a waiting list,” Stout said.

The Police and Fire Commission will meet on May 22 to present its recommendations to the council on whether the permit cap should be in place.