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KGET: Local News

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    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The NTSB will release its final report on the SpaceShipTwo crash Tuesday morning.

    Virgin Galactic's flagship spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo disintegrated in mid-air during a test flight October 31, 2014. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury died in the crash. Pilot Peter Siebold sustained serious injuries but parachuted to safety when he was thrust from the vehicle.

    Shortly after the crash, the NTSB announced Alsbury had unlocked the feathering device on SpaceShipTwo. Although Alsbury never engaged the system, which is designed to help stabilize the craft as it returns from orbit, the wings still folded up just before the craft came apart.

    Probable cause in the accident will be announced Tuesday, along with recommendations to make commercial space flight safer moving forward.

    Virgin Galactic also confirmed Monday that it suffered a hard start on a motor during a test fire operation on June 30, but the extent of the damage to that motor is unknown.


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    BAKERSFIELD, Ca - Community members gathered at the Korean War Veterans Memorial at Jastro Park to celebrate the 62nd Anniversary of the Korean War Cease Fire.

    The Korean War memorial has been in Bakersfield since 2006 reminding our community of the sacrifices made and lives lost. Monday's event showed how a war could bring two countries together and create a lasting relationship.

    A local Korean drum group performed and several people spoke to pay tribute to all who fought and the nearly 37 thousand who lost their lives, 68 from Kern County.

    Local pastor, Peter Cho, born in South Korea during the war attended the ceremony. "When I came to the United States I thought what should I do for this country," said Cho. He came to the US in 1976 and because of his love for the Army and everything the American Armed Forces did for his country he wanted to give back. "So I served the US Army for 6 years," said Cho.

    Cho said he wants the Korean War to be remembered as a forgotten victory not a forgotten war.

    Leon Thomas, 85, entered the Korean War as a combat medic in 1951 at 19 years old. "We paid a big price for their freedom and I think they know it," said Thomas. He is proud of his service. "I know the war did some great things for Korea and the world for that matter," said Thomas.

    After the South Korean Government heard about Bakersfield's Korean War Memorial they wanted to replicate it. "It's in the city of Busan which is a city of a million people and they invited me to come back there and dedicate it," said Thomas.

    These veterans are pieces of living history and educate our community about their patriotic service. "We want to inspire our county to always remember these old veterans," said said Thomas.

    Thomas said if you are a Korean vet and want more information about going back to South Korea and visiting the memorial call him at 661-366-8918.


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    Bakersfield, CA- A Kern County Sheriff's deputy shot and wounded a teenage girl at Standard Park in Oildale after, deputies say, she pointed what appeared to be a handgun at them Friday night.

    KGET has cell phone video that shows what happened in the minutes leading up to the shooting.

    We obtained the video from a person who didn't want to be identified because they said they were afraid of the Sheriff's department.

    The video clearly shows a despondent teenager pointing what looked like a pistol at deputies for more than a minute before deputies fired at her.

    In an enhancement of the video, the 16-year-old can be heard telling deputies, "shoot me," several times.

    A standoff followed, with the three deputies waiting 67 seconds before firing.

    The video shows deputies firing four shots at the girl within five seconds, with one bullet hitting the teen in the stomach.

    She was taken to Kern Medical Center for treatment.    

    Deputies were initially called to the park for a suicidal teen.

    Investigators say she was holding a cell phone then put it in her pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a handgun and pointed it at deputies.

    Today, deputies confirmed the handgun was a realistic looking Daisy Power Line Model 45 pellet gun.

    The teen has been arrested for exhibiting a firearm at a peace officer, and obstructing a peace officer.

    Deputies say she will be booked into juvenile hall when she is released from the hospital.

    The three deputies who fired, nine-year veteran Scott Wall, seven-year veteran Daniel Willis, and seven-year veteran Dennis Coffee, have all been placed on routine administrative leave.

    By our count, this is the 15th law enforcement involved shooting in Kern County this year, it's the second involving Kern County Sheriff's deputies.


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    BAKERSFIELD - A reporter for KUZZ radio in Bakersfield is under arrest, accused of trying to meet a minor with the intent of committing a lewd act.

    Bakersfield police say they received a complaint that 46-year-old Scott Thackrey was communicating inappropriately with a juvenile online.

    Thackrey was arrested just before 6:30 Wednesday evening in the 4800 block of Easton Drive.

    Bakersfield police ask anyone with information regarding this investigation or similar incidents involving Thackrey to call 327-7111.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA.-A team of 29 education leaders from across the state have unveiled a new plan to help California improve in five key areas starting this school year. 

    Blueprint 2.0 makes three key recommendations on ways to implement higher academic standards and local funding control. 

    First, addressing the teacher shortage by working with colleges and universities that train teachers and the California commission on teacher credentialing. 

    Second, a focus on student needs from cradle to career. 

    And third, brain development support by focusing on children as soon as they are born, expanding student-based health centers and providing students with year round nutritious meals. 

    California schools have made some improvements. The High School graduation rate reached a record high of 80.8 percent this year, up from 74.7 in 2010. 

    Yet even though funding has increased this year, the state is still likely to remain in the bottom half of the nation. 


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- Even though it was the hottest June on record, Californians' saved water last month.

    The state water board released water conservation numbers this morning for June, the first under the mandatory statewide 25-percent reduction in water use ordered by Governor Jerry Brown.

    The state did better than that, reducing water use by 27.3 percent in June.

    That's a savings of 59.4 billion gallons as compared to 2013.

    Almost 40 percent of all urban water suppliers reduced their water use by 30 percent or more.

    June's conservation efforts puts the state on track to achieve the 1.2 million acre-feet savings goal set by the Governor by February 2016.

    If you would like to see a detailed breakdown of water usage click here.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A man has reached a plea deal for an apartment fire in east Bakersfield earlier this month, according to the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

    It happened on Quincy Street near Owens Street on the evening of July 17th.

    Four families were displaced.

    Later, Rudy Bribiesca, 32, was arrested on 4 counts of arson.

    Thursday, he reached a plea deal.

    He is facing 4 years in jail when he's sentenced.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- A man who once told investigators they would never learn his true identity has given it up as part of deal to shorten his prison sentence. 

    The man known as Max Kozack is actually Maciej Ignaciuk, according to the Kern County District Attorney's Office. 

    Ignaciuk, was accused of abducting a 16 year old girl from Wofford Heights. Detective said the pair had been having a sexual relationship for months. They were finally caught weeks later near Amarillo, Texas.

    Initially, 
    Ignaciuk was charged with 13 sex related felony counts including Unlawful Sexual Intercourse. Ignaciuk pleaded no contest to two counts in exchange for 11 others being dropped. He was also required to reveal his true identity. 

    Ignaciuk will be sentenced to 2 years 8 months in prison and be required to register as a sex offender for life.

    If he had been convicted on all charges he could have been sentenced to as much as 11 years.  


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA- The Kern County Fire department has declared a Lightning Plan for the county.

    The plan limits how many resources are sent to a fire believed to be caused by lightning.

    Kern County Fire Department Public Information Officer Tyler Townsend said the plan sends one unit to reports of a lightning caused fire.

    That unit will determine if more resources are needed. Townsend said often times because of the accompanying rain, one unit can handle a lightning caused fire.

    The county adopted the plan because of the high volume of fire calls they get when there is rain and lightning.

    The plan will remain in effect until the current storms are over, Townsend said.


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    BAKERSFIELD, Ca - A Bakersfield father who did not wish to be identified sent 17 News video and pictures from the Del Taco at the corner of Ming Avenue and Stine Road, showing what he says is fecal matter in the play area.

    The father, who wished to remain anonymous, says he told a manager, but an hour later, the play area remained open.

    Wednesday, the Public Health Services Department investigated the play area and found fecal matter. The department immediately shut down the area and ordered it be cleaned and sanitized.

    The play area remained closed Thursday.

    Del Taco offered this statement: "Guest safety is our highest priority. Upon learning of the situation, we took immediate action by closing the play area and have contacted third party professionals to clean and sanitize the area before reopening. This is standard procedure."

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    Bakersfield, CA- KUZZ radio reporter Scott Thackrey, 46, is out on bail tonight after being arrested for reportedly using the internet to try to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex, according to Bakersfield Police.

    Police say Thackery arranged to meet with who he thought was a 13-year-old girl Wednesday in the 4800 block of Easton Drive.    

    “So we conducted an investigation where we used a police officer acting as a 13-year-old over the internet having contact with Mr. Thackrey,” said Sgt. Joe Grubbs.

    The investigation was launched after the girl's family reported the inappropriate communication between Thackrey and the girl.

     “We don't make a lot of arrest for this I think it's under reported.  And the reason it is under reported is people don't know that it’s taking place, said Grubbs.

    17 News spoke to computer experts at ARRC Technology who say there are things parents can do to protect their children from online predators.

    Besides buying computer software to monitor your children's activity, “one of the best bets you can do really is make sure you have access to the usernames and passwords your kids are using for all the online sites, said Shane Swanson COO at ARRC Technology.

    But how can you tell whether there is inappropriate communication going on?

    Swanson said, “Biggest thing is, if you walk up and the screen is getting minimized immediately, that's one red flag.  If you start seeing changes in behavior obviously that's another thing that you want to look for.”

    Local parents said they are shocked by the news and they do keep a close eye on their kids.

    “It’s terrible that somebody an adult would prey on somebody younger like that in the first place.

    You do have to protect your kids and really communication is the best thing,” said Bakersfield resident David Lofy.

    “You have to be aware of the websites that they are on and monitor and have certain websites locked,” said local parent Renee Nerick.

    Thackrey has posted a statement online saying, in part, he is “deeply sorry for hurting and disappointing friends.”


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    Bakersfield, CA- Members of a local roller derby team are rallying around one of their own.

    Nancy Valles and her children were seriously hurt when a car crashed into them outside a local eatery.

    Julie Valles, 7, is back on her skates after spending days in the hospital, thinking she would never skate again.

    “When i got pinned between the wall I just like closed my eyes,” said Julie Valles, 7.

    On July 8, Julie, her mom, and her brother, were getting ice cream at Super King Express, when a car that was involved in an accident, barreled toward them.

    The three were pinned between the wall and the vehicle

    “What was going through my mind was fear, was the scariest thing in my life, said Eric Valles, 12.

    “I still have flashbacks of the truck coming towards us and the trauma my kids are going through, said Nancy.

    Nancy suffered critical injuries and is unable to work.

    As a member of The Bakersfield Diamond Divas roller derby team, she's also unable to do what she loves most, skate.

    Nancy said, “My injuries are bad, I broke my femur and it was actually pushed backwards and then I broke both bones right below my knee.  So in the top part of my leg I have a rod and in the bottom part I have a plate with screws going down my leg.”

    That’s why her derby sisters are rolling in to help.

    “She is not only an employee here at Skateland she is also one of our diva sisters and we will be helping her in any way that we need to be helping her, said Helen Swall, Skateland owner and Diamond Divas member.

    This weekend they will hold a fundraiser barbecue to get the wheels turning and help Nancy and her family get back on their feet.

    “I am so blessed that we are all alive,” said Nancy.  She adds, “I'll eventually skate again, it might take me a couple years but i will, I'm not getting rid of my skates.”

    The drive-thru barbecue takes place Sunday from 11:30a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Skateland on Ming Avenue.

    Tickets can be bought ahead of time at Skateland, for $10.

        


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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield police are investigating what caused a motorcycle to collide with truck in southwest Bakersfield early Friday morning.  

    Police say two motorcyclists were traveling westbound on White Lane when the motorcycle hit the center median. The motorcycle then continued into eastbound traffic on White Lane when it hit the truck that was traveling east.

    A man on the motorcycle was pronounced dead. The female motorcyclist was transported to a local hospital with injuries.

    BPD doesn't know yet whether drugs or alcohol are a factor.

    White Lane between Pin Oak Park and Park View Drive will be closed until 9 or 10 am.
     

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A dozen families will be honored for reuniting with their children Friday after being placed in foster care.

    The second annual "Together Again Family Reunification Day" celebration honors 355 children who reunified with their parents over the past year.

    Robert McMinn and his sons are one of those families. McMinn had been sober for seven years when an argument with the boys' mom revealed to law enforcement the couple had fallen back into meth addiction.

    "We got caught basically in an argument and sheriffs got involved and they found out that we were using," said McMinn. "Then CPS got involved because they always do when they find out kids are involved with someone using."

    That was four years ago, when the boys were four and nine. The siblings were moved to different foster homes before being placed with a relative.

    "We went to a lot of different places we don't know," said eight-year-old Dylan McMinn.

    Judge Louie Vega rules in the dependency court at the Juvenile Justice Center. He says the goal is not to tear families apart, but to help parents do the tough work in order to regain custody of their children.

    "Methamphetamine use is the scourge of the nation. It's the scourge of this community and a significant majority of the cases that we see everyday involve that," said Judge Vega. "I like that there is an opportunity for redemption so to speak. And I'm not talking in the religious sense but just in the sense that you know you've done something, you've atoned for it, you've rehabilitated."

    Part of McMinn's rehabilitation happened at Joe's House in Kernville, which is a place for addicts. He went to Joe's House on Tuesday nights to help get clean, and drove from Bakersfield to Kernville for visitation to prove he could be a good father.

    "I was driving up here five days a week just to see Dylan and take him to daycare you know for 15 minutes," said McMinn.

    He has now reunited with his boys, and as of two weeks ago are no longer part of the CPS system. McMinn now has sole custody of Dylan and his older son Johnny, who is not biologically his own.

    "I feel great, good. I know someone cares about me that much," said Johnny Sanchez, McMinn's eldest son.

    McMinn is grateful to the many people who have helped him regain sobriety.

    "I thank CPS and the people involved and I thank the officers that intervened that night because with that type of drug you don't know how long it could have gone on," said McMinn. "I have to be number one. When it comes to staying clean I have to be the number one person I got to worry about because if I'm not clean, I'm not going to do them any good, and I'm not going to do anybody else any good and I'm definitely not going to do myself any good."

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Sheriff's officials were investigating a man's death inside a rural cabin in Jawbone Canyon Friday and said it may be possibly related to a kidnapping case in Twin Oaks earlier this week.


    On Tuesday night, deputies were dispatched to the Twin Oaks General Store in Twin Oaks, east of Bakersfield, for a report of a kidnapping which had occurred at a remote rural cabin about fifteen miles southeast of Twin Oaks.

    There were three victims, two 20 year old males and a 19 year old male from Bakersfield, who deputies say had been kidnapped and held at gunpoint.

    Deputies say the victims had arrived at a cabin owned by one of the victims at about 7:00 pm. They drove to the cabin in a Polaris Ranger. When they arrived they approached the cabin and were confronted by a male suspect who had been inside the cabin. The male suspect asked the three victims why they were on his property. The suspect was described as a white man, 30-35 years old, 5'8", 160 lbs., long brown hair, blue eyes, dirty in appearance wearing an olive colored t-shirt, olive colored pants, a brown corduroy hat, and a green bandana.

    A pickup stolen Wednesday afternoon may have been taken by the suspect wanted in connection with holding three men captive at gunpoint in a remote cabin southeast of Twin Oaks.

    According to a sheriff's news release, a white 2011 Dodge 3500 was stolen between 2:40 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. The keys were left in the vehicle.

    The truck is missing both front hub caps and has a California license plate of 22009B1.

    Officials said they were notified early Friday of a person found dead inside a cabin off Jawbone Canyon and Highway 14 around midnight.  Sheriff's deputies, a SWAT team and homicide detectives were called to the scene and found the man shot inside the cabin around 9 a.m. Friday.  The man was pronounced dead at the scene.  

    Kern County Sheriff's office spokesman Ray Pruitt said this incident may be related to the kidnapping and hostage situation in Twin Oaks earlier this week because of the proximity of the two locations, which are about 10 miles apart.  He also said the suspect in the Twin Oaks kidnapping case is still on the loose.

    Residents in the Jawbone Canyon, Kelso Valley, Caliente, and Walker Basin areas should be on the lookout for any suspicious people or stolen vehicles, Pruitt said. Anyone with information on these cases is urged to call the Kern County Sheriff's Office at 861-3110.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A civil claim has been filed involving the death of Jose Beltran Salas at Cecil Avenue Middle School in January. The claim filed by the law firm of Chain, Cohn, Stiles is against the Delano Union School District, the city of Delano, County of Kern and the State of California.
     
    The claim says Cecil Avenue Middle School employees failed to summon medical attention in a timely manner.  And specifically failed to properly call 9-1-1, causing the phone call to be directed to Northern911 in Canada, which resulted in delayed medical treatment.  Beltran was pronounced dead at Delano Regional Medical Center.  

    Beltran was in a P.E. class when he collapsed after running sprints.  The claim among other things, seeks wrongful death damages, funeral and burial expenses and punitive damages.

    A representative from the Delano Union School District said at the direction of counsel, they are not allowed to comment on pending litigation.  

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Forestry officials say if you live or are visiting the communities surrounding Lake Isabella you may be impacted by smoke in the next few days.

    The Cabin Fire, ignited by lightning on July 18, is 40 air miles north of the town of Kernville and is over 1900 acres at this time. The fire is located within the Golden Trout Wilderness Area on the Western Divide Ranger District, of the Sequoia National Forest.

    Firefighters will gain access to the fire as soon as it is safe to do so. Smoke over the fire area has prevented aircraft from getting over the fire. Once the smoke inversion lifts, making it safe to fly, aircraft will evaluate the conditions and plan for where to begin suppression efforts.

    Forest service officials have the following steps to limit any exposure.  

    1.Limit your outdoor activities, especially children and people with chronic heart and lung diseases.
    2.Remain inside air conditioned buildings. Note: If you don’t have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases seek alternative shelter.
    3.If you have asthma or other lung diseases, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
    4.If you are an older adult, or have children, or if you have heart or lung diseases, talk with your doctor about whether you should leave the area.
    Everyone else should reduce prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion.

    Fire Information can be obtained by calling the Western Divide Ranger District 559-539-2607, open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or by visiting http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4423/

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police need your help finding a hit and run driver involved in a crash that injured a female pedestrian who died last weekend.

    Bakersfield police say the crash took place the night of July 15 in the 2600 block of Buck Owens Boulevard. The woman who was struck by the car, Tina Collins, 54, of Bakersfield died Saturday at Kern Medical Center. The car that was involved is described by police as an older model station wagon.

    If you have information regarding this case, call Officer Richard Bittleston at the Bakersfield Police Department (661) 327-7111.


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    A U.S. Forest Service firefighter died while responding to the Frog Fire in Modoc County.

    Dave Ruhl, 38, of Rapid City, South Dakota died Thursday, but search and rescue crews didn't find him until Friday morning.

    Ruhl was on temporary assignment to the Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National Forest as an assistant fire management officer. His permanent position was engine captain in the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest in Rapid City.

    “This loss of life is tragic and heartbreaking,” said Forest Supervisor, Amanda McAdams.

    Governor Jerry Brown issued the following statement: "Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Dave Ruhl, who left his home state to help protect one of California's majestic forests. Firefighter Ruhl will be remembered for his service and bravery and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues with the U.S. Forest Service."

    Governor Brown said Ruhl is survived by his wife, Erin, and their two children. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 14 years and previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

    The Forest Service is investigating his death.

    Meantime, Governor Brown has declared a state of emergency, as 8,000 firefighters continue to battle 23 large in the state.

    Governor brown declared the state of emergency to help mobilize additional firefighting and disaster response resources.

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    Bakersfield, Ca. - The Kern County Corner's office has identified the victim in the Jawbone Canyon homicide as 64-year-old David Louis Markiewitz and continue to search for his killer.

    Ray Pruitt from the Kern County Sheriff's Office says Markiewitz was found dead in his cabin in Jawbone Canyon. "We don't know where the suspect is at this point we believe he may still be in one of these areas on foot," said Pruitt.

    Bob Newman manages the Jawbone Canyon Visitors Center and he says the Mohave Desert is a rugged terrain, tough to travel on foot. "Its very hot, very dry, a low lying area there's plenty of Joshua Trees out here in the Western Mohave, the creosote bush which you see a lot of," said Newman.

    Pruitt says the suspect might've been involved in a kidnapping Tuesday night in Twin Oaks, East of Bakersfield. "We believe there is a strong possibility the two cases are related but we haven't confirmed that yet," said Pruitt.

    He says the canyon will be closed until the investigation is complete. "We want to do everything we can to turn over every rock that we can trying to find this suspect," said Pruitt.

    Newman hopes the Kern County Sheriff's Department will finish the search Saturday night. "The sooner they catch him the better we can all go back to normal, tomorrow it will be business as usual," said Newman.

    The suspect in the kidnapping is described as a being about 30-to-35 years-old, five-foot eight-inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds. He has long brown hair, blue eyes, wearing olive green military style clothing.

    Anyone with information call the Kern County Sheriff's Office non-emergency line at 861-3110. However if you see anything or anyone suspicious in the Jawbone Canyon area call 9-1-1 immediately.


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