Saturday, 13 July 2024


LAKEPORT – An escape attempt from the Lake County Jail on Thursday night was halted within minutes by some very observant sheriff’s deputies and an off-duty Ukiah police officer who were fortunately in the right place at the right time.

Mitchell Hughes Lewis, 54, of Lower Lake was the inmate whose alleged escape attempt was foiled, according to a report from Capt. James Bauman.

At about 8 p.m. Thursday night, an on-duty patrol deputy and an off-duty deputy, who had just completed an arrest and control training class, were talking outside of the jail when one of them spotted a man in denim jail clothing running up an embankment from the facility towards Highway 29, Bauman said.

The fleeing inmate, who Bauman said later was identified as Lewis, turned and looked at the deputies but continued running the approximately 50-yard distance to the freeway, ignoring their orders over a patrol car public address system to stop.

The off-duty deputy immediately pursued Lewis on foot while the uniformed deputy raced to get on the freeway in his patrol car and intercept the fleeing inmate. Bauman said Lewis continually ignored commands to stop as the off-duty deputy chased him onto the freeway and eventually caught up with him in the center median near the Hill Road overpass.

As the off-duty deputy struggled to subdue Lewis on the ground, an off-duty Ukiah police officer who happened to be traveling on Highway 29 stopped and assisted to restrain the escapee until the uniformed deputy arrived with handcuffs to complete the arrest, Bauman said. Lewis was returned to the facility without further incident.

Bauman said Lewis had been in custody since November and was scheduled for sentencing Friday on felon in possession of ammunition and resisting arrest charges.

He later told deputies that he expected to be sentenced for an extended term and tried to escape in order to see his elderly parents before going to prison, Bauman said. A plastic bag containing additional jail clothing and other items was recovered from the shoulder of the freeway near the area of his arrest.

Bauman said Lewis was classified as minimum security and was therefore housed in a minimum security dorm at the jail. He now will face felony escape charges, as well another misdemeanor resisting arrest charge.


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COBB – A motorcyclist was found dead on Cobb Mountain Thursday morning.

The California Highway Patrol reported the fatality at around 9:30 a.m. Thursday on Seigler Springs Road.

CHP and fire officials responded to the scene, where Lake County News correspondent Roger Kinney witnessed the male victim being brought up from the creek in a rescue basket.

Kinney said it appeared that the motorcycle rider went straight rather than following the lefthand turn and went into the creek as a result.

The motorcyclist reportedly was aboard a blue sport bike that was destroyed in the wreck.

The CHP offered no other details by day's end, and did not identify the crash victim.

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LAKEPORT – With pride of accomplishment, demonstration of newfound skills and the honor of recognition, more than 200 students graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program on Wednesday, May 5, at Terrace Middle School in Lakeport.

The students took part in the graduation ceremony in front of an auditorium filled with family and friends.

“This program has given the students the ability to make better choices,” explained Vice Principal Andy Goodwin about the intensive program.

Participation in DARE also demonstrated the students’ commitment, Goodwin said, as participation in the nine-week program took them away from their free time.

Taught by Lakeport Police Department’s School Resource Officer Stephanie Green, the curriculum covered resisting peer pressure, drug abuse resistance, healthy relationships and confidence in making healthy choices.

Prior to completing the program, all students were required to complete a report reflecting what they learned from the DARE program and how it affects their personal decision-making, according to a Lakeport Police statement.

The fifth and sixth graders also performed several skits that highlighted the lessons learned in the program – from resisting peer pressure, to making healthy life choices.

“It’s not just about drugs,” explained Green. “It’s about choices in life. All choices.”

Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke reminded the students that, as they go through life, they should give back to their communities by being positive role models. He reminded them that they can only control themselves – and the choices that they make.

Founded in Los Angeles in 1983, DARE is now an international program used throughout the United States and in more than 40 countries worldwide. It's designed to educate children about resisting drugs, gangs and violence.

The graduation ceremony was presented by the Lakeport Police Department in conjunction with the Lakeport Unified School District.

For more information about the D.A.R.E. program, visit

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The Surfaris will be a featured group at this weekend's Clear Lake Cruise-In. Courtesy photo.

CLEARLAKE – As part of an unprecedented effort by the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, local business sponsors, a number of local car clubs and car enthusiasts, this weekend the streets of Clearlake and Lake County will take a leap back in time with the inaugural Clearlake Cruise-In.

The event will be the most elaborate classic car event that Lake County has ever seen, according to event organizers.

The festivities will include classic cars from all categories, awards, music, vendors, show and shine, poker run around Clear Lake and even a pin-up contest.

The festivities all day Saturday will be highlighted by a performance by the world famous surfer rock band The Surfaris and a classic cruise of Lakeshore Drive, which will be closed for cars older than 1973.

Spectators will be encouraged to observe the cruise between Redbud and Austin Park from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and enjoy the music on the Austin Park stage from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Clear Lake Cruise-In will be a fun and exciting event and all ages are encouraged to join the festivities.

For more info and a schedule of the weekend’s event see below or visit

Saturday, May 8

7 a.m.: Car show check-in and set up in Austin Park

7 a.m.: Vendor set up

10 a.m.: Car show judging

11 a.m.: Enterprise Automotive open house

11 a.m.: LC Diamonds on the Austin Park Stage

1 p.m.: Maynard Albertson recognition

1 p.m.: Poker run check in Austin Park

1:30 p.m.: Pin up girl contest

2 p.m.: Bil Noteman & The Rockets on Austin Park Stage

4 p.m.: Car show awards ceremony

4:30 p.m.: Deadline for poker card submission

4:45 p.m.: Poker run prize giveaway

5 p.m.: The Legendary Surfaris on the Austin Park Stage

7 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Cruising Lakeshore Drive

9 p.m.: Bill Noteman & The Rockets on Austin Park Stage


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The new Live Oak Senior Center nine-passenger minibus is ready to transport seniors to and from the center for lunches. Courtesy photo.


CLEARLAKE OAKS – Designed with the community in mind, the multipurpose Live Oak Senior Center now has a nine-passenger minibus for the transportation of Clearlake Oaks, Spring Valley or Glenhaven residents.

The center's driver will pick up riders and drop them off for a nutritious hot lunch at the senior center in Clearlake Oaks, and return them to their homes afterwards.

The center is a hub for services and activities for seniors, and a visible symbol of this lake community’s concern about its older residents, according to center Executive Director Pat Grabham. It is the place where new friends and longtime friends gather for lunch, fun and a host of other community activities.

For many of the residents it is “home away from home,” Grabham said.

Depending on demand and funding, there are plans to replace the present vehicle with a larger, more accessible 12-passenger minibus, according to Grabham. The more seniors who use this service, the more they can enhance their dignity, independence and involvement with the community.

Minibus transportation is provided for seniors five days a week, Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. You must call at least one day in advance. Reservations must be made the day before, and no later than 3 p.m. for next day service. Same day service is on space-available basis only.

Understandably sometimes plans change and people no longer need a ride. Please call 707-995-1950 to cancel your trip as soon as possible. This will save the senior center the cost of an unnecessary trip and allow them to provide a ride to someone else. The community's cooperation will be appreciated.

The minibus program was made possible in part by funding from a Caltrans grant and Lake Transit. The bus was donated from the Ukiah Senior Center to accommodate the increase in seniors attending the Live Oak Senior Center.

“For our seniors transportation is a major concern, especially for those who are no longer able to drive,” Grabham said. “We are delighted to provide this important additional service to improve their quality of life.

“I am thankful to all of those who made the implementation of this community service possible,” she added. “More residents will be able to attend our Live Oak Senior Center in Clearlake Oaks, to have the opportunity to have a nutritious meal, to socialize with others, and to keep living independently in their own homes. In addition to curb-to-curb service, we have plans to use the minibus for a variety of special events.”

It must be remembered that in rustic communities such as Glenhaven and Clearlake Oaks transportation needs to be provided to homebound seniors who are unable to cook their own meals, to have personal transportation, or are wheel-chair bound.

Aging often results poor motor coordination, poor eyesight or hearing, and a variety of debilitating diseases that keep elderly people homebound. Even if they have the ability to drive, they find it safer not to risk a drive to the senior center due to the health conditions they have. The minibus program primarily intends to benefit such homebound seniors, Grabham said.

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CLEARLAKE – An investigation conducted by the Lake County District Attorney's Office has concluded that a Clearlake Police officer who shot a man last September was justified in doing so.

District Attorney Jon Hopkins released the report Wednesday involving the shooting of Sean Christian Pryor.

Last Sept. 30 several officers arrived at the scene on 33rd Avenue on a report from Pryor's brother, who reported that Pryor had threatened his life, Hopkins' report recounted.

Pryor, who threatened to kill the officers, was alleged to have been armed with a large kitchen knife and appeared to be preparing to assault other officers on the scene when he was shot, according to the report.

He also had allegedly thrown a table leg at an officer and sprayed the front linoleum entryway with charcoal lighter fluid, Hopkins noted.

A total of seven bullet casings were recovered, which was consistent with the number of bullets missing from the .40-caliber Glock pistol belonging to one of the officers. Hopkins said another officer also fired a Taser during the incident.

The names of the officers involved weren't released in the report.

“Based upon the investigation, it is my legal opinion that the officer who shot Mr. Pryor had a reasonable belief, under the circumstances, that it was necessary to use deadly force to prevent Mr. Pryor from causing imminent death or great bodily injury by stabbing that officer or others with the large kitchen knife,” Hopkins wrote. “This would constitute a complete defense to any criminal charges, and based upon that, the District Attorney would not be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and will not be filing any charges against any of the officers.”

Pryor, 27, was arrested Jan. 4 on felony charges of obstructing or resisting an officer. He remains in the Lake County Jail on $300,000 bond, according to jail records.

Hopkins' full report is reprinted below.





On September 30, 2009, at about 10:02 a.m., in the City of Clearlake, Clearlake Police Department Officers were dispatched to a call for service at 16382 33rd Avenue, Clearlake, CA. During this incident, Sean Christian Pryor suffered non-lethal gun shot wounds from a Clearlake Police Officer. The Lake County District Attorney’s office was contacted by the Clearlake Police Department and asked to assume the responsibility for the criminal investigation under the Lake County Protocol for Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incidents. We assumed responsibility for that investigation and at the conclusion have determined that the shooting was justified under the circumstances, based on the appearance that Mr. Pryor was about to stab one of the officers who had responded to the scene. Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed against the officer who shot Mr. Pryor, or any of the officers involved in the incident.

Mr. Pryor’s brother contacted Clearlake Police Department during the morning of September 30. 2009, to report his concerns about Mr. Pryor’s behavior. Their mother had left the residence September 29th, saying she could not deal with him. The brother went to the residence the morning of September 30th to check on Mr. Pryor and reported that his life was threatened by Mr. Pryor, who had a broken table leg. He believed that there might be a machete in the house, and said that Mr. Pryor was destroying the house. The brother further reported that Mr. Pryor had a previous incident where he fought with officers and had to be tased. The brother provided a key to the door for police use.

Clearlake Police Officers arrived at the residence and attempted to talk to Mr. Pryor and gain entrance to the house, but he would not open the door. Mr. Pryor was extremely agitated, yelled curse words and threatened to kill the officers. The officers persisted in attempts to convince Mr. Pryor to open the door, but continued to hear yelling and objects being thrown inside the residence. When they were unable to get cooperation from Mr. Pryor, a plan for entering through the front door, with officers stationed at the back door, was made. Four officers were at each door when the front door was opened.

As the officers opened the door, Mr. Pryor threw a chair leg and hit one of them on the shin. Mr. Pryor had sprayed the front linoleum entryway with charcoal lighter fluid, and when the first officer entered the door, he lost his footing and fell just as Mr. Pryor threw a wadded paper or rag at him that opened up as it reached the officer and hit him in the chest.


Three of the four entering officers had handguns pulled, and the fourth had a taser equipped with video and audio recording. After Mr. Pryor was first seen, he briefly disappeared into a hallway and then quickly reappeared. The first officer saw Mr. Pryor with a knife in his raised hand as the officer was falling. Mr. Pryor continued to approach, and the officer fired his handgun until he saw Mr. Pryor fall to the floor. The officer with the taser fired it as he heard the shots, and the fourth officer saw a large knife on the floor near the right side of Mr. Pryor after he fell to the floor. That officer stepped over Mr. Pryor, announced the presence of the knife and kicked it away and down the hallway. A cigarette lighter was found near Mr. Pryor, and a fire extinguisher was found placed at the front door.

The officers began to administer first aid and called for medical personnel to respond.

Two Senior Criminalists from the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, and the Evidence Technician from Clearlake Police Department assisted in the processing of the scene with four Lake County District Attorney Investigators. The house and yard were littered with destroyed household items, and antipsychotic medication and marijuana were found. Seven casings consistent with the seven rounds missing from the first officer’s handgun were found. There was no evidence of any of the other officers firing their firearm. Bullets were collected along with a Bic lighter, large kitchen knife, fire extinguisher and broken chair leg. An open container of charcoal starter fluid was documented. The taser was collected and the video and audio were reviewed. All officers were interviewed, including two Lake County Sheriff Deputies who responded and were stationed at the back door, along with Mr. Pryor’s brother and several neighbors.

After a review of the investigation, I believe the evidence shows that only one officer fired all of the shots which struck Mr. Pryor from a .40 caliber Glock pistol. Based upon the investigation, it is my legal opinion that the officer who shot Mr. Pryor had a reasonable belief, under the circumstances, that it was necessary to use deadly force to prevent Mr. Pryor from causing imminent death or great bodily injury by stabbing that officer or others with the large kitchen knife. This would constitute a complete defense to any criminal charges, and based upon that, the District Attorney would not be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and will not be filing any charges against any of the officers.



May 5, 2010

Jon E. Hopkins

District Attorney

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LAKEPORT – A man serving a state prison term for sex crimes against children will be heading next to a state mental hospital.

On Wednesday, Scott Merlin Bagley, 47, formerly of Nice, was determined to be a sexually violent predator by a jury after a trial before Judge Richard Martin in Department 2 in Lake County Superior Court in Lakeport.

The Lake County District Attorney’s office filed a petition alleging that Bagley was a sexually violent predator prior to his being released on parole and back into the community.

The sexually violent predator trial was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Edward Borg, who is the specially assigned child sexual assault prosecutor in the Lake County District Attorney’s Office. Bagley was represented at the trial by defense attorney Komnith Moth.

The purpose of the sexually violent predator trial was to attempt to extend Bagley’s prison commitment before he could be released from prison, in order to protect the community, the district attorney's office reported.

Sexually violent predator proceedings are a form of civil commitment codified at Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600. All persons convicted of a crime of sexual violence are evaluated by the California Department of Mental Health prior to their release on parole to determine if the inmate meets the criteria to be deemed a sexually violent predator.

At trial, to establish that a person is a sexually violent predator, the prosecutor must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the inmate has been convicted of committing sexually violent offenses against one or more victims; the inmate has a diagnosed mental disorder; as a result of that diagnosed mental disorder, the inmate is a danger to the health and safety of others because it is likely that he will engage in sexually violent predatory criminal behavior; and that is necessary to keep him in custody in a secure facility to ensure the health and safety of others.

Evidence at the trial, which commenced April 27, established that Bagley has 11 qualifying convictions, all violations of Penal Code section 288(a), lewd and lascivious act with a child under the age of 14, the district attorney's office reported.

Bagley was initially convicted of two violations of section 288(a) with two separate victims in Sonoma County in 1984, and served a prison term for those offenses. In 1994, Bagley was convicted of nine violations of section 288(a) involving three separate victims in Lake County. Bagley’s victims ranged in age from 8 to 12 years old. All of his victims were male.

Testimony by two Department of Mental Health psychologists, Deborah Inman and Andrea Shelley, established that Bagley suffers from pedophilia, a deviant sexual interest in prepubescent children. Both doctors testified that in their opinion Bagley posed a significant threat to the community if released because of his pedophilia and his demonstrated history of recidivism.

On Friday, Judge Martin ordered Mr. Bagley committed to the State Hospital at Coalinga for an indeterminate term.

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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County Superior Court is seeking applicants for the 2010-11 Lake County Grand Jury.

Prospective grand jurors must possess the following qualifications:

  • Be a citizen of the United States of the age of 18 years or older who shall have been a resident of the State and of the County for one year immediately before being selected.

  • Be in possession of his or her natural faculties, of ordinary intelligence, sound judgment and fair character.

  • Possess sufficient knowledge of the English language.

A person is not legally qualified to serve if any of the following apply:

  • The person is serving as a trial juror in any court of this state.

  • The person has been discharged as a grand juror in any court of this state within one year.

  • The person has been convicted of malfeasance in office or any felony or other high crime.

  • The person is serving as an elected public officer.

Desirable qualifications for a grand juror include the following:

  • Have the time to make the necessary commitment. It is not uncommon to serve 10 to 15 hours per week or more.

  • Be open-minded with concern for the positions and views of others.

  • Have the ability to work with others.

  • Have an interest in community affairs.

  • Possess investigative skills and an ability to write reports.

  • Have general knowledge of the functions, authorities, and responsibilities of county and city government and other civil entities.

Applications may be obtained by mailing a letter with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the grand jury coordinator, 255 N. Forbes, Fourth Floor, Lakeport, CA 95453.

Applications also are available at each Superior Court Clerk’s Office, located at 255 N. Forbes, Fourth Floor, Lakeport, or at 7000 A South Center Drive, Clearlake.

Once applicants have been screened and approved, they are randomly selected to be members of the grand jury beginning July 2010.

Applications should be returned before May 28, 2010. For additional information, contact the grand jury coordinator at 707-263-2282.

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LAKE COUNTY – With warmer weather starting to arrive, health officials report that the region is now heading into mosquito season, which brings with it the risk of West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.

So far this year, West Nile Virus-related detections are down from last year, according to the California West Nile Virus Web site,

Two dead birds have been found in Los Angeles County, as compared to 11 dead birds by this time last year, and no positive mosquito samples or sentinel chickens have yet been found, the state reported.

Los Angeles County is the only area of the state found to have cases of the virus at this time, while five counties had some form of positive testing at this time last year, according to the state.

State and regional officials urge resident to take the following precautions to help reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

  • Avoid spending times outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

  • When outdoors wear long pants and long sleeved shirts and use insect repellent.

  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding.

  • Repair or replace torn screens on the windows and doors of your home to help keep mosquitoes outside.

  • Add mosquito fish or a larvicide to small ponds that do not have fish. For use of larvicide follow directions on the package.

Most individuals who are infected with WNV do not experience any illness. Mild symptoms – such as fever, rash, headache and body aches – occur in up to 20 percent of persons infected.

Less than 1 percent of WNV infections prove severe, although seniors and individuals with impaired immune systems have a greater chance of developing severe symptoms that include high fever, disorientation, and neurological effects.

The public is advised to see their medical provider if they develop symptoms that could be from WNV.

Since horses are susceptible to WNV and a vaccine is available for horses, horse owners are advised to contact their veterinarians about timely vaccinations.

If you find dead birds or tree squirrels, be sure to report them to the state's dead birds hotline at 1-877-968-2473 or online at

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CLEARLAKE – A man who allegedly brandished a shotgun Thursday morning was arrested after a search by police.

Michael Wayne Anduja, 23, of Lower Lake was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of exhibiting a firearm and felony possession of a dangerous weapon. He was booked into the Lake County Jail with bail set at $10,000, according to jail records.

Clearlake Police Sgt. Brenda Crandall said a call came in to police at about 11:47 a.m. reporting a man had brandished a short-barreled shotgun at several people at 18th and Phillips avenues.

The suspect, Anduja, then fled the area prior to the officers' arrival, Crandall said.

“Highlands Academy and Yuba College were contacted for lockdown,” said Crandall.

Several roads in the area also were reportedly shut down while the police looked for Anduja.

Police searched the area and arrested Anduja shortly before 1:30 p.m., according to the police report.

Crandall said no one was injured in the incident, and the weapon Anduja allegedly brandished was recovered.

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SONOMA COUNTY – With the marijuana growing season under way on the North Coast, Sonoma County Sheriff's officials found a large illegal grow on Thursday with an estimated worth of more than $21 million.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit completed its marijuana season eradication opener approximately 12 miles west of Lake Sonoma in the area of Old Skaggs Springs Road, where a citizen reported finding a marijuana garden in the vicinity while hunting.

When detectives hiked into the area, they located a large garden site, leading to the eradication of 10,500 marijuana plants, Detective Sgt. Chris Bertoli reported.

The plants ranged from 3 to 4 feet in height, Bertoli said. A nearby spring had been diverted to provide the water source for the plants, and the hillside had been cleared of native vegetation to accommodate the operation. An unoccupied campsite was located in an area next to the garden, and it appeared to be only one person tending to the garden.

The estimated street value of the total plants at harvest would be $21 million dollars based on a price of $2,000 a pound.

Sheriff's officials reminded people who discover gardens on their property not to attempt to confront individuals, and to immediately leave the area.

Property owners and citizens also are encouraged to report suspicious persons and activities to the sheriff's office for investigations.

Suspicious activity could be identified as individuals observed coming and going from remote areas at abnormal hours; Bertoli said these same subjects could be dressed in camouflage clothing, vehicles observed parked along roadways for no apparent reason for long periods of time, and individuals attempting to leave camping supplies along roadways in rural areas.

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Lakeport Fire Protection Chief Ken Wells briefs participants in a hazmat exercise on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



CLEARLAKE OAKS – On Tuesday local and state officials spent the day working through a practice disaster scenario in order to be prepared should the real thing happen someday.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinated the full-scale hazardous materials exercise on the Clearlake Lava properties along Highway 20 east of Spring Valley from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Officials said the annual disaster drills are designed to test Lake County's ability to respond, mitigate and recover from a hazardous materials incident or large-scale natural disaster.

The annual full-scale disaster exercises are mandated and funded through the Federal Department of Homeland Security, and are designed and facilitated by the Lake County Sheriff’s OES. They're meant to ensure proper response and management of real incidents and allow multiple agencies to work together in real time to practice solving a crisis in progress.


Lakeport Fire Chief Ken Wells was the day's incident commander, working with a unified command of officials with numerous local agencies.

Unified command members included Sgt. Gary Basor of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Capt. Crystal Esberg and Jerry Wilson of Lake County OES, county Road Superintendent Steve Stangland, Dan Hernandez of Cal Fire and Dale Stoebe of Lakeport Police.

This was the third joint state and local exercise of its type conducted by the Lake County OES in as many years, according to Lake County OES. Other events included a mass casualty practice event at the county park in Upper Lake and another practice event at Blue Lakes.

Officials reported that the exercise had been in the planning stages since January, with the details kept confidential by exercise planners prior to the event in order for participant responders to experience and react to the incident as they would in an actual emergency.




A portable decontamination unit was set up and used on mock victims during the full-scale hazardous materials exercise on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



The exercise involved the activation of more than 20 federal, state and local emergency resources, including more than 75 emergency responders from both Lake and Colusa counties.

Agencies participating in the Tuesday event included the Lake County Sheriff's Office, OES, Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, South Lake County Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District, Clearlake Police, Lakeport Police, Lake County Department of Public Works, Cal Fire, US Forest Service and Williams Fire, and the Environmental Health departments for both Lake and Colusa counties.

Stangland said the scenario for the practice emergency was a semi truck traveling through the county carrying a load of agricultural chemicals.

In the imagined scenario, the truck comes out of the mountains and onto the highway straightaway and loses several canisters of unidentified chemical materials. The truck driver continues on, apparently not realizing he's lost part of his load along the roadside.

Several mock victims – students with K-Corps – stop to pick up the materials and become contaminated. The scenario has four walking wounded and three people down, with a mock fatality resulting later in the exercise.

Responding to a situation involving hazardous materials requires careful planning and a systematic approach in order to keep everyone safe, Stangland said.

In the practice scenario, Wells was first on scene. He then had to use binoculars to get a sense of the situation, rather than directly entering it, in order to gauge the seriousness and call for the right response.

This year’s exercise also prompted a mock activation of the County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plan and full Operational Area activations, officials reported.




Personnel from area agencies suited up in hazmat gear in order to practice working with dangerous chemicals in a practice scenario on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Hazardous materials incidents are fairly common and generally easily managed and mitigated. However, Esberg said preparing for these types of incidents clearly demonstrates a mutual effort among state and local agencies to work together for a rapid and efficient response.

Part of the afternoon portion of the exercise involved trained hazmat investigators donning suits that can be worn for up to four hours before breaking down from chemicals. With the plastic suits pulled on over other protective gear and air tanks – which made them look like upright, walking turtles – the personnel approached the materials and collected them for identification.

The mock casualties then went through a decontamination unit, a tent with a warm shower system to help remove dangerous materials. The unit's bladder system catches the water for disposal. Wells said the tent unit is light enough to be carried by two people, and has a variety of hookups in order to be used different types of fire equipment.

Stangland said that the dispatch time on the practice event was 10:11 a.m. Within 33 minutes officials were on scene and addressing the hazmat event, a response time which Stangland said is “phenomenal” even for a practice scenario.

California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) officials were on scene to help evaluate the exercise and how the personnel performed.

CalEMA exercise planner Kevin Leisher and Tom Tornell, an operations planner, said the goal is to help people learn how better to respond to such situations in order to protect the public. Tornell said they seek to offer constructive criticism of the operation.




Personnel trained in hazmat set up an area to evaluate the chemicals found during the practice hazardous materials exercise on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, east of Clearlake Oaks. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


Leisher said they evaluate the exercise based on the required tasks. They will then share those evaluations with Lake County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta, one of the day's organizers, who will then take about two to three weeks to complete an “after action report.”

In January Leisher worked with Lake County officials on a “tabletop” exercise in which they sat down together to talk through a scenario of communications inoperability in case of an emergency.

A member of a four-person coastal area team, Leisher also is working on an emergency practice scenario regarding port terrorism that's coming up in another part of the state. Over the next few years they'll be working on scenarios in other areas involving a massive Central Valley flood and a Northern California earthquake.

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Fully protected personnel return from collecting samples from canisters left behind in the practice scenario in which a semi truck driver unknowingly loses part of a load of dangerous chemicals. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

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