Saturday, 20 July 2024


MIDDLETOWN – Local and state law enforcement officials were involved in a day-long marijuana eradication on Wednesday.

The operation began around 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Bauman said sheriff's deputies, along with agents from the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), were involved in the operation.

He said it took place along a five mile stretch in the area of Dry Creek Road and the Dry Creek Cutoff near Middletown.

In all, about 5,800 marijuana plants were eradicated, said Bauman, who didn't have a season eradication total immediately available.

Area residents reported seeing numerous trucks, cars and agents as part of the operation, along with a helicopter.

Bauman estimated that there is at least another month of eradication work ahead for officials before the marijuana growing season ends for the year.

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In Lucerne on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, (from left) firefighter Chrissy Pittman, Battalion Chief Pat Brown and firefighter Odell Landers showed off the new breathing apparatuses and additional air tanks that Northshore Fire Protection District purchased thanks to a $78,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act granted administered through the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency, coupled with an additional $25,000 from the district. Brown said the district has received another grant from the agency for $100,000 which will be used for a new water tender. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LUCERNE – Northshore Fire Protection District has received two significant federal grants that will assist the agency in upgrading equipment to serve one of the state's largest fire districts.

The US Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants, totaling $178,000, will provide much-needed new equipment for the district – from new air tanks and breathing apparatus to increase firefighter safety to a new water tender.

Northshore Battalion Chief Pat Brown called the grants a “major coup.”

He said the district applied for the grants in April, and received notice on June 30 that they had received the $100,000 grant for the water tender and on July 6 that they received the $78,000 grant for the breathing apparatus.

The fire districts along the Northshore consolidated into one agency, Northshore Fire Protection District, in a three-year process completed in November of 2006, said Chief Jim Robbins.

The result is a small rural agency with 72 volunteers and 17 paid staff – some of them part-time – that covers 350 square miles or about 228,300 acres, much of it wildland. It's the third largest fire district in California, Robbins said.

Northshore Fire has an annual budget of about $2.3 million, Robbins said. Brown said the district usually receives about two to three grants a year.

“It's incredible the amount of land they cover,” said Sarah Pursley, spokesperson for USDA Rural Development's California office.

Because of the district's size, Brown added, “We're going a lot of places now.”

That, of course, puts wear and tear on the district's equipment, which the grant will help address.

On Tuesday morning, Brown, Robbins, and firefighters Odell Landers and Chrissy Pittman were busy unpacking 20 new air packs and 20 additional new lightweight air tanks for responding to structure fires.

Each tank lasts 30 minutes and weighs about 5 pounds, less than the older aluminum and steel models. Brown said the newer tanks have a lifespan of about 15 years.

The breathing apparatus are funded from a $78,000 grant that came through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), funds which the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development is administering through its current programs, said Pursley.

Brown said the fire district supplemented that amount with about another $25,000 to round out the purchase.

Pursley said ARRA has provided a “significant” amount of additional funds to help rural communities.

“We've really been able to reach out to a lot of communities that have good projects, that have strong needs,” but for one reason or wouldn't have been funded, Pursley said.

The second, grant for $100,000 that will fund the water tender comes through USDA Rural Development's Economic Impact Initiative Grant program, administered through its Community Facilities Program, Pursley said.

She said eligible communities have to have a “not employed” rate of 19.5 percent or higher – a number which she said is larger than the unemployment rate – and no more than 20,000 residents.

The grants cover projects such as first responders – like Northshore Fire – as well as libraries and community facilities, she said.

Those grants are available on an ongoing, year-round basis, Pursley added.

Brown said Northshore Fire is providing an additional $56,000 that, paired with the $100,000 grant, will pay for the new water tender, set to arrive this December.

Fouts Brothers Fire Equipment of Smyrna, Georgia, which has built the agency's attack engines – small engines used for wildland fires – is building the new water tender, said Brown.

The tenders usually last about 20 years, said Brown, but Northshore Fire has water tenders five to 10 years older than that still in use.

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A closeup of the new breathing apparatus that Northshore Fire Protection Districts officials were busy unpacking on Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at the district's Lucerne headquarters. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



LAKE COUNTY – A quake that occurred in Talmage late Sunday was felt around both Mendocino and Lake counties.

The 3.3-magnitude quake was reported at 9:33 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake, which occurred at a depth of 2.8 miles, was centered eight miles south southeast of Talmage, 10 miles south southeast of Ukiah and 10 miles west of Lakeport.

Dozens of Lake County residents – most of them from Lakeport – reported to the US Geological Survey that they felt the quake. More than 160 responses came from the Ukiah area.

The survey reported that shake reports even came from the faraway areas of Danville and San Ramon, 170 and 175 miles from the quake's epicenter, respectively.

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NICE-LUCERNE CUTOFF – A Lucerne man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of felony driving under the influence following a three-vehicle collision on the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff.

Barton West, 56, was arrested after being transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for medical care following the crash, which occurred at around 12:55 p.m. Tuesday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Tanguay.

The collision occurred on the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff east of Lakeshore Boulevard, Tanguay said.

Salvador Velazquez, 40, of Nice was driving his 2000 Dodge Caravan eastbound, with 84-year-old Jack Green of Nice driving eastbound behind Velazquez in his 2003 Ford Focus, according to Tanguay's report.

West, who was driving his 1985 Toyota Tercel westbound approaching Velazquez and Green, is alleged to have allowed his vehicle to cross over the double yellow lines and enter the eastbound lane of traffic ahead of Velazquez, Tanguay said.

Tanguay said the left side of West's Tercel swiped the left side of Velazqeuz's Caravan before West continued to travel westbound, with the left front of his vehicle hitting the left front of Green's Ford Focus.

Following the collision, the Toyota Tercel and the Ford Focus each came to a stop in the traffic lanes, partially blocking the roadway, Tanguay said.

Emergency personnel from Lakeport, Northshore and Lake County Fire responded to the collision scene and it was necessary to extricate West and Green from their vehicles, he said.

Tanguay said West and Green were transported by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for their injuries.

West was subsequently arrested for felony driving under the influence charges, said Tanguay.

The collision is being investigated by Officer Erich Paarsch.

NICE-LUCERNE CUTOFF – An early Tuesday afternoon crash on the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff left two people with major injuries.

The head-on collision occurred just minutes before 1 p.m. half a mile east of Highway 29 on the cutoff, according to a Lakeport Fire Protection District report. In all three vehicles were involved but injuries were only reported to two people.

Lake County Fire Protection Battalion Chief Willie Sapeta arriving about four minutes after the incident was dispatched and began assessing injuries, said Lakeport Fire paramedic/firefighter Brian Hajik.

Shortly afterward, Northshore Fire Battalion Chief Pat Brown arrived and assumed incident commander, Hajik noted.

Hajik said Lakeport ambulance 5013 requested one medical helicopter while en route to the crash based on information given by dispatch. When Brown got to the scene, he requested a second helicopter because there were two seriously injured patients.

When Lakeport's medic engine 5012 and ambulance 5013 arrived they were directed to a station wagon with one patient with an altered mental status and possible head injury, Hajik said.

Firefighters had to do extensive extrication with the jaws to life to remove the station wagon driver from the car. Hajik said they initiated aggressive advanced life support as they worked to remove the man, who was transported code three to Sutter Lakeside Hospital's helipad for transport by REACH to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Northshore Fire paramedics tended to a patient in the other vehicle involved. Hajik said that individual also was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital's helipad code three for transport to a trauma center.

The California Highway Patrol said major injuries resulted from the crash, but the agency did not respond to a request for further information on the crash victims made Tuesday afternoon.

Officials reported alcohol is a possible contributing factor in the crash.

Hajik said air bags were deployed, and the two crash victims appeared to have been wearing seatbelts.

One minor injury to a firefighter was reported, Hajik said.

Resources on scene, Hajik noted, included one advanced life support engine company and one ambulance from Lakeport Fire, with mutual aid provided by Northshore Fire, REACH and CHP.

Emergency responders had the scene managed and cleared in just under an hour, according to Hajik.

KELSEYVILLE – Thousands of residents of the Kelseyville and Cobb areas were out of power Sunday afternoon and into the evening due to equipment failure.

Brandi Ehlers of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said a momentary power interruption just after 4 p.m. affected 8,500 customers.

A sustained outage for several more hours affected about 4,000 customers, said Ehlers.

The reason for the outages was equipment failure, but Ehlers said she was unsure of the origin of the equipment problems.

Power was restored to all of the area's customers by 7:30 p.m., Ehlers said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at .

LAKE COUNTY – It's once again time for Lake County's premier fundraising event.

The Lake County Wine Alliance will hold its 10th annual Lake County Wine Auction, a benefit for the arts, health, and community of Lake County, on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the National Guard

Armory, located at 1431 Hoyt Ave. in Lakeport.

This annual gala is a must-attend event with live and silent auctions, wine and gourmet foods from local purveyors and music. Twenty-five Lake County wineries will participate.

The Lake County Wine Alliance is a nonprofit organization of Lake County wineries, winegrape growers, and community supporters whose mission is to foster the arts, benefit health services, and support the community.

Since its first event in 2000, the Lake County Wine Auction has contributed more than $714,000 to local programs.

This year’s event is chaired by Andy Beckstoffer, chairman and CEO of Beckstoffer Vineyards; the evening’s auctioneer will be Tom DiNardo, founder of DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers.

“The Wine Alliance board is looking forward to an exciting evening of raising funds to support many worthy programs in Lake County,” said Beckstoffer.

Rob Roumiguiere, partner in Roumiguiere Vineyards and treasurer for the Lake County Wine Alliance, is this year’s master of ceremonies. The Lake County Diamonds will provide the event's music.

Black-tie is encouraged.

The Wine Auction begins at 5 p.m.; tickets are $100 per person.

Organizers said this week a limited number of tickets for the event are still available.

Once again this year, acclaimed local watercolor artist John Clarke created a watercolor-on-silk painting and donated it to the Wine Alliance both to be reproduced as a fine art poster and to be auctioned off as original artwork. This year’s piece is titled, “Sunset Waltz.”

Other auction items include weekend and weeklong getaways, wine packages, wine tasting events, and a variety of goods and services like massages and other luxuries.

The Wine Auction committee has added a special attraction to this year's auction – a Vintage Vault where seven wineries will pour special library wines and do vertical tastings of limited vintages.

Participating will be Brassfield Estate Winery, Dusinberre Cellars, Langtry Estate & Vineyards, Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, Steele Wines, Tulip Hill Winery and Wildhurst Vineyards. The unique opportunity to taste remarkable wines from these exceptional Lake County wineries will be available for an additional charge of $25 per person, payable at the event.

The Wine Alliance board of directors annually selects the recipients to benefit from the auction proceeds. A record number of applicants submitted their funding requests to the Lake County Wine Alliance this year, demonstrating the number of programs seeking financial assistance.

Seven nonprofit organizations, five high schools, senior centers, and health programs have been selected as beneficiaries of this year’s event, announced Margaret Walker-Stimmel, president of the sponsoring Lake County Wine Alliance.

This year's beneficiaries include:

The Arts: The Allegro Scholarship Program assists exceptional music students with financial needs and will receive $2,000. The fine arts programs at each of the five high schools in Lake County (Clear Lake

High, Kelseyville High, Lower Lake High, Middletown High, and Upper Lake High) will share the balance of funds in this category.

Health: The Lake County Hunger Task Force will receive $2,500 to assist senior centers and food banks with produce from its community gardens. The balance of funds will be shared equally by the five senior centers that provide “meals on wheels” or nutrition programs and the St. Helena Hospital Clearlake Medical Imaging department for its no-cost mammograms to low or no-income women.

Community: The Stitch and Give Knitters will receive $1,000 to help them provide knitted items to the women’s shelter, pregnant teen program, Head Start program, and newborn hats to area hospitals. The

Lake County Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America will receive $5,000 for its advocacy and outreach programs, including the Avenue of Flags at local cemeteries, and providing gifts to patients at extended-care facilities. Remaining funds in this category will be shared between People Services Inc., and Senior Law Project, Inc. People Services has been meeting the needs of the developmentally disabled in Lake County for 35 years. The Senior Law Project provides legal help to elder clients in Lake County.

The Ely Stage Stop & Country Museum project of the Lake County Historical Society will receive special attention through a “fund a need” live auction lot. The recently re-located structure is considered to be Lake County’s oldest “stick-built” building, dating to the late 1850s. It will be the centerpiece of a new interpretive museum for Lake County’s agrarian past.

Corporate and major sponsors this year include Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Beckstoffer Vineyards, Bella Vista Farming, Buckingham Golf & Country Club, Enchantic Art, Kelseyville Lumber, McDermaid Family Vineyards, Mendo Lake Credit Union, Kelseyville Wine Company, Lake County Winegrape Commission, St. Helena Hospital Clearlake, Umpqua Bank, WestAmerica Bank and Wildhurst Vineyards.

For tickets to the Lake County Wine Auction and information on the Friday evening dinners, contact 866-279-WINE, .

LAKEPORT – The investigation into the circumstances that led to a fatal Sept. 11 vehicle crash outside of Lakeport is still under way as the three surviving victims recover, officials said Monday.

The crash occurred shortly before 10 p.m. Friday on Highway 29 south of the Highway 175 turnoff to Hopland.

Alejandro Aurelios Arias, 28, of Kelseyville is alleged to have driven at high speed into the highway's northbound lane.

There, his Ford Mustang collided head-on with a Buick Regal driven by 41-year-old Charlane Hill of Laytonville, as Lake County News has reported.

Hill was pronounced dead at the scene. Arias was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter before he was transported to Santa Rosa for treatment of major injuries to his head, pelvis and legs.

The crash also resulted in major injuries for Hill's friend, 40-year-old Maria Hill of Clearlake – who is more commonly known by the last name Holt, according to family members – and 10-year-old Ukiah resident Elizabeth Hill, Charlane Hill's niece.

Yvette Doering, Elizabeth Hill's mother, said her daughter is at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland, where she's being treated for two broken ankles, a broken humerus bone in her her right arm and a separated pelvis. The child also has had surgery to fix the broken bones.

Doering called her daughter “a complete miracle.”

“She should be home in about a week,” said Doering.

Doering said Maria Hill is in stable condition at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where she was taken after the crash.

She said family members haven't yet told her daughter about her favorite aunt's death, as they want to wait until she is recovered to break the news.

On Monday Arias remained in critical condition at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said spokesperson Katy Hillenmeyer.

Officer Steve Tanguay of the California Highway Patrol said the driving under the influence charge against Arias is still under investigation.

A blood draw was taken from him at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, and it's currently being processed by the state Department of Justice. Tanguay said it usually takes a few weeks to get the results back.

He said the charge was made against Arias because officers observed him with alleged signs and symptoms of intoxication at the crash scene.

Arias was stopped earlier in the evening near Upper Lake and given a warning for speeding, said Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Because of the ongoing investigation into the crash being led by CHP, Bauman said he couldn't discuss further case details at this point.

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Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome band, from Los Angeles, wows the audience with her unique vocal talent from Grand Ole Opry roots. Photo by Terre Logsdon.


LOWER LAKE – Smiles, toe tapping, applause, and great American roots and bluegrass music filled the air at the fourth annual Old Time Bluegrass Festival held Saturday at the Anderson Marsh State Historic Park in Lower Lake.

Grammy award-winner Laurie Lewis, accompanied by Nina Gerber, headlined the show and brought the estimated 1,200 guests to their feet again and again.

Lewis, best known for her fiddle playing, singing and songwriting, has been called “one of the preeminent bluegrass and Americana artists of our time,” and enchanted the crowd accompanied by Gerber, who performs with many other luminaries of American roots music.

“This is a beautiful place and a wonderful festival,” Lewis told the audience from the stage just before her last song of the evening on Saturday.

The festival was presented by the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association (AMIA), a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote education and interpretive activities at the park, the Children’s Museum of Art & Science (CMAS), and the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, as a benefit to help support education in science, history and performing arts for the children of Lake County.

Bluegrass banjo player and Upper Lake resident Pat Ickes with his band Bound to Ride returned once again to the festival, which was much appreciated by their fans who were treated to original tunes and classics.

A member of Bound to Ride, Larry Chung, reintroduced this reporter to bluegrass about 10 years ago when he played weekly with a band of rotating musicians at Cato’s in Oakland. Growing up in southern Illinois, my grandparents were bluegrass fans, taking my brother and I to shows near and far, including the Grand Ole Opry.




The Clear Lake Clikkers, under the direction of Michelle John-Smith, enjoy clog and buck dancing for the exercise and social aspects

LOS ANGELES – Last week agents with state Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s office arrested three people involved in a refinancing scam, some of whom also were involved in a property reassessment scam that was sent out to property owners around Lake County and the rest of the state.

Brown's agents arrested Michael McConville, and two of his associates for their roles in an alleged “criminal conspiracy” to steal nearly $1 million from borrowers seeking to refinance their homes.

McConville and his co-conspirators allegedly lured dozens of borrowers into refinancing home loans by falsely promising low interest rates and brokers' fees, and other attractive terms.

They then negotiated different terms with lenders, forged the victims' signatures on the final loan documents and collected hefty brokers fees – ranging from $20,000 to $57,000 – that were never disclosed. Only when the borrowers received true copies of the loan documents after the refinance did they discover that their names had been forged.

In total, defendants are alleged to have stolen more than $950,000 from more than 70 borrowers, leaving victims holding $30 million in loans with terms they did not agree to.

Brown recently sued Michael McConville and his brother Sean for their part in the "Property Tax Reassessment" scam which targeted Californians looking to lower their property taxes, as Lake County News reported earlier this year.

Tens of thousands of mailers were sent out that featured official-looking logos and demanded hundreds of dollars in payments for property tax reassessment and reassessment appeal services. Some of those mailers ended up in the hands of Lake County residents.

The statements warned homeowners that if payments were not received by the "due date" they faced late fees or would have their file marked "non-responsive" or "ineligible for future tax reassessments."

Jim Campbell, Lake County's deputy county assessor, helped get the word out, and said for a time it was the “talk of the assessor world,” but the scam appeared to have died down once the community was notified.

In this most recent action, Brown filed 44 criminal charges against:

  • Michael McConville, 39, of Simi Valley, sales manager of ALG Inc, a Los Angeles based mortgage company. McConville was arrested at his home late Thursday. He is being held in Ventura County Jail on $2 million bail.

  • Garrett Holdridge, 23, of Palmdale, California and Texas, loan officer for ALG Inc. Holdridge is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail (Palmdale Station) on $2 million bail.

  • Alan Ruiz, 28, of Huntington Beach, a loan officer for ALG Inc. Ruiz was arrested at his home late Thursday. He is being held at Orange County Sheriff's Main Jail on $2 million bail.

The charges include 28 counts of grand theft, 14 counts of forgery, one count of elder abuse, one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft; three special allegations of aggravated white-collar crime in excess of $500,000; and taking in excess of $3.2 million.

“After victims signed their closing papers, McConville and his associates doctored the loan documents, forged borrowers' signatures and slipped in hefty fees that were never disclosed,” Brown said. “This was not some clerical error but a criminal conspiracy to steal nearly a million dollars from borrowers.”

From April 2007 to October 2008, McConville and his associates provided homeowners closing documents bearing terms promised, but which the lender never approved. After homeowners signed those documents, key pages were removed and replaced with pages bearing the terms that the lender had actually agreed to. The homeowners' signatures were forged on the replacement pages, and ALG forwarded the forged documents to the escrow company.

Homeowners only discovered they had been defrauded when they received the final loan documents with the true terms and saw their signatures forged on disclosures of closing costs, Truth-in-Lending disclosures, loan applications and other documents. ALG often collected between $20,000 and $30,000 in undisclosed broker fees. In one transaction, they collected over $57,000 in such fees.

As a result of this scheme, homeowners suffered devastating financial losses. Some were forced to sell their homes, come out of retirement, or tap into retirement savings. Others paid significant prepayment penalties – in one case, more than $21,000. Borrowers often never received the significant amounts of cash-out they were promised.

In one case, Michael McConville promised one couple a 5.5 percent fixed interest rate, cash-out of $58,000 and $4,500 in closing costs. Only after they signed the documents, they realized their copy did not include the pages detailing the key terms of the loan.

The couple soon received loan documents from Indymac Bank and discovered their signatures had been forged and they had received a 7 percent interest rate, no cash-out, and over $50,000 in closing costs, including a $42,000 origination fee paid to ALG.

ALG contacted a 65-year-old retired woman in July 2007 and promised her a 30-year fixed rate loan at 5.25 percent. A month later, a notary had arrived at the victim's house with loan documents reflecting the 5.25 percent fixed interest rate.

After closing, the victim discovered she had received an adjustable rate mortgage with an initial rate of 8.65percent, a $22,000 origination fee, and $2,230 in miscellaneous fees. The victim's signature had been forged on most of the documents.

HOPLAND – Mendocino County Sheriff's officials are searching for suspects in the Sept. 11 beating death of a Hopland man.

Raul Delara Ruiz, 52, was found beaten to death at around 2 a.m. Sept. 11, according to a report from Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies were dispatched to a remote property along Highway 175 in Hopland on the report of a beating, and found the severely beaten Ruiz in a marijuana garden, Noe reported.

Noe said Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of Ruiz's death was determined as blunt force trauma to the head, according to Noe.

A preliminary investigation revealed that Ruiz was cultivating marijuana with three suspects when they were involved in a dispute over the marijuana garden's water supply, Noe reported. Both Ruiz and his wife were assaulted, and Ruiz died as a result.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives are attempting to identify the suspects and are asking anyone with information call Detective Eric Riboli at 707-463-4111 or the tip line at 707-467-9159.

LAKEPORT – A Laytonville woman died as the result of a crash Friday night outside of Lakeport, and a Kelseyville man was arrested for driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter.

Charlane Hill, 41, died at the scene of the crash, which occurred on Highway 29 just south of the Highway 175 turnoff to Hopland at approximately 9:42 p.m. Friday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Alejandro Aurelios Arias, 28, of Kelseyville was arrested after the crash but was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with major injuries, the CHP said.

The CHP report explained that Arias was driving a 1997 Ford Mustang westbound on Highway 29 at a high rate of speed when he entered the highway's northbound lane.

'Charlane Hill, meanwhile, was driving northbound in a 1994 Buick Regal at an undetermined speed, the CHP said. She had two passengers, Maria Hill, 40, of Clearlake, who was riding as her right front passenger, and a 10-year-old Ukiah girl was in the right rear passenger seat.

When Arias' vehicle entered the northbound lane he hit Hill head-on. The CHP report said Arias' vehicle came to rest on the highway's east dirt shoulder, facing in a northerly direction, while Hill's vehicle stopped facing the opposite direction and partially blocking the northbound and southbound lanes.

Lakeport Fire Protection District was dispatched to the crash, with Lakeport paramedic ambulance 5014 arriving on scene one minute after dispatch, according to a Lakeport Fire report issued Saturday.

Paramedics and CHP officers found one of the vehicles on fire, with all of the crash victims trapped and the roadway completely blocked, the report explained. The fire was quickly suppressed with a fire extinguisher before reaching the patient.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District responded with two engine companies and two ambulances. Fire Captain Bob Ray assumed command and immediately requested additional ambulances and helicopters for one critical patient and three patients with major injuries, Lakeport Fire reported.

Mutual aid assistance was provided by Kelseyville Fire, Cal Fire, the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Lakeport Police, with helicopters for medical transport coming from REACH and Calstar.

Lakeport medic engine 5012 and medic ambulance 5013 arrived five minutes after dispatch and

were directed by Ray to reassess patients after his initial triage, according to the fire district.

All of the parties had to be extricated from their vehicles, and paramedics found Charlane Hill dead deceased. Maria Hill had major facial injuries and altered mental state, and the child had major injuries to her extremities and abdomen.

Arias also suffered major injuries. Firefighters found he was in and out of consciousness with critical injuries to the head, pelvis and legs.

The CHP said Arias was arrested at the scene on suspicion of DUI causing great bodily injury and gross vehicular manslaughter. He'll be booked at a later time, after he is released from medical care.


Helicopters landed on Highway 29 to transport Arias and Maria Hill to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, while REACH took the 10-year-old to Oakland Children's Hospital.

Both of the vehicles had extensive damage, and the CHP said vehicle inspections are pending to determine the use of safety equipment.

Lakeport Fire's report noted that all four crash victims appear to have been restrained and airbags were deployed.

The CHP said the crash closed the highway between Highland Springs Road and Highway 175 for two hours and 10 minutes, with traffic diverted to Soda Bay Road.

CHP Officer Jake Bushey is investigating the crash.

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