Category Archives: News

Company Pays For Explosive Gas Detectors Following Another Death

MEAD, Colo. (CBS4) – Investigators still are not releasing the name of the man killed in Thursday’s oil tank explosion in Mead. Oscar Lopez Velasquez, 32, was killed and three others were hurt in the blast. A spokesperson for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation says the workers were doing facility maintenance on the battery which was not in operation. All four tanks exploded. That fire wasn’t too far from the town of Firestone where two people were killed in a home explosion last month.
oil tank fire Company Pays For Explosive Gas Detectors Following Another Death

(credit: Mountain View Fire)

On Saturday homeowners in the Oak Meadows neighborhood will receive detectors which warn of explosive gases. The alarms are designed to go off if explosive gas is detected in a home. It’s a device that could possibly have saved the two lives. “It’s definitely a hard to realize that they would still be alive and it should’ve been prevented and could’ve been prevented,” homeowner Liz Kawulok said. If people were already l on edge, the explosion and fire at a nearby oil tank battery sent even more chills through the area. “When I heard it was not a home I was relieved, but then once we heard that people ended up being injured and later in the evening we heard of a fatality, then things changed,” said Frank Jimenez, HOA Vice President.
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Investigators at the oil tank battery that caught fire (credit: CBS)

Added to that, an inspection drive through the neighborhood revealed another pocket of methane gas just down the block from where the explosion occurred. It is now being vented to prevent another possible explosion. Some people didn’t want to wait to get their alarms into their homes. The detectors were handed out between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday by the homeowner’s association. Anadarko paid for the detectors.

Heart Transplant Recipient Finds Life Mission And Support From Donor’s Mother

OAKLAND (KPIX) — Watching Arthur Reyes cross the stage to receive his nursing degree, you’d never know that, not so long ago, he himself was a patient — on his death bed — after nearly five years suffering congestive heart failure. He was hooked up to machines that pumped blood for him and waiting for a heart transplant donor. “You’re hoping and praying that you get a call and hearing there was a donor was exciting but also bittersweet, because we know for heart transplant that it has to be someone who passed away,” Reyes remembers. That someone in Reyes’ case was Justin Olivera, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2010. Three years after the transplant, Olivera’s mother, Mary Knauer, wrote a letter to Reyes. “He told me the first night we met, he said ‘this heart and I will do great things.’ And I believed him,” Knauer said. At the graduation ceremony at Samuel Merritt University, Mary Knauer was there to cheer on the man whose heart was once her son’s. “My son lives on right there,” she said with pride.

Pallet Company At Center Of Large Stockton Fire Cited Earlier This Month

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Thursday’s four-alarm fire in Stockton is raising a lot of questions after several neighbors say they have been complaining about the pallet business across the street. “The fire got as high as 50 to 100 feet in the air, and you just saw these big balls of fire,” said Nakisha Thompson, who’s house was destroyed. About 80-firefighters from several agencies spent hours putting out the flames at Hugo’s Pallets incorporated near downtown. Residents nearby had to be evacuated as strong winds pushed the flames towards the neighborhood across the street. In its path, the huge fire burned trees, cars and destroyed homes. “It burned everything. They took everything that all of us own. Everything. I have nothing. My kids are graduating. I have nothing,” said Nicky Swan, who has lived on Weber Avenue for a little over a year. Swan says neighbors have complained many times to the city about Hugo’s Pallets Inc. CBS 13 found the city had issued the company a citation on May 9 for nails on the street and having pallets stacked up too high. The city has received numerous complaints but could not say just how many complaints. “The pallets across the street be piling up. The neighbors be complaining about it. We have all complained about the people across the street there, the wooden pallets was the problem. And they piled up so much they stopped even coming out of the exit because there was so much dead wood over there,” said Swan. Over the phone, Stockton Fire Chief Erik Newman said complaints issued to the property were filed to fire prevention and the city’s code enforcement, but hasn’t reached his office yet. Neighbors don’t buy it. “I’m thinking that he’s not being as responsible as he should be because I’m sure that those complaints gotten there because between all of the residents we were calling everyone,” said Thompson. We spoke with the owner of Hugo’s Pallets, who runs a similar business in Oakland. He suspects the fire may have started behind his property, but fire officials are still investigating the exact cause.

Drivers: Stretch of Coors Boulevard is black hole and dangerous

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a booming part of the metro, but a long stretch of road on a busy Albuquerque street is pitch black with no lights, and it has drivers concerned. Drivers getting onto Coors Boulevard from Montano have a well-lit path. That’s until they reach La Orilla Road, all the way to Eagle Ranch Road. “You can’t see a dang thing. It’s really awful,” Samantha Aumack said. “It’s almost kind of spooky,” Jerry Inman said. It’s not that the area isn’t developed. There’s Flix Brewhouse, Sagebrush Church, a few restaurants and some neighborhoods in the area. But it’s difficult to see any of those places at night. It’s pitch black and within that stretch of road, there are nothing but oncoming headlights. “It’s just a dangerous section. There are times where I’m riding through and people just don’t see us,” Mark Grothe said. Even bicyclists said, combine the lack of light with speedy traffic and it could be dangerous. “The safer we can make it, the better,” Inman said. “The more lights, the better because we really need the visibility with distracted drivers these days.” Coors Boulevard is also known as State Road 45, meaning it’s the responsibility of the New Mexico Department of Transportation. NMDOT said during its last project in the area, it was not as developed as it is today, therefore it determined there was no need for street lights. In a statement, the department said, “It could be a possibility to install roadway lights here one day. For example, if we do a project in the future we could consider the need for lighting at that time.” For people who live in the area, “in the future” can’t come soon enough. “I mean, there’s businesses that are popping out of everywhere and traffic is just going to get so busy and you need that for safety reasons,” Aumack said. DOT could not tell KRQE News 13 when it conducted its last project in the area. It said, as of right now, there are no plans to install any lights.
Filed under: Albuquerque - Metro, Home, News, SmartTV, Strange, Top Stories, Top Video

WATCH: Orphaned, Three-Legged Bear Enjoys Splashing In Pool

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Video of a three-legged bear playing in a pool is starting to go viral. The Performing Animal Wildlife Society released video of Mack, a bear who was orphaned two years ago with a partially missing leg. The group says Mack was first spotted by visitors to a tree farm in the hills above Claremont, where his leg was already missing. No other bears had been seen in the area. Weeks later on July 15, 2015, he was picked up at a school where he was seen climbing a fence. Care providers at the Fund For Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona found his leg had somehow been amputated, but the wound had healed with no evidence of infection. PAWS eventually took over care of Mack, providing the active bear with an enclosure without too many obstacles. If there’s one thing that Mack enjoys doing, though, it’s splashing in a pool. Mack has been at the center for just over nine months now. The group accepts donations to pay for his and other animals’ care.

Former Railroad Worker Awarded Nearly $150,000 In Whistleblower Case

DENVER (CBS4)– Federal safety officials have awarded a former railroad worker nearly $150,000 after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad retaliated against the employee for reporting safety issues with the railroad tracks in Denver.
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Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (credit: CBS)

Railroad tracks are the second-leading cause of railway accidents after human error. Inspectors ride the rails daily looking for track problems, but the man at the middle of the settlement, Brandon Fresque, was fired after he says the railroad tried to cover up the safety issues.
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CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger interviews former BNSF railroad employee Brandon Fresque (credit: CBS)

Freight trains filled with flammable cargo can also turn into rolling bombs in a derailment. Fresque’s job was to find track defects for BNSF until he was fired last year after a meeting with a supervisor.
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(credit: CBS)

“He told me to falsify the report. And within three hours later a confrontation happened and I was removed from service and later fired,” said Fresque. He says keeping the trains moving can affect a supervisor’s pay. Taking tracks out of service or slowing trains can cause delays.
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BNSF Railroad (credit: CBS)

But BNSF insisted in a statement to CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger, “…unequivocally that safety is the most important thing we do.” The railroad said it inspects their busiest tracks daily, using high-tech equipment and will replace 600 miles of track this year.
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(credit: CBS)

But Fresque’s attorney Nick Thompson insists the railroad has reason to discourage employees from reporting safety issues. “They are not in the business of taking tracks out of service, so the longer they can delay that, the more trains they can run and the more money they can make,” said Thompson.
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(credit: CBS)

Train derailments can be extremely dangerous. One derailment occurred in West Virginia on CSX tracks two years ago, due to a track defect. “Their whole goal is move trains, move trains, that’s the only way they are going to make money,” said Fresque.

Taxi Confession: 4 Crashes, 2 Pedestrians Injured, Still Behind The Wheel

By Brian Maass DENVER (CBS4)– A CBS4 Investigation has found a Denver Yellow Cab driver, who has admitted to at least four crashes while on the job, two of them involving pedestrians, numerous moving violations and violations of Public Utilities and Yellow Cab regulations, is still driving a cab in Denver. “If Yellow Cab cares about the people riding in their cabs, they don’t allow someone like this to be driving at all,” said Alex Wilschke, an attorney suing the taxi company over a 2011 accident driver Tesfamariam Okbamicael was involved in.
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(credit: CBS)

In that case, Okbamicael was heading north out of downtown Denver on Broadway at about 10:30 p.m. when he struck two pedestrians who were crossing Broadway at Larimer Street. Jessica Ferrer and her friend Kathryn Winslow were both hospitalized. A witness to the accident, Billy Feid, saw what happened and told CBS4, “He was going twice the speed limit compared to other cars going through. Probably 50 or 60 miles per hour.”
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CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews witness Billy Feid (credit: CBS)

“I believe he was driving way in excess of what the speed limit should be.” Witnesses say the women were crossing against the light, or that the light changed while they were in the intersection.
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(credit: CBS)

Ferrer was seriously injured and says she still suffers seizures and other problems stemming from the accident. Denver police cited Okbamicael for careless driving resulting in serious bodily injury. Court records show Okbamicael later pleaded guilty to a lesser speeding charge. Ferrer’s attorneys suspect Okbamicael was on the phone when he hit the pedestrians, but the cab driver said during a deposition he could not remember if that was the case.
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(credit: CBS)

But as CBS4 probed Okbamicael’s driving record, the investigation found he has admitted previously colliding with pedestrians while driving his taxi. During a videotaped deposition, an attorney asked Okbamicael if he had ever hit people before the 2011 crash.
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Tesfamariam Okbamicael (credit: CBS)

Through an interpreter he said, ”I don’t remember the exact date but yes, downtown. I had someone walk into my vehicle. I do remember somewhere on Arapahoe and 14th.” To verify that second, earlier pedestrian accident, CBS4 approached Okbamicael earlier this month with a camera, asking him how many times he had collided with people while driving a yellow cab.
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Tesfamariam Okbamicael (credit: CBS)

“Two times I think in downtown area,” he responded. But he said he didn’t remember much about either incident, “It’s a long time.”
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(credit: CBS)

Court records reviewed by CBS4 suggest the earlier pedestrian incident occurred in 2007, but more detailed records related to that incident no longer exist, according to Denver County court personnel. Beyond that, between Okbamicael’s own admissions and public records, he has been involved in several other collisions while driving his cab. In September 2008, Denver police cited the cabbie for careless driving resulting in an accident on Pena Blvd. In that case, officers notes show Okbamicael sped past an emergency vehicle, and then slammed on his brakes causing him to be rear ended by another vehicle. Court records show the case was dismissed when officers failed to appear for Okbamicael’s court appearance.
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(credit: CBS)

Although records show Okbamicael has numerous moving violations, most occurred earlier in his taxi driving career. In 2011, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission audited Yellow Cab records to see if any drivers were violating state regulations against driving too many hours. That audit, obtained by Ferrer’s attorneys and shared with CBS4, showed that Okbamicael was found by state investigators to have been a top violator at Yellow Cab, violating regulations prohibiting driving more than 80 hours in eight days on 18 separate occasions.
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CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews Tesfamariam Okbamicael (credit: CBS)

Bill George, President of Yellow Cab’s parent company, issued the following statement to CBS4: “A review of his 27 year driving record indicates he fully complies with all guidelines established by both the State of Colorado and the City of Denver. There is no indication in any of our records, or those of the state, that there was any prior pedestrian accident other than the matter that is currently in litigation. I personally spoke to Mr. Okbamicael today and asked him about a prior accident. He denies any such occurrence. Mr. Okbamicael did mention that he felt ambushed by your crew and was confused with the questions. As you are aware, English is a second language to Mr. Okbamicael. You will also note that he required a translator for his videotaped deposition.” George went on to say Yellow Cab follows all local, state and federal requirements as they apply to individuals operating commercial vehicles, “In addition, Yellow Cab subscribes to a service that provides quarterly updates on all driving records. We work with our safety team to identify unsafe behaviors and spend incredible resources on both electronic and field monitoring.” At one point during the CBS4 Investigation, a reporter and producer booked a cab ride with Okbamicael from downtown Denver to DIA. During the ride, he was asked if he had experienced any accidents during his time driving a cab. He mentioned just one in 2004, in which he said a truck turned into him.
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Yellow Cab driver Tesfamariam Okbamicael (credit: CBS)

Also during the ride, Okbamicael’s cellphone rang, and he answered while he was driving, an apparent violation of Yellow Cab rules. Jessica Ferrer is suing Okbamicael and Yellow Cab over the 2011 accident. Bill George said since the case is pending, he and his company would not comment on it. Ferrer said she was surprised to learn Okbamicael was back behind the wheel of a taxi, “It just shocks me that after all that they put him behind the wheel.” Jim Puga, one of Ferrer’s attorneys, told CBS4, “Yellow Cab is just putting profits over the safety of the public.” Another of Ferrer’s lawyers, Alex Wilschke, said “How many times do you get to hit someone? You shouldn’t hit anyone and still be driving a cab.” CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

Judge: Old Town burglary suspect to remain in jail

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A judge decided a teen accused of breaking into shops in Old Town will stay locked up until his family finds a place to live. Devon Roybal was arrested on Tuesday during a police sting after shop owners reported repeated break-ins and damage to their buildings. Friday afternoon, Roybal’s mom defended her son, saying the family is homeless and just trying to survive. “I’ve been struggling for a while, we have had our issues back and forth, which, you know, we have conquered a lot of them, and we don’t have any really big support,” said Katherine Roybal, the suspect’s mother. Police say they found stolen knives on Roybal along with gloves, a flashlight and tool sets.
Filed under: Albuquerque - Metro, Crime, Home, News, SmartTV, Top Video

Good Samaritans recognized for saving stranded dogs, puppies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque on Friday recognized four citizens who stepped up as Good Samaritans, saving two stray dogs and their puppies. Mayor Richard J. Berry recognized Fabian Lozoya, Rhonda Hernandez, Andrea Quintana, and Isaiah Williams as this week’s Good Samaritans for their determination to save two stray adult dogs and their puppies. Last month, Rhonda Hernandez made a call to the city’s Animal Welfare Division that she had found some dogs inside an open field drain and that they needed to be rescued. Andrea Quintana and 10-year-old Fabian Lozoya, and 12-year-old Isaiah Williams were also on scene when Animal Welfare arrived. According to the city, a black, Labrador-mix male dog and a red, Chow Chow-mix female dog had created a den for their litter of six puppies. The grown dogs were known to Quintana and Hernandez in the area. They had cared for them and were trying to track them down at a lot near Central and 98th Street. “It’s hot. It took us about two hours to save them,” Quintana said. Rhonda noted, “Along came two young boys on their way to McDonald’s out in the middle of nowhere and I asked if they’d like to help us.” Isaiah Williams said, “I couldn’t say no because I love animals myself and I hate to see animals struggling like that.” “For 45 minutes, we dug out a hole and crawled in a pit and pulled out six little puppies,” said Quintana. Hernandez managed to get the two adult dogs to come out, but the two-week old puppies still needed to be rescued. Andrea Quintana recovered the six puppies, while the young boys helped with a shovel to make the hole large enough for her to enter the den and lift the puppies up to safety. “The four citizens showed extraordinary teamwork to help Corporal Thomas Romero and Officer Raymond Candelaria rescue the stray dogs and their puppies,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry.
Filed under: Albuquerque - Metro, Home, News, SmartTV, Top Stories, Top Video