A state report is placing the blame on Fresno County in the PG&E pipeline explosion that happened April 17 at the Fresno County Peace Officers gun range in northwest Fresno.
The explosion happened when a county worker was doing some work with a front loader. He was injured, along with two deputies, and eight inmates, one of which later died.
The 259-page report was prepared by a company called Exponent, which was selected by PG&E. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is now leading the direction of the investigation and overseeing it.
The report says, "Our investigation indicates that PG&E line 118b ruptured when it was struck by a front loader that was operating in the area at the time of the incident. The significant gouging, scraping and deformation present at the line 118b rupture location could have only been caused by contact with the front-loader bucket."
Attorney Butch Wagner represents four of the injured inmates. He says there's no question that the front loader came in contact with the pipe, but says that's not the issue.
"[Whether] the pipeline was buried properly--in other words, deep enough and with proper soil compaction," Wagner said.
According to the report, the pipe had enough coverage. But Wagner criticizes that finding.
"I don't know how they could've determined that by looking at the evidence after the explosion because the explosion ripped the ground up, set the ground all over the place," Wagner said.
The investigation is far from over. Legal analyst Charles Magill says he expects all the entities that are being sued will be pointing fingers at each other.
"The logic of it is is to limit their exposure. If it does go to trial, they want to make sure that they're not exposed any more than a small percentage," Magill said.
Magill expects that the inmates' lawyers will be bringing experts of their own.
Wagner says the report doesn't change their perspective of the case because he says additional reports will be filed by all the entities that may show negligence from all the parties that are being sued.
PG&E issued a statement saying, "PG&E continues to cooperate with the CPUC in a timely manner regarding any information about its ongoing investigation. The CPUC is the lead agency reviewing the incident. We want all of our customers to know that calling 811 before you dig is critical."
A trial date has yet to be assigned. Wagner believes a trial date could be set for a year to a year and a half in the future.
A link to the report can be found here: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/NR/rdonlyres/A5C3630F-83A3-4326-A35C-2FAF4E0E8C90/0/1502991FresnoRuptureReport.pdf
A man is dead in an officer involved shooting in Atwater after police say the man rushed at them with a knife, according to Lt. Sammy Joseph with the Atwater Police Department.
The suspect died on scene. He has not been identified.
It happened around 2:19 p.m. Monday after a vehicle pursuit ended on Green Sands Avenue near Augusta Lane in Atwater.
Police say it all began when a witness called police to tell them that the victim, an unidentified woman, told her she was being held against her will. It happened just before noon at a store on the 1800 block of Atwater Blvd.
According to police, the victim contacted the witness as the suspect was inside the store. After the witness called police, she turned around to see the woman inside the suspect's car leaving the store.
Police say the victim's brother then called police saying he saw a man driving with his sister inside the car, and it appeared she was pleading for help.
Police located the driver in the area of Elm and First. Police say the suspect wouldn't pull over, even after police laid spike strips in the road.
The pursuit lasted about 30 minutes, going in and out of Atwater. It ended when police say the suspect hit a curb and his tire went flat on Green Sands Avenue.
"He tried to flee the scene on foot to hop over the wall with a knife in his hand, could not get over the wall, which time he fled. The officer told him to stop. He turned around, made an approach toward the officers with his knife. A taser was deployed, the taser was ineffective, which time he continued to come at the officers, at which time the officer shot the suspect," Joseph said.
Several people witnessed the shooting.
"He tried to hop this wall fence that's right here. He tried to hop the fence, and he couldn't get over," said Edward Kemp, an eyewitness. "He couldn't get over so he turned around, and he started running like towards us. So we kind of like leaned down, but we're still watching. And he got tased, and you see him toss the tasers off of him."
Joseph said when the suspect exited the car, he was bloody from what the victim told police were self-inflicted wounds.
Police are investigating the relationship between the suspect and victim. They say she appeared to be unhurt.
It's unknown how many times the suspect was shot, as the investigation is ongoing.
The Atwater police department is investigating the shooting. The officer involved is now on paid administrative leave for three days, which police say is standard procedure.
- 25-year-old Damien Pereira is still in his second surgery, this one is expected to take seven hours. CAL FIRE says hospital officials are hopeful he'll recover, but say he faces a tough battle. Here's an inside look at some of the therapy he could face.
"Jonah is in a better place now and we tried and we tried", says Magali Panduro, Jonah's aunt.
Moments after Jonah Panduro's death, his aunt spoke with us about their journey. She says that Jonah was still reacting to his fathers voice, but that three days ago, doctors at CRMC declared him brain dead.
"It was a horrible accident, when we heard it we couldn't believe it, when we saw him for the first time we couldn't believe it", says Panduro.
It all started on June 28th, Jonah was riding on the tube at the lake, when the metal latch connecting the rope he was being pulled from, broke off and hit his head. he was air lifted to Fresno.
"We're praying and we have faith and that's why I came today to offer some hope and prayers to Lisa", says family friend Christine Vasquez.
Family members tell us that they wanted to keep Jonah on life support, despite the grim prognosis of doctors. We spoke with several lawyers about what rights to parents have, whether or not they can keep their children on life support, if the doctors suggest to take them off.
"Clearly they are going to have more than one expert look over their EEG's to determine if there is any activity and if there is no activity, there is nothing they can do to keep him alive", says legal analyst, attorney Charles Magill.
A year ago, attorney Chris Dolan represented Jahi McMath's case. she was undergoing a routine surgery, when complications put her on life support. Doctors suggested she be allowed to die, but when the family hired Dolan, they were able to transfer Jahi to a long term care facility in New Jersey where she is still alive today.
"Each of the cases, Jahi's case and this arise out of a horrible tragedy and the common factor as to who gets to make the decision of whether or not the child is alive or dead", says Dolan.
We did try reaching out to CRMC about this incident but were told that they had to respect each patients privacy. A Go-Fund-Me page has also been set up to help pay for the families unexpected expenses.
- Firework stands are all over Fresno and Clovis this July and are a popular way for many organizations to raise money. After a close call this fourth, one Clovis man says he wants all fireworks, even legal ones, banned.
- CAL FIRE has identified 25-year-old Damien Pereira as one of three firefighters injured while fighting a small mountain fire Friday. Crews say the father of one is in pain but has family by his side, saying the drought could've contributed to the danger.
Red, white and blue filled the sky for Selma's annual Independence Day celebration. The city holds the event, now in its 26th year, every year on the 3rd of July.
The fireworks show attracted about 3,000 people.
Juanita Cantu said she comes every year from Madera to catch the show.
"Oh my gosh. This is the best that I've ever seen," Cantu said. "We like the environment, and we just love the people here. Have a lot of fun."
Live music kept the crowd entertained as families gathered bringing their children of all ages.
For many people, attending the fireworks show is a tradition.
"Great time for us to spend time as a family and celebrate Independence Day and remember everything and all the sacrifices people have made around the country," said Emmanuel Mena.
And the main attraction--"Mainly the fireworks and the food," a young boy said.
And what's a celebration without the food.
Vendors catered to the crowds, including these reserve firefighters with the Selma Fire Department. They say it's a good chance to interact with the community they serve."
"Get to know the people and they get to know us. They see us when we go to the fires but we don't really talk to them [there], but out here they come to us and ask questions," said Jose Vargas.
For the Selma community, it's a chance to gather and celebrate what the 4th of July is all about.
"The birth of our nation-- July 4th, 1776," said Rodney Harding with the Selma Kiwanis Club as he sold hand-held flags.
- Three people were injured, including a Tulare County Cal Fire firefighter, while fighting a fire near the community of Three Rivers.
Cal Fire officials say the three people were fighting a 2- to 3-acre fire on Case Mountain when a tree fell on them.
The firefighter sustained major injuries and was airlifted to a Fresno hospital.
The inmates suffered minor injuries including a concussion and cuts.
No other information on their conditions has been released at this time.
Cal Fire officials say they will begin an investigation into the incident at "first light."
- One injured in accident on Bass Lake this afternoon.
At 4 p.m. Friday, July 3rd, a woman in her 20s was riding on the front of a boat when she fell off and was pulled under. She was airlifted to CRMC with an injury to her leg.
More info to come.
"It's going to be a record year as far as fire response", says Tony Escobedo, fire battalion chief for fire station 11.
Battalion chief Tony Escobedo works at fire station 11 on the north end of town, he says that crews are extremely busy this summer and year.
"In Fresno we're one of the 5th busiest departments and a matter of fact, some years, including this one, if we were the size of Los Angeles, we'd be busier than they are", says Chief Escobedo.
Last year Fresno crews responded to about 25 hundred fire calls, this year they have already seen more than 14 hundred.
Eric Orong is working his first shift for the department after graduating from the academy, he says that it's been a busy 48 hours.
"It's been pretty busy, we've ran 17 calls in the last 30 or so hours, majority of them were medical aids and we had a large residential fire last night", says Orong.
With the increase in calls crews sirens are constantly sounding.
"The reliability of the system really suffers when you have calls that continue to occur in the same area because you continue to pull from where ever", says fire captain Carl Delap.
The department has also made more that 12,000 thousand ems calls and worked more than 133 fires.
"Obviously the drought, pour maintenance of our homes and we do have a good amount of arsonists in the city as far as copycats or they are just doing it on their own, we have a high level of arsonists in the city and it keeps us rather busy", says Chief Escobedo.
"For some people lighting fires is one way to get their excitement but in the long story it makes our job a little more difficult", says Orong.
If you're going to be setting off fireworks on your street or near your home tomorrow night, crews say you should try watering your lawn before, just in case.