Our Orange County journalists tells us about recent tragedies and controversies, including the five students who died in a car crash in Newport Beach, Disney’s dry ice explosion, the layoffs at the Honda Center, and Senator Barbara Boxer’s continuing examination into the San Onofre nuclear plant. Also, should fire pits be removed to improve air quality, and should taxpayers or individuals be billed for expensive rescue operations?
The University High school student that died in a high speed car crash was driving without a driver’s license or learner’s permit. Although the student, Abdulrahman M. Alyahyan, tried to obtain a license, he was from Saudi Arabia and was unable to prove his legal residency to the DMV. While driving his Infiniti G35 with four teenage friends from Irvine High School on Monday, the car hit a tree in the median, split in two and lit up in flames. Four of the students died at the scene and the fifth died at the hospital.
Also, Christian Barnes, an outdoor vendor for Disneyland resort, is in prison for possibly being connected to an explosion at Disneyland. A dry-ice bomb went off in Toontown, but there were no injuries. And also in Anaheim, the Honda Center is hiring. After laying off 400 food service employees, they replacing them with 500 new ones. Honda said this decision is to improve food services, but did it have anything to do with a California Enterprise Zone tax credit?
Senator Barbara Boxer is calling for an investigation and a public hearing before the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is opened. The plant has been shut down for over a year because of a radiation leak, and Boxer recently released a 2004 letter from Southern California Edison that showed concerns about the longevity of the plant’s generators.
Many Southern California residents are ready to hit the beach this summer, but are evenings spent with friends and family around the fire pits numbered? Air quality regulators believe fire pits pose a health risk to local residents and are trying to remove more than 800 fire pits on Southern California beaches. And for those who skip the beach and go hiking instead, should they be billed if they need to be rescued or should the taxpayers cover the costs?
Ben Bergman, KPCC’s Orange County reporter
Teri Sforza, OC Register reporter
Nick Gerda, reporter, Voice of OC, an investigative news non-profit