State News Briefs

Saturday October 21, 2000

Two deaths in two days at Fresno County Jail 

FRESNO – A prisoner died in the Fresno County Jail on Thursday, the second person to die in custody there in two days. 

Shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday, the inmate, a 45-year-old man, told guards he was ill and was sent to the jail infirmary, Lt. Nelson Beazley said. 

Some time later, he collapsed and stopped breathing. Staff members performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation but could not revive him. 

The man’s name was being withheld pending notification of relatives. 

Details about the inmate, including charges against him and how long he had been in custody were not made public. An autopsy will determine the cause of death. 

On Wednesday, Jessie Soliz died during a struggle with guards. 

Soliz was in a cell by himself when he became irate and began throwing things and hitting walls, sheriff’s spokesman Daniel Cervantes said. 

When deputies went into the cell to restrain Soliz, he began to fight with them. Three correctional officers were injured in the struggle. 

Deputies used pepper spray in an attempt to subdue Soliz and as he was being put into restraints, he stopped breathing. Jail and nursing staff tried unsuccessfully to revive him. 

Sheriff’s detectives, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and the Coroner’s Office are investigating the men’s deaths. 


Group calls for end to Yosemite sewage spills 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – A statewide recreational fishing group is seeking a federal court order to end Yosemite National Park’s sewage spills into the Merced River. 

United Anglers of California filed suit this week against the National Park Service in U.S. District Court in Fresno, alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act over the past five years. 

After more than a dozen sewage spills since 1999, the group says it is time for Yosemite to clean up its system. No court dates have been announced. 

Park officials refused to comment, saying they had not seen the lawsuit. 

Yosemite already is under order from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to stop the contamination or face a $10,000 fine for each day the river violates water standards. 

But lawyer Allen Beavan, representing the 10,000-member United Anglers, said his client does not believe the state’s action is enough. 

“It’s an awkward situation for the state to be ordering the federal government to comply with federal law,” Beavan said. “We want the court to order that they bring their sewage plant into compliance.” 

Yosemite is following the regional board’s order, park spokesman Scott Gediman said. He said officials already have filed changes to the park’s spill-prevention plan with the regional board. 


Big rig overturns, bursts into flames  

BAKERSFIELD – A big rig burst into flames when it overturned on state Route 99 south of Bakersfield on Thursday morning and spilled 7,400 gallons of diesel fuel. 

There were no reports of injuries in the single-vehicle accident, Kern County fire Capt. Chuck Dickson said. 

The truck was headed north when it drifted onto the right shoulder near Copus Road. 

The driver, Jerry Harvey Jr., 29, of Bakersfield, apparently overcorrected and ended up in the left shoulder, where the trailer overturned. 

The entire truck turned over in the center divider and caught fire. 

The accident was reported just before 7:30 a.m. 

Flames and plumes of thick black smoke billowed from the crash site, about five miles north of the Interstate 5 interchange. 

A strip of the highway was closed to traffic for nearly five hours as firefighters and hazardous materials crews worked to control the flames and mop up the fuel.