East Bay

Student with measles may have spread virus

Health officials warned Bay Area residents about possible exposure to measles after a student diagnosed with the illness used BART to travel between the UC Berkeley campus and his home in Contra Costa County last week.

The measles virus can stay in the air for up to two hours after a person coughs or sneezes. The unidentified student rode between the El Cerrito del Norte BART station and the Berkeley station in the morning and the evening every day between Feb. 4 and 7.

People who are vaccinated or have already had measles are unlikely to catch the illness, even if they had contact with a contagious person, officials said. The two-part vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella is very common, though not universal, in childhood, officials said Thursday.

Public health officials confirmed that the student had not been vaccinated and was likely infected with measles during a recent trip to Asia. Before being diagnosed, the student spent time in Berkeley, attending classes and using BART on several days.

The student is now recovering at home and not attending classes. His is the second case of measles diagnosed in Contra Costa County in the last five years.

-- Kristin J. Bender and Katie Nelson, Staff

Richmond

Burglar robs home with dead man inside

Officers responding to a home burglary report made a ghoulish discovery this week: an elderly man found dead inside the living room of a ransacked home.

Police believe the 74-year-old man was deceased when a burglar kicked in the door in the 600 block of 14th Street, and riffled through the home as the victim sat dead on a chair.

A local transient who called police at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday reported the door was busted open, and the man appeared dead inside, Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.

The woman made the discovery Tuesday, but waited a day to call police, according to Abetkov.

It appears the man died of natural causes several days before police found him. Police have no suspect information. The man's car was missing, but investigators have not yet determined if it was stolen.

The case is being investigated as an unexplained death and residential burglary.

-- David DeBolt, Staff

Walnut Creek

Renovated parks start to reopen next week

Park playgrounds are reopening over the next week, safer and more accessible to the disabled.

On Tuesday, the playgrounds at Larkey, Walden and Arbolado parks will begin reopening with upgraded equipment.

The city spent $500,000 on the state- and federally-mandated upgrades, including new play structures and mulch instead of sand. All city playgrounds will now meet state safety and Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

But Larkey, Walden and Arbolado parks had the most work done, said Mike Vickers, Walnut Creek's public services manager.

And the 26-acre Arbolado Park, with two playgrounds, has new amenities including shade structures, sand diggers, rockers, climbers, slides and a sand zone, replacing a 22-year-old playground structure.

The city will hold a ribbon cutting at Arbolado at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The playground improvements were funded through park in-lieu fees, which are paid to the city by developers for parks.

Major renovation of Heather Farm park that includes installation of an all-abilities playground for children with disabilities will not be finished until October.

-- Elisabeth Nardi, Staff

East Bay

100 mph freeway chase ends in crash

A man who police say has a long history of stealing cars was arrested Thursday morning after trying to flee the California Highway Patrol at speeds of up to 100 mph.

Police did not immediately identify the 25-year-old suspect who they say led them on a chase from Interstate 80 near Richmond to Interstate 680, where he flipped a white Honda Prelude at the Willow Pass Road exit in Pleasant Hill.

Paramedics treated him for cuts and scrapes before he was booked into the County Jail in Martinez.

Johnson said the driver will likely face charges of evading, possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of a weapon after police found a gun on the man. He also had an outstanding arrest warrant on an undisclosed charge, Johnson said.

The chase began about 7:35 a.m. near the Hilltop Road exit on I-80, when police tried to pull over the man for a minor traffic infraction, possibly a carpool lane violation, Johnson said. The driver instead sped away toward Martinez, briefly going against traffic on Highway 4 and I-680, Johnson said.

The man crashed around 8:20 a.m. when he came upon traffic on the Willow Pass Road exit. Nobody else was injured.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

Richmond

Police identify suspect in carjacking

Police have identified a suspect in a carjacking and shooting that occurred last week, authorities said Thursday.

A felony arrest warrant has been issued for 20-year-old Kelvin Lemonte Starks, a suspect in the robbery, shooting and carjacking of a man in the 4300 block of Ohio Avenue on Feb. 6, according to police.

Starks is considered armed and dangerous. He is known to frequent the Crescent Park area of Richmond and the city of Oakland. He's described as 6-foot-1, about 170 pounds, with short black hair, brown eyes, and a tattoo that reads "MOE" on one of his hands.

Police have not located the tan 1985 Nissan Maxima taken in the robbery. The four-door sedan has a license plate of 1MKE402.

Anyone with information regarding Starks' whereabouts is asked to call Richmond police Detective Jason Wentz at 510-621-1259.

-- David DeBolt, Staff

RICHMOND

Suicide attempt at city jail causes flood

The city jail was damaged by flooding Wednesday after an inmate attempting suicide broke a fire sprinkler system inside her cell, authorities said.

Police said the inmate tied a blanket to the sprinkler system, but the weight of her body broke the sprinkler head, causing flooding inside her cell and other jail cells. The cost of repairs has not been determined.

The woman, who was alone in her cell, was taken to the hospital for observation, police said. She was listed in stable condition.

The woman was being held in the jail after she was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Police said she and a man assaulted another man with a knife during a disagreement.

-- David DeBolt, Staff

Pleasant Hill

Feds: Woman stole $43K in tax refunds

A Pleasant Hill woman made her first federal court appearance Thursday after she was charged with theft of government property and identity theft, officials said.

Sherry L. Hender knowingly used the name and Social Security number of another person to receive federal tax refunds to which she was not entitled in early 2012, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said. Those refunds, Haag said, totaled $42,989.

Hender will next appear in court March 7 in San Francisco.

The maximum penalty for each count of theft of government property is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for identity theft is two years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

-- Katie Nelson, Staff