Oakley man dies after motorcycle crash

An Oakley man who crashed a motorcycle into an embankment alongside Highway 24 on Tuesday died from his injuries, authorities said.

An autopsy was expected to be performed Wednesday to determine whether a medical incident may have caused 70-year-old Fred Sprinkle to suddenly drift across three lanes of westbound traffic on his 2002 Harley-Davidson and crash near St. Stephens Drive around 1:30 p.m.

Sprinkle was driving in the second-to-left lane at approximately 65 mph when he drifted to the right shoulder and onto an embankment, California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Bartlett said.

A female passenger was thrown from the motorcycle when it crashed but did not suffer any major injuries, Bartlett said.

Both were taken to John Muir Medical Center, and Sprinkle died later that afternoon, authorities said.

It was the second fatal crash on Highway 24 in less than a week. On March 6, a 17-year-old Danville resident died after crashing between the Central Lafayette and Pleasant Hill Road exits.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff


Pickup truck driver sought in hit-and-run

Police are trying to locate a driver who fled after his pickup truck struck a motorcyclist Tuesday, causing significant injuries.

The victim, a 45-year-old man, was riding on Stoneridge Drive near Rialto Way when he was struck by a pickup truck at 5 p.m. He was transported to Eden Hospital, but is expected to survive.

Multiple witnesses described the vehicle that struck the cyclist as a black Toyota Tacoma or "Nissan-type" pickup truck. The truck has chrome rims and may have its rear window tinted and a glass fiber bed cover. Witnesses described the suspect as being in his mid- to late-30s with black hair.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Pleasanton Police Department at 925-931-5100.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff

El Cerrito

Fire extinguished at high school campus

El Cerrito High School was briefly evacuated Wednesday afternoon after a small fire broke out on campus, authorities said.

The fire started in a trash can inside a girls bathroom on the second floor of Building C at 12:13 p.m., El Cerrito Fire Battalion Chief Larry Carr said.

An El Cerrito police officer, who works on campus as a resource officer, spotted the blaze and began to evacuate the campus, authorities said. Fire crews from Richmond and El Cerrito responded and extinguished the fire by 12:20 p.m. The blaze was contained to the trash can, Carr said.

No one was injured. The suspicious fire remains under investigation, Carr said.

-- David DeBolt, Staff


Police to hold safety meeting in Spanish

Police will host a meeting Saturday to discuss public safety with residents, particularly issues prevalent in the city's growing Latino community.

A Spanish-language version of the Coffee with the Cops program will be held 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at Holy rosary Church, 1313 A St.

The meeting will include an overview of the city's crime issues, followed by an informal question-and-answer session.

Police Chief Allan Cantando said the goal of the meetings, which started in October 2012, is "to address the needs of all Antioch citizens and to help all residents see the police department as more accessible."

Angel Luevano, one of the event's organizers, said the meetings help foster trust in the police among the Latino community, many of whom are apprehensive about contacting police for fear of being deported, language barriers or memories of the role of police in some Latin American countries.

Latinos make up about a third of the Antioch's population, but most residents don't or wouldn't attend the normal quarterly Coffee with the Cops meetings.

Having it at the church provides some additional comfort for families, Luevano said. The previous events have drawn anywhere from 125 to 300 people.

Crime prevention commissioners will also be there Saturday to help those interested in establishing Neighborhood Watch groups.

-- Paul Burgarino, Staff

San Rafael

San Pablo man suspected of pimping

A suspected pimp was arrested after calling 911 to complain that the staff of a San Rafael hotel would not let him back into his room.

Antoine Robinson, 23, of San Pablo was booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of pimping and possession of marijuana for sale. The district attorney's office filed charges against him Tuesday.

The incident occurred Monday night at the Motel 6 on Francisco Boulevard East. Robinson told police he was having trouble checking into his room and that the staff told him to call 911, said police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher.

Police determined that the staff refused Robinson access because a suspected prostitute in the room had been detained by police earlier while Robinson was out, Rohrbacher said. The woman, a 29-year-old Richmond resident, was cited and released.

Based on the overall circumstances and text messages found during the investigation, police suspected that Robinson was the woman's pimp.

-- Marin Independent Journal


Relay for Life kickoff event March 26

A kickoff event for upcoming Relay for Life fundraising walks will take place later this month at the Pittsburg Elk Lodge.

The event is a prelude to four American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraising walks. The walks are scheduled in Oakley on May 17-18 at Freedom High School; in Brentwood on June 21-22 at Liberty High School; in Antioch on June 21-22 at Deer Valley High School; and in Pittsburg on July 19-20 at the Civic Center.

The March 26 kickoff event, which starts at 6 p.m., will feature information about the upcoming walks along with dinner, entertainment and a chance to win prizes.

For more information, contact Jackie Mitchell at 925-698-5220 or jacmitchell@sbcglobal.net.

-- Eve Mitchell, Staff


Ex-Berkeley police Chief Nelson dies

A former Berkeley police chief who led the department for eight years died Monday after a brief illness, city officials said. Ronald D. Nelson was 82.

He reportedly died after a walk with friends Monday afternoon in Tilden Park, authorities said.

He served as chief from 1982 to 1990, managing a 300-person department. He was replaced by Dashiel Butler when he went to work for the UC San Francisco Police Department.

Nelson received his early training and experience with the Los Angeles Police Department, which he joined in 1956 as a police officer, later advancing to sergeant and then lieutenant.

Nelson was later a police commander with the Compton department, and also served as its city manager and assistant city manager.

Nelson earned a bachelor's degree from Drake University, a master's degree from Pepperdine and did additional academic work in sociology and public administration at California State University at Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount, Fort McClennan, California Institute of Technology, and California Polytechnic University. Funeral arrangements are pending.

-- Kristin J. Bender, Staff


Man arrested; 128 pounds of pot found

A 29-year-old Oakland man was arrested on suspicion of trafficking marijuana after a California Highway Patrol officer stopped him for a minor traffic violation and found 128 pounds of pot in his minivan.

Zi Ren Li was arrested at 1:30 p.m. Monday after he was stopped at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 27th Street, a CHP spokesman said.

About 30 minutes earlier, a motorcycle officer stopped the man's Toyota minivan for following another car too closely on eastbound Interstate 580. During the stop, the officer found and seized the marijuana," the CHP spokesman said.

-- Kristin J. Bender, Staff