OAKLAND

Injured firefighter's condition improves

A veteran Oakland firefighter badly injured Tuesday when an aircraft rescue rig overturned at Oakland International Airport was awake and breathing on his own Wednesday, officials said.

Mitchell Ow, a 28-year fire department veteran, remained at Highland Hospital where his family, fellow firefighters and others were keeping a round-the-clock vigil.

Ow was injured Tuesday morning during a drill. He was driving a rescue rig equipped to carry 3,000 gallons of water and 420 gallons of foam, when it tipped over as he made U-turn.

He was in critical condition when he arrived at the hospital.

Ow, 55, is assigned to Station 22 at the airport. The cause of the accident is being investigated by the Highway Patrol and Cal/OSHA.

-- Harry Harris, Staff

OAKLAND

Man convicted in loud-music stabbing

An Oakland man has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter for fatally stabbing his sister's boyfriend during an argument over loud music last year.

Prosecutor Scott Ford asked jurors to convict 22-year-old Van Surrell, of murder for the death of 22-year-old Blair Robertson at an apartment in the 700 block of East 11th Street in East Oakland on Feb. 16, 2013.

But after one day of deliberation, Alameda County Superior Court jurors on Tuesday found Surrell not guilty of both first- and second-degree murder and convicted him of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Surrell's lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, said afterward that he thought Surrell should have been found not guilty of all charges because he acted in self-defense.

When the two began to fight, Surrell grabbed a knife to protect himself because Robertson had beaten and choked him in previous confrontations, Stallworth said.

The defense argued that Robertson turned his body against the knife in Surrell's hand.

Surrell could be sentenced to up to 12 years in state prison at his sentencing on Aug. 21.

-- Bay City News Service

FREMONT

Police seeking generator thieves

Police are looking for three men who stole two generators from a Fremont hardware store last month, authorities said.

The three suspects walked out of Dale Hardware on Post Street without paying for the $1,000 items at about 4:30 p.m. on May 28, according to police.

The men drove away in a 1990s Chevy pickup last seen eastbound on Thornton Avenue, police said.

Police have released surveillance photos of the truck and of the men, described as white men in their mid-20s. One is approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a medium build and wore an Oakland A's hat, black shirt, blue shorts and black-and-white shoes.

The second was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a thin build and wearing sunglasses, a gray hat, a black shirt and possibly jeans. The third suspect was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a heavy build and light facial hair. He was wearing a black-and-white shirt.

Police said the white, single-cab Chevy pickup truck is lowered, with a short bed, white rims and a trailer hitch attached to the bumper.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Brian Ancona at bancona@fremont.gov, or call the Fremont Police Investigative Unit at 510-790-6900.

-- David DeBolt, Staff

HAYWARD

Wildfire preparedness training on Saturday

Firefighters will train hillside residents how to reduce fire risk around their homes Saturday.

The hills are even more vulnerable to wildfires this summer because of the drought, but there are things homeowners can do to protect their property. Tips include keeping landscaping near houses to a minimum, having only fire-resistant plants within 30 feet of a building, not allowing tree branches to touch or overhang a structure and clearing brush at least 100 feet from any building.

The Hayward Fire Department received a grant to improve wildfire safety in the Hayward hills and Fairview areas. In addition to the training, the grant will allow residents and firefighters to identify and rank community projects to reduce fire hazards. The grant will pay for projects ranked highest and a chipping service for those who do their own brush removal work, said fire spokesman Don Nichelson.

The training will be 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Stonebrae Elementary School Multipurpose Room, 28761 Hayward Blvd. The meeting is for Hayward and Fairview residents who live in the hills.

For questions, contact the Hayward Fire Department at 510-583-4900.

-- Rebecca Parr, Staff

HAYWARD

Parish to mark 50th anniversary Sunday

South Hayward Parish is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a party Sunday.

In 1964, three churches formed the interfaith group to tackle problems facing low-income residents in South Hayward. Since then, four more congregations and community members have joined the nonprofit organization that runs a food pantry, provides GED high school equivalency classes, assists homeless people and connects residents with local services. It helped start the Hayward Gay Prom and a day labor center on Tennyson Road.

The free event will have memorabilia, talks and birthday cake. It takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Hayward City Hall rotunda, 777 B St.

-- Rebecca Parr, Staff

ALAMEDA

Family Services receives $3 million

Alameda Family Services received a $3 million federal grant for its Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

"It is to continue to serve income-eligible families' children from pregnancy to five years of age in the city of Alameda," said Executive Director Irene Kudarauskas. "It's a terrific program."

The nonprofit Alameda Family Services provides programs to improve the emotional, psychological and physical health of children, youth and families.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee announced the grant, which was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Early Head Start and Head Start Programs are critical to closing the achievement gap and breaking the cycle of poverty," Lee said in a statement. "By ensuring all children are prepared for success in Kindergarten, we are priming them for future academic achievement and to compete and thrive in tomorrow's economy."

Lee is a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services & Education.

"I will continue to fight for investments to expand early childhood education until all children have access to universal, quality preschool," she continued.

Alameda Family Services also offers school-based health centers, homeless youth services, counseling, drug and alcohol treatment and a clinical training program.

-- Samantha Clark, Staff

OAKLAND

Three arrested, cocaine seized in raids

Three suspected gang members were arrested and some cocaine was seized during a series of police raids Wednesday morning in East Oakland, authorities said.

Police tactical teams served search and arrest warrants at four houses beginning about 5 a.m.

No one was injured.

The names of the three men arrested were not released.

Because the investigation is ongoing, police declined to release additional details at this time.

-- Harry Harris, Staff

Dump truck goes off ramp, kills 2

HESPERIA -- A dump truck careened off a freeway off ramp and collided with a car, killing two young people and seriously injuring three others in the high desert of San Bernardino County, the California Highway Patrol said Wednesday.

It took firefighters several hours to extricate the victims after the violent crash late Tuesday at Interstate 15 just off the Highway 138 exit in the Cajon Pass, CHP Officer Ryan Dallin said.

The truck, operated by an independent contractor, was leaving a construction site when it lost control for an unknown reason and failed to stop at an intersection, Dallin said.

The truck barreled into a PT Cruiser traveling westbound on Highway 138. The car was pushed into a drainage ditch and smashed into barriers outside a gas station, ending up underneath the truck.

Crews used two heavy-lift tow vehicles to stabilize and lift the dump truck off the car before using the jaws of life to extract the victims.

Two people were pronounced dead at the scene, including the car's driver, 19-year-old Nicole Lyle, Dallin said. The name of the other person killed was withheld because he was a minor, he said.

Three passengers in the PT Cruiser were rushed to hospitals with major injuries: Michael Baker, 20; Shane Gretzner, 19; and David Castaneda, whose age was unknown.

The occupants of the car were all from the Phelan and Pinon Hills areas, about 15 miles from the crash site.

The driver of the dump truck, Sonja Aida, 54, suffered minor injuries.

-- Associated Press