Safety and Public Awareness
News reporting arrests, weather warnings, product recalls, and other important information relating to safety and public awareness, are found in this category.
Update- Fri., Jan. 10, 2014: On Fri. Jan., 10, 2014, Christina Aanestad interviewed Sheriff Mike Downey about the murder of Father Eric Freed and the circumstances involving the arrested suspect in the case, Gary Lee Bullock. See the post and press release below. Bullock was arrested on December 31, 2013, the day before the homicide, for public intoxication and then released at 12:34 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2014. At about 9 a.m. on Jan. 1, officers were dispatched to the St.Bernard Church Rectory in Eureka where they found Father Erick Freed deceased, and on Jan. 2 Bullock was arrested for the murder. Sheriff Downey responds to criticism that law enforcement could have done more. Use the KMUD News SoundCloud player below to hear the interview.
According to a report on the Times Standard.com website, Eureka Police Department Chief Andrew Mills confirmed the arrest, at 12:30 pm today, Jan. 2, 2014, of Gary Lee Bullock (shown in the photo) as a suspect in the murder of Father Eric Freed. Bullock was located in a house in the Briceland area and is currently being held by Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies. Father Freed was found mortally injured Wed., Jan 1, 2014 by Deacon Frank Weber, in the Rectory of St. Bernard Church in Eureka after Father Freed failed to show up to conduct Mass. Earlier today, before the arrest, the Eureka Police Department distributed a press release announcing the arrest warrant and hunt for Gary Lee Bullock. The press release appears below. Tune into the 6 pm Local News on KMUD tonight to hear more on this story.
Use the player below to hear a report on the arrest of Gary Lee Bullock. The report was submitted by KMUD News Correspondent, Daniel Mintz, and aired on Thurs., Jan 2, 2014.
Press release from the Eureka Police Department, dated Thurs., Jan. 2, 2014:
The Eureka Police Department announced an arrest warrant today for Gary Lee Bullock has been obtained for the murder of Father Eric Freed. Bullock is a white male 6'1”, 195 pounds and has dark colored hair. His last known address was Redway, California. The facts of the case are as follows: On December 31, 2013 Bullock was the subject of a radio call regarding a person who was acting strangely in the Garberville area of southern Humboldt County. Humboldt County deputies located and arrested Bullock for public intoxication. He was taken to jail where he was rejected due to his erratic behavior. Bullock was then taken to the hospital for evaluation where he became more agitated and had to be physically restrained by deputies. Bullock was ultimately booked into jail at 4:34 p.m.
Gary Bullock was released at 12:34 a.m. on Jan. 1. At about 2 a.m. hours officers from Eureka Police Department were dispatched to 615 H Street, regarding a suspicious person. Officers contacted Bullock and found that Bullock was not intoxicated, and did not qualify for an emergency psychological hold. Officers referred Bullock to an emergency shelter for the night.
Later that evening a security guard heard noise in the area of the church and went to investigate. He saw a person matching Bullock's description and directed him to leave the property after a short conversation.
At about 9 a.m. officers were dispatched to the church Rectory where parishioners found Reverend Father Erick Freed badly injured. Officers and a doctor, who is a parishioner at Saint Bernard, observed that he was deceased. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined and an autopsy is scheduled for Saturday. It does appear that there was blunt force trauma to the victim.
EPD's investigation into this homicide has revealed that forced entry was made into the parsonage and a violent struggle ensued. The pastor's vehicle was also noticed missing during the crime scene search. That vehicle is a dark gray 2010 Nissan Hybrid bearing California license plate 6NDW400. Residents are asked to be on the lookout for Gary Bullock and the Pastor's missing vehicle. If spotted they should immediately contact local law enforcement and do not approach the subject. There are currently more than 25 officers, detectives and agents assigned to the task of finding Gary Bullock and bringing him to justice. If friends, family or associates have had contact with Bullock they need to call Detective Sergeant Bill Nova immediately. He can be reached at (707) 268 5261.
One passenger (name withheld pending notification of next of kin) was killed, one sustained moderate injuries, and the driver, Chang Thao age 22 of McKinleyville, was severely injured as his Honda Civic (shown in the photo) spun out of control after passing another vehicle going northbound on US-101, south of Redcrest, Calif. According to a press release from the Calif. Highway Patrol, the accident happened around 7 pm last Fri., Dec., 26, 2013. The Honda was the only vehicle involved in the accident, and according to the press release DUI does not appear to be a factor in this collision. More details can be viewed in the press release below.
CHP Press Release:
On 12/26/2013, at approximately 1858 hours, Chang Thao, age 22, of Mckinleyville, CA, was driving a 2000 Honda Civic northbound on US-101, south of Redcrest, CA. The vehicle was traveling in the #1 lane, at approximately 60 mph. After passing a truck tractor towing a semi-trailer, the Honda moved into the #2 lane. As the Honda proceeded northbound it began to travel onto the shoulder of US-101. It then came in contact with the guardrail. Chang Thao steered the Honda to the left in an attempt to return the vehicle to the traffic lanes. Chang Thao lost control of the vehicle and it spun out of control northwesterly across all lanes of traffic. The Honda continued onto the southbound shoulder of US-101 where it stuck a raised asphalt curb. The impact caused the Honda to overturn. Ultimately, the Honda’s passenger side roof and door impacted a large diameter Redwood tree west of the west Roadway edge of US-101.
Due to the collision, the vehicle’s right front passenger, (name being withheld pending notification of the next of kin), age 58, unknown city of residence, suffered fatal injuries. The left rear passenger, Ampoung Lee, age 47, unknown city of residence, received moderate injuries and was transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital. Chang Thao, driver, was transported to Redwood Memorial Hospital with major injuries.
The Garberville CHP Office is handling the collision investigation, with assistance from the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.
DUI does not appear to be a factor in this collision.
Medicare’s annual open enrollment period has begun and will run through Dec. 7, 2013. According to a press release from David Sayen, Medicare Regional Administrator, if you want to change your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, now is the time to do it. Any changes in coverage will then begin as of Jan. 1, 2014.
Click here for more information and comparisons of benefits. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about your coverage options. For more information see the complete press release below.
Medicare Press release:
Medicare’s annual open enrollment period has begun, and I want to encourage everyone with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage. Open enrollment runs through Dec. 7, 2013. If you want to change your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, this is the time of year to do it. Any new coverage you select will kick in on Jan. 1, 2014.
If you have Original Medicare and you’re satisfied with it, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment. Also, Medicare’s open enrollment has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act’s new Health Insurance Marketplace. If you have Medicare, you don’t need to worry about Marketplace plans.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, announced recently that the average Medicare Advantage premium for 2014 is projected to be $32.60. CMS estimated that the average basic Part D drug premium in 2014 would be $31 per month, holding steady for four years in a row.
Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, average Medicare Advantage premiums are down by 9.8 percent. The deductible for standard Part D drug plans in 2014 will be $310, a $15 decline. Meanwhile, the quality of Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans continues to improve, with more than one-third of Medicare Advantage plans receiving four or more stars (out of a possible five stars) in 2014 -- a 28 percent increase over last year. Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans with five stars are allowed to enroll beneficiaries at any time during the year.
Medicare plans’ coverage options and costs can change each year, and Medicare beneficiaries should evaluate their current coverage and choices and select the plan that best meets their needs. If you think your current coverage will meet your needs for 2014, you don’t need to change anything.
For more information on Medicare open enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2014 Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans, please visit: www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Open-Enrollment-Center.html.
A variety of resources are available to help people with Medicare, their families, and caregivers compare current coverage with new plan offerings for 2014. You can:
- Visit www.medicare.gov to see plan coverage and costs available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change. Open enrollment information is available in Spanish.
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for around-the-clock assistance to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Counseling is available in a wide variety of languages.
- Review the 2014 Medicare & You handbook. This handbook has been mailed to the homes of people with Medicare and it’s also online at: www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf.
- Get one-on-one counseling assistance from your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Local SHIP contact information can be found:
- At www.medicare.gov/contacts/organization-search-criteria.aspx or;
- On the back of the 2014 Medicare & You handbook or;
- By calling Medicare (contact information above).
People with Medicare who have limited income and resources may qualify for Extra Help paying for their Part D drug plans. There’s no cost or obligation to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy. Medicare beneficiaries, family members, or caregivers can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.
Please watch out for scammers during Medicare open enrollment season. Don’t give personal information to anyone who shows up at your home uninvited or makes an unsolicited phone call to sell you Medicare-related products or services. If you believe you’re a victim of fraud or identity theft, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE. More information is available at www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
According to a press release from the Calif. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, ten non-approved private health insurance websites have been shut down. Harris stated, “These websites fraudulently imitated 'Covered California' (the state’s official insurance marketplace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.” Harris added, “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”
The complete press release appears below including a list of the deactivated sites and tips on how not to get caught up in health coverage scams.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the removal of ten private health insurance websites that misled Californians by imitating Covered California, the state’s official insurance marketplace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Attorney General Harris also released tips to help consumers avoid insurance scams.
“These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” Attorney General Harris said. “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”
In September, the California Attorney General’s office began an investigation into websites that imitate the state’s Covered California website (www.coveredca.com). Multiple website operators were sent cease and desist letters informing them that their websites were in violation of state law and demanding the immediate removal of the website or transfer of the domain name to the state’s official exchange.
These websites were operated by private health insurance brokers or companies that were not affiliated with Covered California. The websites have domain names similar to the state’s official healthcare exchange and contain unauthorized references to the official exchange’s trademarked logo and name. In several cases, websites used the phrases “Get Covered,” “Covered California” and “California Health Benefit Advisers.”
The California Affordable Care Act forbids individuals or entities from claiming to provide services on behalf of Covered California without securing a valid agreement with the State Exchange. (Gov. Code, § 100510.) State law also prohibits solicitations that falsely imply a governmental connection (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17533.6), the use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to another entity (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17525), making or disseminating untrue or misleading representations with the intent of selling goods or services (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17500) and unfair competition through untrue or misleading advertising (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200).
To date, all website operators who have been contacted by the Attorney General’s office have complied, and the following websites have been either deactivated or redirected to the official exchange website:
The California Health Benefit Exchange is charged with implementing the ACA and is the operator of California’s online health insurance marketplace known as Covered California. California consumers who purchase health insurance policies through this marketplace receive protections guaranteed by the ACA that may not exist in policies outside of the exchange.
Health insurance plans sold outside the official exchange on the individual market before January 1, 2014 do not qualify for federal subsidies and do not have the guarantees provided by the ACA’s consumer protection provisions. Major consumer protections include: no denials based on preexisting conditions; no rating differences based on factors other than age, geography, and family size; issuers may not impose any annual dollar limits for covered services; and all qualified plans must cover essential health benefits identified under the ACA.
The California Attorney General’s Health, Education and Welfare Section, in conjunction with Covered California and the California Department of Insurance, will continue to monitor these and other potentially fraudulent sites.
To avoid scams related to California’s health insurance marketplace, Attorney General Harris has released the following tips for consumers:
- California’s only official health insurance marketplace is www.coveredca.com, which is where individuals, families and small businesses can get information, compare plans and enroll.
- Be wary if you receive a call from a representative claiming to be a government official asking for your personal information like Social Security number or Medicare card number. You should not provide personal or financial information over the phone and should instead contact Covered California directly.
- If you are approached by someone offering assistance from Covered California, verify that they are a Certified Enrollment Counselor by asking to see their required ID badge or by contacting Covered California directly.
- Never pay someone for assistance with healthcare enrollment. Free enrollment assistance is available by contacting Covered California directly.
- If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, please report it by contacting Covered California directly or by filing a consumer complaint with the California Attorney General’s office at: http://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company
Assistance by phone is also available in the following languages: