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RioCap: Our Top Stories of 2019

2019 was a challenging year for many people. Nationally, personally and locally. Rio Linda and Elverta weren’t insulated from those challenges. From our Knights winning a State Championship in Football, to unthinkable tragedy on our main street, the fall from 2018 to 2019 was calamitous.

Here are our Top Ten stories from 2019, as ranked by page views.

  1. DUI Driver Hits Pregnant Woman on M Street
    On Monday April 8th, Ronny Haines Ward had been driving his Jeep westbound on “M” Street when he collided with a parked Chevy Impala. The collision violently forced the Impala into 23-year-old Ciara Villegas who was standing at the front of the Chevy. She was transported to a trauma center with life-threatening injuries.

    Ciara was also 6 months pregnant at the time. Baby RJ was born that night, 3 months early. He survived less than 48 hours, passing on April 10th.

    Ward was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with greater than .08% blood alcohol and personally inflicting great bodily injury upon Villegas. He was NOT charged with manslaughter in the death of the child, because as an unborn child, he was not covered by the manslaughter statute.

    Ward was sentenced to 5 1/2 years, with the stipulation that instead of 50% credit for time served, he will get 15%, which will force him to serve the majority of his sentenced time.

    RioLindaOnline was the ONLY local news source on the scene that night.

2. Rio Linda Man Facing Federal Drug Charges in Wyoming
On May 24th, 52-year-old Arnold Butler of Rio Linda found himself in trouble after a Wyoming trooper found 54.4 pounds of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine in the car he was towing.

3. CHP Media Release on M Street Accident
The official CHP media release on the Villegas incident, on April 9th.

4. Rally for Baby RJ Tomorrow August 9
On August 9th, the Villegas family rallied in front of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office in support of more serious charges for Ronny Ward.

5. This Land is OUR Land: Tell LAFCO the Panhandle belongs to Rio Linda.
In March 2019, The City of Sacramento moved to annex the Panhandle property (worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue) away from Sacramento County and the Rio Linda Elverta Recreation and Parks District. Despite receiving thousands of petition signatures and emails from the Rio Linda/Elverta community, LAFCO voted to accept the annexation proposal. The tax agreement emplaced allocates only $2500 per year to the RLERPD for the next five years.

6. SACRAMENTO HOUSING AUTHORITY TO OPEN WAIT LIST FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED PUBLIC HOUSING
In a demonstration of the depth of the homeless and housing crisis, the Sacramento City and County Housing Authority opening the waitlist for elderly/disabled public housing was one of the most popular stories of 2019.

7. Excessive Speeds Result in Deadly Accident
On July 26th, at U Street and Maldive Street, a Toyota Prius left the roadway, collided with a tree, and was fully engulfed. A 43 year old woman from Rio Linda was trapped in the vehicle and did not survive the collision.

8. Federal Appeals Court sides with RLECWD; sends Rio Linda Water case back to Federal Claims Court
At #8 we get some good news; Federal Claims Court had misunderstood the case the RLECWD was bringing against the US Government, and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that and sent the case back. The case stating that McClellan AFB introduced Hexavalent Chromium into the RLECWD water supply was filed in 2017 and is still pending.

9. Break-In at Creekside Diner
On Thursday May 30th, someone took a crowbar to the doors at the Creekside Diner and took a gumball machine that had been there for over 20 years.

10. Shooting On Dry Creek Road
On Tuesday July 2nd, Sacramento County Sheriff’s officers responded to a shooting call at the Creekside Apartments on Dry Creek Road. The victim suffered four gunshot wounds. It’s unknown if the shooter was ever apprehended.

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