Escondido, Rancho Santa Fe news briefs

Behold, the new fitness court at Escondido's Mountain View Park/City of Escondido

News from around the Escondido-Rancho Santa Fe-San Marcos region…

Get in shape at the park when COVID dies down

Escondido officials Wednesday Nov. 18, unveiled a new outdoor fitness court located at Mountain View Park, 1160 South Citrus Avenue.

This capital project is a featured part of a 2020 initiative launched by National Fitness Campaign (NFC), a nationwide consulting organization that partners with cities to plan, build, and fund healthy infrastructure, according to Michael Thorne, a city of Escondido communications specialist.

Escondido has been designated the first model city in the region, which means we will be installing five fitness courts throughout Escondido, and will be part of a greater network of fitness courts across the County and Southern California, Thorne said.

Escondido City Council members approved capital improvement project for Fiscal Year 2020-21 that included  building two additional fitness courts, Thorne said.

The fitness court is a seven station system that has an accompanying free mobile application to help guide a participants workouts.  In addition, the city is looking for fitness court ambassadors to partner with to offer free workout classes, challenges and workshops to help residents live a happier and healthier life. For more information about the Fitness Court, and the ambassador program, visit:

Young man kills himself by driving too fast around Rancho Santa Fe

A gray 2018 McLaren 750S/File

A 27-year-old man driving a $200,000 sports car killed himself for nothing this week.

The young man in a gray 2018 McLaren 750S sports car died in an accident on San Dieguito Road on Tuesday, November 17, according to San Diego police Lt. Duane Voss of the city’s Northeastern Division.

The man drove west on San Dieguito Road at around 12:30 p.m., then crossed double yellow lines to pass another car on the two-lane road, Voss said.

While making the pass, the driver of the sports vehicle side-swiped the other westbound car and lost control. The vehicle then hit an eastbound car, and the force of the crash caused the vehicle to spin. An eastbound box truck then T-boned the vehicle and it became engulfed in flames.

Officers responded and found the gray 2018 McLaren 750S on fire with the driver trapped inside. San Diego firefighters put out the flames, but the driver died in the crash. There were no reports of other injuries.

Authorities have not yet released the driver’s identity as they continue to investigate the incident.

Stone Brewing sets aside money for laid off employees

Speaking of COVID, Escondido-based Stone Brewing has laid off over 300 employees, citing statewide orders forcing them, and numerous other businesses, to close down in March.

Last week , Stone officials said the company would donate over $140,000 to its former employees who were laid off due to COVID-19 shutdowns. This is the second round of disbursements from what the company calls the Team Stone Relief Fund.

The brewery, which has two World Bistro & Gardens locations, including one in Escondido, as well as several taprooms in San Diego County, reopened its doors at the beginning of June but faced criticism for not hiring back the majority of their employees.according to The Coast News.

“Immediately following our layoffs caused by the COVID-19 shutdown, we created a fund to support all laid-off employees. Our co-founder, Greg Koch, contributed his entire 2020 salary. Co-Founder Steve Wagner, CEO Dominic Engels and other executives also contributed. We opened it up to the rest of Team Stone and are proud to have offered additional support to these employees during this time,” said Gregg Frazer, Stone’s VP of hospitality, back in June.

Visualize your COVID risk

As coronavirus case numbers continue to rise across the globe, The UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism has provided a calculator that lets you estimate the risk of getting COVID from a wide range of activities, using the best research available.

We hope this tool will help hone your intuition, lower your stress levels, and figure out good harm-reduction strategies. Follow The microCOVID project link to access the risk calculator.

False vehicle theft insurance fraud doesn’t pay

A 1997 Toyota RAV4/File

Juan Camilo Vargas, 62, of Escondido, was arrested last week on multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and reporting a false vehicle theft after allegedly misrepresenting when and where his vehicle was stolen from in order to receive an undeserved insurance payout.

On Sept. 8, 2019, Vargas reported to the Escondido Police Department and his insurance company that his 1997 Toyota RAV4 was stolen while parked in front of his Escondido home. Vargas stated he parked the vehicle the night before and discovered it was missing the next morning. His insurance company issued him a $4,165 check for his claim.

An investigation by the San Diego County Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which includes the California Department of Insurance, San Diego District Attorney’s Office and California Highway Patrol, reportedly revealed Vargas’ vehicle was driven across the border from the U.S. to Mexico on Aug. 25, 2019. U.S. Border Patrol provided a photo of the vehicle crossing the border and the driver appeared to be Vargas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection records confirmed Vargas drove another vehicle that was registered to him back to the U.S. from Mexico later that same day.

In an interview with a CDI detective, Vargas confirmed the vehicle was actually stolen in Mexico, not in Escondido as he had previously reported to the police and his insurance company. Vargas said he fraudulently reported the theft occurred in Escondido because he did not believe he had insurance coverage in Mexico. The investigation confirmed his insurance policy did not cover the vehicle while in Mexico.

Vargas was arrested by the task force on Nov. 3, and transported to the Vista Detention Facility. Bail was set at $25,000 and Vargas was released on bond. The San Diego District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting this case.

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