Adopt an engineer from Los Altos Academy

The Los Altos Academy of Engineering is preparing for an electric vehicle contest in Florida on April 26. The young engineers plan to race three vehicles in the Emerald Coast Electrathon.
The Los Altos High School team needs $11,000 to cover expenses to Pensacola. They hope the community will adopt a high school engineer by contributing $10 or more.
For more information, call 626-330-1096.

Arraignment delayed for woman accused of killing 6 people in 60 Freeway DUI crash in Diamond Bar

By Staff Writer Lori Fowler

The arraignment for a woman accused of killing six people during a drunken-driving crash in Diamond Bar was delayed Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court so defense attorneys can go over more than 800 pages of discovery.

Olivia Culbreath, 21, of Fontana was present and in custody for what was scheduled to be her arraignment. But Judge Thomas C. Falls continued the hearing until May 21 to allow the defense to look over the large number of documents. Bail remains set at $6 million, Falls said.

Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender Ramiro Cisneros said they have already received a lot of discovery but he expects to get even more.

“We’re going to need to read all those documents to properly prepare for this case,” Cisneros said explaining the delay. Cisneros said he is not the attorney in this case but someone will be assigned to it soon.

Culbreath has been charged with six counts of murder in the deaths of Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47; Leticia Ibarra, 42; Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20; and Ester Delgado, all of Huntington Park; Kristin Melissa Young, 21, of Chino; and her sister, Maya Louise Culbreath, 24, of Rialto.

California Highway Patrol officers said Culbreath was driving her red Chevrolet Camaro the wrong way on the westbound 60 Freeway on Feb. 9 when she slammed into a Ford Explorer. All occupants of the Explorer died, as did Culbreath’s two passengers.

Culbreath has been in custody since the crash, first in the hospital and then in Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles. At the court hearing Tuesday, Culbreath was once again wheeled in on a gurney. She was wearing a hospital gown and handcuffed to the rails of the gurney.

When asked how Culbreath is doing, Cisneros said she is scared and grieving.

“Miss Culbreath is very scared given the situation she is in,” he said, adding that she knows she is charged with multiple counts of murder.

“At the same time, she is also grieving for the people who died as a result of this incident.”

Hacienda Heights woman faces charges for fatal La Habra crash

A driver from Hacienda Heights accused of killing a pedestrian and injuring another in La Habra will be arraigned today in an Orange County courtroom.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has charged Caroline Sujin Kim with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, leaving the scene of an accident, evading police while driving recklessly and hit-and-run causing serious injury or death. All are felonies.

If convicted of all the charges, she faces a maximum sentence of 13 years and eight months in prison.

The charges stem from an incident on Oct. 25. Authorities said Kim was speeding in a Cadillac sedan on Whittier Boulevard at around 8:50 p.m.

She allegedly ran a red light at Rigsby Street and hit two pedestrians walking in the marked crosswalk, 38-year-old Sandra Ceballos of La Habra and a 43-year-old woman. The Cadillac drove away.

Ceballos was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center where she later died of her injuries.

Whittier police got a call from a motorist who was following the sedan involved in the hit-and-run. Officers picked up the sedan on Colima Road but the driver refused to pull over. The sedan reached a top speed of 90 mph.

The pursuit ended when the sedan hit a parked car on Countrywood Avenue and Pepper Brook Way in Hacienda Heights. Kim, was taken into custody. She is currently out on bond.

Rowland teachers declare impasse in contract talks with Rowland Unified

Rowland teachers have declared an impasse in the stalled contract negotiations with the Rowland Unified School District.

The Association of Rowland Educators is asking the state to send in a mediator to handle further negotiations. The state steps in when regular negotiations break down.

“We’re filing the paperwork now to declare an impasse with the state,” said ARE President John Petersen.

Union officials say the contract talks broke down during the eighth bargaining session last Thursday. In an email to the teachers, Nadine Loza, bargaining chair, explained what happened.

“The ARE bargaining team was disappointed (but not surprised) when the district presented their counterproposal after lunch. The district’s proposal was not significantly different from their last proposal. Overall, the district has not moved significantly from their initial proposal especially on critical issues like salary, benefits, planning time, adjunct duties and combo classes.”

The teachers’ representatives say they declared a impasse and cancelled the next bargaining session set for Thursday.

“There’s a backlog for mediators, so we don’t expect the state to assign one for at least six weeks,” Petersen said.

This mediator will meet with both sides to try and work out the differences. Petersen insists the bargaining teams will not meet until the state assigns a mediator.

When asked if this breakdown could lead to a teachers’ strike, Petersen was reticent to say what can happen if negotiations worsen.

“There’s no trust there. It took six months to agree that seventh- and eighth-grade teachers belong in the secondary classification,” Petersen said.

But in its newsletter, the association was more candid about whether there would be a strike.

“That is really up to the district at this point. The process of mediation is designed to help avoid a strike by bringing both teams under a mediator to try to reach an agreement. The association is committed to parity and will pursue all channels available to achieve this.

“It is the sincere wish of ARE to avoid the damage to RUSD caused by a strike. Having said that, our commitment to justice is stronger than our commitment to peace and we will move forward towards the inevitable outcome of parity.”

District officials said the teachers’ union moved from 12.5 percent raise over two years to 10 percent over one year. The district moved its offer from 3.5 percent to a 4.5 percent salary increase over two years.

“I won’t get into specific figures because that makes negotiations very difficult,” Petersen said. “But I have all the facts and figures that prove our teachers are paid much less than other school districts.”

Beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience earn an annual salary of $45,180 at RUSD and is ranked 18th out of 47 school districts, according to a salary survey from the Los Angeles County Office of Education dated June 2013. Arcadia Unified was No. 1 with starting salaries at $49,874; Bassett Unified was near the bottom at $38,776. Charter Oak was last at $38,495.

Teachers with a master’s degree and listed as the maximum salary step for RUSD earn $69,216, for a ranking of 21 out of 34 districts for which there was comparable data, according to the LACOE report.

The district also proposed increasing its maximum health benefits contribution for teachers by $850 over two years.

“We’re still paying much more for health insurance than other districts,” Petersen countered. “I’m paying $1,200 a month to cover my family.”

Steve Scauzillo contributed to this story.

Candidates’ forum for judges at Steinmetz Park on May 3

Come out to meet our judicial candidates at a forum on May 3 at 10 a.m. in Steinmetz Park Community Center at 1545 S. Stimson Ave. in Hacienda Heights.

Twenty-four candidates are running for 11 judicial offices of Los Angeles County Superior Court will discuss their views on criminal and legal justice issues, the courts, jury duty and many more topics.  The election is June 3.

The forum, which will run from 10 a.m. to noon, includes candidates for offices No. 22, 48, 61, 76, 87, 97, 107, 113, 117, 138 and 157. It will be moderated by Robert Bonner, former U.S. District judge and the former chair of the California Commission for Judicial Performance.

Civic leaders Martha and Charles House of Hacienda Heights are sponsoring the event. Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information email charleshouse35@gmail.com

Off-duty LAPD officer crashes into McDonald’s Restaurant in Diamond Bar

An off-duty Los Angeles police officer was arrested Friday for allegedly driving drunk after he crashed a car into the drive-through area of a McDonald’s near the 60 Freeway.

California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said Jonathan Chel, 29, of Fullerton, was cited on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence and released to his department.

Chel couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. The solo crash was reported at 1:15 a.m.

Jimenez said the officer was driving a Mazda 3 eastbound on the 60 Freeway and took the off-ramp to Brea Canyon Road. It crashed off the roadway and traveled across an approximately 50-foot area separating the off-ramp from the drive-through area of the restaurant, Jimenez said.

He said Chel didn’t have a passenger.

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Thomas Richards said firefighters responded to a call of a traffic collision with a person trapped at 1:18 a.m. But no extrication was needed, he added.

Chel was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center and treated for injuries the CHP described as moderate. Jimenez didn’t know Chel’s specific injuries.

LAPD officials said the department isn’t releasing any information about the officer at this time.

“We’re allowing the CHP to conduct an investigation and we are not involved in it,” LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said.

 

 

He didn’t know if Chel was placed on leave.

“All we’re confirming is he was off duty because the CHP is spearheading the investigation,” LAPD Officer Luis Garcia said.

Garcia said they haven’t had contact with Chel yet.

Peter Horner, who is the owner of the McDonald’s where the officer ended up, said in statement that the restaurant wasn’t damaged but a fence around the property sustained some damage.

Diamond Bar man found dead in garage

A 56 -year-old man was found dead in his Diamond Bar garage early Monday morning. Detectives don’t suspect foul play.

Lt. Dave Dolson of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said they are certain the death is either accidental or a natural death. He said the resident was a cancer survivor, had had a couple of strokes and took medication for high blood pressure.

Dolson said relatives coming back from a trip discovered the man in the garage of his home in the 800 block of Adamsgrove Avenue.

Los Angeles County firefighters responded to a 9-1-1 call about a cardiac arrest at the location at 2:25 a.m., according to Inspector Anthony Akins.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Coroner’s officials haven’t released the man’s name yet. They were still at the home as of 11 a.m.

California Transportation Commission OKs $48 million for Puente Ave. railroad underpass

The California Transportation Commission voted Friday  to allocate $48 million in state transportation bond funds to the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE) to construct a roadway underpass and railroad bridge at the congested and hazardous rail crossing on Puente Avenue/Workman Mill Road in the City of Industry. The funding will permit ACE to advertise and award a construction contract this summer for the $99.019 million project.

“The Puente Avenue grade separation project will eliminate collisions, traffic congestion, vehicle emissions and train horns at the crossing and we look forward to starting the project with today’s vote of support from the California Transportation Commission,” said El Monte Mayor Pro Tem Norma Macias, Chair of the ACE Board of Directors.

The construction funds were allocated from the state Proposition 1B Trade Corridor Improvement Fund. Workers will build a roadway underpass for Puente Avenue, a double-track bridge for Union Pacific trains and a bridge for Valley Boulevard as well as a new loop connector road between Puente Avenue and Valley Boulevard.

The project will eliminate the Puente Avenue railroad crossing, which accommodates 31,110 vehicles per day and where an average of 20 trains per day block traffic for 31.5 vehicle-hours of daily delay in 2010, projected to increase to 87.8 vehicle-hours of daily delay by 2035. The project will eliminate collisions between vehicles and trains, with five collisions recorded over the past 10 years, and will generate 1,766 full-time equivalent jobs.

The project is part of the ACE program of constructing 22 rail-highway grade separations in the San Gabriel Valley along the freight rail mainlines carrying goods to and from the San Pedro Bay ports. The ports are the nation’s busiest, handling 44 percent of the country’s containerized imports, 90 percent of California’s imports and 75 percent of its exports. Nearly 60 percent of the containers travel inland along the Alameda Corridor-East Trade Corridor to destinations across the country.

U.S. Transportation Secretary to visit Nogales St. project on Friday

Artist rendering of the new Nogales Street railroad underpass.

Artist rendering of the new Nogales Street railroad underpass.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will join U.S. Representatives Grace Napolitano and Ed Royce, and members of the Alameda Corridor-East (ACE) Construction Authority to visit the Nogales Street highway-rail grade separation project on Friday morning.

The busy boulevard will close to traffic at 6 a.m. Saturday for a two-year project to separate the road from the railroad grade. Once completed, the roadway underpass and railroad bridge will eliminate collisions, delays for emergency
responders and train horn noise and reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions.

Secretary Foxx will also tour the nearby confluence of State Routes 60 and 57 for a briefing on improvement plans.