Woman suspected of DUI in fatal San Gabriel crash

SAN GABRIEL — A young woman is accused of being drunk when she crashed into a parked tour bus, killing one of her passengers, police said Sunday
Samuel Bendimez, 23, of Long Beach, died at the scene of the Friday’s 6:57 a.m. crash on Valley Boulevard, just east of San Gabriel Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner’s Lt. Cheryl MacWillie said.
The name of the driver, a woman in her early 20s, was not available Sunday as she remained hospitalized with serious injuries, San Gabriel police Lt. Ariel Duran said.
“She was cited for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence,” the lieutenant said. Because of her medical condition, she had not been booked into police custody.
Another young woman who was also a passenger in the Ford F-150 pickup truck remained hospitalized in stable condition Sunday, officials said.
The pickup truck crashed into a casino-bound tour bus that was pulled to the side of the road to load passengers, police said.
“(The driver) rear-ended the tour bus at a high rate of speed,” Duran said. The exact speed remained under investigation, however it was believed to be “above speed limit.”
The two passengers in the pickup truck were both sleeping in the rear seat without seat belts, he added.
The three people inside the pickup truck were described by police as friends.
“Apparently, they’d been drinking all night,” Duran said. “They went through several cities drinking.”
About 25 people were on board the bus, Duran said. Several were treated for minor injuries.

Two men suspected of 3-week potato vandalism spree in Azusa

AZUSA — Police arrested two local men Sunday on suspicion of hurling potatoes at parked cars during a three-week vandalism spree, authorities said.
Charles Maciel and Michael Espinosa, both 20, were booked on suspicion of felony vandalism, Azusa police Sgt. Andy Sutcliffe said in a written statement.
Residents of the 1300 blocks of N. San Gabriel and Dalton avenues called police about 12:30 a.m. to report their cars had been damaged by vandals throwing potatoes, the sergeant said.
Officers found Maciel and Espinosa inside a white, 1993 Plymouth van parked near 11th Street and Holmar Avenue, Sutcliffe said.
“Both Maciel and Espinosa admitted to officers they had been throwing potatoes at parked vehicles in the north end of Azusa every Saturday night since January 1st,” he said.
Both men work at the same San Dimas steakhouse, Lt. Mike Bertelsen said, and told police they had been taking leftover potatoes from the restaurant just to throw at cars.
About half a dozen other cars were hit in the vandalisms, and the damage was initially estimated to be worth more than $2,000. The damage included broken windows, broken mirrors and dented fenders.
At least one previous victim reported the potato vandals had been in an older-model white van.
Bertelsen said Maciel and Espinosa were cited out of jail as they await a court date.

Gang members stab man to death after crashing birthday party in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA — A group of gang members stabbed a young man to death early Sunday while crashing a backyard birthday party, authorities said.
The name of the dead man was not released pending notification of family members, coroner’s officials said.
The fatal attack was reported about 12:45 a.m. at a home in the 8700 block of Bradhurst Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
A birthday party was going on for two teenage girls prior to the incident, according to neighbors and sheriff’s officials.
“Ten to 15 uninvited gang members arrived and demanded entry to the party,” Deputy Lillian Peck said. “When their entry was refused, a fight ensued between the gang members and party patrons.”
A young man was stabbed in the melee and was taken to a hospital where he died a short time later, officials said.
“One gang member discharged a handgun several times into the crowd. No one was struck,” Peck said.
Investigators said the gang members then fled the area in several directions.
Sundays slaying was the first reported homicide of the year handled by the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station.
According to sheriff’s statistics, the station saw five homicides last year — two within the Pico Rivera and three in the unincorporated county areas patrolled by the station.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips can also be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-8477.

14-year-old girl severely injured in fall from waterfall in Eaton Canyon

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST – A 14-year-girl suffered major injuries Saturday when she fell from a waterfall in Eaton Canyon, authorities said.
The incident was reported shortly after 3:30 p.m. at the first waterfall of Eaton Canyon, in the Angeles National Forest north of Altadena, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Debra Herman said.
Officials flew the teen by helicopter to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for treatment, Herman said.
Her condition was unknown late Saturday, she said, however the girl suffered head and other severe injuries.
The falling girl loosened the hillside as she plummeted 30 to 40 feet, Herman said, causing rocks and other debris to fall down on her.
The teen was with other hikers when the fall occurred, Herman said. No further details were available.

Motorcyclist flown to the hospital after crash in Whittier

WHITTIER — A motorcyclist suffered major injuries but was expected to survive following a crash Saturday on Painter Avenue, police said.
The crash took place shortly after 3 p.m. on Painter Avenue at Ramona Drive, Whittier police Lt. Wyatt Powell said.
The motorcyclist, a 59-year-old man, was northbound on Painter Avenue when another car made a turn in front of him from westbound Ramona Drive onto southbound Painter Avenue, the lieutenant said.
Powell said the motorcycle struck the side of the car, breaking the riders femur and causing several facial injuries.
Rescuers flew the injured motorcyclist by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Powell said. His condition late Saturday was not clear, however he was expected to survive.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, Powell said. No citations or arrests were made Saturday.

Suspects accused of trying to steal historic light posts in Pasadena

49394-PASADENA LIGHT POSTS-thumb-300x459-49393.jpgPASADENA — Police chased down and arrested two men suspected of trying to steal a historic bronze light pole from a Pasadena neighborhood early Saturday with the help of some vigilant city workers, authorities said.
Frank Bise, 44, of Lancaster, and Steven Dickinson, 52, of Los Angeles were arrested in connected with the 5:45 a.m. theft attempt near Orange Grove Boulevard and Bellevue Drive, according to police and sheriff’s booking records.
After a historic bronze light pole was discovered stolen Friday morning, a crew of Pasadena Public Works workers decided to start their day early to “take a look around” for anything suspicious, Pasadena police Lt. Chris Russ said.
“They probably didn’t think they were actually going to witness the guys stealing the light poles,” he said, but that’s exactly what happened.
The workers spotted a white van being used to push over a light pole and used their radio to contact police.
Officer spotted the van in the area and chased it down the 110 Freeway before it exited at Avenue 50, continued fleeing and crashed into a garage at Aldama Street and Avenue 52 in Highland Park, Russ said.
The occupants of the car fled on foot, he added. Pasadena and Los Angeles police arrested Bise and Dickinson in the area. The van was determined to have been stolen from South Pasadena.
Police were working to link the suspects to Friday’s pole theft as well, Russ said. Anyone who saw a white Chevrolet Astro van with a cargo rack on the top and nylon straps that appeared to be holding the back doors closed in the early morning hours Friday is asked to call Pasadena police.
The poles targeted Friday and Saturday weigh an estimated 300 to 400 pounds, officials said.
When stolen or damaged, the city replaces them with aluminum replicas at a cost of about $3,000, Russ said.
“The bronze ones can’t be replaced,” he added.
The value and historical significance of the posts grossly overshadows money crooks may be able to make by recycling their metal, he said.
It would be far too expensive to have bronze replicas of the 8-foot tall, 300-400 pound light posts made to ask it of taxpayers, Pasadena spokeswoman Ann Erdman said.
Installed in the late-1920s, “They’re historic and irreplaceable,” Erdman said.
Friday and Saturday’s thefts were not the first time thieves have tried to make off with the antique light poles from the neighborhood.
“There have been about 15 stolen in the past two years,” Erdman said.
The bronze pole that was knocked down early Saturday was put back in its place by Saturday afternoon, officials said.
Erdman said she was pleased that city workers and police, working together, were able to work together to prevent another light pole theft.
“We are not going to let people go unpunished for stealing Pasadena’s historic heritage,” she said. “The eyes of the City of Pasadena are watching.”
Bise was booked on suspicion of grand theft, felony evading and a parole violation, while Dickinson was booked on suspicion of grand theft, felony evading and an outstanding warrant for driving on a suspended license, police said.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Bise was being held without bail, and Dickinson was being held in lieu of $105,000 bail. Information regarding their initial court appearances was not available Saturday.

PHOTO of lightposts along Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena courtesy of Eric Reed, Staff Photographer

Drivers distracted by gadgets blamed for crashed in Industry, La Canada Flintridge

Officials blame drivers distracted by gadgets for two separate injury crashes late Friday in Industry and early Saturday in La Canada Flintridge.
A man suffered a broken ankle about 8:50 p.m. Friday when he crashed into a telephone pole at Baldwin Park Boulevard and Temple Avenue in Industry, Lt. Steve Katz said in a written statement.
The man told deputies he dropped his cell phone while driving and leaned over to retrieve it, the lieutenant said.
“In doing so, the vehicle veered toward the curb and struck a telephone pole,” Katz said.
The crash brought live electrical wires down into the street, officials said, however electrical service and traffic signals were unaffected. A Southern California Edison crew was summoned to repair the damage.
About five hours later, a 22-year-old man was hospitalized with major injuries when he crashed his car while sending a text message on the westbound 210 Freeway near Foothill Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Ed Jacobs said.
“He was texting while driving,” he said. “His wife or girlfriend received the text a minute after the crash came out.”
The car swerved across westbound lanes, hit the center divider and overturned, Jacobs said.
The driver was taken Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for treatement of injuries that were believed to be life-threatening, officials said.

Medical marijuana stolen in West Valinda home-invasion robbery; 2 suspects in custody, 2 sought

WEST VALINDA — Two men were behind bars Tuesday, and investigators sought two more, on suspicion of a violent robbery at a home in which medical marijuana was being legally grown, authorities said.
Srun “Sean” Ly, 38, of Fontana, and Chanthoern Chhuon, 31, of Stockton, are accused of home-invasion robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats in connection with the Jan. 4 crime in the 1300 block of Edanruth Avenue, Sgt. Steve Kim of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Asian Gang Team said.
“All four suspects forced their way in,” the sergeant said. “They started beating up the victim. At one point, one of the suspects pistol-whipped the victim in the head.”
The robbers then bound the hands and feet of the victim with tape before fleeing with about $2,000 in cash and several pounds of marijuana, Kim said.
The victim, a man in his 20s, was knocked unconscious in the 1:30 p.m. attack, he said. After waking up early the next morning, he was able to free himself and call for help.
The victim recognized two of the robbers and knew them by a first name and a nickname, Kim said. Both had assisted the victim in the marijuana growing operation, which was being done in compliance with state law in partnership with a medical marijuana dispensary.
Investigators identified Ly — alleged member of the Wah Ching street gang in Los Angeles — as a suspect and arrested him without a struggle in the early morning hours of Jan. 6, according to sheriff’s officials and booking records.
Kim said Chhuon — an alleged member of the Original Bloods street gang in Stockton — was also arrested without incident at his Stockton home on Jan. 13 by a local police SWAT team.
The two robbers who remained at large Tuesday were described only as a Latino man and a man of unknown race.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Chhuon was being held without bail, while Ly was being held in lieu of $1.23 million bail.
Both suspects were due for arraignment Wednesday in El Monte Superior Court.

Woman struck, killed by van in Rowland Heights

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — A woman was fatally struck by a car Sunday on Colima Road, authorities said.
The incident was reported at 5:25 p.m. on Colima Road, just east of Azusa Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Krystal Carter said.
The pedestrian, a woman estimated to be in her early 50s, was struck by a blue van, Carter said. She died from her injuries.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by the Santa Fe Springs office of the CHP.

Unrelated rescues reported in Eaton Canyon

49286-EATON RESCUE 1-16-11-thumb-300x240-49285.jpg

EATON CANYON — Authorities pulled two injured young men from Eaton Canyon Saturday in unrelated rescues, officials said.
The first incident was reported just after 1 p.m. between the second and third waterfalls of the canyon, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said in a written statement.
Sheriff’s deputies, search and rescue team members and a sheriff’s helicopter found the 26-year-old man, who had fallen about 200 feet, and hospitalized him with injuries initially described as moderate, officials said.
Officials received a second report of an injured hiker in Eaton Canyon about 2:25 p.m., Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said in a written statement.
Rescuers were notified that a 23-year-old man had fallen down into the canyon under some power lines near the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, Derderian said.
Pasadena fire and sheriff’s officials located the man, she said, and flew him by helicopter to a hospital with “moderate to severe” injuries.

PHOTO of Sunday’s second Eaton Canyon rescue courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department.