Alhambra man who drowned trying to save daughter remembered

ALHAMBRA — Services were pending Thursday for an Alhambra man who drowned last week while trying to save his teenage daughter from the rushing water of the Merced River in Mariposa County, family members said.Alfredo Damas, 45, died June 22 in the Briceburg area, Mariposa county sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
He was accompanying his 14-year-old daughter on a Girl Scout trip when the accident occurred, said his son, 25-year-old Edward Damas.
The father and daughter were wading in shallow water when the girl got caught up in a sudden surge of water, Edward Damas said. “He just dove in and went after her.”
Bystanders managed to pull the teenage girl to safety, however Damas drowned.
“It was tragic. It was all of a sudden. It was the last thing that any of us expected,” said Edward Damas.
Alfredo Damas had always been a dedicated father, his son said.
“I was surprised to find out that he died, but I wasn’t surprised to find out how he died (trying to save his daughter). I couldn’t imagine him passing any other way.”
Though traumatized by the incident, Alfredo Damas’ daughter was not seriously injured, Edward Damas said.
Alfredo Damas is survived by his wife, Josephine, daughter, Danielle, and son, Edward.
“He was 100 percent a family man,” his son said. “He taught me everything I know, from tying my first tie to catching a ball,” he said. “The same goes for my sister.”
Alfredo Damas had lived with his wife and children in Alhambra for the past decade, Edward Damas said.
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He was raised in Los Angeles and attended Franklin High School before graduating the University of La Verne with a degree in business management.
He worked at the Southern California Gas Company, where he was a technical services supervisor, his son said.
“He spent his whole life in L.A. County,” he added.
Officials at the utility have expressed condolences to the family and described Alfredo Damas as a valued employee who will be dearly missed.
Edward Damas said he and his family have been encouraged by the large number of friends and CO-workers who have come forward to support them since the tragedy.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Damas family.
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UPDATED: ‘Unknown white substance’ prompts hazmat response in Arcadia

ARCADIA — A mysterious white substance appeared on desktops at an office building overnight, prompting hazardous materials crews to investigate before declaring the scene safe, officials said.
The incident was first reported about 9:15 a.m. at a building housing several businesses in the 600 West Naomi Avenue, Arcadia police and fire officials said. Department spokeswoman Beth Stogner said.
Employees found an “unknown white substance” on desktops in three offices in the building, Arcadia Fire Department spokeswoman Beth Stogner said.
“It appeared sometime after closing last night,” Stogner said.
No one reported feeling ill as a result of the substance, however hazardous materials crews from the Burbank and Glendale fire departments were summoned to investigate.
Police had been looking into reports of threats against the office due to recent litigation, officials said. No further information about the possible threats was available.
Hazardous material teams wearing white suits removed plastic bags from the office and determined there were no hazardous material present around 1 p.m., Arcadia police Lt. Roy Nakamura said.
“Seven persons were exposed to the substance, which was identified as potash bentonite, but exhibited no adverse reactions,” Arcadia Fire Department officials said in a written statement.
Because it appeared someone had broken into the building in order to leave the power behind, police were investigating the incident as a burglary, he said.
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Officials seek Pico Rivera shooting suspect in North Hollywood

Sheriff’s and Los Angeles police officials have surrounded a home in North Hollywood in search of a man wanted for shooting a security guard at a Pico Rivera night club with a shotgun early Thursday.
The shooting took place about 4 a.m. at the El Rodeo Night Club on Washington Boulevard, just west of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith said.
The suspect, a 20-year-old man, had been kicked out of the night club several hours before and returned with a shotgun, Smith said.
He opened fire on a security guard, who was struck in the hand and hip with shotgun pellets, the lieutenant said.
With the help of Los Angeles police, officials tracked the suspect to his home in the 7700 block of Beck Avenue in North Hollywood Thursday morning, Smith said.
Authorities surrounded the home and cautiously prepared to attempt an arrest shortly before 10 a.m., he said.
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Four alleged gang members charged in 2001 slaying of Whittier teen

Eleven years after a 13-year-old Whittier girl was abducted, molested and shot to death in Los Angeles, four suspected gang members are awaiting trial for the crime, officials announced Wednesday.
Jorge Palacios, 34, Santos Grimaldi, 29, Rogelio Contreras, 34, and Melvin Sandoval, 33, all alleged members of the MS-13 street gang, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of kidnapping and murder, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
They are additionally accused of the special allegations that a gun was involved in the crime and that the murder was committed during a kidnapping, officials said. Sandoval is also charged with committing a lewd act on a child.
Prosecutors will decide at a later date whether to seek the death sentence against the suspects, according to the written statement.
The nude body of their alleged teenage victim, identified by prosecutors only as Jacqueline., was found June 28, 2001, in the Elysian Park area of Los Angeles with two gunshots wounds to the head, officials said.
The case went cold for nearly a decade, authorities said, until the Los Angeles police investigators uncovered new information and presented it to prosecutors, according to the D.A.’s statement.
A grand jury returned an indictment against the four men May 25, she said, however the document remained sealed by a judge until Wednesday’s arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Los Angeles police arrested Contreras May 27, according to county booking records.
Palacios is awaiting trial on a 2004 murder in Los Angeles, officials said. Sandoval is awaiting trial in a separate drug case, while Sandoval and Grimaldi were both convicted and sentenced in a separate kidnapping case in 2002.
Testimony last year in another 2010 Omaha, Nebraska murder case showed that Palacios had been paid more than $300,000 by the FBI for cooperation as an informant on drug cases, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
He was used as an informant even though federal agents were aware of Palacios’ suspected involvement in both the 2004 and 2001 killings, according to the World-Herald.
All four suspects are being held without bail, officials said. According to county booking records, they were due back in court for a pre-trial hearing July 12.
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UPDATED: Kidnapping reported at Montebello shopping mall

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UPDATE: Police say the alleged victim was found safe and the suspect arrested in Pico Rivera Wednesday afternoon.
MONTEBELLO — Police Wednesday sought a man and a pregnant woman after the man kidnapped the woman from her workplace at a Montebello shopping mall, authorities said.
Christian Javier Caicedo-Paredez, 22, of Pico Rivera was suspected of kidnapping a 20-year-old Pico Rivera woman, who is seven months pregnant, Montebello police Lt. Luis Lopez said.
The incident was first reported about 10:45 a.m. at the Panda Express restaurant at the Shops at Montebello, 2134 Montebello Town Center Drive, Sgt. Ismael Navarro said.
Police believed the man and woman either were or had been involved in a dating relationship, Lopez said.
Caicedo-Paredez showed up the restaurant, presumably wanting to talk to the woman, Lopez said. But she didn’t want to talk to him.
“He jumped over the counter,” the lieutenant said.
After a brief exchange of words, Caicedo-Paredez pushed her out the back of the store and through the parking lot, Lopez said.
At one point, he knocked her down to the ground,” he said. The abductor ultimately forced the woman into his car.
Family members of the woman had not heard from her Wednesday afternoon, Lopez said.
Detectives were interviewing friends and family members of Caicedo-Paredez and the alleged victim in hopes of learning more about the circumstances of the apparent kidnapping.
“We’re concerned for her safety,” Lopez added.
The alleged kidnapper and victim were last seen driving away from the mall in a black, 2010 Toyota Corolla with a California license plate of 6MYN850, officials said.
“The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous,” police said in a written statement.
Anyone with information is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately.
PHOTO of Christian Caicedo-Paredez courtesy of the Montebello Police Department
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Motorcyclist who died on Angeles Crest Highway identified

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Authorities have released the name of a 71-year-old Orange County man who died over the weekend after suffering an apparent heart attack while riding a motorcycle on Angeles Crest Highway.
Richard Lee Shumway died shortly after his motorcycle suddenly slowed and collided with a guard rail shortly after noon Sunday near mile marker 69 of Angeles Crest Highway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistance Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
An autopsy was yet to be carried out Wednesday, however California Highway Patrol officials initially said it appeared the rider had suffered a medical condition such as a heart attack.
“He had some existing medical issued,” Winter said.
The death remained under investigation.
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Alhambra man dies trying to rescue daughter from Merced River

An Alhambra man died last week after he dove into the Merced River in Mariposa County to rescue his 14-year-old daughter, authorities said.
Alfredo Damas, 45, was pronounced dead Friday afternoon after he was pulled from the water in the Briceburg area, Mariposa County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. His daughter was rescued.
The incident began just before 4:15 p.m. when authorities received a report that a 14-year-old girl was floating down the Merced River, apparently drowning, officials said.
“Witnesses report that the girl’s father, (Damas), entered the river to rescue her,” according to the sheriff’s statement. “Damas then also became distressed.”
Onlookers managed to reach the teenage girl and pull her to safety, the statement said. “Mr. Damas slipped under (the water) and out of sight.”
Witnesses reported the incident to a nearby Bureau of Land Management ranger, who began searching for Damas and soon found him submerged beneath about six feet of water, authorities said.
Rescuers at the scene performed CPR and attempted to revive Damas with no success, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Autopsy results were not available Wednesday, however investigators described the death as an apparent drowning.
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Monrovia man jailed following 12-hour standoff

MONROVIA — A SWAT team used tear gas and flash-bang grenades to bring an end to a 12-hour standoff with an armed ex-felon early Wednesday, police said.
David Hipkins, 35, was arrested on suspicion of being an ex-felon in possession of firearms shortly after 1 a.m. at his home in the 800 block of West Duarte Road, Monrovia police Sgt. Mike Head said.
The stand-off began about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday when police received a report that Hipkins was distraught and had made threats of harming himself, police said.
Authorities summoned a SWAT team after Hipkins, who was believed to have weapons, refused to come out of the home.
After 12 hours of sporadic communication with Hipkins, police fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades into the home, Head said.
After several volleys of grenades, he said, Hipkins finally exited the home and surrendered.
Several guns were found inside the home, though the number and type of weapons were not available Wednesday morning.
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Man dies from apparent heart attack while riding motorcycle on Angeles Crest Highway

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A man died Sunday after suffering what officials believed to be a heart attack while riding a motorcycle on Angeles Crest Highway.
The incident was first reported at 12:08 p.m. near mile marker 69 of Angeles Crest Highway, California Highway Patrol Office Tatiana Saquillo said.
The rider’s name and age were not available.
Initial investigation indicated the rider fell from his motorcycle, which collided with a guard rail, after suffering a heart attack, the officer said.
Rescuers rushed out via helicopter to treat the man, she said, however he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner is investigating the man’s cause of death.
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Motorcyclist injured in crash on 10 Freeway

BALDWIN PARK — A motorcyclist was hospitalized following a crash that prompted the closure of three lanes of the 10 Freeway Sunday.
The crash was first reported about 12:10 p.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway, just west of the 605 Freeway, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
The motorcyclist apparently lost control and went down in the number two lane, CHP Officer Tatiana Saquillo said.
Authorities shut down the three middle lanes of the westbound 10 Freeway as they treated and hospitalized the rider and investigated the crash, logs show.
The injuries to the motorcyclist were not believed to be life-threatening, according to CHP Officer Tatiana Saquillo officials said.
All traffic lanes were re-opened by 12:35 p.m.
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