MONROVIA — A Monrovia man and his dog got a closer-than-comfortable encounter Wednesday with two bears, at least one of which ransacked his home, authorities said.
The uninvited guests showed up just before 6 p.m. at a home in the 800 block of Crescent Drive, at the far north edge of town on the edge of the Angeles National Forest, Monrovia police Sgt. Dan Verna said.
The resident called police, “and said there was a bear inside his downstairs living room,” Verna said. “The resident was in his upstairs bedroom with his dog.”
“He also said there was a second bear in his backyard,” the sergeant said.
The foraging intruders reportedly ransacked the man’s home before they exited the house of their own accord.
As officers were en route, “He called back immediately and said the bears were both outside and leaving the area,” Verna said.
“The officers utilized a non-lethal bean bag round effectively to frighten the bears back up the mountain,” Lt. Nells Ortlund said.
The bears apparently got into the home through a doggie door, police said.
WHITTIER — A 60-year-old Whittier man and a 67-year-old Baldwin Park man died in a five-car chain reaction crash on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway early Thursday, authorities said.
Officials withheld the names of the dead men pending confirmation their families had been notified, according to the California Highway Patrol. Three other drivers involved in the pileup were not hurt.
The fatal wreck took place shortly before 2:30 a.m. in the southbound lanes of the 605 Freeway at Whittier Boulevard, CHP Officer Joe Zizi said in a written statement. It involved five crashes, each about two minutes apart.
An 18-year-old Whittier woman was driving a Honda Civic when, “for reasons still under investigation,” her car struck the center divider wall, Zizi said. She got out of her car and ran to the freeway shoulder, leaving the crashed Honda in traffic lanes.
About two minutes later, the officer said, a Chrysler 300 being driven south on the 605 Freeway by the 60-year-old Whittier man struck the disabled Honda, Zizi said.
About two minutes after that, a southbound Toyota Camry being driven by the 67-year-old Baldwin Park man came upon the scene and struck the two vehicles that had already crashed, officials said.
After another two minutes, a 29-year-old San Pedro man driving an Acura RSX managed to avoid the wreckage in the roadway, but in doing so, his car overturned, Zizi said. It ultimately came to a rest on its wheels on the Whittier Boulevard offramp.
And a fifth crash took place two minutes later, authorities said, when a Honda Civic being driven by a 26-year-old Bellflower man, struck the first three vehicles that remained disabled in the southbound lanes of the 605 Freeway.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs did not initially appear to be a factor in the collision, officials said.
None of the three drivers showed signs of impairment, CHP Officer Al Perez said. An autopsy was pending on the two men who died, which would include testing for alcohol or other substances.
It was unclear why the series of drivers failed to see the disabled cars in front of them, leading to the fatal chain-reaction, the officer said.
As the investigation remained in its early stages, “It’s a question that we can’t answer,” Perez said.
The CHP described the weather conditions at the time of the wreck as cool, clear and dry.
“There were no weather conditions that would have obstructed views,” Perez said.
All southbound lanes of the freeway were shut down following the crash, and a Sig Alert remained in effect until after 6 a.m., according to CHP logs.
Perez said he thanked commuters for their understanding when freeways are blocked by major crashes involving complex scenes such as the one early Thursday.
“We appreciate the motoring public’s patience,” he said. “Remember that somebody’s family member was killed in this collision, and we need to do our due diligence, and give the family the best investigation possible.”
Officers from the Santa Fe Springs office of the CHP are handling the investigation.
ROWLAND HEIGHTS – A 19-year-old Rowland Heights man pleaded no contest Tuesday to three counts of felony vandalism in connection with an alleged four-month graffiti spree, authorities said.
Deputies arrested Vicente Christoph Haro about 6:30 a.m. Friday after a tipster reported seeing him scrawling graffiti at Colima Road and Paso Real Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Christopher Blasnek said.
Haro was still at the scene when deputies arrived and discovered he had vandalized a bus bench, a wall and a utility box, the lieutenant said. And the marks he scrawled were familiar to officials, who had seen similar graffiti in the area over since December.
He’s accused of causing more than $2,500 worth of damage during his “bombing runs,” a slang term for scrawling graffiti on multiple spots at the same time, Blasnek said.
He appeared in court Tuesday, where prosecutors charged him with eight counts of felony vandalism, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
He pleaded no contest to three counts at his initial court appearance, she said. The remaining five counts of felony vandalism were expected to be dismissed at his sentencing, scheduled for Friday.
Officials Wednesday released the names of two men and a woman killed in two separate motorcycle crashes Tuesday in Hacienda Heights and Monterey Park.
Both fatal crashes involved riders being thrown from motorcycles and subsequently being struck by big rigs, according to the California Highway Patrol. One of the involved big rigs left the scene and was being investigated as a hit-and-run.
Kenneth Carnero and his girlfriend Misty Quinones, both 20 and of Los Angeles, died in a crash at 11:03 a.m. on the transition road from the northbound Long Beach (710) Freeway transition road to the westbound 10 (San Bernardino) Freeway in Monterey Park, according to CHP Officer Doris Peniche.
Quinones was a passenger on the 1998 Honda CBR 600 when Carnero attempted to pass vehicles along the right shoulder.
“He failed to negotiate the curve and lost control,” Peniche said. Both rider and passenger were thrown from the motorcycle, “and into the direct path of the tractor trailer wheels.”
Carnero and Quinones both died at the scene, officials said.
Investigators Wednesday continued seeking the big rig that ran over the couple, Peniche said. It was described as a gray box truck.
The investigation continued, she said. In the meantime, “We’re treating it as a hit-and-run.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the East Los Angeles office of the CHP at 323-980-4600 during regular business hours. After hours, tipsters can reach the CHP at 800-835-5247.
Johannes Blankenhorn, 37, of Tujunga, died in a crash 20 minutes earlier on the westbound Pomona (60) Freeway, just west of the Barford Avenue pedestrian overcrossing in Hacienda Heights, California Highway Patrol Officer Matt Arnone said in a written statement.
Blankenhorn was riding a 1978 BMW R100 motorcycle at an unknown speed when he rear-ended a 2004 Lexus ES 330 that was slowing in front of him in the No. 2 lane, officials said.
“(Blankenhorn) was ejected off his motorcycle and into the path of (a big rig),” Arnone said. The truck had been driving next to the Lexus in the No. 3 traffic lane at about 60 mph.
“(Blankenhorn) was then run over by the tractor trailer,” he said.
Paramedics performed CPR on the rider, however he was pronounced dead from his injuries, Arnone said.
The 60 Freeway crash was being investigated by officers from the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs office.
ARCADIA – Two Arcadia police officers are on paid leave amid criminal and administrative investigations into alleged wrongdoing, officials announced Tuesday. Details of the allegations were not available.
The names, ranks and lengths of employment were not released for either of the two involved officers, nor was any information about the circumstances which led to the investigations.
Arcadia Police Chief Robert Guthrie said he placed the officers on paid administrative leave March 15. The department also requested a criminal investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
But police said they could not comment on the specifics of the allegations.
“We want to maintain the integrity of both the investigation, and secondarily, maintain the due process rights of the police officers,” Guthrie said. “I don’t want to do anything that, even unintentionally, compromises this investigation in its initial phases.”
“We want to make sure through this whole process we’re as transparent as possible, but regarding our personnel matters, we really can’t comment,” said Capt. Paul Foley.
But he added that he was optimistic that, “At some point, that investigation will become a public record and everything will be on the table.”
Guthrie and Foley said the allegations against the officers did not stem from an interaction with any member of the public.
“It’s internally driven,” Foley said.
“There’s no concerns regarding contact with the public,” Guthrie added.
District attorney’s officials confirmed they were looking into the Arcadia officers, but also declined to speak about what the officers are accused of.
“We were asked to help with an investigation,” D.A.’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. “Other than that, we can’t comment because it’s an ongoing investigation.”
Arcadia Mayor Bob Harbicht said the probe is a “personnel matter” and that he was limited in both what he knew about it and what he could say.
“The city manager called me and informed me they were putting two officers on administrative leave and that he couldn’t disclose to me or any other council member the circumstances,” Harbicht said. “He did assure me that it had nothing to do with the public. It’s an internal thing.”
While Harbicht said he was concerned about the matter, he said he had confidence in the police department and anyone they might bring in to help with the probe that it would be handled properly.
Arcadia City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto said the police department was carrying out the administrative investigation while the district attorney’s office handled the criminal investigation, but declined to elaborate.
“We don’t comment on any personnel matters under investigation and we don’t comment on any ongoing criminal investigation,” Lazzaretto said. “We’ll be happy to speak to you when everything’s wrapped up but at this point we’re in the investigation phase.”
– Brian Day and Brenda Gazzar
AZUSA — Good Samaritans captured and held a suspect for police following a knifepoint robbery attempt at a Foothill Boulevard massage parlor earlier this week, authorities said.
Ernesto Delacruz, 26, of Covina, was booked on suspicion robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and battery likely to cause great bodily injury in connection with Monday’s 6:17 p.m. robbery at Royal Massage, in the 500 block of East Foothill Boulevard, Azusa police officials said.
Delacruz entered the massage parlor, posed as a customer and approached a female employee in her 40s, Sgt. Tim Harrington said.
“Delacruz produced a knife and demanded money from the business,” Cpl. Jorge Sandoval said in a written statement. “A short struggle over the knife followed, before Delacruz fled the business.”
The woman chased after Delacruz as he fled, “at which time a neighboring business employee assisted with detaining Delacruz,” Sandoval said. “That neighboring employee sustained moderate facial injuries while attempting to detain Delacruz and was assisted by a second passer-by in doing so until Azusa police officers arrived.”
The employee of the neighboring business, a 28-year-old man, was punched by the suspect as he held the man for police, Harrington said. The other good Samaritan, a 26-year-old man, was not hurt.
A folding knife believed to have been used in the robbery was found at the scene, the sergeant added.
According to county booking records, Delacruz was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
COVINA — California Highway Patrol officers are planning a sobriety checkpoint this weekend in an unincorporated county area near Covina, authorities said.
The checkpoint will begin at 8 p.m Saturday at an undisclosed location within the unincorporated area, CHP officials said in a written statement.
It will be manned by officers specially trained to detect impairment on the part of drivers, who are equipped with state of the art, handheld breath testing devices to screen motorists’ blood-alcohol levels, according to the CHP.
“Traffic volume permitting, all vehicles will be checked,” CHP Capt. Steve Urrea said. “If volume becomes too heavy, vehicles to be checked will be selected by a preset standard, such as every 3rd or 5th vehicle, to assure objectivity.”
The checkpoint is being conducted by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.
PASADENA — Police plan to beef up patrols at intersections known for traffic accidents Monday in a high collision intersection program, officials said.
The campaign will take place from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
“The ultimate foal is to enforce and educate the driving public at the same time, reducing serious injuries and fatal collisions,” according to the statement.
Funding for the program is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
LA PUENTE — Two men suffered serious injuries in a solo-vehicle crash on Valley Boulevard early Sunday, officials said.
The crash took place just before 1:15 a.m. on Valley Boulevard at Central Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Jackson said.
Both men appeared to be in their early-20s, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said. One was partially ejected and pinned under the overturned 2001 Ford Mustang GT, while the other became trapped inside the car.
Rescuers took both men to a Los Angeles trauma center for treatment, one of them via helicopter, according to sheriff’s and fire officials.
Both were believed to be in stable condition Sunday morning, Jackson said.
Further details regarding the circumstances of the crash were not available. The cause was being investigated by deputies from the sheriff’s Industry Station.
AZUSA — Police cited 17 drivers, but made no arrests, during a sobriety checkpoint late Friday.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. to midnight in the 800 block of South Azusa Avenue, Azusa police Cpl. Dean Brewer said in a written statement.
Officers screened 950 of the 1,040 vehicles that passed through the checkpoint.
“We cited 14 motorists for being unlicensed and three for driving on a suspended driver’s license,” Brewer said. “Two vehicles were impounded.”
Funding for the checkpoint was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.