Community rallies behind Hacienda Heights family devastated by fatal car crash


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> For the second time in recent years, a Hacienda Heights family has been devastated by a fatal tragedy. And for the second time, the community is rallying around the family to offer compassion and support.
Bertha Rosales, 42, died in a car crash while driving two of her four sons home from school in their hometown of Hacienda Heights, according to California Highway Patrol officials and friends.
1225_NWS_SGT-L-ROSALES2Her sons Isaac, 13, and Ramon Jr., 10, suffered serious injuries in the crash, officials said. Isaac remained unconscious at a hospital with severe head injuries Wednesday, family friend Ernie Maldonado said. Ramon Jr. was making good progress in his recovery after undergoing surgery for injuries to his shoulder and elbow.
“This past Sunday was actually Bertha’s birthday,” Maldonado said.
The same family was affected by another deadly tragedy in August of 2011, when Rosales’ sister, 49-year-old Virginia Gonzales, and Gonzales’ 3-year-old son, Johnny Crowger, died in a house fire at their home in the 1700 block of Piermont Drive in Hacienda Heights.
Gonzales died while trying to rescue her son from the burning home, officials said.
In last week’s car crash, Rosales was driving a BMW sedan north on Durazno Drive, heading from a stop sign at a T-intersection, about 2:35 p.m. when the BMW collided with a Chevrolet Camaro heading west on Halliburton Road, CHP Sgt. Charles Quijada said.
The 17-year-old driver of the Camaro suffered apparently minor injuries, officials said.
No arrests or citations were initially made as the crash remained under investigation by the Santa Fe Springs office of the CHP.
“He changed a whole family,” Maldonado said of the other driver. “I feel for the other person as well.”
And just like the Hacienda Heights community came to the aid of the family following the fatal fire in 2011, local residents and organizations are once again stepping in to do what they can to ease the family’s suffering, Maldonado said.
Maldonado described Rosales as a “strong woman”
A fundraising website has been set up by the boys’ soccer club, Pasadena-based F.C. Golden State, at The website had raised more than $18,500 of a $50,000 goal to help with burial and medical expenses as of Wednesday.
“The soccer club they belong to, they’re a real close-knit club,” Maldonado said.
Other community members have also come forward to support the grieving family.
Mesa Robles Elementary School, where Isaac Rosales and Ramon Rosales Jr. both attend and their mother has previously worked as a recess monitor, has also collected funds for the family, Maldonado said.
The school has also organized a fund to help the family at Chase bank. Donations can be made via check or cashiers check, made out to Isaac Rosales or Ramon Rosales, to account No. 3024994690.
And even though the school began it’s winter break Dec. 20, “The school helped with counseling,” Maldonado said. Maldonado’s son is Isaac Rosales’ best friend.
Correspondence for the family can be sent to Mesa Robles School, 16060 Mesa Robles Drive, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745.


TOP: Bertha Rosales, 42, of Hacienda Heights, pictured on a banner on this roadside memorial at Halliburton Road and Durazno Drive, died in a car crash on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Her two sons Isaac Rosales, 13, and Ramon Rosales Jr., 10, were injured in the crash. (Courtesy)

BELOW: Bertha Rosales, 42, (right) of Hacienda Heights died in a car crash on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, at Halliburton Road and Durazno Drive i Hacienda Heights . Her two sons Isaac, 13, (left) and Ramon Jr., 10, (not pictured) were injured in the crash. Isaac remained hospitalized in critical condition with major head injuries Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014. (Courtesy)

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UPDATED: Armed man robs Pico Rivera pet shop of puppies, cash

PICO RIVERA >> A man escaped with two English bulldog puppies and cash Wednesday after robbing a Whittier Boulevard pet shop at gunpoint, officials said.
The robbery occurred about 12:25 p.m. at Mr. Bulldog, 9432 Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The robber entered the store with a handgun and demanded money and dogs from the owner, Lt. Sergio Escobedo said.
The victim complied, and the robber fled with two Enlish bulldog puppies values at $2,500 each, as well as an undetermined amount of cash, the lieutenant said.
Deputies described the gunman as a white man between 20 and 25 years old, Escobedo said. He wore a bandana over his face.
Officials were looking into reports that a light-colored sedan may have been involved in the crime, Escobedo said. No injuries were reported.

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Woman seriously injured, dog killed, Chino Hills man accused of DUI in 57 Freeway crash in San Dimas

SAN DIMAS >> A Chino Hills man is accused of drunken driving in connection with a crash that severely injured a passenger and killed a dog late Tuesday, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol officials expected to arrest Matthew Kitakis, 32, upon his release from a hospital, where he was being treated for injuries suffered in the 9:50 p.m. crash on the southbound 57 Freeway at Arrow Highway in San Dimas, CHP Officer Richard McAllister said.
A 34-year-old Chino Hills woman riding as a passenger in the Ford Explorer driven by Kitakis was thrown from the SUV in the crash and suffered major injuries, the officer said. Paramedics took the woman to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with serious injuries, including possible skull and spine fractures.
A dog also riding inside the SUV died in the crash, McAllister said.
The crash occurred as Kitakis was driving the Explorer at 65 to 70 mph in the right-hand lane, officials said.
“For unknown reasons, the driver lost control of the Explorer, allowing it to veer to the right and drive up an embankment,” McAllister said. The SUV then overturned, ultimately coming to a rest back on its wheels.
The crash was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.

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Man fatally struck by Metrolink train in Covina

COVINA >> A commuter train struck and killed a Covina man Sunday near the Glendora Avenue rail crossing, officials said.
The 35-year-old man, whose name was not released pending notification of family, died at the scene, Covina police Lt. Tim Doonan said.
A westbound Metrolink train traveling about 60 mph struck the man on a stretch of tracks at Glendora Avenue, just south of Cypress Street, the lieutenant said.
“He was standing on the tracks. It’s unclear what he was doing there,” Doonan said.
The conductor sounded the train’s horn and applied the emergency brakes prior to striking the man, he said.
No injuries were reported on the train, which carried 116 passenger, Doonan said.
The train remained in place for about 90 minutes before continuing on its journey from San Bernardino to Los Angeles.
Eastbound rail traffic between Los Angeles and San Bernardino was also delayed by as much as two hours as a result of the incident, according to Metrolink officials.

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Woman, infant and dog struck by hit-and-run driver in South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA >> A woman and her infant escaped serious injury when they were struck by a hit-and-run SUV Sunday, authorities said.
The woman was walking with her baby and a dog about 7:30 p.m. at Orange Grove Boulevard and Columbia Street when all three were struck by an SUV, South Pasadena police officials said. The SUV fled the scene.
Dispatcher A. Burgos said the woman and baby were taken to a hospital for treatment and were expected to be released Sunday night.
“It looks like they’re going to be OK,” he said.
The dog was taken to a veterinary clinic, Burgos said. An update on the animal’s condition was not clear.
A description of the hit-and-run SUV was not available, as police were sorting out conflicting initial reports, Burgos said.

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San Gabriel Valley cops brighten holidays for disadvantaged kids


Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
1223_NWS_SGT-L-COPCHRISTMAS-WHITTIERThe California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
1223_NWS_SGT-L-COPCHRISTMAS-LAPUENTEPolice agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
1223_NWS_SGT-L-COPCHRISTMAS-BALDWINPARKBaldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.







PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)



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Man robs Duarte Little Caesars

DUARTE >> A man fled with an unknown amount of cash after robbing a Little Caesars pizzeria late Saturday, officials said.
The crime took place about 9:15 p.m. at the restaurant, 1336 Huntington Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Julie Geary said.
A robber with a black handkerchief covering his face entered the store and demanded money from a female employee, the sergeant said. The victim complied, and the robber fled the area in a green Nissan vehicle.
No weapon was seen during the robbery, Geary added.
A detailed suspect description was not available.

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Pico Rivera man killed in shooting identified

PICO RIVERA >> Coroner’s officials Sunday identified a Pico Rivera man found fatally shot beside a bicycle on a Rosemead Boulevard sidewalk early Saturday.
Matthew Albert Garcia, 26, died following the shooting, which was reported just before 6 a.m. Saturday in front of an apartment complex in the 5400 block of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Dana Bee said.
A passer-by found him lying on a sidewalk with gunshot wounds, Sgt. Troy Ewing of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
No suspect description was known, officials said. The shooting was believed to be gang-related.

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Discarded toy prop resembling dynamite draws bomb squad to La Canada Flintridge park


LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE >> A bomb squad responded to a La Canada Flintridge Park Sunday before ultimately determining a suspicious object resembling dynamite was a discarded toy prop left behind from a birthday part the day before, officials said.
The incident kicked off about 10:15 a.m. when someone reported finding a bundle of five red cylinders lying on the ground at a small park in a residential neighborhood in the 4900 block of Ocean View Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Tuinstra said.
Police notified the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail of the find, and a bomb squad responded to the scene, the lieutenant said.
As deputies were beginning to evacuate nearby homes, a resident was able to shed some light on the unusual discovery.
He explained that the device was a toy prop that had been left at the park after being used for a “hot potato” game during a birthday party Saturday, Tuinstra said.
Bomb squad members quickly confirmed the device, which was made of PVC pipe, was harmless, Tuinstra said. Officials declared the all-clear about 11:15 a.m.
Though the object was found to pose no threat, Tuinstra said the initial caller did the right thing by reported the suspicious device to authorities, adding that officials would rather err on the side of caution in such situations.

PHOTO – courtesy

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Pasadena man wounded in shooting

PASADENA >> A gunman shot and wounded another man early Sunday as the victim sat in a parked car on Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena, officials said.
The 34-year-old Pasadena man suffered a gunshot wound to his lower leg in the attack, which occurred about 6:30 a.m. in the 1900 block of East Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“The victim said he was resting inside his vehicle when an unknown suspect approached his vehicle from behind and fired three shots at his vehicle for no apparent reason,” Luna said.
Responding officers did not find the shooter during a search of the area, he said.
The gunman was described as a black man in his 30s or 40s, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, of medium build and wearing dark clothing.
Paramedics took the wounded man to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition, Luna added.

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