ARCADIA — A 24-year-old Porter Ranch man died at the scene of a solo-car crash early Sunday, however the circumstances were unclear.
The crash took place about 2:30 a.m. along Santa Anita Avenue near Campus Drive, Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said in a written statement.
The driver of the 2006 Ford Mustang was pronounced dead at the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia at 3:18 a.m., according to Arcadia police and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner officials. His identity was not released pending notification of his family.
A passenger in the Mustang, described as a 26-year-old Sylmar man, was not injured, Arcadia police Sgt. Stephen Fallavollita said.
The car had struck the curb and come to rest against a tree, he said.
The impact from the crash was described as “moderate,” and there were no signs of significant outward trauma on the driver’s body, Fallavollita said.
It was unclear whether the driver died as a result of the crash, or may have suffered a medical problem of some kind that preceded it, officials said. An autopsy was planned.
A former Arcadia police officer pleaded “no contest” Friday to embezzling more than $40,000 from the Arcadia Police Officers’ Association to buy motorcycle parts and other personal items, officials said.
Christian Blesch, 36, entered the plea Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court at a scheduled pre-trial conference, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. He had been charged with one count of grand theft by embezzlement.
Under a plea agreement, Blesch was expected to be sentenced to 180 days in county jail and three years of probation when he returns to court for sentencing Sept. 30, officials said.
If convicted at trial, he faced a maximum sentence of three years behind bars.
“Blesch began stealing funds from the Arcadia Police Officers’ Association after being elected as its treasurer in 2011,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Blesch used the association’s credit cards to buy parts and accessories for his own motorcycles as well as other personal items such as clothing, exercise equipment and cigars.”
Blesch paid the monthly credit cards bills with funds from the association’s checking account, prosecutor said.
As part of his plea agreement, Blesch was ordered to pay nearly $42,000 in restitution, according to the district attorney’s office.
The theft took place over the course of several months, Arcadia police Capt. Paul Foley said shortly after Blesch’s arrest in late September.
Blesch resigned from the Arcadia Police Department and turned himself in to officials Oct. 2, a week after investigators obtained a warrant for his arrest Sept. 24, police and district attorney’s officials said.
Blesch remained free on $45,000 bail pending his legal proceeding.
A second Arcadia Police officer was placed on administrative leave along with Blesch when the missing money first came to light in March of 2013, officials said. The officer remains on leave, however, charges have not been filed against him.
DIAMOND BAR — Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 29-year-old Arcadia man who was killed in a freeway motorcycle crash in Diamond Bar Wednesday.
Justen Dillon Wrench died at the scene of the crash, which was reported about 8:35 a.m. Wednesday on the southbound 57 Freeway transition road to the westbound 60 Freeway, according to Los Angeles County Department of Coroner and California Highway Patrol officials.
Wrench was riding south at an unknown speed when he collided with a Honda Civic, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez.
The crash caused Wrench to fall into the roadway, where he was run over by a big rig, the officer said.
An autopsy determined Wrench died from traumatic injuries, and the death was ruled accidental, coroner’s officials said.
The drivers of both the Honda and the big rig remained at the scene, officials said. No arrests were made as the investigation into the cause of the crash continued.
DIAMOND BAR — A 29-year-old Arcadia man died after being run over by a big rig following a freeway motorcycle crash in Diamond Bar Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The name of the motorcyclist was not released Wednesday pending notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said.
He was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred about 8:35 a.m. on the transition road connecting the southbound 57 Freeway to the westbound 60 Freeway, just north of Grand Avenue, according to California Highway Officer Rodrigo Jimenez.
The cyclist was riding a 2007 Suzuki GSX-R in the No. 3 lane when he approached a slower-moving 2014 Honda Civic being driven at 20 to 30 mph, Jimenez said. A big rig was also travelling at 10 to 15 mph behind the motorcycle in the No. 3 lane.
“A collision between the Honda Civic and the Suzuki motorcycle occurred,” Jimenez said. “It is unclear at this time how the collision occurred.”
“Subsequently, the rider of the motorcycle was ejected and the Suzuki fell over onto its right side,” Jimenez said. “The motorcycle rider was then struck by the left rear tires of a tractor-trailer combination and sustained fatal injuries as a result.”
CHP officials issued a Sig Alert for more than two hours for the right two lanes of the transition road as they cleared the wreckage and conducted an investigation.
No arrests were made as the investigation continued, officials said.
Any witnesses or anyone with information was asked to contact CHP Officer R. Green at the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.
LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST — Search teams hunting through the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County Sunday for missing Arcadia Firefighter Mike Herdman found and captured his dog, who vanished along with Herdman June 13 during a camping trip, authorities said.
Rescuers located Duke Sunday, however his owner remained missing, Arcadia Firefighters Association officials announced via their Twitter account.
The dog, Duke, was found about 1 p.m. near the Dough Flats portion of the forest, near the campsite from where Herdman disappeared, Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. Don Aguilar said.
“The dog was found by friends or family members who went out to Dough Flats,” Aguilar said. They managed to capture the pet, which has eluded searchers for a full week.
“It’s resting. It’s really tired,” the captain said.
The dog appeared to have lost weight while lost in the wilderness, and officials and family members were working to nurse the animal back to full health. Duke was resting in the shade Sunday afternoon.
Aguilar said the dog had travelled at least 12 miles since the animal and owner disappeared nine days prior near Dough Flats.
Duke was last spotted by searchers Thursday about six miles west of Dough Flats, before being captured back at Dough Flats early Sunday afternoon, officials said.
Duke’s condition did not immediately allow rescuers to use him as a resource to help track down Herdman.
“The dog’s not in any condition to help,” Aguilar said. “The dog is not a useful tool right now.”
But as the dog recovers from it’s ordeal, “If we think there’s an opportunity for him to help, we’ll do that,” Aguilar said.
The search has been ongoing since Herdman’s camping partner, fellow firefighter Taylor Byars, emerged from the forest disoriented June 15 and reported his friend missing, officials said.
Byars reported that Herdman had chased after his dog barefoot, wearing only shorts and a T-shirt, and has not been heard or seen since.
Officials said Byars spent a day looking for Herdman, and another day finding his own way out of the wilderness, before he was able to seek help.
More than 85 searchers continued the hunt for Herdman Sunday, Aguilar said. Since its outset, more than 375 officials and volunteers have taken part in the search, contributing more than 5,200 man-hours.
The discovery and capture of Duke came as welcome news to the searchers, Aguilar said.
“I think there’s some encouragement,” he said. “Time is not on our side, unfortunately. There’s always hope.”
“(Herdman) is highly skilled outdoorsman, so that’s why our hopes still high he’s out there,” he said.
FILLMORE >> Dozens of searchers resumed their hunt in the Ventura County wilderness Saturday for missing Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman, who disappeared after chasing after his dog while camping more than a week ago, authorities said.
The search team swelled to 86 members, who trekked through Los Padres National Forest and tried to spot the missing firefighter from the air with the aid of two helicopters and two unmanned drones, according to Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow.
Herdman’s dog, Duke, had been spotted by rescuers Wednesday and Thursday, renewing searchers’ hope. But Buschow said there were no sightings of the dog or its owner Friday or Saturday.
“During the night they heard it (barking), but it didn’t come down to the traps,” Buschow said.
“We’re continuing the search,” Buschow said. “L.A. City Animal Services is actively trying to catch the dog.”
While there was no way of knowing if the elusive dog was keeping near its owner, “That’s the hope,” he said.
Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Herrera, who was hospitalized in intensive care Thursday after being bit by a “very large rattlesnake” while taking part in the search, continued recovering Saturday, Buschow said.
He received 52 vials of anti-venom and was doing well, the sergeant said.
“Apparently, the hospital was saying it might be a record,” Buschow said.
Three other injuries have been reported during the search, which kicked off June 15, officials said. One searcher suffered a leg injury, and two others were treated for heat exhaustion.
The massive search effort began two days after Herdman disappeared in the Sespe Wilderness, where he had been camping with fellow firefighter Taylor Byars, officials said. After searching for Herdman himself and becoming disoriented, Taylor did not emerge from the wilderness until June 15.
Herdman was described as an avid hiker, though he was barefoot and wearing only a t-shirt and shorts when he vanished while chasing after his dog.
Bare footprints believed to be several days old were found by searchers Monday and Tuesday less than a mile south of where Herdman was last seen.
PHOTO by Sarah Reingewirtz
Arcadia police arrested a man Monday who was allegedly growing about 135 marijuana plants in a residence, Arcadia police officials said in a press release.
Tiv Ke Roeung, 40, of Arcadia was arrested for cultivation, officials said.
Roeung is being held at Arcadia Police Department’s jail in lieu of $30,000 bail.
Officers received a tip about a possible grow house in the 500 block of West Huntington Drive, officials said.
Police discovered the plants about 3 p.m. Monday inside the garage of the residence.
“The garage was converted into a marijuana cultivation area with lighting, ventilation, electrical wiring, irrigation, and drying bins strewn throughout the bottom level of the residence,” officials said.
In addition to his arrest, Roeung is also being held without bail on an immigration hold by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, officials said.
He has a scheduled appearance Wednesday at Pasadena Municipal Court, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department booking system.
Monday’s bust was the second time Arcadia police raided an indoor marijuana farm in two days.
Officers seized 438 pot plants and arrested a suspect Saturday at a home in the 2000 block of South Sixth Avenue.
— Venusse Navid and Brian Day
ARCADIA — A gravel truck spilled its cargo on the 210 Freeway in Arcadia Wednesday, snarling afternoon traffic for hours, officials said.
The mishap occurred just after 3 p.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway, just east of Santa Anita Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Kimball said.
A truck spilled it’s load of tiny rocks into the roadway, initially blocking all lanes and damaging more than half-a-dozen other vehicles on the roadway, Kimball said. No injuries were reported.
Only the carpool and left lane of the freeway had been opened as of 4:45 p.m., he said.
A Sig Alert remained in effect on the freeway until all lanes were cleared shortly before 6 p.m., according to CHP logs.
ARCADIA — Police seized more than 400 marijuana plants from an Arcadia home late Saturday and arrested a 60-year-old man in connection with the indoor pot garden, officials said.
Yong Fa Jiang of Arcadia was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, according to Arcadia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The bust came about 10 p.m. after police officers patrolling the area spotted a “suspicious vehicle” parked along the street in the 2000 block of South Sixth Avenue, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said in a written statement.
“Officers contacted a person near the vehicle, and their preliminary investigation revealed that a marijuana cultivation operation was being conducted inside a nearby house,” Cullen said.
Further detail regarding what tipped off police to the grow house were not available.
“The grow consisted of several rooms with lighting, ventilation, and electrical wiring run throughout the house,“ Cullen said.
Police ultimately uprooted 438 marijuana plants, “in various stages of growth,” Sgt. Dan Crowther said.
Jiang was released from jail Sunday morning after posting $10,000 bail, records show.
Arcadia police detectives are handling the investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact the Arcadia Police Department and reference case 14-3018. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.