AZUSA >> An Arcadia man died Sunday after his pickup truck struck a tree in Encanto Park in Azusa, authorities said.
The 57-year-old man died at a hospital following 1 p.m. crash on El Encanto Parkway, north of Huntington Drive, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement. His name was not released pending notification of family.
“The male had been driving a white Toyota Tacoma which appears to have collided into a tree, located in the south end of Encanto Park,” according to the police statement.
Paramedics treated the man and took him to the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later, police said.
No other vehicles were believed to be involved in the crash, officials said. The cause remained under investigation by the Azusa Police Department Traffic Bureau.
AZUSA — Azusa police have teamed up with 7-Eleven this summer and begun issuing “tickets” to local children demonstrating good behavior, officials said.
The tickets are redeemable for free Slurpees at participating 7-Eleven stores, according to Azusa police Officer Mike Bires. The program is dubbed, “Operation Chill.”
“The Azusa Police Department, in conjunction with the 7-Eleven Corporation, are proud to recognize those kids in our neighborhood who just ‘do the right thing,’” Bires said in a written statement. “We want to encourage our future leaders in continuing to make good choices, and help foster a great relationship between our little residents and the men and women who work hard to keep them safe.
“Additionally, we want to encourage dialogue between kids and law enforcement officers in a non-threatening, non-enforcement type situation,” Bires said.
Children will receive tickets for behaviors such as following the ruled of the house, following laws, being a good citizen, helping others, participating in the community and wearing helmets while biking or skateboarding.
“If you are one of our awesome kids here in Azusa, and you’re doing the things mentioned above, just go up to one of our police officers and ask for a Slurpee ticket,” Bires said.
Kids are asked to observe a few safety rules.
Children are advised not to approach an officer who is busy on a call or speaking to someone, Bires said. Instead, police ask that kids wait until the officer finishes.
Kids were also advised not to run into the roadway to reach a police car, ask an officer to stop a patrol car while driving or otherwise create traffic hazards.
AZUSA — Investigators suspect arson after a car was torched in a senior citizen’s driveway about 45 minutes after she told a group of people to stop lighting illegal fireworks near her home in an unincorporated county area near Azusa, authorities said.
Officials stopped short of calling the woman and two men who argued with the 66-year-old woman suspects in the apparent arson, however detectives were investigating their possible involvement and wanted to speak with them, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Berg said.
“We find it an interesting coincidence,” the lieutenant said.
Deputies responded to reports of a car in flames just after 1 a.m. at the woman’s home in the 18600 block of Mauna Loa Avenue, sheriff’s officials said.
By the time firefighters extinguished the burning vehicle, a 1999 Chevrolet Camaro belonging to the woman’s son, it had been completely destroyed, Berg said. The car was valued at about $3,000.
A 1997 Saturn parked nearby was also damaged by the flames, officials said. The car sustained about $2,000 worth of heat damage to its hood and driver side.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Detail were looking into exactly how the fire ignited.
“Based on the fact the Camaro had not been driven for 2 days, and because of evidence at the scene, fire department officials suspect that the fire was intentionally started,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
About 45 minutes prior to the fire, the woman had confronted a woman and two men lighting illegal “mortar”-style fireworks near her home.
“She asked them not to light any more fireworks, and told the group she would be calling the police,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “A woman in the group engaged in a brief argument with the resident.”
The resident did not recognize the woman or the men she was with, Berg said. The woman was described as white or Latina, about 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 150 pounds. A description of the men was not available.
Dispatch records show the resident did not call deputies to report the fireworks or the argument, officials said.
But another resident about a block and a half away had called the sheriff’s department to report illegal fireworks at 12:53 a.m., after the argument but before the fire ignited.
Deputies arrived four minutes later, but did not locate any suspicious persons or illegal activity,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The fire was first reported at 1:12 a.m.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the sheriff’s San Dimas Station.
Deputies at the sheriff’s San Dimas Station responded to a total of 96 fireworks-related calls between noon Friday and 2:10 a.m. Saturday, officials said.
Berg said the figure falls in line with previous Independence Days, with about 20 percent of the fireworks complaints coming from San Dimas, and 80 percent coming from the nearby unincorporated county areas also patrolled by the station.
AZUSA — An argument between neighbors drinking together at an Azusa apartment complex escalated to a stabbing late Saturday, authorities said.
Vicente Mariano Hernandez, 32, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the incident, which took place about 11:30 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 200 block of East Newburgh Street, just east of Azusa Avenue, according to Azusa police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Hernandez and the victim, a 35-year-old man, were drinking beer together at the victim’s apartment when they became involved in an argument and Hernandez pulled a knife, Azusa police Sgt. Rick Hayden said.
Police responding to reports of a stabbing found the victim on his second-floor balcony with a small stab wound to his abdomen, the sergeant said. He was treated at a hospital.
Witnesses identified Hernandez as the attacker and directed officers to his apartment, where he was arrested without a struggle, Hayden said.
According to county booking records, Hernandez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, which was scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
AZUSA — A drunken driver blew through a red light and crashed his car into a pickup truck early Saturday, injuring himself, a passenger and the driver of the truck, police said.
Ricardo Luna Campos, 23, was accused of DUI following the 6:15 a.m. crash at San Gabriel and Sierra Madre avenues, according to Azusa police officials and Los Angeles County booking records. His city of residence was not available.
Campos was driving a Honda Accord south on San Gabriel Avenue just prior to the collision, police said. A woman was riding as a front passenger.
Preliminary investigation indicated, “(The Honda) entered the intersection, against a red light,” Sgt. Mike Bires said in a written statement. “The Honda crashed into a Dodge truck, which had been traveling west on Sierra Madre Avenue.”
Campos suffered moderate head injuries, and his passenger suffered a spinal fracture, Bires said.
A man who was driving the pickup truck was hospitalized with moderate injuries to his knee and ribs, the sergeant added.
None of the injuries were believed to be life threatening, police said.
AZUSA — A pregnant woman was taken to a hospital but expected to be OK after crashing her car through the front of a business Friday afternoon, police said.
The mishap took place about 2:15 p.m. at Mother’s Nutrition Center in the 400 block of South Azusa Avenue, Azusa police Sgt. Matt Egan said.
The woman apparently mistook the accelerator for the break when her Scion XB lurched forward, smashing through the business’ large front window, Egan said. No on inside was injured.
The driver appeared unharmed but was taken to a hospital for examination, Egan said.
City officials red-tagged the building at least until Monday, when it will be inspected further, he added.
PHOTO by Keith Birmingham
AZUSA — A teenage auto theft suspect led police on a brief chase before being arrested Wednesday, police said.
The chase began just before 10 a.m. when an officer spotted a 1995 Honda Accord that had been reported stolen driving in the area of Foothill Boulevard and Cerritos Avenue , Azusa police Sgt. John Madaloni said.
The driver, 17-year-old Azusa boy, failed to pull over and led police on a pursuit for about two miles south on Cerritos Avenue, the sergeant said.
After crashing the Honda into a parked car, the driver continued fleeing on foot into the Monte Carlo Inn, officials said.
He was found during a search of the complex and arrested on suspicion of auto theft, evading police and driving without a license, Madaloni said. The teenage suspect was take to a juvenile hall.
AZUSA — The city of Azusa is planning a test of its early warning siren along Highway 39 at the forest’s edge later this month, officials said.
The siren test will take place between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. June 30, Azusa police Sgt. Sam Fleming said in a written statement. The siren will sound in intervals of approximately five minutes.
In addition to familiarizing local residents with the siren system, the test will ensure the system is operational and that its connections to Azusa’s police dispatch center are working properly, Fleming said.
“The siren is intended to evacuate residents in close proximity to the mouth of the canyon in the event of a forest fire of flood,” Fleming said. “It is not expected that all residents would hear the siren if indoors, which is why the siren is complementary to Emergency Response Personnel announcements, as well as door-to-door notification as part of the City’s Emergency Response Procedures.”
The test is being coordinated by the Azusa Amateur Radio Communications Emergency Services, which is a group of local volunteers who provide emergency communications in the case of a disaster.
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY >> A police task force arrested 19 people and seized drugs, a gun and cash during a parole and probation compliance sweep Friday in Azusa, Glendora and Covina, authorities said.
Members of the San Gabriel Valley East AB 109 Task Force carried out compliance checks of parolees and probationers in Covina, Azusa and Glendora, Pomona police Sgt. Bert Sanchez said in a written statement. The seven-agency task force is based out of the Pomona Police Department.
“The operation included attempting apprehension of identified subjects found to be in violation of their conditions of release, as well as directed crime suppression in known gang, narcotic and high crime ‘hot spots’ within the target areas,” Sanchez said.
The task force targeted 17 locations and netted 19 arrests, including ones for probation or parole violations, drug offenses, weapon possession and existing warrants, Sanchez said.
One loaded gun was seized during the operation, along with 54 grams of drugs and $6,000 in allegedly ill-gotten cash, he added.
Officers from the Azusa, Baldwin Park, Covina, Glendora, La Verne, West Covina and Pomona police department took part in the sweep, along with probation and parole officials and representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
A federal jury on Thursday convicted the last of three suspects charged with starting the damaging Colby Fire above Glendora early this year, as officials cautioned that a looming storm poses a potential debris flow threat to the barren hillsides created by the wildfire.
The Los Angeles jury convicted Jonathan Carl Jarrell, a 23-year-old transient, of one felony and one misdemeanor in connection with a campfire that grew out of control on Jan. 16 and became the 1,952-acre wildfire that burned five homes and 17 other structures. One civilian and five firefighters were hurt during the fire.
Jarrell was found guilty of one felony charge of unlawfully setting timber afire, and a misdemeanor charge of illegally starting a fire, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The jury deadlocked on two additional misdemeanor charges related to the fire.
“As a result of today’s guilty verdicts, Jarrell faces up to five-and-a-half years in federal prison when he is sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu on July 31,” Mrozek said.
The final conviction in the three-defendant case came just as Glendora city officials issued a “Yellow Alert” to urge residents to be prepared of the possibility of mud or debris flows in the hillsides denuded by the Colby Fire.
The thunderstorm was expected to hit Palmdale hardest, however officials issued the Yellow Alert, “due to the unpredictability of thunderstorms and the possibility it may go over the Colby Impact Area,” Glendora police officials said in a written statement.
Two friend’s of Jarrell’s were tried separately and each convicted by a federal jury May 16 of one felony count of unlawfully setting timber afire and three other misdemeanor charges related to illegally starting a campfire.
Clifford Eugene Henry, 22, of Glendora and transient Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, each face up to six-and-a-half years in federal prison when they return to court for sentencing Aug. 4, officials said.
“Henry, Aguirre and Jarrell were detained by Glendora police officers after they were seen escaping the fire,” Mrozek said. “During interviews with Glendora Police and personnel with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Arson Investigations Unit — interviews that the jury heard during the two trials — all three defendants admitted playing a role in the starting of a campfire that started the Colby Fire after wind blew burning paper into the brush in the hills above Glendora.”
The investigation was carried out by the Glendora Police Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
PHOTO of Jonathan Jarrell: courtesy