BALDWIN PARK — Officials sought a car that fled the scene of a crash on the San Bernardino (10) Freeway in Baldwin Park early Wednesday that sent two people to the hospital, one of them with major injuries.
A 63-year-old Los Angeles man was driving a Chevrolet van with a 56-year-old Los Angeles woman riding as a passenger when the collision took place about 5:20 a.m., CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
“They were in the No. 2 lane of the 10 East, west of Puente Avenue, at approximately 65 mph when an unknown vehicle, possibly a blue sports car, collided with (the van) on its left side,” the officer said.
The driver of the van lost control, and collided a second time with the same car, Jimenez said.
“That second collision caused the van to run off the road to he right and collide into the Laidlaw’s Harley-Davidson building,” he said. The van did not penetrate the building.
The second vehicle involved in the crash fled the scene, Jimenez said.
Rescuers landed a helicopter on the freeway to hospitalize the injured occupants of the van.
The woman suffered major injuries including a compound fracture to her femur and cuts to her face and head, officials said. The driver suffered apparently minor injuries.
Both were flown to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, Jimenez said.
The crash remained under investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact the CHP’s Baldwin Park office at 626-338-1164.
BALDWIN PARK — A passer-by rescued an 18-year-old man as he attempted to hang himself at a park early Sunday, authorities said.
The incident took place about 1:45 a.m. at Hilda Solis Park, 15010 Badillo Street, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mark Harvey said.
David Richard Martinez, 29, of Covina said he had missed the last Metrolink train and was was taking a short cut to a friends house when he encountered a young man hanging motionless from a tree by his neck.
“I thought this can’t be real,” Martinez said.
Harvey said the young man had used some sort of bag to create a noose for the suicide attempt.
“I don’t know how long he was hanging there,” Martinez said, adding that he appeared to be dead.
“I picked him up by his legs,” he said. “The noose came right off.”
When the young man fell from the tree and hit the ground, he seemingly “came back to life” and gasped for air, Martinez said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Harvey said little officials information was available Sunday regarding the encounter between the suicidal young man and his rescuer. But he confirmed that an 18-year-old man was found in the midst of an attempted suicide by hanging, and a passer-by “detained him” until authorities arrived.
The man, who told investigators he was trying to kill himself, was taken for psychiatric evaluation, Harvey said.
COVINA — A driver with an expired registration tag led police on a short pursuit early Friday.
Covina Police Lt. Tim Doonan said the man was arrested in Baldwin Park and his passenger was so intoxicated she was taken to a hospital. Doonan said the woman couldn’t stand on her own.
An officer pulled over a vehicle with an expired registration tag on Arrow Highway and Azusa Avenue at 4:44 a.m.
The officer got out of the patrol car. Doonan said the driver made an immediate U-turn, accelerated and headed westbound on Arrow Highway.
The chase, which lasted five minutes and 40 seconds, went through Irwindale and ended in Baldwin Park.
Doonan said the driver pulled into a long driveway and tried to hide. He was spotted.
Martin Camacho, 37, of Baldwin Park was arrested on suspicion of felony evading, driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license.
He remains in custody at Covina jail with a bail of $75,000. He has a Tuesday arraignment at West Covina Superior Court.
- Ruby Gonzales
The sister of a recent Northern California homicide victim accused of robbing or attempting to rob eight banks — including ones in Arcadia, Temple City and Baldwin Park — was in federal custody Thursday awaiting trial, officials said.
Obiomachuckuka Njokanma, 36, of Michigan, was indicted Tuesday on eight counts of bank robbery in connection with the alleged spree, which took place between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12, according to FBI officials and court documents.
Officials said Njokanma also admitted being responsible for a Dec. 27 Modesto bank robbery for which she has not yet been charged.
Her alleged San Gabriel Valley crimes include a Jan. 4 robbery at the Foothill Federal Credit Union, 30 S. First Ave. in Arcadia; a failed Jan. 10 robbery at a Wells Fargo, 11460 Merced Ave. in Baldwin Park; and a Jan. 10 robbery at a Bank of the West, 9934 E. Las Tunas Drive in Temple City.
She was arrested Jan. 14 by by Los Angeles police, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
According to the indictment, “Njokanma repeatedly apologized for committing the bank robberies. She explained that her sister was recently discovered murdered in Modesto, California. She admitted that the very first bank she robbed was in Modesto.”
A search of public records shows that Njokanma is a relative of Eldoris Graham, 28, of Modesto, who was found slain in her hometown Jan. 11.
Graham’s boyfriend, 36-year-old Anthony Coxum, was not cooperating with investigators and gave inconsistent statements to detectives, but was not initially arrested in connection with the killing, Modesto police officials said in a written statement.
Coxum was being held on suspicion of unrelated probation violations in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as the investigation continued, Modesto police added. He was driving Graham’s car when arrested.
Graham was reported missing by her mother on Dec. 15, and her body was found Jan. 11, officials said.
FBI investigators had been referring to the serial robber as the “60 Second Bandit” due to statements she made during the robberies indicating she wanted to get the money and be gone within 60 seconds, Eimiller said. But officials had not yet gone public with the moniker.
During the robberies, Njokanma handed tellers notes threatening to shoot them or others in the bank if they didn’t quickly hand over large-denomination bills, according to court documents. She would often wear a baseball cap or a wig.
In all, the eight robberies Njokanma is charged with allegedly netted her $20,001.
In addition to the three San Gabriel Valley crimes, robberies linked to Njokanma also include a Dec. 28 robbery at the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists-Screen Actors Guild Credit Union in Burbank; a Dec. 31 heist at a U.S. Bank in Bell; a failed Jan. 8 robbery at a Wells Fargo branch at 3800 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles; a Jan. 9 robbery at the First Financial Credit Union, 5115 Wilshire Ave. in Los Angeles; and a Jan. 12 robbery at a Citibank, 270 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles.
BANK SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS of Baldwin Park attempted robbery (above) and Temple City robbery (below) courtesy of the FBI.
Authorities sought a woman Thursday who carried out an attempted bank robbery in Baldwin Park Thursday, followed by a successful one in Temple City about an hour later.
Both crimes involved strikingly similar suspect descriptions and tactics, and were believed to be the work of the same female robber, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The first crime took place just before 10 a.m. at Wells Fargo, 14460 Merced Avenue, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mark Harvey said.
A female robber entered the bank and handed a teller a threatening note which demanded money and alluded to a weapon, the sergeant said. No weapon was seen.
“Something spooked her and she ran out of the bank before obtaining any funds,” Harvey said.
She was last seen running through a parking lot.
Police described her as a black woman wearing a high school-style jacket with a letter “H” on it, a black shirt and jeans.
Just over an hour later, another bank robbery was reported in Temple City, where the robber did obtain an unknown amount of cash in the heist, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The Temple City robbery took place about 11:08 a.m. at the Bank of the West, 9934 Los Tunas Drive, the lieutenant said.
Again, the robber was described as a black woman wearing a high school-style jacket with a letter “H” on it, officials said. She was further described as about 30 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 200 pounds.
Eimiller said witnesses also indicated the woman’s hair appeared unusually shiny, as if she was wearing a wig.
Somoano said the robber was last seen fleeing the area in a red car. A further description of the vehicle was unavailable.
The FBI was assisting Baldwin Park police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in the investigations.
FBI agents were looking into the possibility the woman is responsible for other area bank robberies.
SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS from Baldwin Park attempted bank robbery (top) and Temple City Bank robbery (bottom) courtesy of the FBI.
BALDWIN PARK — Officials advised occupants of businesses and homes in the area of Littlejohn Street to stay indoors Thursday in response to an ammonia leak at a manufacturing business, officials said.
The incident was first reported about 12:45 p.m. at a business at MacDonald Carbide Co., 4510 Littlejohn Street, according to Baldwin Park police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
One person reported feeling ill as a result of the toxic fumes but declined to be taken to a hospital, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Brian Riley said.
It initially appeared work was being done in the area when a power line was severed, causing a power outage that cause a 3,000-gallon tank of ammonia to begin leaking, Riley said. It was not clear Thursday how much of the chemical escaped.
Police cordoned off the area as a hazardous materials crew shut off a leaking pressure valve, he said.
Ammonia gas dissipates naturally in the atmosphere, so an extensive clean-up operation was not necessary, the inspector added.
No evacuations were ordered, Baldwin Park police Lt. David Reynoso said, however those in the area were told to stay indoors as Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters took care of the leak and tested the air.
Some nearby businesses evacuated voluntarily.
PHOTO: Employees of nearby businesses evacuate from the 4500 block of
Littlejohn Street in Baldwin Park as a Los Angeles County Fire
Department hazardous material crew deals with an ammonia spill at a
business on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2012. (Courtesy of Jason Dowling)
WEST COVINA — A 25-year-old Baldwin Park man died early Saturday in a solo-car crash in an unincorporated county area just outside of West Covina, authorities said.
Andrew Joey Villagran died shortly after the 2 a.m. crash on San Bernardino Road, just east of Orange Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Jimmy Frausto said in a written statement.
Villagran was driving a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle west on San Bernardino Road when, “For unknown reasons, Mr. Villagran allowed the Volkswagen to to veer in a southwesterly direction,” Frausto said.
The car crossed both lanes of opposing traffic before crashing into a wooden utility pole, the officer said.
Paramedics took Villagran to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center where he died from his injuries a short time later, officials said.
Anyone with information was asked to call the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.
A Walnut woman faces up to four years in prison when she returns to court next month to be sentence for fleeing the scene after fatally striking an elderly woman with her car.
Ashley Marie Lopez, 21, is due in West Covina Superior Court for sentencing Jan. 11, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
She pleaded “no contest” Dec. 4 to a charge of felony hit-and-run in connection with the Nov. 2 collision at Live Oak and Stewart avenues, officials said.
Killed in the crash was 80-year-old Cu Lee Nguyen of Baldwin Park, according to Irwindale police and coroner’s officials.
She was crossing Live Oak Avenue in a crosswalk just before 6 a.m. when she was struck by a car that was westbound on Live Oak, according to Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas.
Three days later, evidence led police to arrest Lopez and impounded her car, police said.
BALDWIN PARK — A drunk man was shot in the arm during an argument with two other men Thursday night, police said.
The victim, described as a transient in his 30s, was in stable condition at a hospital. Officers are still looking for the suspects.
The shooting broke out in the 14400 block of Olive Street at 5:46 p.m.
Baldwin Park police Lt. Joe Bartolotti said the victim argued with two men. He didn’t know what the dispute stems from.
He said one of the suspects shot the victim who then got on a bicycle and rode to Olive Street and Maine Avenue.
The suspects were last seen running westbound on Olive Street, according to Bartolotti.
Both suspects were described as Latinos in their 20s. One wore a gray sweatshirt while the other was garbed in a black shirt.
The victim was taken to a hospital.
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call Baldwin Park police at 626-960-1955.
- Ruby Gonzales
BALDWIN PARK — A 16-year-old girl died and a 20-year-old man was severely injured in a violent solo-car crash on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway early Sunday, officials said.
Ashley Ruth Garcia of Bell was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which reported at 12:01 a.m. on the northbound 605 Freeway, just south of the San Bernardino (10) Freeway, according to Lt. Larry Dietz of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.
She was a passenger in a 1995 Honda Del Sol being driven by a 20-year-old Bell man, California Highway Patrol Officer E. Bernal said in a written statement. The driver, who was thrown from the car in the crash, was hospitalized with major injuries.
The Del Sol was traveling at “a high rate of speed” in the carpool lane when, for reasons that remained under investigation, the driver lost control, Bernal said.
The car veered across all lanes of traffic and went off the roadway, he said. It struck a tree and wrought iron fence before coming to a rest on its roof.
The driver was thrown from the car in the crash and taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment of major injuries, Bernal said.
Firefighters pronounced Garcia dead at the scene at 12:39 a.m.
Officials shut down the right three lanes of the northbound 605 Freeway for about three hours following the fatal crash, according to CHP logs.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by officers from the CHP’s East Los Angeles Office.