BALDWIN PARK >> A California Highway Patrol pursuit instantly turned into a rescue operation Wednesday after a fleeing stolen SUV with three people inside crashed and burst into flames in Baldwin Park, authorities said.
All three occupants of the car suffered significant injuries but were expected to survive following the crash, which took place shortly after 2:20 p.m. at Garvey Avenue and Big Dalton Avenue, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
Officers were chasing a stolen Toyota RAV4 when it crashed and burst into flames, he said. The same officers then pulled the driver and two passengers from the burning wreckage.
Officers were chasing a stolen Toyota RAV4 when it crashed and burst into flames,” he said.
“What these guys did was heroic,” Jimenez said.
Driver Ruben Cabrera Jr., 35, of Montebello was booked on suspicion of auto theft, felony evading of police causing great bodily injury and possession of methamphetamine. He was also already being sought for alleged parole violations.
Cabrera suffered injuries including broken ribs in the crash, Jimenez said. He was treated for his injuries before being booking into jail.
A 27-year-old woman who was riding as a rear passenger suffered a mostly-severed arm, the officer said. Surgeons had reattached the arm Thursday, however the ultimate prognosis was unclear.
A 16-year-old girl who was two to three months pregnant and riding as a front passenger in the SUV suffered injuries including a broken wrist, Jimenez said.
Officers first spotted the Toyota RAV4 speeding in the fast lane of the westbound 10 Freeway near Puente Avenue, Jimenez said. The SUV suddenly exited the freeway at Fransicquito Avenue and blew through a stop sign at Garvey and Vineland avenues.
Officers tried to pull the SUV over, but the driver sped off, initiating a chase, he said.
But the driver lost control of the vehicle as it rounded a bend where Garvey Avenue becomes Big Dalton Avenue, striking several trees and shearing a fire hydrant, Jimenez said.
The SUV’s gas tank ruptured and the RAV4 burst into flames, he said.
The pursuing officers suddenly became rescuers as they freed the three trapped occupants from the burning car, Jimenez said.
The officers pulled the driver from the SUV, he said. “That’s when they heard screaming from inside the car. The fire started growing. They saw that there was a female passenger in the right rear.”
Officer managed to pull out the rear passenger and discovered the 16-year-old passenger also trapped in the front passenger seat.
As the fire continued to grow larger, the officers cut the seat belt of the third and final occupant and freed her from the flaming wreck, Jimenez said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Cabrera was being held without bail at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Friday in West Covina Superior Court.
BASSETT >> A woman and a young girl believed to be her daughter died and two more girls suffered critical injuries in a solo-car crash alongside the 605 Freeway in Bassett in early Friday, authorities said.
The fatal crash took place about 7:30 a.m. on the southbound 605 Freeway, just north of the 60 Freeway, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Rich Licon said.
The identities of the victims had yet to be determined, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Their city of residence was unclear.
Though not identified, a photograph found at the scene indicated that the four victims were a mother and her three children, California Highway Patrol Officer Gina Jojola said.
The 2005 Pontiac Grand Am was heading south when it veered off the side of the road, overturned and struck a tree, she said.
“As a result of the collision, the driver and right rear passenger sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased,” CHP Officer D. Jones said in a written statement. “The two remaining passengers were transported to Los Angeles County Medical Center in critical condition.”
Firefighters had to free the two surviving girls from the wreckage.
“We had to extricate two people,” Licon said.
All four occupants of the Pontiac wore seat belts, according to the CHP.
The woman at the wheel of the Pontiac appeared to be about 30 years old, Jojola said. The girl who died in the crash was estimated to be 7 years old.
The two surviving girls were about 3 and 11 yeas old, Jojola said. They were taken to a trauma center for treatment. An update on their conditions was not available Friday afternoon.
While the investigation remained in its early stages, drugs or alcohol were not initially suspected as factors, Jones said.
“No witnesses have been found,” Jojola said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.
Officials issued a Sig Alert for the right-hand lane of the southbound 605 Freeway for nearly four hours as they investigated the scene.
- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
PHOTOS by Walt Mancini
PASADENA >> A violent five-vehicle wreck on the 210 Freeway in Pasadena initially thought to have killed one person Friday afternoon left two Northern California men dead, officials said Saturday.
Authorities initially pronounced Tristan Lee Witte, 20, of San Rafael dead at the scene immediately following the 4:50 p.m. crash on the eastbound 210 Freeway near Sierra Madre Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Marion Sainz said. He was the driver of a 2004 Buick sedan that was mangled into an unrecognizable mass of metal after being crushed between two trucks, officials said.
But firefighters continued working to access what had been the passenger compartment of the Buick, ultimately discovering the body of a passenger several hours later, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Palmer described the passenger as a 20-year-old Novato man. Coroner’s officials were yet to identify the passenger Saturday, Sainz said.
The chain-reaction collision was initiated when a 2007 Nissan box truck collided with 2012 Jeep Cherokee in the carpool lane, Officer T. Palmer of the California Highway Patrol’s Altadena area office said in a written statement.
“The Jeep was pushed into a red Buick, driven by (Witte),” Palmer said. “The box truck continued in an easterly direction, where it collided with a Chevy GMC (pickup truck).”
“This impact caused the Buick to fold in half, causing fatal injuries to the driver and passenger,” Palmer said.
The Chevy pickup rolled onto its side in the fast lane and was broad-sided by a 2015 Hyundai sedan, he said.
The four drivers of the involved vehicles other than the Buick were treated for minor injuries, officials said. All had been treated at local hospitals and released by Saturday morning.
“At this time, DUI is not a factor in this collision,” Palmer said.
The crash briefly prompted the closure of all eastbound lanes of the 210 Freeway. A Sig Alert remained in affect for some lanes through nearly 11 p.m., causing a backup for miles.
The cause of the deadly crash remained under investigation.
Any witnesses can reach the CHP’s Altadena area office at 626-296-8100.
PHOTO courtesy of the Pasadena Fire Department.
PASADENA >> One person died and two others suffered injuries in a multi-car crash that shut down the eastbound 210 Freeway in Pasadena Friday afternoon, officials said.
The crash, which involved at least five vehicles, was first reported at 4:57 p.m. on the eastbound 210 Freeway, just west of Sierra Madre Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol and Pasadena Fire Department officials.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, CHP Officer Jennifer Bond said. No description was available.
The vehicle in which the person was traveling was “crushed” an unrecognizable, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Two other victims were treated for minor injuries suffered in the crash, she said.
Another couple of people were treated by paramedics for issues such as heat exhaustion and chest pain while stuck in traffic behind the crash scene, Derderian added.
Authorities initially shut down all eastbound lanes of the freeway to allow ambulances to access the scene, Bond said.
“(Eastbound) traffic was shut down completely for probably half approximately half and hour,”Derderian said.
Officials gradually reopened lanes through the afternoon, causing a major backup during the rush-hour commute.
Traffic on the Metro Gold Line tracks was reduced to one track as officials inspected the track closest to the crash for damage or debris. Buses were used to help passenger travel between the Lake and Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line Stations, according to Metro.
The crash was being investigated by the CHP’s Altadena area office. Anyone with information can reach the office at 626-296-8100.
PHOTO courtesy of L.A. Metro
SOUTH EL MONTE >> Prosecutors filed four felony charges against a woman they say carjacked another woman at knifepoint in South El Monte, then led police on a televised chase to Bell Gardens
The suspect, Kelsey Woods, also listed as Britany Woods, 26, rammed a CHP car during the chase. Woods was previously convicted of leading police on a chase and driving against traffic in 2015 when she embarked on the alleged series of crimes on Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
“Woods allegedly approached a woman with a knife in South El Monte and then took the victim’s truck,” Ardalani said.
The suspect was not immediately found following the morning carjacking, however deputies spotted the stolen truck later in the day, officials said. It was still being driven by the suspect, later identified as Woods.
Woods refused to pull over, initiating a pursuit, Ardalani said.
News helicopters broadcast live at the fleeing truck ran over a spike strip, but continued speeding. Sparks flew from the exposed tire rim as the suspect fled.
“During the pursuit, the defendant reportedly drove into oncoming traffic and did not stop at numerous stop lights,” according to Ardalani. “At one point, the defendant allegedly stopped the vehicle, went into reverse and hit the patrol vehicle before she fled the scene again.”
•Video: Raw CBS footage of pursuit
Prosectors charged Woods Friday with carjacking, two counts of assault on a peace officer and recklessly fleeing police, officials said.
Woods is also accused of the special allegation that she personally used a knife in the carjacking.
A scheduled arraignment hearing Friday in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court was continued to Monday, Ardalani said.
If convicted as charged, Ardalani said Woods could face up to 16 years and four months in state prison. Her hometown was unclear.
According to county booking records, Woods was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
WHITTIER >> A woman died in a crash along Workman Mill Road in Whittier Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The collision was first reported at 3:22 p.m. as a head-on crash between a car and an SUV at Workman Mill Road and Pioneer Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
Paramedics pronounced a woman dead at the scene, CHP Officer Jennifer Bond said.
No further details were immediately available.
The crash was being investigated by the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office.
WEST COVINA >> A Montebello woman died early Sunday after the car in which she was riding as a passenger crashed on a 10 Freeway offramp in West Covina early Sunday, officials said.
Melissa Ann Villanueva, 33, died following the solo-car crash, Officer T. Brazier of the California Highway Patrol’s Baldwin Park area office said in a written statement.
The driver of the 2013 Kia Forte, 34-year-old Jeanet Cuadra, was arrested, Brazier said. CHP officials declined to say Sunday what crime Cuadra was suspected of.
The fatal crash occurred just before 6 a.m. on the Barranca Street offramp of the westbound 10 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Stephan Brandt said.
Cuadra was driving at 65 to 70 mph and had just crossed into the right-hand lane in advance of exiting the freeway, Brazier said.
“Cuadra fell asleep and traveled onto the fore point of the offramp and collided into the multiple attenuators,” he said.
“Cuadra was seat belted and sustained moderate, non-life-threatening injuries,” Brazier said.
“The right, front passenger of the Kia, Melissa Ann Villanueva, was asleep at the time of the collision and was not wearing her seat belt,” the officer said. “The impact into the attenuators caused Villanueva to be propelled forward and into the Kia’s windshield.”
Cuadra and good Samaritans got Villanueva out of the mangled car. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene at 6:08 a.m.
Authorities issues a Sig Alert for the offramp that lasted through noon as they investigated the scene and repaired the damaged roadway.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Brazier at the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.
DIAMOND BAR >> Authorities have identified a 24-year-old Pomona man who died in a motorcycle crash on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar Thursday afternoon.
Ivan Galindo died shortly after the 3:50 p.m. three-vehicle collision in the eastbound lanes of the 60 Freeway, east of Grand Avenue at the 57 Freeway juncture, California Highway Patrol Officer J. Bach said in a written statement.
Galindo was riding a 2015 Kawasaki Ninja in the No. 5 lane at an unknown speed in “moderate traffic conditions” prior to the crash, Bach said. A 2005 Saturn Ion was traveling directly in front of him at 45 to 50 mph.
The motorcycle struck the rear of the Saturn, then ricocheted toward the right side of the road.
Back said the motorcycle then struck the left rear fender of a 1999 Westar cement mixer traveling 25 to 30 mph in the No. 7 lane.
“(Galindo) was subsequently ejected from (his motorcycle) and collided onto the concrete roadway,” Back said. “As a result of this collision, Mr. Galindo sustained major injuries. Mr. Galindo was transported to Pomona Valley Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries sustained from this traffic collision.”
The 19-year-old Texas man at the wheel of the Saturn and the 35-year-old Ontario man driving the cement mixer suffered no injuries, Back said.
The investigation remained in its early stages, and any witnesses are asked to contact Officer Back at the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.
DIAMOND BAR >> A motorcyclist died following a crash on the eastbound 60 Freeway at the 57 Freeway interchange Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The fatal crash took place about 4 p.m. in the right-hand lane of the 60 Freeway, where it expands to seven lanes as it merges with the 57 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Jennifer Bond said.
The motorcyclist succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash at a hospital, she said. No further details were available.
The circumstances of the crash were being investigated by the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office, Bond said.
Anyone with information can reach the CHP’s Baldwin Park office at 626-338-1164.
Officials issues a Sig Alert for the No. 7 lane of the eastbound 60 Freeway for just under an hour.
WEST COVINA >> Coroner’s officials have identified a Lakewood man who died in a fiery multi-car freeway wreck in West Covina last week along with a South Pasadena man described as one of Taiwan’s most wanted fugitives, authorities said.
Gregory Donald Smith, 69, died at the scene of the crash, which took place about 1 a.m. on May 27 on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Citrus Avenue, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
He was unable to get out of his pickup truck following the crash. The truck became engulfed in flames.
An autopsy determined Smith died of “thermal burns,” and the death was ruled accidental, Winter said.
Also killed in the crash while driving another vehicle was 89-year-old You T. Wang, also identified by authorities as Wang You-theng, of South Pasadena.
Wang was in the middle of a decade-long court battle to avoid extradition to Taiwan, where he’s accused of embezzling more than $9 billion from a steel company called Rebar, which Wang founded in 1959. He allegedly drained the company’s assets and fled to the U.S. after the company when business took a sour turn in 2006.
Wang was ordered removed from the U.S. in late-2014 after years of litigation.
His appeal of that order was dismissed in December, but he then filed a petition for a review of his case by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
That review was yet to be heard when Wang was killed in last week’s crash.
The cause of the fiery five-car chain reaction, which resulted in two separate crash scenes, remained under investigation by the CHP.
It was initially believed to have been triggered when a Toyota Tacoma driven by Smith sideswiped a Lexus in the left-hand lane, initiating a series of collisions, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
Anyone with information can reach the Baldwin Park area office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.