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.
HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A Los Angeles woman died early Thursday after her car slammed into the back of a big rig on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights, authorities said.
Kenoa Stewart, 36, was killed in the crash, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The collision took place at 4:11 a.m. on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just east of Seventh Avenue, Officer Jason Steward of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs-area office said.
The woman, later identified as Stewart, was driving a 2002 Saturn L100 east in the No. 3 lane just prior to the fatal collision, he said. A 2009 Volvo big rig was traveling directly in front of her.
“For reasons still under investigation, the driver of the Saturn collided into the right rear of a semi truck,” Steward said.
“The Saturn traveled out-of-control and became wedged underneath the right rear of the semi-trailer, between the No. 3 and No. 4 lanes.”
Paramedics pronounced Stweart dead at the scene at 4:35 a.m., Winter said.
The driver of the big rig, described as a 57-year-old La Puente man, suffered no injures, Steward added.
The crash remains under investigation, and anyone with information can reach the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.
WEST COVINA >> Two people died in a fiery three-vehicle crash on the 10 Freeway in West Covina early Friday, authorities said.
The crash was reported about 1:10 a.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Citrus Avenue, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
Two patients were pronounced dead at the scene, CHP Officer Patrick Kimball said. One more person was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in unknown condition.
One of the two involved vehicles caught fire, and “multiple explosions,” were reported, according to CHP logs.
The source of the explosions was unclear, Kimball said.
Bryan Garcia said he was on his way home with his wife when the collision unfolded behind him in the westbound lanes.
“A car lost control then I saw a fireball behind me,” he said.
It appeared one vehicle struck another, then hit the center divider and burst into flames, Garcia said.
Witness Lauren Walton described a similar scenario via Twitter, but from a vantage point behind the crash.
“I watched the car drift, collide, then a huge explosion. Called 911,” she posted on the social media network.
“I watched the last few minutes of someone’s life tonight… that’s heavy. I feel for the one lady that got out,” she wrote.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the crash were immediately available.
Officials issued a Sig Alert, shutting down all westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway, officials said. The closure was expected to remain in effect past 5 a.m.
BALDWIN PARK >> The California Highway Patrol is inviting young drivers and their parents to take part in a free, two-hour class geared to improve safety on the road.
The “Start Smart” class will be held from 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office, 14039 Francisquito Ave., according to CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez.
“The primary objective of this program is to provide teens between the ages of 15 and 19 with an interactive safe driving awareness class to illustrate how poor choices behind the wheel can tragically impact many lives,” Jimenez said.
“Officers will demonstrate with the use of videos and pictures how poor choices behind the wheel can lead to tragic consequences,” he said.
Instructors will also discuss collision avoidance techniques and other aspects of safe driving.
“The class is powerful and receives excellent reviews,” Jimenez said. Parents or guardians are required to attend along with their children.
Seating is limited and early reservations are recommended. To RSVP, email Officer Jimenez at email@example.com.
IRWINDALE >> Six motorcyclists and two people riding in a sedan suffered injuries Saturday afternoon in a chain-reaction crash caused by a hit-and-run pickup truck that investigators say may have been an intentional attack.
The wreck occurred just after 7 p.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway, just west of Irwindale Avenue, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
Prior to the crash, six motorcycles were traveling in the fast lane at about 65 mph, and a BMW sedan was driving in the carpool lane, also at about 65 mph, officials said.
“Suddenly, a black pick-up truck traveled from the No. 4 lane, across the westbound lanes, and into the No. 1 lane, where it struck one motorcycle. This impact caused a chain reaction with the other five motorcycles, with at least two of them striking the BMW,” according to the CHP statement.
“Preliminary information indicates the pickup truck may have intentionally struck the motorcycles,” the statement continued.
The pickup truck fled the scene, and no further description was available, authorities said.
Two of the motorcyclist were hospitalized in critical condition, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Ed Pickett said. Four more were treated for injuries, but declined to be taken to hospitals.
Two occupants of the BMW were also taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said.
Officials issued a Sig Alert for the carpool and two left lanes of the westbound 210 Freeway for about two-and-a-half hours as they investigated the scene and cleared the wreckage.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, is asked to contact Officer Campos of the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.
SAN DIMAS >> Authorities Sunday released the identity of a 29-year-old Chino woman who died in a crash on the 57 Freeway in San Dimas.
Christine Soto died at the scene of the crash, which took place about 1:20 a.m. Saturday on the southbound 57 Freeway, just north of Via Verde, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner records.
She was driving a 2013 Kia Optima when the car rear-ended a big rig, then smashed into the center divider, Officer C. Flores of the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office said in a written statement.
The driver of the big rig was unhurt, officials added.
Any witnesses are encouraged to contact the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.
SAN DIMAS >> A 29-year-old Chino woman lost her life in a crash on the 57 Freeway in San Dimas early Saturday, authorities said.
Coroner’s officials withheld the woman’s name pending notification of her family.
The crash took place about 1:20 a.m. on the southbound 57 Freeway near Via Verde, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
She was at the wheel of a 2013 Kia Optima heading south in the right-hand lane just before the crash, Officer C. Flores of the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office said in a written statement. A 2016 Volvo big rig being driven by a 53-year-old Fresno man was traveling directly in front of the Kia.
“Due to (the woman) driving her Kia at an unsafe speed for traffic conditions, the front end of the Kia collided into the rear end of the Volvo’s pull trailer,” Flores said. “After the impact, the Kia continued out of control in a southeasterly direction and the front end collided with the concrete center divider.”
Paramedics pronounced the Chino woman dead at the scene, officials said. The truck driver suffered no injuries.
CHP officials initially shut down all southbound lanes of the 57 Freeway. Lanes gradually reopened until the Sig Alert was cleared entirely just before 5 a.m.
Any witnesses are encouraged to contact the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A Colton man is accused of drunken driving after crashing his Cadillac into a California Highway Patrol SUV as officers were assisting a family in a disabled car along the 605 Freeway in Santa Fe Springs early Sunday, authorities said.
One CHP officers suffered minor injuries in the crash, which took place just after 1:50 a.m. on the right shoulder of the northbound 605 Freeway, just north of Telegraph Road, Officer B. Axt of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office said in a written statement.
Clarence Williams, 38, is suspected of DUI in connection with the crash, according to the CHP.
Two officers were helping two women, ages 45 and 21, and two children after their 2012 Jeep broke down, CHP Officer Monica Posada said.
“Williams drove his (1998 Cadillac Seville) onto the right shoulder, subsequently colliding with the rear of the CHP unit,” Axt said. “This propelled the CHP unit forward, colliding with the disabled vehicle.
“The disabled vehicle then struck one of the CHP officers, causing minor injuries as he was thrown to the ground,” Axt continued.
The woman and children inside the Jeep suffered no injuries, thanks, in part, to the use of seat belts, officials said.
Officials issued a Sig Alert for about one hour affecting the two right-hand lanes of the northbound 605 Freeway as they investigated the scene.
PHOTO courtesy of the CHP.
INDUSTRY >> A person died after being struck by a car while walking across traffic lanes of the 605 Freeway in Industry late Thursday, officials said.
The pedestrian, initially described only as male, died at the scene of the collision, which took place about 8:10 p.m. in the northbound lanes of the freeway, just south of Peck Road, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Armando Perdomo said.
His age and identity were unknown, Perdomo said.
A Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner representative said the agency was too busy to discuss the case Friday afternoon.
A 47-year-old Upland man was driving a 2010 Honda north, Perdomo said. “The pedestrian was walking eastbound across northbound lanes when the Honda collided with him,” the sergeant said.
“Due to the impact, (the pedestrian) suffered major injuries, which he succumbed to,” Perdomo said.
The driver of the Honda appeared unhurt, but was taken to a hospital for examination, he added.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation. It was unclear why the pedestrian was on the freeway.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office at 562-868-0503.
ARCADIA >> An alleged burglar with a police radio scanner in his car led police and CHP officers on a high-speed chase that ended with his arrest in Westmont following a residential break-in in Arcadia late Friday, authorities said.
Arcadia police had received a report shortly before 9 p.m. of a suspicious person and vehicle in the driveway of a home in the 200 block of Monte Place, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement. The car drove away, and it was later determined a the home had been burglarized, and items stolen.
Police spotted the Nissan Altima as it got onto the 210 Freeway and tried to pull it over, but the driver sped away instead, officials said.
Arcadia officers gave chase as the Nissan sped down the southbound 605 and westbound 105 freeways at speeds reaching 100 mph.
Arcadia officers eventually turned the pursuit over to California Highway Patrol officers, who ultimately took the driver into custody when he came to a stop along 102nd Street in Westmont.
Officials recovered items taken during the Arcadia break-in inside the suspect’s car, along with a radio scanner programmed with the frequency of the Arcadia Police Department, allowing him to monitor police radio traffic, Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther said.
Steve Gainer, 32, of Paramount was booked on suspicion of residential burglary and evading police, both felonies, police said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Gainer was being held in lieu of $125,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.
PHOTOS: Steve Gainer, 32, of Paramount [TOP], police scanner recovered from car [BELOW], courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department.