Woman charged with South El Monte carjacking, wild police chase

•VIDEO: Raw CBS footage of pursuit

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.

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Woman killed in Whittier crash


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.

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UPDATED: Montebello woman killed in crash on 10 Freeway offramp in West Covina


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.

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Pomona man killed in Diamond Bar motorcycle crash


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.

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Motorcyclist dies in Diamond Bar crash


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.

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Lakewood man killed in fiery West Covina crash that also killed Taiwanese fugitive identified


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.

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UPDATED: Los Angeles woman killed in 60 Freeway crash in Hacienda Heights


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.

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UPDATED: Two dead in fiery crash on 10 Freeway in West Covina


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.

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CHP to host free ‘Start Smart’ class for teen drivers in Baldwin Park

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 rjimenez@chp.ca.gov.

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CHP: Hit-and-run crash that injured 6 motorcyclists on 210 Freeway in Irwindale may have been intentional

0418_NWS_SGT-L-MOTORCYCLES1

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.
0418_NWS_SGT-L-MOTORCYCLES2Two 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.

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