Covina man accused of DUI in major injury crash on the 57 Freeway in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR >> A fiery crash blamed on a drunken driver sent five people to the hospital early Sunday, including a woman and a boy who suffered major injuries, authorities said.
The California Highway Patrol received reports of a crash between a 2003 Toyota Camry and a 2010 Kia Forte about 3:10 a.m. on the northbound 57 Freeway just north of Diamond Bar Boulevard, CHP Sgt. Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh said in a written statement.
The Kia was stopped along the right shoulder of the freeway prior the crash, she said. A 29-year-old woman was at the wheel, along with a 24-year-old woman, a boy of unknown age and a man of unknown age riding as passengers. All four occupants of the Kia were Apple Valley residents, however the relationship among them was unclear.
The boy and a man who were passengers in the Kia suffered major injuries and were flown to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, Van Valkenburgh said. Paramedics took the woman who was driving the Kia, as well as the second woman riding as a passenger, to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center with injuries described as minor to moderate.
Edgar Rodriguez, 26, of Covina, is suspected of being drunk as he drove his Toyota Camry up the 57 Freeway approaching the stopped Kia, Van Valkenburgh said.
“His vehicle drifted onto the right shoulder and rear-ended the Kia,” she said.
The impact sent the Kia spinning, and it ultimately came to a rest blocking the two right-hand lanes, officials said.
The Toyota continued forward along the sound wall along the right side of the freeway before coming to a rest.
“Shortly after (Rodriguez) escaped from his vehicle, is caught fire and became engulfed in flames,” Van Valkenburgh said. He was treated for “moderate” injuries including a broken wrist and was expected to be booked on suspicion of felony drunken driving.
Officials shut down all northbound lanes of the freeway until about 4:10 a.m., at which time the HOV lane was opened for traffic, according to the CHP. All traffic lanes were cleared shortly before 5 a.m.
Any witnesses to the crash were asked to contact Officer Dockweiler of the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.

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Woman uses pepper spray on mugger in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR >> A man robbed a woman of her wallet Thursday, but the woman fought back with pepper spray, officials said.
The robbery took place about 2 p.m. on Diamond Bar Boulevard, just south of Grand Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Frank Rivera said.
The robber pushed the woman and grabbed her wallet when it fell to the ground, the lieutenant said. The woman sprayed pepper spray toward the robber, though it was unclear if it hit him in the face.
Deputies searched the area for the robber, but he was not found, Rivera said. A detailed suspect description was not available.
The woman, who was in her 20s, was examined by paramedics but did not appear to have suffered significant injury, Rivera said.

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Ex-Diamond Bar middle school teacher gets more than 15 years in prison for molesting student

POMONA >> A judge sentenced a former Diamond Bar middle school teacher to more than 15 years in prison Thursday for carrying on a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student, officials said.
Ex-Carl Lorbeer Middle School teacher Steven Shane Andrews, 43, of Anaheim, received the maximum sentence of 15 years and 18 months in state prison from Pomona Superior Court Judge Mike Camacho, according to Sarah Ardalani of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
A jury convicted Andrews in March of 17 felony counts related to the a sexual relationship he had with a student between May 2011 and his his Sept. 20, 2011, arrest, authorities said.
Camacho additionally ordered Andrews to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Ardalani said.
Andrews first met his victim at school when she was 13 years old, investigators said.
“The defendant taught the victim for about a year before the sexual misconduct began,” Ardalani said in a written statement. “Initially, the incidents transpired at the school, but later also occurred off-campus.”
The crimes came to light when another teacher at the school became suspicious of Andrews’ interactions with the girl and notified the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, she added.
Andrews was placed on leave from the Pomona Unified School District a day before his arrest when school officials learned of the allegations, officials said. He was formerly fired in December of 2012.
The investigation was handled by the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau.

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Resident shoots at burglar in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR >> A homeowner shot at a burglar during a break-in Friday afternoon in Diamond Bar, authorities said.
A man was at home about 1:30 p.m. in the 400 block of N. Del Sol Lane when he heard a smashing noise, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Frank Rivera said. He soon discovered the noise was created by an intruder bashing his way through the home’s front door.
Investigators suspect the burglar did not realize anyone was home when he forced his way into the house, Rivera said. The burglar and homeowner encountered one another in the living room.
“I think they were both shocked when they saw each other,” the lieutenant said.
The homeowner grabbed a handgun and fires a single shot at the intruder, Rivera said. “He felt his life was in danger.”
The burglar fled, getting into a burgundy Toyota Camry with tinted windows and a waiting driver.
The burglar was not believed to have been struck by the resident’s gunfire, though it could not be ruled out Friday evening, Rivera said. Officials checked area emergency rooms for gunshot victims that may be linked to the crime with no success.
A detailed description of the burglar was not available.

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Arcadia man killed in Diamond Bar motorcycle crash identified

DIAMOND BAR — Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 29-year-old Arcadia man who was killed in a freeway motorcycle crash in Diamond Bar Wednesday.
Justen Dillon Wrench died at the scene of the crash, which was reported about 8:35 a.m. Wednesday on the southbound 57 Freeway transition road to the westbound 60 Freeway, according to Los Angeles County Department of Coroner and California Highway Patrol officials.
Wrench was riding south at an unknown speed when he collided with a Honda Civic, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez.
The crash caused Wrench to fall into the roadway, where he was run over by a big rig, the officer said.
An autopsy determined Wrench died from traumatic injuries, and the death was ruled accidental, coroner’s officials said.
The drivers of both the Honda and the big rig remained at the scene, officials said. No arrests were made as the investigation into the cause of the crash continued.

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Arcadia man killed in Diamond Bar motorcycle crash

DIAMOND BAR — A 29-year-old Arcadia man died after being run over by a big rig following a freeway motorcycle crash in Diamond Bar Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
The name of the motorcyclist was not released Wednesday pending notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said.
He was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred about 8:35 a.m. on the transition road connecting the southbound 57 Freeway to the westbound 60 Freeway, just north of Grand Avenue, according to California Highway Officer Rodrigo Jimenez.
The cyclist was riding a 2007 Suzuki GSX-R in the No. 3 lane when he approached a slower-moving 2014 Honda Civic being driven at 20 to 30 mph, Jimenez said. A big rig was also travelling at 10 to 15 mph behind the motorcycle in the No. 3 lane.
“A collision between the Honda Civic and the Suzuki motorcycle occurred,” Jimenez said. “It is unclear at this time how the collision occurred.”
“Subsequently, the rider of the motorcycle was ejected and the Suzuki fell over onto its right side,” Jimenez said. “The motorcycle rider was then struck by the left rear tires of a tractor-trailer combination and sustained fatal injuries as a result.”
CHP officials issued a Sig Alert for more than two hours for the right two lanes of the transition road as they cleared the wreckage and conducted an investigation.
No arrests were made as the investigation continued, officials said.
Any witnesses or anyone with information was asked to contact CHP Officer R. Green at the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.

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MADD hosts vigil in Diamond Bar in wake of alleged DUI crash that killed 6


DIAMOND BAR — Three days after six people lost their lives in a head-on crash blamed on a drunken driver on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar, Mothers Against Drunk Driving hosted a vigil Wednesday to urge the public to stop drinking and driving to prevent more deaths.
Families affected or shattered by intoxicated drivers joined with MADD officials and Sgt. Daniel Dail of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Traffic Services Detail at the Diamond Bar Center to highlight the human toll taken by the crime of DUI.
While violent crimes often garner the most media attention, “You have a better chance in the United States of being killed by a drunk driver than getting shot,” Dail said.
And MADD Los Angeles/Ventura Affiliate Executive Director Patricia Rillera pointed out that nationally, a third of all suspects involved in DUI-related crashed have previous DUI conviction. The alleged drunken driver in Sunday’s crash had only recently had restrictions to her driver’s license lifted due to a previous DUI conviction when she caused the collision.
“They’re repeat offenders,” Rillera said. “We need to have tougher penalties.”
A moment of silence was held for the six victims who died in the early-morning crash on the westbound 60 Freeway, just west of Phillips Ranch Road.
Two young women riding in a Chevrolet Camaro along with alleged drunken driver Olivia Culbreath, 21, of Fontana were killed in the crash. They were identified as Kristin Melissa Young, 21, of Chino; and Culbreath’s 24-year-old sister, Maya Louise Culbreath of Rialto.
Olivia Culbreath remained hospitalized with serious injuries Wednesday and was expected to face charges of DUI and vehicular manslaughter in connection with the fatal crash. Because she has a previous DUI conviction, the case could potentially be charged as a murder.
Four family members, representing three generations of a Huntington Park family, also died when the Camaro slammed head-on into their Ford Explorer as they were driving down the freeway. They were identified as Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47, Leticia Ibarra, 42, Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20, and Ester Delgado, described as in her 80s.
Those gathered Wednesday urged the public to take the time and effort to find a ride or call for a taxi instead of getting behind the wheel after drinking.
Rich and Diana Thrower of Buena Park know the pain one person can inflict after making the decision to drive while under the influence. They lost their 21-year-old son, Michael Zuniga of Whittier, on March 16, 2012. He was a passenger in a car driven by 19-year-old David Darocha of Whittier — who officials said was drunk — when the car crashed at Mills Avenue and Telegraph Road in unincorporated South Whittier, killing both young men.
“No family should have to go through the horror we went through,” Diana Thrower said. “It ripped the family apart, and it all could have been prevented by a phone call.”
“Our hearts go out to the families affected by this accident this past weekend,” she said.
And she said one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with a death caused by a DUI driver is the fact that it’s entirely preventable.
“Make a phone call. Call a cab. There’s options out there,” she urged.
Annette Barrera, 20, of South Gate, who was struck and badly injured by a drunken driver while walking in Lynwood in 2012, and her mother Helen Arellanes also encouraged drivers to never drive while intoxicated.
“I just turned 20. I haven’t even started my life yet,” said Barrera, who still uses a wheelchair and deals with injuries suffered in the crash daily.
But through outreach work with MADD, Barrera said she hopes to help prevent future tragedies by telling her story to others, especially fellow young people.
And despite the obstacles she faces as the result of a DUI driver, Barrera keeps a positive outlook and her sense of humor.
“I have a lot that I could abhor and just hate, but I laugh, because it’s better medicine,” she said.
Rillera said MADD doesn’t ask that people give up drinking.
What we’re asking as that you drink responsibly,” she said.

PHOTO Diana Thrower of buena Park holds a picture of her son, 21-year-old Michael Zuniga, who died in a DUI-related crash in March of 2012 during a MADD vigil in Diamond Bar on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (By Sarah Reingewirtz)

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UPDATE: Six killed in wrong-way crash on 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar; DUI suspected

DB crash

DIAMOND BAR >> Police arrested a new mother on suspicion of manslaughter and drunken driving Sunday morning after a horrific wrong-way collision on the 60 Freeway left six people dead.

Five women and one man died in the 5 a.m. head-on accident between a red Chevy Camaro and a Ford Explorer, California Highway Patrol officials said. The incident occurred in the westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway, just west of Phillips Ranch Road. At least one “tall boy” style beer can was discovered at the scene.

Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, of Fontana was arrested. The dead, who were not identified, included a 24-year-old Chino woman a 24-year-old Rialto woman, officials said.

“There was alcoholic beverage evidence,” CHP officer Rodrigo Jimenez said. “We’re treating this as a crime scene.”

At least two people were thrown onto the freeway in the collision, he added. The driver and lone occupant in a third vehicle — described as a Ford Freestyle — also suffered minor injuries, officials said.

It was uncertain how many passengers were in either car.

“It’s a horrific accident. Our hearts go out the family members and friends of the victims,” Jimenez said as he gestured toward an unrecognizable tangle of metal about 100 yards away.


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Four killed, three critically injured in wrong-way crash on 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR — Four people died and three others were critically injured early Sunday following a crash triggered by a wrong-way driver on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar, authorities said.
The three-vehicle crash took place just before 5 a.m. on the westbound 60 Freeway near Diamond Bar Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
Four patients died at the scene, while three were hospitalized in critical condition, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores said. Another person suffered a minor injury in the wreck.
A rescue helicopter was landed on the freeway to rush the injured to a hospital.
Minutes before the fatal collision, motorist called the CHP to report seeing a car heading eastbound in the westbound lanes at more than 100 mph, according to CHP logs.
All westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway were shut down for an undetermined amount of time as officers from the CHP’s Baldwin Park office investigated the scene.

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2nd UPDATE: Las Vegas woman dies in crash on 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR — A 28-year-old Las Vegas woman died Saturday after the car she was riding in with her family was rear-ended by another car on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar, authorities said.
Nancy Romero died at the scene of the 7:48 a.m. collision on the westbound 60 Freeway at the 57 Freeway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
Romero had been riding as the rear passenger on the driver-side of a Nissan Altima when the collision occurred, California Highway Patrol Officer Mathew Henderson said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her father, 63, was driving the 2006 Nissan with his 58-year-old wife riding as the front passenger and their 24-year-old son riding in the rear, passenger-side seat, next to his sister, the officer said.
A 2001 Ford Mustang being driven by a 22-year-old Montclair woman struck the Nissan from behind, Henderson said.
Investigators had not yet determined the speed at which the vehicle were traveling when they collided, he said, however both vehicles were moving.
The driver of the Nissan was not hurt, while the woman riding in the front suffered minor injuries, and the man in the rear of the Nissan suffered moderate injuries, Henderson said.
The woman driving the Mustang was not hurt.
Officers initially treated the crash as a hit-and-run, however it was soon determined that was not the case, Henderson said.
“The party actually just continued westbound, got off at the next exit and called 9-1-1,” he said.
After the Ford collided with the Nissan, the Nissan subsequently went out of control and struck a wall, however it was the impact between the two cars that was believed to have caused the bulk of the injuries and damage.
Officials initially issued a Sig Alert for all lanes of the westbound 60 Freeway following the collision. The carpool and three right-hand lanes remained blocked for more than an hour, creating a significant traffic backup on the 60 and 57 freeways. The Sig Alert was lifted just before 10:45 a.m.
Officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP were carrying out the investigation. Anyone with information can reach the office during normal business hours at 626-338-1164. After hours or on weekends, the CHP can be reached at 323-982-4900.

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