UPDATED: Crash between big rig, Caltrans vehicles traps driver on 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar


DIAMOND BAR — A crash involving a big rig and two Caltrans vehicles injured nine people, including a truck driver who became trapped in his wrecked tractor-trailer for more than an hour, authorities said.
The crash took place just after 10 a.m. on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just west of Grand Avenue, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
“On arrival, we found four vehicles off the side of the freeway– two Caltrans vehicles and two trucks,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Keith Mora said.
The crash primarily involved the big rig, a Caltrans truck carrying an arrow board and a van being used by Caltrans, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez. A passing Dodge Ram pickup truck was struck by debris from the crash, however no one inside was hurt.
The big rig was being driven by a 54-year-old Lakewood man and was hauling tools used to repair refrigeration equipment, California Fire Department Inspector Keith Mora said.
The Caltrans vehicles were parked alongside the road, Jimenez said. The arrow board truck contained one Caltrans employee, and the van contained four members of a court ordered freeway cleanup crew.
Outside the Caltrans vehicles were two Caltrans employees and two more members of the court ordered work crew.
The big rig was traveling in the second lane from the right when, for unknown reasons, it veered to the right, collided with the arrow board truck, went off the roadway and overturned, Jimenez said.
The arrow board truck was pushed forward into the van, the officer said.
The big rig driver became trapped in the cab of his truck, according to CHP and fire officials. Firefighters worked for more than an hour to free him from the wreckage.
He was flown by helicopter to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with “moderate to major” injuries,” Jimenez said.
The six freeway cleanup crew members and two Caltrans employees were treated for “minor to moderate” injuries, he added. One of the Caltrans employees was unhurt.
All of those at the scene were described as men.
Initial CHP reports from the scene indicated the big rig was smoking and leaking fuel.
Firefighters kept hose lines in place as they worked to free the pinned driver in case of fire, Mora explained, as is normal procedure whenever dealing with a person trapped inside a vehicle.
Even after the patients had been hospitalized and the vehicles cleared from the road, officials then had to clean up 100 to 200 gallons of diesel fuel that had leaked from one of the vehicles trucks, according to fire officials and CHP logs.
Authorities shut down the four right-hand lanes of the freeway in the wake of the crash. The four right lanes of the freeway remained shut down for more than three hours during the rescue efforts, investigation and clean-up.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation.


PHOTO/VIDEO by staff photographer Keith Durflinger

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Woman robbed as she arrives home in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR — A knife-wielding man robbed a woman as she arrived home just after midnight Wednesday, authorities said.
The 33-year-old woman had just pulled into her garage in the 2000 block of Silver Hawk Drive when the robber approached her, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
He brandished a knife as he demanded the woman’s belongings, fleeing with her purse and other items, he said. The victim was not hurt.
The robber was described as Latino, 19 to 20 years old, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall, about 180 pounds, with black hair, the lieutenant said. He wore a black short-sleeve shirt and dark checkered pants.

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Man suspected in at least three gas station robberies in Diamond Bar, Walnut

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man early Sunday in Diamond Bar following what authorities said was his third armed gas station robbery in the area since Thursday.
Eddie Anthony Sanders, 31, was jailed following a 5 a.m. heist at an ARCO station at Brea Canyon Road and Lycoming Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Angie Wilkinson said. He listed addresses in both Pomona and Anaheim.
The previous robberies were also reported in the early-morning hours, Wilkinson said. A Chevron station at Valley Boulevard and Pierce Road in Walnut was robbed Saturday, and an ARCO station at Diamond Bar Boulevard and Brea Canyon Road in Diamond Bar was robbed Thursday.
In the most recent crime, the 30-year-old clerk called deputies before the robbery even occurred after recognizing him in the parking lot from a photograph of the alleged serial robber shown to him by a deputy the previous night, officials said.
“(The deputy) told him to be on the lookout for Sanders,” Wilkinson said in a written statement.
“At 5 a.m. (Sunday), the clerk saw Sanders in the parking lot,” the sergeant said. “He appeared to be around, waiting for customers in the store to leave. The clerk immediately called Walnut station to report seeing him.”
“Moments after hanging up, Sanders walked in and robbed the clerk with a handgun,” Wilkinson said. “As he was walking through the parking lot, deputies arrived and arrested him.”
The semi-automatic handgun Sanders used in the robbery had been reported stolen in a home burglary, Wilkinson added. <p>Evidence found in Sander’s car, which was found parked across the street, led investigators to believe he may be responsible for additional robberies in other cities.
She said detectives were working with investigators from other nearby jurisdictions to try to link Sanders to additional crimes.
Sanders was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court.

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Authorities, family members seek missing Diamond Bar man

DIAMOND BAR — Officials and worried family members are asking the public’s help in locating a Diamond Bar man whose been missing since missing for more than a week.
Yong Soo Chung, 48, was last seen April 24 when he left his home in the 20000 block of Lake Canyon Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“He left in his vehicle and has not been heard from since,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. “His family is very concerned and is also asking for the public’s assistance.”
Chung is described as Asian, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 195 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. His car is a gray 2008 Toyota Camry with a California license plate number of 6BRU267.
Anyone with information was encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau’s Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500.

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Ontario couple accused of three-county burglary spree

A man and woman from Ontario were behind bars Thursday on suspicion of a spree of more than 40 commercial burglaries in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties over the past two months, officials said.
Glendora police investigators arrested Andrew Martin, 47, and his girlfriend Gloria Quintero, 46, Wednesday at the Capri Motel in Ontario, Glendora police Lt. Brian Summers said.
They’re accused of break-ins in Glendora, Azusa, Covina, Diamond Bar, La Verne, Claremont, Chino Ontario, San Bernardino and La Palma, Glendora police said in a written statement. And the investigation was ongoing.
“We believe the suspects will be linked to additional burglaries in surrounding cities,” Glendora police Detective Matt Fenner said.
“We haven’t even scratched the surface in Orange County,” Summer added.
The burglaries largely took place in clusters, with several businesses in the same neighborhood being struck in the middle of the night, Summers said.
“The suspects typically used a large rock or other heavy object to break out the front windows of small commercial businesses, such as hair salons and restaurants,” according to the police statement. “The suspects would steal the cash register or rifle through the till for any money left in the register overnight.”
Police began noticing the trend in early march, officials added.
The amounts of money stolen in the crimes was relatively small, and appeared to be overshadowed by the damage the suspects allegedly caused to the businesses’ windows and cash registers, Summers said.
Detectives got a break in the case when the burglars broke into a Covina deli, the lieutenant added.
Police were able to obtain a clear image of Martin and a pickup truck used as a getaway vehicle, and the images were distributed among law enforcement aencies, he said.
“A Glendora patrol officers recognized the male suspect and vehicle from a crime bulletin as a person he had stopped for a traffic violation a week earlier,” according to the police statement.
Officers located Martin and Quintero at the Ontario motel Wednesday and arrested them without a struggle, police said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, they were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail each and were scheduled to be arraigned Friday in West Covina Superior Court.

PHOTOS of Andrew Martin, 47, and Gloria Quintero, 46, both of Ontario, courtesy of the Glendora Police Department.

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2 killed in Diamond Bar crash involving former OC CEO, Whittier and La Habra city manager

DIAMOND BAR – A man and wife died late Sunday in a freeway crash involving a longtime public administrator who has served as Orange County’s Chief Executive Officer, as well city manager in Whittier and La Habra, authorities said.
Anubhai Patel, 66, and Shardaben Patel, 67, both of Anaheim, died in Sunday’s 9:08 p.m. crash on the southbound 57 Freeway, just north of Pathfinder Road, according to California Highway Patrol, Orange County coroner’s and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials.
There were sitting in a disabled 2006 Toyota Prius in the No. 3 lane, which was struck from behind by a 2008 Cadillac Escalade being driven by Thomas Mauk, 69, of Whittier, California Highway Patrol Officer C. Chen said in a written statement. Mauk’s wife was riding as a passenger in the SUV, which was traveling at about 60 mph in the carpool lane prior to the collision.
The Escalade had changed lanes from the carpool lane to the No. 1 lane, then again to the No. 2 lane, Chen said. Mauk then looked in his rear view mirror and behind him to check for traffic as he began transitioning into the No. 3 lane. Traffic was light at the time and conditions were dry, officials said.
“As he completed the lane change to the No. 3 lane, he looked ahead and observed a stopped vehicle in the No. 3 lane directly ahead of him,” Chen said.
Both Anubhai and Shardaben Patel died of their injuries, officials said. Shardaben Patel died at UC Irvine Medical Center, while Anubhai Patel was pronounced dead at the scene, CHP Sgt. Mike Dulong said.
Mauk and his wife were treated for apparently minor injuries, Chen said.
Mauk was not arrested or cited, Dulong said, although the investigation continues.
Mauk served as Whittier’s city manager from 1980 through 1999. He was La Habra’s city manager from 1999 to 2002, and he served as the chief executive officer for Orange County from 2004 to 2012. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Two dogs were inside Mauk’s SUV at the time of the crash, Dulong said. A puppy inside the SUV was OK, while the second dog could not be found.
Any witnesses to the crash are encouraged to contact the Baldwin Park office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.

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Young Rowland Heights woman badly hurt in 57 Freeway crash in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR — A 19-year-old Rowland Heights woman suffered major injuries Tuesday when an SUV struck her stopped Toyota Corolla on the Orange (57) Freeway, authorities said.

Kathryn Rios was hospitalized following the 2:27 p.m. crash on the southbound 57 Freeway, just south of Brea Canyon Cutoff Road, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Antillon said in a written statement.

Edward Castaneda, 38, of La Habra, who was driving the Ford Explorer that rear-ended Rios’ car, was cited at the scene on suspicion of driving on a suspended license and failing to provide proof of insurance at a collision scene, the officer said. Driving under the influence was not initially suspected to be a factor.

The Corolla was travelling ahead of the Ford prior to the crash, officials said. “For an unknown reason, Ms. Rios’ Toyota came to a complete stop within the No. 4 lane,” Antillon said. “Mr. Castaneda failed to notice the Toyota stopped directly ahead of him,” he said.

“The front of the Ford subsequently struck the rear of the Toyota.” Rescuers took Rios to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center for treatment with “major injuries,” Antillon said. An update on her condition was not available. Castaneda was not injured.

Any witnesses to the crash where asked to contact the CHP’s Baldwin Park office during normal business hours at 626-338-1164.

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Diamond Bar man, volunteer at Diamond Ranch High School, accused of molesting student in 2006

DIAMOND BAR — A Diamond Bar man and volunteer in the music program at Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona is accused of molesting a 16-year-old student during the summer of 2006 while working at another high school in Fullerton, authorities said.
Albert Anthony Morales, 33, was arrested at his home Tuesday on suspicion of child molestation after a woman, now-22-year-old, came forward to report being abused by him while attending Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton in 2006, Sgt. Dan Scott of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said.
The molestations took place “on an ongoing basis” over the course of the summer as Morales carried on an inappropriate, sexual relationship with the teenage student, Scott said.
“It was substantial sexual contact, and definitely rose to the level of a felony,” he said.
Formal charges were yet to be filed against Morales Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The alleged molestation was first reported to deputies from the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station Jan. 29, officials said.
Scott said the victim told investigators about her first sexual encounter with Morales after he invited her to his home and supplied her with alcohol.
He continued meeting the teenage student and engaging in sexual activity throughout the summer, Scott said. Molestations took place at Morales’ home and at other locations, but never at the school.
But the girl did not report the molestation, which at the time she viewed as a “relationship,” until late last week.
“Recently, she heard a presentation about sexual abuse, and a woman molested by a teacher,” Scott said. “That prompted her to come forward.”
After investigators looked into the allegations, members of the Sheriff’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit arrested Morales about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday at his home, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
It is not uncommon for allegations of child molestation to surface long after the incident, Scott said.
“It’s normal that children to not report right away,” he said. “They don’t realize they’re being used and taken advantage of by the perpetrator.”
Morales has been working with high school music programs and tutoring students, primarily in percussion, for the past 13 years, officials said.
Prior to working with students at Sunny Hills High School from 2004 to 2009, Morales was part of the music program at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar from 1998 to 2000, according to Deputy Aura Sierra-Lidman said.
Morales began volunteering at Diamond Ranch High School in 2012, and was still assisting the band director and working with students at the time of his arrest, sheriff’s and Pomona Unified School District officials said.
He was not paid-employee of the district, district spokesman Ryan Hightower said.
Diamond Ranch High School Principal Suzanne Steinseifer-Ripley sent a letter to parents Tuesday regarding the arrest.
“Upon receipt of information, the school and district administration have fully cooperated with the authorities,” Steinseifer-Ripley wrote.
“While there is a presumption of innocence in matters of this nature, the district takes such matters with the utmost seriousness. The individual is not on the campus and will not return to campus pending the outcome of the investigation,” according to the letter.
A pre-employment background check and fingerprint analysis conducted by the PUSD turned up no previous criminal complaints against Morales, school officials added.
“This is a difficult time for our school and with your continued support we will maintain an educationally sound and supportive school environment for all students,” according to the principal’s letter. “Students may hear rumors or information from various sources. Parents are encouraged to discuss such information with their student(s). We remain committed to the safety and well-being of our students. School counselors and psychologists from the District will be available to meet with students as appropriate.”
While no other allegations had come to light Wednesday, Scott said investigators suspected the teenage girl was not Morales’ only victim.
“The victim in this case believed that there were other girls that were close to him,” Scott said.
“This type of behavior by an individual is very methodical and it’s often repeated,” the sergeant said. “We believe there’s a high likelihood that there’s other victims out there, and we urge them to come forward,”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.
According to county booking records, Morales was being held in lieu of $350,000 bail at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.

BOOKING PHOTO of Albert Morales, 33, of Diamond Bar courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Copper theft turns out the lights in Diamond Bar

DIAMOND BAR — A thief or thieves turned out the lights overnight and Saturday morning for about 1,500 Diamond Bar residents after stealing wiring from an electrical junction box at a vacant car dealership, authorities said.
The theft took place between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday at the site of the former Diamond Bar Honda dealership, in the 500 block of Grand Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Angie Wilkinson said.
The majority of affected residents had their power restored by noon Saturday, officials said.
No suspect description was available.

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Four hurt, one seriously, in 57 Freeway crash in Diamond Bar

A crash that pinned a vehicle beneath a big rig on the Orange (57) Freeway in Diamond Bar Saturday sent one man to a hospital in critical condition and injured three others, officials said.
The crash was reported just after 1 p.m. on the southbound 57 Freeway at the Pomona (60) Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Jennifer Cassidy said.
It involved a Toyota Corolla containing four people and a big rig, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. James Wheeler said.
Three of the Toyota passengers, two men and woman who were in their 20s, managed to get themselves out of the wreckage prior the arrival of firefighters, the captain said.
But the front passenger in the Toyota, a man in his 20s, had to be cut free from the mangled car, Wheeler said.
Rescuers landed a helicopter on the southbound lanes of the 57 Freeway to rush the badly injured passenger to a trauma center, officials said.
Two of the other occupants of the car suffered moderate injuries, while the third suffered injuries described as minor, Wheeler said.
A Sig Alert was issued for all lanes of the southbound 57 Freeway, as well as the transition road between the southbound 57 Freeway and the westbound 60 Freeway, officials said.
The transition road and the fast lane of the southbound 57 Freeway remained closed for more than two hours, according to CHP logs, while the remaining lanes of the southbound 57 Freeway were blocked for more than three hours following the collision.
Traffic backing up behind the crash also brought the westbound 60 Freeway to a standstill as well, Cassidy said.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.

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