Police plan checkpoint in Whittier

WHITTIER >> Police plan to screen drivers for sobriety and valid driver licenses Friday during a checkpoint in Whittier, officials said.
The Whittier Police Department will hold the checkpoint from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:20 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years in the cities of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, DUI collisions have claimed four lives and resulted in 134 injury crashes harming 190 of our friends and neighbors,” Sgt. Rob Hanson said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Pomona man pleads “no contest” for fatal DUI crash in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA >> A Pomona man pleaded “no contest” to a vehicular manslaughter charge Thursday for a drunken driving crash in Alhambra that claimed the life of one of his passengers, a 21-year-old female rapper from Los Angeles, authorities said.
Jacob G. Garcia Jr., 51, entered the plea in Alhambra Superior Court in connection with the Dec. 16, 2010, crash on the 10 Freeway in Alhambra, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Under a negotiated plea arrangement, Garcia pleaded “no contest” to a single count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, officials said. Charges of murder, DUI causing injury or death and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent were dismissed.
“Under the terms of the negotiated plea, Garcia is expected to be sentenced to 13 years in state prison,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Garcia was ordered back to court Feb. 5 for sentencing and a restitution hearing.
He was drunk when he got behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz C 250 with five passengers during a rainstorm, according to CHP officials.
Garcia’s car veered to the side of the road about 12:45 a.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway, just west of Fremont Avenue, in Alhambra, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Connie Guzman said at the time. The car slammed into a backhoe that was parked along the right shoulder in a construction zone.
Passenger and rapper Maria Faith Solomon died from injuries suffered in the crash, authorities said. Two teenage boys who were also riding as passengers suffered serious injuries in the crash as well. Garcia suffered minor injuries in the crash.

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Rialto men acquitted of murder, convicted of DUI for fatal Christmas Day crash in West Covina

LOS ANGELES >> A jury acquitted two men of murder but convicted them of drunken driving-related charges Friday in connection with an alleged street racing crash that left a 90-year-old West Covina woman dead on Christmas Day in 2012, authorities said.
Vincent Lopez, 31, and Victor Hugo Sanchez, 36, both of Rialto, were each charged with murder, along with DUI, in connection with the crash at Lark Ellen and Merced avenues that claimed the life of Celia La Torre, who was riding as a passenger in a van driven by her son after picking her up from a local hospital. La Torre, who was sitting in a wheelchair in the van being driven by her son, was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, West Covina police officials said.
Lopez and Sanchez were believed to be racing each other when a Mitsubishi Eclipse being driven by Lopez blew through a stop sign and slammed broadside into the van containing La Torre and her son. The son suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The jury Friday found both defendants not guilty of murder, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
But the jury convicted Lopez of drunken driving causing injury or death, as well as driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of .08 percent, Ardalani said.
He was ordered back to Los Angeles Superior Court Nov. 17 for sentencing, she said. Under state law, Lopez faces a maximum sentence of 3 years and 6 months.
After finding Sanchez guilty of a misdemeanor count of drunken driving, the judge immediately sentenced him to 730 days in jail, Ardalani said. He has already served the time and was expected to be released Friday afternoon.
Both defendants were being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending the trial process.
Lopez, who suffered a broken leg in the crash, was arrested at the scene, officials said. Sanchez, who was driving the Ford Escort Lopez was racing, fled the scene and was arrested early the following morning in Pomona.

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El Monte police plan checkpoint Saturday night

EL MONTE >> Police in El Monte are planning to screen drivers for sobriety during a checkpoint late Saturday, officials said.
The checkpoint will take place from 7:30 p.m. Saturday to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at an undisclosed location within the city, El monte police officials said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collision have claimed one life and resuylted in over 60 injury crashes harming 83 of our friends and neighbors,: Sgt. Jimmy Pitts said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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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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Van Nuys woman, 22, fatally struck by alleged DUI driver on Sepulveda Blvd. sidewalk

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VAN NUYS — A 22-year-old Van Nuys woman died early Sunday after an alleged drunken driver struck her as she walked along a Sepulveda Boulevard sidewalk, authorities said.
Haley Dawn Coreas died in the 12:45 a.m. crash in the 6300 block of Sepulveda Boulevard, just south if Victory Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Betsy Magdaleno said.
The woman was walking on a sidewalk in front of a recreational vehicle rental business when she was struck by a Toyota 4Runner SUV.
“A suspected DUI vehicle traveling southbound Sepulveda, south of Victory, went off the roadway (and) collided with a pedestrian on the sidewalk,” Los Angeles police Officer Sally Madera said.
Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics pronounced Coreas dead at the scene at 1:05 a.m., Magdaleno said.
“The driver of the vehicle was taken into custody,” Madera said.
The identity of the suspected DUI driver was not available Sunday. It was unclear whether the driver was injured the crash.
The investigation was be handled by the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division.

PHOTO by Rick McClure

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One DUI suspect arrested at Pico Rivera checkpoint

PICO RIVERA >> Deputies arrested one person on suspicion of drunken driving during a checkpoint late Friday, authorities said.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday on eastbound Whittier Boulevard, just west of Paramount Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In addition to the one DUI arrest, deputies cited eight unlicensed drivers and four people driving on suspended or revoked licenses, officials said.
Four cars were impounded for 30 days, while three cars were impounded for one day and eight more were released to licensed drivers at the checkpoint.

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Checkpoint planned Friday in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA >> Sheriff’s deputies in Pico Rivera will hold a checkpoint Friday to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Pico Rivera, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
In Los Angeles County over the past three years, DUI-related crashes have claimed 49 lives and left 1,113 people injured, officials said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Suspect denies charges in connection with major injury, alleged DUI crash in Rowland Heights

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A Compton man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges in connection with an alleged drunken driving crash in Rowland Heights that left an 18-year-old man in a coma, officials said.
Pierr Gonzalez-Garcia, 21, has been charged in Pomona Superior Court with felony drunken driving and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent in connection with the Aug. 1 crash on Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
Prosecutors also allege the special allegations that Gonzalez-Garcia personally inflicted great bodily injury causing the victim to become comatose, and that his blood-alcohol level was at or greater than .15 percent, according to District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
In addition to being drunk, Gonzalez-Garcia was also allegedly driving at an excessive speed when he struck the victim’s car with his own, officials said. The 18-year-old victim suffered multiple broken bones in his face and body, as well as traumatic brain injury.
If convicted as charged, Gonzalez-Garcia could face up to eight years in state prison.
He was ordered to return to court Oct. 23 for a hearing.
The crash is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.

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Police plan checkpoint Friday in Whittier

WHITTIER >> Police are planning a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location with Whittier, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years in Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, four people have died and 167 people have been injured in DUI-related crashes, according to Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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