Checkpoint planned this week in Norwalk

NORWALK >> Sheriff’s deputies will screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses Thursday during a nighttime checkpoint, officials said.
The checkpoint will take place between 6 p.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. The location of the checkpoint has not been disclosed.
Over the past three years in the cities and unincorporated areas patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, “DUI collisions have claimed 22 lives and resulted in 898 injury crashes harming 1,330 of our friends and neighbors,” Sgt. Daniel Dail of the Traffic Services Detail 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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UPDATED: San Bernardino man accused of DUI, hit-and-run following West Covina crash

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WEST COVINA >> A San Bernardino man is accused of being drunk when he ran through a red light at a major West Covina intersection and crashed into another car, injuring two people late Tuesday, officials said.
Police jailed Raymond Simon Alvarado, 21, on suspicion of felony drunken driving and felony hit-and-run following the 9:15 p.m. crash at Azusa and Rowland avenues, West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez said in a written statement.
“Alvarado had been seen driving the Honda Civic westbound on Rowland Avenue at a high rate of speed, failing to stop for red traffic signals at the intersections of Rowland (and) Hollenbeck and Rowland (and) Azusa,” Lopez said.
As Alvarado went through the intersection of Rowland and Azusa avenues, his car slammed into an Acura Integra which had been making a left turn from northbound Azusa Avenue to Eastbound Rowland Avenue on a green signal, police said.
Paramedics took a man who was at the wheel of the Acura and a woman who was riding as his passenger to a hospital with injuries police initially described as not believed to be life-threatening.
But the woman’s condition worsened at the hospital, where she was listed in critical condition, Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Alvarado tried to flee the crash scene on foot, but a witness pointed him out as the driver of the Honda, Lopez said.
Police took Alvarado to a hospital for examination before booking him into jail, officials said.
According to Los Angeles County records, Alvarado was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Twin Towers Correction Facility in Los Angeles pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Pomona Superior Court, officials said.
Police planned to request Alvarado’s bail be increased to $210,000 at Monday’s hearing, Patton said.

PHOTO: Raymond Simon Alvarado, 21, of San Bernardino, is accused of drunken driving and hit-and-run in connection with an injury crash in West Covina on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014. (Courtesy of the West Covina Police Department)

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Woman seriously injured, dog killed, Chino Hills man accused of DUI in 57 Freeway crash in San Dimas

SAN DIMAS >> A Chino Hills man is accused of drunken driving in connection with a crash that severely injured a passenger and killed a dog late Tuesday, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol officials expected to arrest Matthew Kitakis, 32, upon his release from a hospital, where he was being treated for injuries suffered in the 9:50 p.m. crash on the southbound 57 Freeway at Arrow Highway in San Dimas, CHP Officer Richard McAllister said.
A 34-year-old Chino Hills woman riding as a passenger in the Ford Explorer driven by Kitakis was thrown from the SUV in the crash and suffered major injuries, the officer said. Paramedics took the woman to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with serious injuries, including possible skull and spine fractures.
A dog also riding inside the SUV died in the crash, McAllister said.
The crash occurred as Kitakis was driving the Explorer at 65 to 70 mph in the right-hand lane, officials said.
“For unknown reasons, the driver lost control of the Explorer, allowing it to veer to the right and drive up an embankment,” McAllister said. The SUV then overturned, ultimately coming to a rest back on its wheels.
The crash was being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.

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UPDATED: Teenage passenger dies in alleged DUI, street racing crash in Pasadena

PASADENA >> An 18-year-old Altadena man is accused of being drunk and street racing when he crashed a car in Pasadena late Thursday, killing a 17-year-old passenger and injuring three others, police said.
Police arrested Gerardo Garcia on suspicion of drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter following the 12:20 a.m. crash on Washington Boulevard at Lincoln Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
The name of the teenage passenger who died following the crash was not available Sunday. Police described him as a 17-year-old Riverside resident. Garcia and three other teenage passengers of the car suffered minor to moderate injuries.
“According to independent witnesses, two vehicles had been street racing while traveling on Washington when the collision occurred,” Luna said.
Garcia was at the wheel of a 2004 Nissan sedan, Lt. Art Chute said.
“It appears they were street racing, and during the race, they collided,” Chute said.
The Nissan then went out of control, police said.
“(The car) lost control and struck the freeway overpass embankment, causing the vehicle to overturn at least once,” Luna said.
The badly injured Riverside teen was taken to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena where he succumbed to his injuries at 7:39 a.m., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Dana Bee said.
The teen who ultimately died from his injuries was outside the car when rescuers arrived, however it was unclear whether he had been thrown from the car in the crash, or pulled from the wreckage afterward, officials said.
Two teenage girls riding in the Nissan suffered injuries described as moderate, while fourth passenger — a teenage boy — suffered minor injuries, Chute said.
After being treated for his injuries, Garcia was booked at the Pasadena Police Department Jail, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
The crash remains under investigation by the Pasadena Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team.

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Checkpoints planned throughout the region this weekend

Law enforcement agencies throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond are planning sobriety and driver’s license checkpoints this weekend.
Police in Glendora and La Verne are planning checkpoint in their respective cities, officials said. Glendora’s checkpoint will be held from Friday night through Saturday morning, and La Verne officers will screen drivers Saturday into early Sunday morning, police officials said in written statement.
Toward Pasadena, Pasadena police are planning a checkpoint Friday night through early Saturday morning, as well Alhambra and San Gabriel police, officials said. Arcadia police have a checkpoint schedule late Saturday into early Sunday.
Whittier and Montebello police officers will hold checkpoints Friday night into Saturday morning, along with sheriff’s deputies in Pico Rivera, officials said. The sheriff’s Norwalk Station is holding a checkpoint Saturday night.
A coalition of Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies known as “Avoid the 100” has a total of 52 checkpoints planned through Jan. 1, task force coordinator and Glendora police Senior Community Service Officer Wendy Brewer said. The task force is also planning 134 DUI saturation patrols.
Funding for the operations is being provided by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Montebello police plan checkpoint this month

MONTEBELLO >> Police in Montebello are planning a to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint later this month, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Dec. 19 to 3 a.m. Dec. 20 at an undisclosed location within the city, MOnterey Park police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years in Monterey Park, eight people have died in DUI-related crashes, and 1,057 people have been injured, according to Sgt. Larry Jackson.
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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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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