ARCADIA >> A Pasadena man accused of fatally striking an elderly woman with his pickup truck in Arcadia while drunk, then fleeing the scene, pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges filed in connection with the collision, authorities said.
Prosecutors filed charges of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run against Alex Cerna, 51, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He was at the wheel of a Ford Explorer Sport Trac pickup truck when it struck a 77-year-old Arcadia woman at Baldwin and Arcadia avenues, according to Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther.
The succumbed to her injuries at a hospital. Her identity was not released Friday pending notification of her family, coroner’s officials said.
The driver fled the scene, but witnesses provided police with a description of the hit-and-run truck, including its license plate number, Crowther said.
Police found and arrested Cerna at his home in Pasadena a short time later, Crowther said. They determined he was under the influence of alcohol.
Cerna was being held in lieu of $80,000 bail pending his next court appearance, scheduled on Jan. 12.
Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is asked to call the Arcadia Police Department at 626-574-5151. Anonymous tipsters can call L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SOUTH EL MONTE >> A drunken driver who ran over and killed a man who was sleeping in a South El Monte parking lot in September received a 12-year prison sentence this week, authorities said.
Steven Agredano, 47, of South El Monte pleaded “no contest” to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and drunken driving in connection with the fatal incident, which took place about 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 17 in the 2600 block of Rosemead Boulevard, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. An additional charge of driving with blood-alcohol level above .08 percent was dismissed.
Killed was Elias Contreras Garcia, 57, of South El Monte, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s officials. An autopsy determined he died from “craniocerebral trauma” and the death was ruled an accident.
He was asleep in the parking lot, for unknown reasons, when Agredano ran over him with a Toyota 4Runner SUV, sheriff’s officials said at the time.
Following his plea on Tuesday in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Agredano received his 12-year prison sentence from Judge Salvatore Sirna, Ardalani said.
It was far from Agredano’s first time in front of a judge.
Agredano was convicted of arson and burglary after setting fire to the vacant home of a neighbor in March of 2012. He was sentenced to four years in state prison, records show. It was unclear when he was released.
He was also convicted of battery on a peace officer in August and domestic battery in January, according to court records.
Agredano was convicted of recklessly evading police in 2011, resisting arrest in 2008, as well as vandalism, reckless driving and battery in 1995.
GLENDORA >> Police in Glendora are planning to screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checking on Friday night, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Glendora, Glendora police officials said in a written statement.
Friday night’s checkpoint is being dedicated to longtime Glendora resident Joaquin Sepulveda, 65, who was fatally struck by an alleged drunken driver while riding his motorcycle at Foothill Boulevard and Galanto Avenue on Dec. 13, 2015, police said.
Sepulveda was badly hurt in the collision and succumbed to his injuries on Feb. 2 at a hospice care center, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records.
This weekend’s checkpoint is being funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
PHOTO of Joaqin Sepulveda courtesy of the Glendora Police Department
WHITTIER >> Police in Whittier are stepping up DUI enforcement through New Year’s Day, starting with a checkpoint to be held on Friday night, authorities said.
The checkpoint will take place from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police Sgt. David Elizarraras said in a written statement.
The special enforcement campaign will continue through the New Year, however, with saturation patrols and possible additional checkpoints, officials said.
“We want to keep our roads safe for holiday travelers, so we will have zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving,” Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper said.
Funding for the extra enforcement is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
PASADENA >> A Pasadena man is accused of manslaughter following an early-morning crash that claimed the life of a woman riding as a passenger in his car just south of the Rose Bowl on Saturday, authorities said.
Javier Placencia Jr., 38, was arrested following the 5:30 a.m. solo-car crash in the 900 block of Seco Street, between Rosemont and Lincoln avenues, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said in a written statement.
Officers responded to report of a vehicle fire when they came upon a 2007 Ford Edge that had crashed into a light pole, Goodman said. The car was not on fire.
The passenger was taken to a hospital where she soon succumbed to her injuries, officials said.
The driver, later identified as Placencia, was unhurt.
“It is believed that alcohol was a related factor in this collision,” Goodman said.
The identity of the 52-year-old woman killed in the crash was not released pending notification of her family. The relationship between the woman and the suspect was also unclear.
Placencia was booked on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail at the Pasadena City Jail pending his initial court appearance, officials said.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court records, Placencia was just sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years of summary probation on Oct. 4 after pleading “no contest” to a charge of being drunk in public. The case stemmed from an arrest in March.
He also received a sentence of 13 days in jail and three years formal probation in September after pleading “no contest” to a charge of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. That case stemmed from an arrest in May.
Anyone witnesses or anyone with information with information is urged to contact Pasadena police Traffic Section Lt. Diego Torres as 626-744-7159, or the on-duty watch commander at 626-744-4620.
PASADENA >> Police plan to check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a planned checkpoint late Friday in Pasadena.
The checkpoint will take place from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years, Pasadena police have investigated 73 DUI-related crashes, which resulted in four deaths and 108 injuries, police said.
“Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely,” according to the statement.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
LONG BEACH >> A man and woman died and two other people suffered injuries in two separate crashes reported within minutes of each on the same stretch of the 605 Freeway in Long Beach early Saturday, authorities said.
Both crashes took place shortly after 1 a.m. on the northbound 605 Freeway, just south of Carson Street, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The first collision occurred at 1:05 a.m. and allegedly involved a drunken driver, officials said.
A 21-year-old Cerritos man was driving a 1991 Honda Civic, with a 35-year-old Norwalk woman riding as a passenger, when it veered from traffic lanes, Officer C. Summers of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office said in a written statement.
“The Honda was involved in a traffic collision with the center divider before coming to a rest within the No. 2 lane,” he said. “Due to the impact, the front right passenger succumbed to her injuries.”
Officers determined the driver was under the influence of alcohol and arrested him on suspicion of DUI, Summers said. His name was not available Saturday afternoon. He was treated for injuries described as minor.
The second deadly crash was reported at 1:13 a.m. and claimed the life of 35-year-old Trevor Jacob Fike of Huntington Beach, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator David Smith said.
He was driving a 1998 Ford when he became involved in a solo-car crash that left his car disabled between the fast lane and carpool lane of the freeway, Officer C. Black of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office said in a written statement. He got out of his car.
“The Ford was struck by a 2006 Volkswagen traveling in the No. 1 lane of Interstate 605 northbound,” he said.
The driver was also hit and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, officials said.
A 37-year-old Bellflower man driving the Volkswagen suffered “major” injuries in the crash, Black said. A 23-year-old Bellflower woman who was riding as a passenger in the Volkswagen was treated for minor injuries.
The cause of the collision remained under investigation.
Anyone with information on either crash is urged to contact the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.
LOS ANGELES >> A Pasadena man who was allegedly drunk and on probation for a previous DUI conviction when he rear-ended a car on the 110 Freeway in Elysian Park, killing an infant who was riding as a passenger, has been charged with murder, authorities said.
Prosecutors on Tuesday filed a charges of murder, DUI causing injury or death and driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent against 26-year-old Jared Hale Lynch Silvestri of Pasadena in connection with Saturday evening’s crash on the northbound 110 Freeway near Stadium Way, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
An arraignment hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles County Superior Court was postponed until Dec. 15, he said.
Four-month-old Melanie Brown of Carson, who was riding as a passenger in a car driven by her grandmother, died at a hospital following the crash, according to California Highway Patrol officials and prosecutors. The grandmother and another 9-year-old granddaughter who was also riding as a passenger were hurt.
The 48-year-old La Crescenta woman was pulling her Chrysler over to the right shoulder when Silvestri approached from behind in a Volkswagen Jetta and slammed into the slow-moving Chrysler at “a high rate of speed”, CHP officials said in a written statement.
A third car became involved in the collision, but the driver was unhurt, according to the CHP.
Paramedics tool the injured grandmother and her two granddaughters were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where the infant girl succumbed to her injuries several hours later.
Silvestri was initially booked on suspicion of drunken driving following the crash, according to the CHP.
But after the young victim died, and it was determined that Silvestri has been convicted of DUI in another case eight months ago, prosecutors ultimately charged the defendant with murder.
Under California Law, a murder charge in a DUI case necessitates an accusation of “implied malice.”
Those convicted of DUI are generally issued what’s known as a Watson advisory upon sentencing. By signing the advisory, the convict is acknowledging that DUI is extremely dangerous to human life, and that if someone is killed as result of the convict’s DUI, prosecutors may file a murder charge.
Silvestri received just such a Watson advisory earlier this year, when he was convicted of misdemeanor DUI in March in a separate case, Santiago said.
He pleaded “no contest” to a count of driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than .08 percent in Pasadena Superior Court in March, Los Angeles County Superior Court. A second charge of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage was dismissed. Silvestri was sentenced to three years of summary probation,fined $390 and ordered to attend a three-month substance abuse counseling program.
If convicted as charged in the new case, Silvestri could face up to 25 years to life in state prison.
According to county booking records, Silvestri was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
LOS ANGELES >> A Pasadena man is accused of drunken driving in connection with a crash that killed a 4-month-old girl and injured a 10-year-old boy and a woman on the 110 Freeway in Elysian Park late Saturday, officials said.
Jared Silvestri, 26, was under the influence of alcohol during the 6:37 p.m. crash on the northbound 110 Freeway, just south of the 5 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer K. Herrera said in a written statement.
He was at the wheel of a 2001 Chevrolet when it slammed into the rear of a 2006 Chrysler that was slowing and pulling over to the right shoulder, officials said.
A 48-year-old La Crescenta woman, a 4-month-old Carson girl and a 10-year-old La Crescenta boy inside the Chrysler were all hospitalized with injuries, CHP Officer Stefan Brandt said.
The infant girl, who was initially listed in critical condition, was in cardiac arrest while rushed to the hospital, where she ultimately succumbed to her injuries, Brandt said.
The woman driving the Chrysler and the boy riding as a passenger suffered injuries describes as “moderate,” Herrera said.
The Chrysler had pulled halfway on to the right shoulder when it was struck from behind by Silvestri’s car ‘at a high rate of speed,” according to Herrera.
Following the initial impact, both vehicles careened out-of-control and struck another 2001 Chevrolet before coming to a rest, officials said. The driver of the third vehicle was not hurt.
“(Silvestri) was determined to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, and the proximate cause of this collisions, and was subsequently arrested,” Herrera said.
The suspect was treated for minor injuries before being booked into jail, officials said.
Following the death of the child, Silvestri may see a pending charge of DUI causing injury upgraded to a more serious crime, such as vehicular manslaughter.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Silvestri was being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Division pending his initial court appearance.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY >> Police throughout the region will be cracking down on drunken and drugged drivers with checkpoints and extra enforcement this Labor Day weekend, with one inviting the public to tag along virtually online.
Whittier, Montebello, Arcadia and Azusa police are each planning checkpoints in their respective cities Friday night into early Saturday, according to the departments.
In Azusa, police will be broadcasting their anti-DUI efforts and answering questions from the public online via Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, Officer Mike Bires said.
Azusa’s “Tweet from the Beat” will take place from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, he said. Follow along at www.facebook.com/AzusaPD, www.twitter.com/azusapd or www.snapchat.com/add/azusapd.
“(Officers will) explain what happens during a traffic stop, share accident investigation information and highlight traffic safety concerns for the city of Azusa,” Azusa police said in a written statement. “In addition to this, the community will be able to ask questions live, while the officers are in the field.
The checkpoints are being funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.