Covina man fatally struck by car on 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A 21-year-old Covina man died early Saturday when he was struck by a car on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights after exiting his car following a previous minor collision, officials said.
Aaron Joseph Sandoval died at the scene of the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said.
The crash was first reported about 3:05 a.m. on the 60 Freeway at 7th Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer C. Black said in a written statement.
Black said Sandoval was driving eastbound on the freeway in a 2004 Honda Civic and been involved in a collision with a Toyota Prius. He got out of his car, which was stopped between the carpool and fast lanes.
An eastbound 1990 Honda Accord being driven by an 18-year-old Joshua Tree man struck the pedestrian, Black said. The Accord then careened into a 2015 Dodge Challenger that was stopped in the carpool lane.
The impact threw Sandoval over the center divider and into the carpool lane of the westbound side of the 60 Freeway, according to the CHP. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
A woman riding as a passenger in the Dodge suffered major injuries, Black said. The man at the wheel of the Dodge and a teenage boy riding as a passenger were treated for injuries described as moderate.
No injuries were reported on the part of the Accord driver.
No arrests were made Saturday morning.
A Sig Alert affected lanes on both sides of the freeway through 8:50 a.m., according to CHP logs.
The crash remains under investigation by the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office. Any witnesses, or anyone with information, can reach the office at 562-868-0503.

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Maywood man killed in crash following tire blowout on 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A Maywood man died in pickup truck crash early Saturday after one of the truck’s tired blew out on the 60 Freeway in Hacienda Heights, officials said.
Officials withheld the identity of the victim pending notification of family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. California Highway Patrol officials described him as a 49-year-old Maywood man.
The crash took place at 5:10 p.m. on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just west of Hacienda Boulevard, CHP Officer M. Iniguez said in a written statement.
The 1995 Ford Ranger was traveling in the carpool, No. 1 or No. 2 lanes when a tire blew out, according to the officer.
“As the Ford Ranger was approaching Hacienda Boulevard, the left rear tire tread separated from the tire,” Iniguez said. “The driver reacted in such a way as cause the Ford Ranger to overturn onto its roof on the right shoulder.”
The upside-down pickup truck slid on its roof across the shoulder and ended up striking a metal guardrail lining the Hacienda Boulevard onramp to the eastbound 60 Freeway.
The driver and lone occupant of the truck died from his injuries, Iniguez said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Officer Iniguez at the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.

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Man wounded in Hacienda Heights shooting


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man is expected to survive after he was shot in a residential neighborhood in Hacienda Heights late Wednesday, officials said.
Deputies responded to reports of “shots fired” about 11 p.m. along Three Palms Street, west of Hacienda Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. James Beamon said.
They soon found a victim, described only as a man, suffering from a gunshot wound, the sergeant said. He was taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
No further details, including a suspect description, were available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man sentenced for crash that killed young Hacienda Heights couple

George Steward II, and his girlfriend Sabrina Castillo, 18, of Hacienda Heights. (Courtesy)

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A judge sentenced a man to probation and community service Wednesday for causing a crash that killed two 18-year-old high school sweethearts in their hometown of Hacienda Heights, officials said.
Key Jaison Kim, 69, pleaded “no contest” to two misdemeanor charges of vehicular manslaughter in connection with the Oct. 18, 2015, crash at the 7th Street offramp of the eastbound 60 Freeway, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. California Highway Patrol officials described Kim as a Hacienda Heights resident.
Killed were George Andrew Steward II and Sabrina Delilha Castillo, who had recently graduated Los Altos High School, were had just started college, and were described by family members as “madly in love.”
Wednesday’s court proceeding in the El Monte branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court was an “open plea,” Ardalani said in a written statement. The prosecution did not negotiate a sentence with the defense before Kim entered his “no contest” plea.
In addition to five years of summary probation, “Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Donna Hollingsworth also ordered the defendant to complete 800 hours of community service, attend the hospital and morgue program and complete the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Program.,” Ardalani said. Furthermore, Kim’s driver’s license was revoked for five years.
Kim was exiting the freeway about 7 p.m. when he lost control of his Lexus sedan, which flew off the side of the onramp and smashed into the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck which Steward was driving on 7th Avenue, with Castillo riding as a passenger. The top of the truck was sheared off by the impact.
Paramedics pronounced Steward and Castillo dead at the scene.
Kim was driving at “an extremely high rate of speed” and failed to stop at a stop sign just before the crash, California Highway Patrol officials said shortly after the crash.
Driving under the influence was not alleged.
“According to the prosecutor, the defendant committed pedal error by applying pressure on the accelerator pedal instead of the brakes while exiting the offramp.” Ardalani said.
Following a lengthy investigation by the CHP, Kim was charged with two counts of manslaughter in August of 2016, nearly 10 months after the deadly collision.
Loved ones said the young couple had a promising future.
Steward had been studying and playing football at Mt. SAC in Walnut, and Castillo was studying at Citrus College in Glendora.

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La Puente man convicted of killing girlfriend, dumping body in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A La Puente man who lived as a fugitive in Mexico for three years before his capture is guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 2011 and dumping her body in Hacienda Heights, a jury found Friday.
A jury at the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court deliberated for less than a day before convicting Francisco Nila Rojas of first-degree murder for the Feb. 18, 2011, slaying of 41-year-old Claudia Tecuautzin of La Puente, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The jury also found true the special allegation that Rojas personally used a gun. He faces up to 50 year to life in state prison at his sentencing, scheduled Monday, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
After shooting Tecuautzin in the head, he dumped her body down an embankment along Turnbull Canyon, near Skyline Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. A passer-by discovered her remains on March 2, 2011. It took coroner’s investigators several weeks to identify the body, due to the condition in which it was found.
“According to evidence presented at trial, Rojas stole money from Tecuautzin’s bank accounts before and after she was killed,” according to Ardalani.
“Additionally, a Ford Explorer that Rojas and the victim co-owned contained remnants of the victim’s blood. Also, the car’s passenger floor was bleached.”
Further cementing Rojas’ guilt, prosecutors learned that Rojas had purchased a gun on Feb. 12, 2011, less than a week before the slaying took place, Ardalani said. “The same gun was consistent with bullet fragments recovered from the victim’s head, according to expert testimony.”
But by the time the victim and suspect had been identified, the killer had fled the country.
Rojas, a Mexican national, fled to Mexico five days after the killing, according to Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
He was captured in Mexico in 2014, then extradited back to Los Angeles County to face trial in October of 2015.

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Pizza delivery driver robbed, kidnapped in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A gunman robbed and kidnapped pizza delivery driver late Tuesday, deputies said.
The crime unfolded just after 7:15 p.m. after the delivery man dropped off an order in the 1500 block of Fieldgate Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said.
A man approached the driver while brandishing a black, semi-automatic handgun, the lieutenant said.
He demanded the delivery man’s money, obtaining about $75, he said. He then ordered the delivery driver to give him a ride.
The gunman fled on foot after being driven to the area of Gale and Farmstead avenues in neighboring Industry, Infante said.
He was described as a Latino man between 22 and 25 years old, about 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall, 140 to 150 pounds, with a shaved head.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Hacienda Heights man fatally struck by car while skateboarding identified

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HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Authorities have identified a 25-year-old Hacienda Heights man who was fatally struck by a car while skateboarding on Friday afternoon.
James Andrew Johnson died in the collision, which took place just after 12:10 p.m. in the intersection of Haliburton Road and Hacienda Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Capt. John Kades said.
An autopsy found that Johnson died from “multiple traumatic injuries” and the death was ruled accidental, he said.
Johnson was riding a skateboard west along the south sidewalk of Haliburton Road just prior to the collision, Officer T. Zaspal of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office said in a written statement. A 22-year-old Arcadia woman was driving a 2013 Hyundai Elantra northbound along Hacienda Boulevard.
“The skateboarder entered the intersection and was struck by the Hyundai,” Zaspal said. “The pedestrian and the Hyundai came to rest within the intersection.”
Paramedics pronounced Johnson dead at the scene, officials said. The woman at the wheel of the Hyundai was unhurt.
The cause and circumstances of the collision remain under investigation.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Officer Campbell of the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs-area office at 562-868-0503.
Fund to help Johnson family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/369nh3s.

PHOTO: James Andrew Johnson, 25, of Hacienda Heights. (Courtesy)

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Skateboarder fatally struck by car in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A skateboarder died after being struck by a car in Hacienda Heights on Friday afternoon, officials said.
The collision was first reported at 12:13 p.m. at Halliburton Road and Hacienda Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
The victim, a man estimated to be in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene, Los Angeles County fire officials said.
Further details were not immediately available.

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Suspect fatally shot by deputies in Hacienda Heights identified


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Authorities have identified a 60-year-old Hacienda Heights man fatally shot by deputies after allegedly confronting them with a gun outside his home late Thursday.
Robert James Hess died at the scene of the deputy-involved shooting, which took place about 10:50 p.m. in the 15600 block of Windrush Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
He was first approached by police in Downey about 1 p.m. who responded to reports he was armed with a knife and a gun and had threatened to kill family members, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Hess fled from police on a motorcycle and eluded pursuing officers on the 5 Freeway, she said.
Downey police went to Hess’s home in Hacienda Heights and set up a stake-out to wait for the suspect, authorities said. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy were summoned to assist when Hess was spotted walking up the street Thursday night.
Deputies used less-lethal weapons to try, unsuccessfully, to subdue Hess as he reached for a handgun in his pocket, Schrader said. He grabbed the gun and deputies opened fire, mortally wounding him.
No deputies were injured, officials said. A handgun was recovered from the scene.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips also may be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATE: Suspect killed in Hacienda Heights deputy-involved shooting


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed an armed man in Hacienda Heights late Thursday after he fled from police in Downey earlier in the day, officials said.
The incident unfolded about 10:50 p.m. in the 15600 block of Windrush Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Prior to the fatal shooting, Downey police officers responded to a disturbance in their city about 1 p.m., according to deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau. Someone reported a person was armed with both a knife and a gun and was threatening to kill family members.
When officers arrived, the suspect fled on a motorcycle, initiating a chase. The fleeing suspect managed to escape police on the southbound 5 Freeway, Schrader said.
Police learned the suspect’s identity and his home address in Hacienda Heights as the chase continued, officials said.
An unmarked police vehicle watched the home on Windrush Drive and saw the suspect walk toward the residence, officials said. When officers approached the man, he warned the officers he was armed with a gun.
“The suspect began to reach for the handgun that was in his pocket. The deputies deployed less-than-lethal weapons in a continued effort to gain compliance,” Schrader said. “The suspect armed himself with the handgun, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”
Paramedics pronounced the suspect dead at the scene.
His identity was not available pending notification of family members, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. He was described as a man in his 60s.
Investigators recovered the suspect’s handgun, Schrader said. No deputies were hurt.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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