INDUSTRY >> A 23-year-old man died when his car slammed into a new Mediterranean restaurant along Valley Boulevard in Industry early Sunday, authorities said.
Edwin Molina died in the 1:45 a.m. solo-car crash in the 14500 block of Valley Boulevard, just west of Hacienda Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said. His city of residence was not clear.
His car slammed into the iGrill Mediterranean Restaurant, causing major damage.
Owner Karim Baker said although the restaurant closed for business at 11 p.m. Saturday night, he stayed late working as he usually does. He generally remains at the restaurant well beyond 2 a.m., but early Sunday morning, “I finished early,” he said. “I left 15 minutes before the crash.”
“God was watching him,” said friend, Sandra Toukan.
The violent impact damaged a cement wall, shattered the front windows on the south side of the building and ripped apart aluminum window frames. The force of the crash also caused glass doors on the east side of the structure, which the car did not strike, to shatter.
A Nissan sedan had been heading east on Valley Boulevard when it crossed westbound traffic lanes and slammed into the restaurant, Baker said.
Molina, who was the lone occupant of the car, died at the scene, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Sciacca said.
A young man who identified himself as a cousin of the driver briefly stopped and knelt beside the crash scene. Those working to clean the damage consoled him.
The crash also ruptured a natural gas line that feeds the restaurants, the sergeant said. Officials evacuated nearby, late-night businesses, such as the Spearmint Rhino Gentleman’s club.
The restaurant uses a larger-than-usual 2-inch gas line to fuel it’s many cooking appliances, Baker explained.
“Thank God there was no explosion.”
Traffic investigators from the sheriff’s Industry Station are handling the investigation. No eye-witnesses to the crash had been found, Sciacca said, and no further details regarding the circumstances of the crash were available.
Baker, Toukan and employee Daniel Negrete worked to clear shattered glass and damaged furniture from the dining area Sunday morning.
Baker said the extent of the damage was not yet clear, and he did not know how long it will take to make repairs and reopen.
“I just opened five months ago,” he said, adding that business was growing and everything seemed to be going well prior to crash.
INDUSTRY >> A knife-wielding robber fled with cash after robbing an Industry gas station late Wednesday in the second similar crime at the same business this month, officials said.
Wednesday’s crime took place just after 8:10 p.m. at a 76 gas station at Hacienda and Valley boulevards, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
A man armed with a knife, described as possibly a box-cutter, entered the store and pushed an employee out of his way, the lieutenant said. A second employee was also present.
The robber helped himself to the money inside the cash register, ultimately taking about $300, Enriquez said. He fled the area on a bicycle he had parked behind the gas station.
No injuries were reported. Deputies described the robber as Latino, about 50 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 160 pounds. He wore a green jacket, a blue plaid shirt and blue jeans. The robber also wore a trash bag on his head like a hat.
A similar crime took place at the same business on Feb. 16, and deputies suspect the same culprit is responsible, Enriquez said.
In that case, a man entered the store and helped himself to cash from the register, Enriquez said. The thief did not confront any employees during the first crime.
INDUSTRY >> Deputies jailed two alleged teenage vandals late Tuesday after one of them fell from a billboard they had been scrawling graffiti on, officials said.
An off-duty deputy spotted to teens tagging on a billboard about 9:45 p.m. at Valley Boulevard and Trafalger Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
A uniformed deputy arrived to find one of the alleged vandals climbing down a ladder from the billboard, Enriquez said.
While the deputy was taking the first teen into custody, but did initially see the second boy lying on the ground nearby, the lieutenant said.
The second teen stood up and ran, but was quickly apprehended, he said.
The teens, both 16 years old, were taken into custody on suspicion of vandalism, Enriquez said. The teen who fell from the billboard was taken to a hospital for treatment of what appeared to be only bumps and bruises.
INDUSTRY >> Coroner’s officials have identified an 18-year-old college student from Whittier who died in a fiery crash on the 60 Freeway in Industry last week after his disabled car was rear-ended by a cargo van
Johnny Gonzalez Jr. died Jan. 13 following the 10:36 p.m. crash on the westbound 60 Freeway, just east of Fairway Drive, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Coroner’s reports indicated Gonzalez called his father and said his car had suddenly died, Winter said.
“He told his father he couldn’t get his car to the right. The call suddenly ended,” Winter said.
A 2013 Chevrolet Express van travelling at about 70 mph slammed into Gonzalez’s disabled 1996 Toyota Corolla, which was stalled in the left-hand lane, California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The force of the impact pushed both vehicles across the westbound traffic lanes of the freeway, and caused both to catch fire, the officer said.
Paramedics pronounced Gonzalez dead at the scene, officials said. He would have turned 19 two days later.
The driver of the van, a 36-year-old Menifee man, suffered an apparently minor injury and declined to be taken to a hospital.
The crash remained under investigation by the Baldwin Park office of the CHP, however Jimenez said intoxicated driving was not initially suspected.
An autopsy determined Gonzalez died from “traumatic injuries,” and not as a result of the fire, Winter said. The death was ruled accidental.
The young man’s sudden loss hit family and friends hard, Gonzalez’s father Johnny Gonzalez Sr. said.
The young Gonzales grew up in Los Angeles before moving to Whittier about 10 years ago, his father said. He graduated from California High School in Whittier last year and was studying at Rio Hondo College.
“Johnny can make anybody smile,” Gonzalez Sr. said. “Johnny could make friends with anyone. He has a big heart.”
Gonzalez Sr. said he was amazed to see how many people paid respects to his son at a candlelight memorial at California High School last week.
Gonzalez Jr. enjoyed baseball, basketball and took part in his high school’s golf team during his senior year, his father said. He grew up playing travel baseball and basketball.
He collected miniature skateboards, which he constantly fidgeted with, Gonzalez said.
An online fund to help the family with burial costs has been set up at www.gofundme.com/keh51o.
Gonzalez Jr. was to be buried in a private ceremony.
PHOTO of Johnny Gonzalez Jr., 18, of Whittier (Courtesy)
INDUSTRY >> A man was seriously injuries but expected to survive after he was struck by a freight train while walking along a set of tracks in Industry late Wednesday, authorities said.
The man was struck by a Union Pacific train about 8:30 p.m. on a set of railroad tracks alongside the 13400 block of Crossroads Parkway North, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
He was walking east on the tracks when the train approached from behind him, also heading east, the lieutenant said.
The conductor spotted the man and sounded the train’s horn, Enriquez said. The man apparently tried to get off the tracks but didn’t make it in time, and was grazed by the train as it passed by.
The pedestrian, initially described as a man in his 20s, suffered serious injuries to his legs, Enriquez said. He was taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
Officials from the Union Pacific Police Department are handling the investigation.
INDUSTRY >> A masked man with a handgun robbed a sandwich shop on Holloween, officials said.
The crime took place about 8:40 p.m. Friday at Subway, on 7th Avenue, just south of Valley Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Desiree Campuzano said.
The robber entered the store, brandished a handgun and demanded money, the sergeant said.
A woman working at the store told the gunman to take the money as she fled to the back of the store, Campuzano said.
The robber grabbed the entire cash register and fled. The amount of money inside the register was not available.
Deputies described the robber as a white man, wearing all-dark clothing and a mask. He was last seen leaving the area in a newer-model, gold minivan. It was unclear if he was alone or accompanied by a getaway driver.
INDUSTRY >> Five Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department cruisers sustained minor damage in a collision on a sludge- and rain-slickened stretch of Valley Boulevard in Industry late Friday, but no deputies were injured, officials said.
The deputies were heading to the scene of a previous crash at Valley Boulevard and Workman Mill Road about 11 p.m. when their cruisers lost traction in sludge apparently seeping from the Athens Services facility just east of the crash scene on Valley Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The five patrol cars became involved in a slow-speed, chain reaction crash as they slid into one another, and the curb.
No injuries were reported in the crash, and the most significant damage to the patrol cars appeared to be a damaged wheel, Sgt. Desiree Campuzano said.
The sludge was so slick deputies had difficulty even walking on it, Campuzano added.
A one-block stretch of Valley Boulevard was closed while a crew cleaned the roadway, officials said.
- Staff and wire report
INDUSTRY >> A hatchet-wielding robber held up an Industry video rental business Wednesday before fleeing on a bicycle, officials said.
The crime took place about 5:45 p.m. at A+ DVD Rental on Amar Road, just west of Echelon Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Thurlo said.
“(The robber) went into the store, pulled the hatchet from his waistband and demanded the employee open the cash register,” Thurlo said. The man working the register at the family business complied, and the robber helped himself to about $200.
But he wasn’t satisfied.
“He went into the back of the store, Thurlo said. “There was a female there. He demanded more money.”
The woman turned over her purse, which contained about $600 in cash, along with other personal items, Thurlo said.
Officials described the robber as a Latino man between 20 and 25 years old, of thin build, wearing a yellow long-sleeve shirt and black pants. He was last seen heading west on Amar Road toward Hacienda Boulevard on a bicycle.
INDUSTRY >> Sheriff’s deputies arrested three convicted sex offenders during a parole compliance check Friday, authorities said.
The compliance checks were carried out between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. throughout the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s Industry Station, which includes Industry, La Puente, La Habra Heights and nearby unincorporated county areas, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Sixteen sexual registrants were contacted at which time their homes along with their computers were searched to ensure they were following the terms of their parole,” according to the statement. “Three registrants were arrested for violations of the terms of their parole and were booked at the Industry Sheriff’s Station.”
The identities of those arrested and the specific violations they are accused of were not released.
Friday’s operation was carried out by the Sheriff’s Special Victim Bureau’s Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the U.S. Marshals Service, officials added.
The sheriff’s department is charged with monitoring more than 3,500 registered sex offenders residing in Los Angeles County.
INDUSTRY >> A chain reaction series of three crashes on the 60 Freeway in Industry early Sunday left a Mojave man dead, authorities said.
Three other people suffered major injuries and one person suffered minor injuries following the crashes, which occurred over a two-minutes period beginning at 4:24 a.m. on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just east of Fairway Drive, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Ron Warrior.
A total of five vehicles were involved in the sequence of collisions, which forced the closure of all eastbound lanes of the 60 Freeway for about three and a half hours, Warrior said in a written statement.
A 46-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Betsy Magdaleno said. His name was withheld pending notification of family. CHP officials described him as a Mojave resident.
He had been a passenger in a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban that was disabled in the roadway after being involved in to previous crashes within two minutes, CHP Officer Monica Posada said.
He was struck by a 2001 Mitsubishi Galant after he got out of the wrecked Suburban, Warrior said.
The first of the three collisions occurred when the Suburban, which was being driven by a 34-year-old Moreno Valley woman, collided with a 1994 Toyota 4Runner, according to the CHP.
“For undetermined reasons, (the Suburban) collided with (the 4Runner),” Warrior said. “(The Suburban) came to rest in traffic lanes facing west.”
A 52-year-old Corona man who was at the wheel of the 4Runner was hospitalized with major injuries, officials said.
The second crash took place one minute later as the driver of a 2014 Dodge Challenger crashed into the disabled suburban, causing the Challenger to veer into the path of travel of a 2009 Toyota Camry that was driving alongside it, Warrior said.
The driver of the Challenger, a 37-year-old Los Angeles man, was hospitalized with major injuries, officials said. The driver of the Camry, who officials described as a 20-year-old Los Angeles man, was not injured.
“Subsequent to this collision, a third occurred which resulted in a fatality,” Warrior said.
The Suburban, which had already been involved in two crashes, was sitting in between the carpool and fast lanes when a 2001 Mitsbushi Galant with a 20-year-old Rialto man at the wheel approached the scene, according to Warrior. The 46-year-old Mojave man had gotten out of the SUV and was standing beside the wrecked Suburban.
The Galant struck both the Suburban and the Mojave man, who was thrown into the roadway, Warrior said. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
The woman who had been driving the Suburban was hospitalized with major injuries, officials said. The Galant driver suffered apparently minor injuries.
A Sig Alert was issued for all eastbound lanes of the 60 Freeway, Posada said. The lanes were cleared shortly before 8 a.m.
The crashes were being investigated by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.