Fire scorches Irwindale auto shop

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IRWINDALE >> A fire tore through an Irwindale auto shop Saturday, sending a thick cloud of black smoke over the San Gabriel Valley but resulting in no injuries, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 6:30 p.m. at Irwindale Auto and Truck Repair, at the corner of Arrow Highway and Vincent Avenue, according to Irwindale police and Los Angeles County fire officials.
Firefighters arrived to find flames burning through the roof of the auto shop, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Phil Ulloa said.
Firefighters battled the flames for more than an hour before declaring the fire extinguished at 7:50 p.m., Ulloa said.
In addition to being an auto repair shop, the business also warehouses tires and vehicle batteries.
A fire department hazardous materials crew was summoned to the scene due to damaged batteries, officials said.
The auto shop was closed when the fire broke out, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said. No evacuations were ordered.
One employee who was inside the business when the fire broke out managed to exit safely before firefighters arrived, officials said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, and the full extent of the damage was not immediately clear.
The intersection of Arrow Highway and Vincent Avenue was shut down as a result of the blaze and remained closed through Sunday morning, Gatto said.

PHOTO courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department

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Police: Drunken driver crashes into tour bus full of seniors in Irwindale

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IRWINDALE >> A drunken driver slammed into a charter bus filled with senior citizens in Irwindale late Sunday, officials said.
Ten of the 48 primarily elderly passengers of the bus complained of pain following the crash, and one was taken to a hospital for examination, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said.
Montiel Reyes, 23, of Los Angeles was booked on suspicion of felony drunken driving in connection with the crash, which took place about 7 p.m. at Arrow Highway and Live Oak Avenue, just east of the 605 Freeway, Gatto said. Reyes was unlicensed and has also had his driving privilege suspended, he added.
Reyes was driving a two-door Honda Civic west on Arrow Highway when he entered the intersection and struck the bus, Gatto said. The bus was eastbound on Arrow Highway, making a left turn to continue east on Arrow Highway at the Live Oak Avenue fork.
Police said the civic struck the left, rear portion of the bus.
Damage to the car was described as major, while damage to the bus appeared moderate, Gatto said.
A second bus was sent for the passengers, Gatto said. It was not clear where the bus was heading when it became involved in the crash.
Reyes was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Baldwin Park Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance, Gatto said.
The circumstances of the crash remained under investigation, and anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Sgt. George Zendejas at 626-962-3601.

BOOKING PHOTO of Montiel Reyes, 23, of Los Angeles courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.

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Alleged DUI driver from Covina jailed after leading Irwindale police on chase

IRWINDALE >> A drunken Covina man led Irwindale police on a 4-mile chase before being arrested late Saturday, officials said.
A detective was patrolling in the area of Arrow Highway and Vincent Avenue about 9:15 p.m. when he noticed late-1990s Honda Accord came to a “screeching stop” at the intersection, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
Suspecting DUI, the detective tried to pull over the car, but it sped away heading south on Vincent Avenue, police said.
The chase reached speeds of up to 70 mph as it wound through surface streets in an unincorporated county area near Covina, Zendejas said.
The driver, 24-year-old Freddy Rios Godoy, ultimately stopped in the front yard of a relative’s home in the 16600 block of Benwood Street, the sergeant said. He was then taken into custody without a struggle.
He was booked on suspicion of intoxicated driving and evading police, as well as an outstanding $10,000 arrest warrant from another law enforcement agency, police said.
According to county booking records, Godoy was being held in lieu of $85,000 bail at the Glendora Police Department’s jail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Big rig hauling cement blocks overturns on 210 Freeway in Irwindale

IRWINDALE >> A big rig hauling cement blocks overturned on the 210 Freeway in Irwindale Friday, sending the driver to a trauma center and bringing area traffic to a screeching halt, authorities said.
The truck was hauling about 25,000 pounds of bricks on the westbound freeway about 11:40 a.m. when it struck the center divider and overturned just west of Irwindale Avenue, California Highway Patrol officials said.
“Bystanders on both sides of the freeway stopped to help,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mark Delgado said. An off-duty firefighter helped get the injured truck driver, estimated to be in his late-40s or early-50s, out of vehicle.
Paramedics took the truck driver to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, Delgado said. The man was conscious and breathing when hospitalized. An update on his condition was not available.
Two other cars became involved in the crash, Delgado said. The drivers of both appeared to have suffered only minor injuries and declined to be taken to a hospital.
None of the concrete blocks spilled from the big rig, CHP Officer Tony Polizzi said. But about 20 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from the wreckage, complicating the clean-up effort.
“It was just a massive traffic jam,” Delgado said.
Caltrans officials also had to make repairs to the center divider before a Sig Alert for the carpool and two left lanes of the westbound freeway was lifted five hours later, officials said.
The crash could have been worse, Delgado said. “Fortunately, it did not go over the divider into opposing traffic.”
Officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP were investigating the cause of the crash.

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Police: Whittier man accused of DUI following 3 hit-and-runs in Irwindale

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IRWINDALE — Police, aided by a good Samaritan, arrested an intoxicated driver after he fled the scenes of several crashes, including one that sheared a fire hydrant, sending a geyser of water erupting into the air, officials said.
Daniel Lopez, 39, was booked on suspicion of intoxicated driving and hit-and-run following the series of crashes, which took place shortly after 4 p.m., Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
“Irwindale police dispatch received a call from a citizen advising they were following a drunk driver who had just hit a fire hydrant,” the sergeant said.
The sheared off hydrant sent water spewing high into the air at the northwest corner of Arrow Highway and 4th Street, Zendejas said.
But the white cargo van continued driving as the caller reported its position to police, he said.
The van made a U-turn on Irwindale Avenue at Ornelas Street and struck a light pole, Zendejas said. But the driver continued on.
The van struck a fixed object at a gas station at Irwindale Avenue and Arrow Highway just before police caught up with it, Zendejas said. Police stopped the driver as he drove back toward the sheared hydrant and became caught in the traffic it created.
Officers determined Lopez was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both, and placed him under arrest.
Zendejas commended the witness for calling police and helping direct them to the driver.
According to county booking records, Lopez was released from jail on $5,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

PHOTO courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department

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Skeletal human remains, separated from skull, discovered in Irwindale

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IRWINDALE — A homeless man searching for recyclables stumbled upon the skeletal remains of a body separated from the skull in a brush covered field along the San Gabriel riverbed Thursday afternoon.
The grisly discovery was made just after 5:20 p.m. in a field just west of the riverbed and south of Foothill Boulevard, according to Irwindale police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
The remains were mainly skeletal, and appeared to have been there for at least several weeks, Sgt. Scott Hoglund of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The skull and the rest of the body were about 15 feet apart when discovered, the sergeant said. The skull was nearly visible from Foothill Boulevard.
“It was most likely animal activity” that separated the skeleton from the skull, Hoglund said.
Hoglund said the investigation remained in its early stages, however there were no overt signs of foul play or trauma on the remains.
Investigators could not initially tell if the remains were that of a man or a woman, but they appeared to belong to an adult.

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UPDATED: Choking toddler resuscitated in Irwindale

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IRWINDALE — Police, paramedics and hospital staff teamed to save the life of a toddler who was choking on a grape late Friday, authorities said.
Rescuers responded about 8:20 p.m. to a report of a choking 2-year-old boy about 8:20 p.m. at a home in the 16100 block of Central Street, Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
“A minute and a half after receiving the call, officers arrived and discovered the child not breathing with no pulse,” he said.
Officers John Fraijo, Rudy Campos and Joseph Hardy were the first at the scene.
“(They) immediately began CPR on the lifeless child,” Zendejas said.”During the CPR, the child then showed signs of life with shallow breathing and a slight pulse.”
Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics arrived and loaded the boy into an ambulance, the sergeant said. They continued treating him as police escorted the ambulance to Citrus Valley Medical Center – Queen of the Valley Campus in West Covina.
Hospital staff managed to remove the full-size grape from the boy’s throat using a vacuum procedure and revived him, Zendejas said. He was listed in stable condition in an intensive care unit Saturday.
Campos said he and his colleagues were pleased to learn the little boy was stabilized at a hospital.
The child was already turning a light shade of blue when officers arrived, he said. But the boy gave a cough and a cry as officers began CPR, which was soon taken over by fire department officials.
“We all have kids. That’s the first thing that goes through our minds,” Campos said. “Our thing was to get that child revived and breathing as soon as possible.”
In addition to commending the officers for their quick actions, Zendejas also commended dispatcher Sherry Peterson who handled the 9-1-1 call and Sgt. Rene Sapien, who supervised the shift.
“The Irwindale police officers’ quick response and immediate CPR efforts were instrumental in saving the life of the child.”
The incident appeared to accidental, and there were no indications of any negligence involved, he said.

PHOTO (left to right): Officer Rudy Campos, Officer John Fraijo, Sgt. Rene Sapien, Dispatcher Sherry Peterson and Officer Joe Hardy.

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Three arrested in connection with Irwindale home burglary

IRWINDALE — Police arrested a man and two women Thursday in connection with a residential burglary, officials said.
Dustin Michael Shirey, 21, of West Covina, Nicole Victoria Richardson, 21, of Glendora and Sara Ouaddi, 18, of Walnut were arrested in connection with the break-in, according to Irwindale police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Shirey was booked on suspicion of burglary, while Richardson and Ouaddi were booked on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said. Richardson was also being held on a pre-existing warrant, and Ouaddi was additionally accused of being under the influence of drugs.
A tipster called police about 12:40 p.m. to report seeing someone climbing through the side window of a home in the 1600 block of Martinez Street, Irwindale police Sgt. Rudy Gatto said.
Officers happened to be in the area and arrived in less than a minute, he said. They noticed a suspicious Saturn SUV parked in front of the home, and detained two women down the street as they walked away from the home.
As police were in the process of surrounding the home, Shirey emerged carrying a backpack found to contain items taken from the house, Gatto said.
Investigation determined that the two women and the car were involved in the break-in as well, the sergeant said.
According to county booking records, Shirey and Ouaddi were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Glendora Police Department jail, while Richardson was being held in lieu of $45,000 bail. All three were scheduled for arraignment Monday in West Covina Superior Court.

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Guns seized, two arrested, pit bull shot during raid targeting Vago gang member in Irwindale

IRWINDALE — West Covina police arrested two men and fatally shot a pit bull early Wednesday while serving a search warrant to seize guns at the home of a known outlaw motorcycle gang member in Irwindale, authorities said.
“Known, dangerous Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang member” and ex-convict Ralph Rodriguez, 38, of Irwindale was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms, resisting arrest and possession of false identification, according to West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez. He was the person targeted in the search warrant.
Also arrested in the 3:30 a.m. raid at a home in the 4600 block of Nora Avenue was Robert Ghiloni, 28, of West Covina on suspicion of possession of a dagger, resisting arrest and an outstanding traffic warrant, Lopez said.
The arrests were the result of an ongoing investigation by the West Covina Police Department, officials said.
After arriving at the home and ordering the occupants out via loudspeaker repeatedly, Ghiloni eventually emerged from the home and was taken into custody, Lopez said. He had a dagger on his person.
But Rodriguez remained holed-up inside the home, police said.
“After two hours of repeated announcements, SWAT then initiated an entry into the residence,” according to Lopez. “During the search, (Rodriguez) was located hiding in the attic. He surrendered to officers without further incident.
While serving the warrant, SWAT officers encountered a pit bull, which Lopez said became aggressive toward them.
“The dog began to attack, forcing officers to fire upon it,” he said. “The dog died as a result.”
The number and type of guns sized from the home was not available late Wednesday.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Rodriguez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in West Covina Superior Court. Ghiloni was being held in lieu of $10,995 pending his arraignment, also scheduled Friday in West Covina Superior Court.

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UPDATED: Memorial to slain deputy near Irwindale destroyed in car crash; plans to rebuild underway

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The community is rallying to quickly rebuild a roadside memorial to a slain sheriff’s deputy near Irwindale that was destroyed in a car crash Thanksgiving morning.
The memorial marked the location along Live Oak Avenue near Peck Road in an unincorporated county area near Irwindale, where Deputy David March, 33, of Saugus, was fatally shot after pulling over a career criminal on April 29, 2002.
A woman was driving eastbound on Live Oak Avenue about 7 a.m. Thursday when she fell asleep at the wheel and allowed the vehicle to drift to the side of the road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Hector Figueroa said in a written statement.
1130_NWS_SGT-L-MEMORIAL3But the Irwindale Police Officers Association, which initially helped fund the monument, along with L & L Building Material Inc., which originally did the brickwork, are wasting no time getting March’s memorial restored.
“The cost is no issue. It needs to back up as soon as possible with no delay,” Irwindale police Officer and POA President Rudy Campos said.
L & L volunteered to redo the brickwork for free, and the Irwindale POA will have the plaque that adorned the memorial polished and repaired, Campos said. He expressed gratitude to L & L for stepping in to help.
Neither the driver nor her passenger were injured in the crash, but the memorial comprised of bricks and a metal plaque was destroyed, he said.
No crime was initially suspected in the crash, which was being investigated as an accident, officials said.
Campos said.
The importance of the monument persuaded officials to move forward with the repairs early next week, hopefully as soon as Monday, instead of waiting on possible compensation for the damage from the driver. It’s unlikely the POA will seek to be reimbursed by the driver who crashed into the monument he added.
The destruction of the memorial gave a glimpse into how deeply March’s slaying affected the local community.
Flowers have been showing up at the memorial site since the crash, Campos said.
Fellow deputies have held annual 24-hour honor guards over the site on the anniversary of 1130_NWS_SGT-L-MEMORIAL2the deputy’s slaying.
Following the murder of March, who was assigned to the sheriff’s Temple Station, killer Jorge Arroyo Garcia, also known as Armando Garcia, fled to Mexico where he was arrested in 2006. He is now serving a life sentence in prison.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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