Man killed in weekend hiking accident in forest identified

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Authorities have released the name of an 18-year-old man killed Saturday in a hiking accident in the Angeles National Forest north of La Canada Flintridge.
Vigen Sarkisyan of Tujunga was pronounced dead shortly before 3 p.m. after he and two other young men were found to have taken a fall near mile marker 41.9 of Angeles Crest Highway, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner’s Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said.
The two other men Sarkisyan was hiking with were hospitalized with serious injuries, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The details of the accident were under investigation, however it initially appeared the men fell into a steep culvert and tumbled about 600 feet, sheriff’s Sgt. Debra Herman said.
One of the injured men managed to climb back up to a roadway and seek help, officials said.

One killed, two injured in Angeles National Forest mishap

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A man died and two others were injured Saturday after tumbling about 600 feet down a drainage culvert off of Angeles Crest Highway, in the forest north of La Canada Flintridge.
The accident was reported shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday after one of the injured men managed to climb up to the road and seek help, however it was unclear when the men actually fell, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Debra Herman said. The men were believed to have gone up to the forest to go hiking Friday.
For reasons that remained under investigation, the three men were hiking when they slipped and slid about 600 feet down a steep, cement drainage culvert near mile marker 42 of Angeles Crest Highway, Herman said.
One of them men, initially described only as appearing to be in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene, she said.
Officials described the two survivors as Pasadena men who appeared to be in their 20s.
The man who managed to climb back up to the road was hospitalized by ambulance in unknown condition, Herman said. The other injured man was flown to the hospital by helicopter.
Authorities continued investigating the incident and working to recover the body late Saturday.

Briefcase bomb scare shuts down 210 Freeway in La Crescenta

LA CRESCENTA — A briefcase abandoned at an overpass led to all lanes of the 210 freeway being shut down for nearly an hour Monday.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Tuinstra said the sheriff’s bomb squad determined it was empty.
He said a passing motorist spotted the briefcase on the Rosemont Avenue overpass near the eastbound 210 Freeway about 6 p.m. and called the California Highway Patrol. The CHP then notified the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station.
Tuinstra said the bomb squad arrived with a robot and rendered the briefcase safe.
CHP Officer Anthony Martin said a SigAlert was issued at 6:18 p.m. and all freeway lanes were reopened at 7:12 p.m.
- By Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales

Extra patrols planned on Angeles Crest Highway Saturday

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — California Highway Patrol officials will field extra officers on Angeles Crest Highway Saturday in an effort to combat motorcycle-related deaths and injuries, authorities said.
“This scenic drive attracts all types of motorists, including a special appeal to motorcycle enthusiasts of all calibers,” CHP officials said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, the Angeles Crest Highway has become known for its disproportionately high rate of motorcycle collisions resulting in fatal injuries.”
The CHP recorded 10 motorcyclist deaths and 195 injuries on the highway between 2007 and 2009.
The extra enforcement campaign is being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Closing arguments expected in La Canada Flintridge fatal big rig crash case

From the Associated Press:

PASADENA — Trial is winding down for a trucker charged with the deaths of a father and daughter killed by his runaway big rig in La Canada Flintridge.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office says closing arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon in Pasadena Superior Court in the murder and vehicular manslaughter trial of Marcos Costa.
Costa was hauling cars over the San Gabriel Mountains on April 1, 2009, when his brakes failed on the steep Angeles Crest Highway above La Canada Flintridge. The double-decker rig hit a car, killing Angel Posca and his daughter Angelina, of Palmdale, collided with four other vehicles and smashed into a bookstore and a nail salon, injuring three others.
Costa has maintained his innocence.

UPDATE: Two fatal crashes reported on recently reopened Angeles Crest Highway

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Two en died Friday in unrelated solo-car crashes on the same stretch of the recently reopened Angeles Crest Highway.
The crashes were reported just after 3 a.m., and the other about 4:30 p.m., officials said, though both occurred within about a quarter-mile of each other on Angeles Crest Highway, just south of Dark Canyon Truck Trail, in the Angeles National Forest north of La Canada Flintridge.
Julio Cesar Velasquez, 21, of Pasadena, was pronounced dead at the scene of the early morning crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
He was driving westbound on the highway in his 2007 Honda at an unknown speed when he lost control, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
Velasquez’s car struck an embankment and a tree, and he was pronounced dead from his injuries by a Los Angeles County paramedic shortly after the crash, officials said.
“Alcohol is being investigated as a factor in this crash,” the statement said.
Friday afternoon, authorities received word of the second fatal crash about a quarter-mile north of the first crash scene.
Witnesses reported seeing a vehicle go over the side of the road and plummet about 500 feet down a hillside, CHP Officer Jennifer Connolly said.
The driver of the vehicle, who was initially described as a 48-year-old Monterey Park man, was pronounced dead at the scene.
No further information was available late Friday.
The causes of both crashes remained under investigation.
Caltrans officials on June 3 reopened seven miles of Angeles Crest Highway that had been closed since the Station Fire scorched the area in the summer of 2009.
The $32 million repair job was celebrated by local residents and motorists eager to see the connection between the San Gabriel and Antelope valleys restored, however the road also has a dangerous history.
Hundreds of crashes have been reported on the road in recent years, and CHP officials cautioned the public when it reopened to be careful while using Angeles Crest Highway and obey all traffic laws.

Man charged with La Crescenta slaying of cousin

From City News Serice
PASADENA — A Tujunga man was charged Thursday with murdering his 33- year-old female cousin, whose body was left near the La Crescenta Avenue offramp of the westbound 210 Freeway.
Aram Sarukhanyan, 27, is accused of shooting Adrine Arzumanyan and then pointing a handgun at a civilian who tried to stop him after he allegedly dumped the victim’s body alongside the freeway April 29.
Sarukhanyan was located a short time later on the southbound 2 Freeway with a self-inflicted gunshot wound that resulted in his hospitalization, authorities said.
He will be arraigned after he is released from the hospital, according to Deputy District Attorney Lee Mitchell.
Sarukhanyan is charged with one felony count each of murder and brandishing a firearm at a person in motor vehicle, along with the allegation that he personally used a handgun in the commission of Arzumanyan’s shooting.
If convicted, he faces a maximum of more than 50 years to life in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office. 

Drivers distracted by gadgets blamed for crashed in Industry, La Canada Flintridge

Officials blame drivers distracted by gadgets for two separate injury crashes late Friday in Industry and early Saturday in La Canada Flintridge.
A man suffered a broken ankle about 8:50 p.m. Friday when he crashed into a telephone pole at Baldwin Park Boulevard and Temple Avenue in Industry, Lt. Steve Katz said in a written statement.
The man told deputies he dropped his cell phone while driving and leaned over to retrieve it, the lieutenant said.
“In doing so, the vehicle veered toward the curb and struck a telephone pole,” Katz said.
The crash brought live electrical wires down into the street, officials said, however electrical service and traffic signals were unaffected. A Southern California Edison crew was summoned to repair the damage.
About five hours later, a 22-year-old man was hospitalized with major injuries when he crashed his car while sending a text message on the westbound 210 Freeway near Foothill Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Ed Jacobs said.
“He was texting while driving,” he said. “His wife or girlfriend received the text a minute after the crash came out.”
The car swerved across westbound lanes, hit the center divider and overturned, Jacobs said.
The driver was taken Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for treatement of injuries that were believed to be life-threatening, officials said.

Woman interrupts burglary, attacked with truck in La Canada Flintridge

LA CAADA FLINRTRIDGE — Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Pasadena man and an Altadena teen Tuesday after they broke into a woman’s house, then one of them rammed her car with their own, authorities said.
Ricardo Lopez, 19, of Pasadena, was booked on suspicion of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon, while a 17-year-old Altadena boy was suspected of burglary, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Blume said.
A 54-year-old woman arrived home about 10:45 a.m. and found the suspects inside her house, the lieutenant said.
When Lopez saw the woman was dialing 9-1-1, he ran out to his truck and charged toward the woman’s car, Blume said.
“The truck scraped against passenger side of the victim’s car,” he said, then drove away.
Stolen from the home was four laptop computers and other electronics, Blume said.
The teenage suspect, who was left behind in the scuffle, was found nearby walking on Foothill Boulevard with the help of tips from neighbors, officials said.
Deputies found Lopez sitting in the car believed to have been involved in the incident parked near his home in Pasadena, Blume said. Lopez was arrested, and deputies discovered items allegedly stolen from the house in La Caada Flintridge inside Lopez’s home.
According to sheriff’s booking records, Lopez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail and was due for arraignment Thursday in Pasadena Superior Court.

Sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station evacuated due to smoke

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE – The sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station was briefly evacuated Thursday evening after a faulty air conditioning unit filled the building with smoke, authorities said.
The smoke was first reported at 6:42 p.m. at the sheriff’s station, 4554 Briggs Ave. in La Crescenta, Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatch supervisor Michael Pittman said.
The building was evacuated and emergency calls were re-routed to the sheriff’s Temple Station, sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Conti said.
A single inmate being housed in the Crescenta Valley Station jail was secured in a police car during the incident, he added, and Crescenta Valley deputies continued their usual patrols.
The malfunctioning air conditioner bellowed smoke in to the station, though there was no actual fire, officials said.
Firefighters were ventilating the building around 7:30 p.m., and operations at the station were expected to return to normal later Thursday evening.