UPDATED: Seven hurt in 210 Freeway crash in Monrovia

MONROVIA — Seven people went to the hospital early Saturday after a car containing a family crashed into another car that was disabled with a flat tire on the 210 Freeway in Monrovia, authorities said.
The crash took place just after 5 a.m. on the westbound 210 Freeway, just east of Huntington Drive, California Highway Patrol officer Ed Jacobs said.
A 20-year-old Ontario man was driving a Volkswagen Jetta when it became disabled with a tire in the carpool lane, CHP Acting Sergeant Robyn Madeira said. His passenger, a 21-year-old El Monte man, exited the car and was standing in front of it when it was struck from behind by a Toyota Camry.
The impact pushed the Jetta forward, in turn striking the El Monte man, Madeira said. He suffered facial lacerations and other injuries but was alert when taken to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition.
The driver of the disabled Jetta suffered minor injuries and was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, the sergeant said, though his alleged intoxication was not suspected to have played a role in the crash.
The Camry that struck the disabled Jetta contained a Cathedral City family of five, Madeira said. A man who was driving and his wife suffered minor injuries. Two daughters, ages 17 and 24, suffered moderate injuries, and an 8-year-old son suffered minor injuries.
Two of the patients were unconscious immediately following the crash, according to CHP logs.
Madeira said the investigation had not turned up evidence of reckless driving or high speed involved in the crash, as was initially reported to the CHP by at least one 9-1-1 caller to the CHP.
The crash prompted officials to issue a Sig Alert on the westbound 210 Freeway through 6:38 a.m., according to CHP logs.
Officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP were handling the investigation.

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Home scorched, firefighters hurt, dog rescued in Monrovia house fire

A house was gutted, two firefighters suffered minor burns and a pet dog was rescued in a fire along Royal Oaks Drive early Sunday, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 3:16 a.m. at a single-story house in the 400 block of Royal Oaks Drive, just east of California Avenue, Monrovia Fire Department Division Chief Ron Pelham said.
A couple who lives in the home had managed to get out unharmed when firefighters arrived, he said. A third resident of the home — their granddaughter — was not present at the time of the fire.
Firefighters also rescued a small white dog from inside the burning home unharmed, Pelham said.
Two firefighters were treated for minor burns suffered while battling the blaze, but were quickly treated and released from the hospital, Pelham said. Firefighters extinguished the flames in about 20 minutes.
The home was badly damaged, however it was not yet determined whether it would be a total loss, officials said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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Monrovia man pleads not guilty to string of San Gabriel Valley shooting threats

A Monrovia man previously convicted in connection with a string of bomb threats in Pasadena pleaded not guilty Friday to six counts of phoning in threats of shootings to San Gabriel Valley schools, hospitals and a mall last month.
Gerardo Cortez, 26, entered the plea in West Covina Superior Court. He was ordered back to court Dec. 6 for another hearing, Los Angeles County Superior Court officials said.
He’s charged with six counts of making criminal threats and five counts of falsely reporting an emergency in connection with the recent string of threats throughout the San Gabriel Valley, which took place Sept. 9 through Sept. 12. In all the cases, he threatened to carry out shootings with an AK-47 assault rifle.
The first incident on Sept. 9 threatened “Citrus Medical Center,” officials said. The vague threat prompted officials to search hospital campuses in Covina, West Covina and Glendora.
A second threat was also phone in Sept. 9 to Santa Fe Middle School in Monrovia.
Threats against Duarte High School, Northview Intermediate school in Duarte and the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia were received Sept. 10.
And on Sept. 12, officials responded to another shooting threat phoned in to Arcadia High School.
Cortez already has a conviction for making a false bomb threat in connection with a series of bomb threats against a Pasadena school, post office and health department building in October of 2012. Two additional charges of making bomb threats, and another count of attempting to make a criminal threat, were dismissed as part of a a plea deal between Cortez and the prosecution.
He served 8 months of a 16-month sentence after being sent to jail under AB 109 guidelines and released in June, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials and county records.

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Pedestrian, motorists hurt in Monrovia crash

MONROVIA – A crash involving three vehicles and a pedestrian sent three people to the hospital Wednesday, though the injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, authorities said.
The crash took place about 9:35 a.m. at Huntington Drive and Magnolia Avenue, Monrovia Fire Department Capt. Christopher Donovan said
The pedestrian, a man estimated to be in his mid-40s, ended up going through the windshield of one of the vehicles, the chief said. He was taken hospitalized with head injuries.
A 41-year-old woman who was driving one of the involved vehicles was also hospitalized as a trauma patient based on the damage to her car, but was not believed to have suffered major injuries, Donovan added. A 37-year-old man driving another one of the involved vehicles was treated for apparently minor injuries.
The specific circumstances of the collision remained under investigation, however Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said it was initially believed that the pedestrian was crossing the street on a green light when one of the vehicles ran a red light, triggering the crash. It had not yet been determined which vehicle was at fault.
No citations or arrests had been made Wednesday as the investigation continued.

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Monrovia police officer involved in crash while heading to detain robbery suspects

MONROVIA — A police officer was involved in a crash late Friday while speeding to assist other officers detain a group of men accused of attacking another man and robbing him of a skateboard earlier in the day, officials said.
Three robbery suspects were in custody and no serious injuries were reported following the series of events that began Friday afternoon and concluded Friday evening, Monrovia police Sgt. Nick Manfredi said. The patrol car involved in the crash sustained major damage, while the condition of the civilian vehicle was not available early Saturday.
A man reported being attacked and robbed of his skateboard about 3:30 p.m. in the 500 block of Linwood Avenue, just south of Foothill Boulevard, Manfredi said.
“Four subjects in a van pulled up to the victim and confronted him,” he said. “One of the suspects through a beer bottle at the beer bottle, striking him (in the leg). The others wrestled with him and forced his skateboard out of his hands.”
The victim, a Monrovia man in his early 20s, was not injured in the scuffle, Manfredi said. The four suspect fled in the van.
An officer was on patrol about 8:30 p.m. when he spotted a van matching the description of the one used in the robbery in the parking lot of the Duarte Walmart, 1600 Mountain Ave., Manfredi said.
An officer was heading to help with his emergency lights and siren activated when he became involved in a collision with a civilian vehicle at Huntington Drive and Magnolia Avenue, officials said. The officer was southbound on Magnolia, while the civilian vehicle was eastbound Huntington.
“The officer came to a red light at the intersection of Magnolia and Huntington. He stopped at the intersection.” Manfredi said. Surrounding cars stopped and yielded to the patrol car.
“As he proceeded through the intersection, a motorist had the radio on and the windows rolled up nd did not hear the siren,” the sergeant said. The two vehicles collided in the intersection, sending the patrol car careening into a tree.
The officer was treated for minor injuries, he said. The civilian driver, whose description was not available, was not believed to have been hurt.
Meanwhile, other officers detained three men at the van in the Walmart parking lot, police said. They were identified as suspects in the robbery, and they were found to be in possession of the victim’s skateboard.
The names of the robbery suspects were withheld Saturday as detectives continued seeking the fourth alleged robber, the sergeant said. All three were described as Monrovia men in their 20s.

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Historic Monrovia wishing well destroyed in car crash

WishingWell

MONROVIA — A car crash destroyed Monrovia’s historic wishing well monument at Myrtle and Lime avenues late Tuesday, officials said.
The crash was reported about 11:30 p.m.
A 64-year-old Pasadena woman was driving a BMW 328i when, for reasons that remained under investigation, the car struck the stone monument, officials said.
“Both the vehicle and wishing well were heavily damaged,” the statement said. The driver suffered injuries to her face and hands and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
The wishing well, which was primarily made from split granite quarried from Canyon Park, Monrovia spokeswoman Alexis Newell said.
It had stood in its place since it was donated by the former Monrovia Farmers’ Club in 1907, she added.
The structure, which recently has served as a water fountain, “has served as a historical Monrovia monument at the southeast corner of Library Park for many years,” the city statement said.
Monrovia Department of Public Works officials collected the pieces of the wishing well in hopes of repairing or replacing it in the coming months.
City officials added that depending on the outcome of the investigation, the driver may be held liable for the damage.
“If the driver is found to be at fault, the city may charge the driver for the cost of the repair to the city property,” the statement said.

PHOTO courtesy of the City of Monrovia

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Police warn of auto burglary rash in northern Monrovia

MONROVIA — Police are warning residents of a rash of auto burglaries in the north end of Monrovia in recent weeks targeting unlocked cars.
More than 20 such burglaries have been reported over the past three weeks in the communities north of Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said.
All of the cases occurred overnight, and all involved parked cars that had been left unlocked.
For that reason, Lee said it’s more important than ever that residents make sure to lock their cars when leaving them unattended, and not leave valuables in plain sight. But even an ash tray full of change can be enough to catch the attention of an opportunistic auto burglar.
None of the vehicles targeted in the recent rash were broken into by force, Lee said. “They’re not looking to make noise.”
Anyone who sees suspicious activity is asked to report it immediately to the Monrovia Police Department.

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Former Pasadena youth boot camp operator pleads no contest in molestation, kidnapping cases

PASADENA — A former youth boot camp operator could face more than 12 years in prison after admitting to child molestation, kidnapping and extortion charges earlier this month, officials said.
Kelvin Bernard McFarland, 43, of Monrovia entered no contest pleas to all eight remaining charges against him, as well as one misdemeanor, at a July 1 appearance in Pasadena Superior court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jean Guccione said. One charge of forcible rape was dismissed by the court.
The pleas were “open,” meaning that McFarland had arranged no plea deal with regard to his sentence, Guccione said.
He could face more than 12 years in state prison when he returns to court for sentencing Jan. 21, district attorney’s officials said.
The charges stemmed from two separate cases.
In one of the cases, he was accused of molesting two then-14-year-old girls in 2004. It was not clear how McFarland met the victims.
In the other case, McFarland was accused of kidnapping and handcuffing a 14-year-old girl who was truant from school in 2011, then refusing to release her until her family paid him $100. He also brandished a badge resembling a police badge when approaching the girl, prosecutors said.
Following his arrest in March of 2012, McFarland pleaded not guilty to charges of lewd acts upon a child, unlawful sexual intercourse , oral copulation of a person under 16 years old, sexual penetration by a foreign object, forcible rape, kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment, extortion and unlawful use of a a badge.
The forcible rape charge was dismissed by Pasadena Superior Court Judge Suzette Clover on a defense motion contending insufficient evidence, Guccione said. McFarland pleaded “no contest” to all remaining charges.
McFarland formerly ran the Family First Growth Camp in Pasadena. He became the subject of controversy in October of 2011 after two videos depicting the treatment of troubled teen campers at a differed Pasadena-area boot camp program surfaces. McFarland and other instructors pictured children being urged to drink water until they vomited and a boy with a tire around his neck being berated by the instructors.
McFarland denied that he was in either video.

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Glendora man charged in connection with alleged Monrovia area vehicular attacks

A Glendora man accused of striking two bicyclists and a car containing two good Samaritans who tried to follow him over the weekend pleaded not guilty Tuesday to eight felony charges, authorities said.
Anthony Pina, 19, was charged with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of drunken driving causing injury and two counts of hit-and-run causing injury, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. He was ordered to return to Pasadena Superior Court July 31 for a preliminary hearing setting.
The charges stem from an alleged spree of hit-and-run crashes that left two bicyclist injured, one of them seriously, according to Monrovia police and California Highway Patrol officials.
Monrovia police alleged that at least one of the bicyclists, a 63-year-old Duarte man, was intentionally run down by Pina. Police initially said investigators planned to seek a charge of attempted murder against Pina for that crash, however prosecutors did not include that allegation in the officials charges filed Tuesday.
Pina was drunk behind the wheel of 1997 Buick Regal shortly before 6 a.m. Saturday when struck a 46-year-old El Monte man who was riding a bicycle at Mountain and Schrode avenues in an unincorporated county area near Monrovia, CHP Sgt. Chris Hamilton said. The bicyclist suffered injuries described as moderate, and the Buick fled the scene.
Minutes later, Pina’s Buick struck the older bicyclist at Huntington Drive and Mountain Avenue in Monrovia, according to Monrovia police.
That crash, which left the cyclist hospitalized with serious injuries but expected to survive, was believed to be intentional, Alfaro said. Pina allegedly tried unsuccessfully to strike the 63-year-old bicyclist moments earlier a short distance away.
After striking the second bicyclist, Pina continued fleeing but was followed by two good Samaritans in a Mini Cooper who followed him and provided police with information as Pina headed east on the 210 Freeway, according to police and CHP officials.
Pina was suspected of ramming the car of the good Samaritans, causing no injuries, before crashing into the center divider and flipping his Buick near Vernon Avenue, Hamilton said. He ran from the wreck and was arrested nearby by Azusa police.
Initially held in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to county booking records, Robison said Pina’s bail amount was increased to $320,000 at Tuesday’s hearing.

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UPDATED: Man accused of intentionally striking bicyclist with car in Monrovia, ramming good Samaritans who followed him from scene of alleged hit and run

A man struck two bicyclists — one of them intentionally — with his car in Monrovia early Saturday, as well as the car of two good Samaritans who followed him as he fled the scene, authorities said.
Anthony Pina, 19, of Glendora was booked on suspicion of drunken driving and felony hit-and-run following the nearly fatal chain of events that unfolded just before 6 a.m., according to Monrovia police and California Highway Patrol officials. Charges including attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon were also expected to be sought against Pina.
He was behind the wheel of a Buick sedan that struck and badly injured a 63-year-old Duarte man who was riding a bicycle at Huntington Drive and Mountain Avenue, Monrovia police Lt. Jaime Alfaro said.
“The investigation indicated the hit and run was not an accident, but was an intentional act by Mr. Pina,” Alfaro said.
The injured bicyclist was initially hospitalized in critical condition, but stabilized after undergoing surgery, Lt. Michael Lee said.
Pina turned “donuts” around the bicyclist before driving directly into him, Alfaro said.
The victim told investigators Pina had also tried unsuccessfully to strike him with his car moments earlier at Mountain Avenue and Royal Oaks Drive, the lieutenant added. The men did not appear to know each other prior to Saturday’s encounter, and a motive in the alleged attack was unclear.
Officers soon learned that Pina’s 1997 Buick Regal matched the description of one that had struck and injured another bicyclist five to ten minutes earlier at Mountain and Shrode avenues in an unincorporated county area just outside Monrovia, CHP Sgt. Chris Hamilton said.
In that collision, Pina’s car struck a 46-year-old El Monte man, inflicting moderate injuries, the sergeant said. There was no indication that crash was intentional, however Pina allegedly fled the scene.
After the car struck the 63-year-old man, two men inside a brand new Mini Cooper saw who had seen what had happened followed Pina onto the eastbound 210 Freeway while calling authorities, officials said.
“At some point, Mr. Pina discovered he was being followed by a vehicle and pulled over,” Alfaro said. The Mini Cooper containing the good Samaritans drove past the Buick as they approached Vernon Avenue in Azusa.
“Pina then collided into their vehicle,” Alfaro said.
The Mini Cooper sustained only minor damage in the collision, and the two men inside were unhurt, Hamilton said.
Pina’s Buick then struck the center divider, causing it flip over, the sergeant said.
Pina got out of the damaged Buick and ran, Hamilton said, but was captured within minutes by an Azusa police officer.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Pina was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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