PASADENA >> Authorities Thursday released the name of a 79-year-old retired priest who was killed when the ambulance he was riding in collided head-on with another vehicle on Fair Oaks Avenue over the weekend.
Nelson Munoz Vergara died at a hospital following Sunday’s 4 p.m. crash between a private ambulance and a Jaguar sedan on Fair Oaks Avenue, just south of Hammond Street, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said.
The release of his identity was delayed as coroner’s investigators unsuccessfully sought Vergara’s next of kin, Harvey said. It was determined that Vergara was a retired priest who was being cared for by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and living at a Pasadena convalescent home.
Vergara was a retired, visiting priest from South America, Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokeswoman Monica Valencia said.
“We are saddened that a retired priest, who was visiting us from Chile, was killed in a vehicle crash on Saturday,” Archdiocese officials said in a written statement.” “The Archdiocese of Los Angeles grieves the loss of our brother, who blessed us with his warmth and friendship, while he was with us. We pray for the strength and comfort of his family and friends, and offer our prayers for the repose of his soul.”
Vergara was being taken to a routine dialysis appointment when the crash took place, officials said.
The ambulance, operated by Montebello-based Lifeline Ambulance, was southbound on Fair Oaks Avenue when a northbound Jaguar crossed into opposing traffic lanes and collided with the ambulance, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said. Why the northbound Jaguar crossed into southbound lanes remained under investigation.
A 21-year-old San Bernardino man who was driving the ambulance and his partner, a 27-year-old Whittier man, suffered minor injuries in the crash, police said.
A 68-year-old Altadena woman at the wheel of the Jaguar suffered injuries including a broken leg, officials said. Her injuries were not life-threatening.
The results of toxicology tests were pending, however alcohol did not appear to be a factor, Hettema said.
No arrests were made as the investigation continued.
– Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
Police jailed a Pasadena man Wednesday in connection with their investigation into the violent home-invasion robbery of an elderly Burbank woman last week, officials said.
Lonnie Garcia, 27, is accused of robbery and attempted murder Friday’s 8:22 p.m. home invasion targeting an 89-year-old woman in the 1000 block of Cornell Drive, Burbank police officials said in a written statement.
The investigation also led to the arrest of a second suspect, 40-year-old Eddie Baca, on suspicion of evading police and drug sales following a car chase Wendnesday afternoon, according to Pasadena and Burbank police.
While following up in the investigation into the home-invasion robbery, “Investigators developed leads which led them to the City of Pasadena,” according to the Burnank police statement. “The leads and investigatory work resulted in the arrest of a suspect in the home invasion robbery.”
Garcia was arrested about 5 p.m. and was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, Los Angeles County booking records show.
(Garcia) was recently released from prison and is currently supervised as part of California’s Realignment Program, known as AB109,” according to the Burbank police statement.
Pasadena police officers joined their counterparts from Burnank to carry out surveillance of the suspect, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Baca led officers on a chase when they tried to pull him over, the lieutenant said.
The chase led to Del Mar Boulevard and Madre Street, where Baca was apprehended after crashing into another car at about 5 p.m. No significant injuries were reported as a result of the crash.
Baca was booked at the Burbank jail for evading police and drug sales, officials said. He was being held in lieu of $75,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.
In Friday’s home-invasion robbery, the elderly victim answered a knock at her door when the suspect — later identified as Baca — forced his way into her home, Burbank police said in a written statement.
“A struggle ensued, and the victim received some injuries, including abrasions and lacerations,” according to the statement. It was unclear what, if anything, was stolen in the crime.
The woman summoned help via her medical alert system, police added.
*This story has been updated from a previous version to reflect that Lonnie Garcia is accused of robbery and attempted murder, while Eddie Baca is accused of evading police and drug sales.
PASADENA >> A transient randomly attacked a woman late Saturday and briefly carjacked the car of a good Samaritan who rushed to her aid, with the good Samaritan’s mother inside, authorities said.
Police jailed Shane Patrick Hawkins, 39, following the strange series of events which unfolded about 9:30 p.m. at Garfield Avenue and Union Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
A Pasadena woman in her 40s was walking by when Hawkins suddenly grabbed her, spun her around and held her with his knee pressed against her back, Mercado said.
“She started screaming for help. That drew two good Samaritans,” the lieutenant said.
A Pasadena man left his car in the middle of the street and rushed to the woman’s aid, Mercado said. A second good Samaritan, a passer-by described only as male, also jumped in to help.
“They were able to get the suspect to let go of her,” Mercado said. Hawkins then ran to the good Samaritan’s car, jumped in and began to drive away.
But the suspect didn’t get far. The good Samartian’s mother, a Pasadena woman in her 50s, fought with the carjacker, preventing him from driving off.
“The males then pulled him out of the car and held him until we arrived,” Mercado said.
No injuries were reported as a result of the incident to any of the victims or the suspect. The second good Samaritan left the scene before talking to police.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Hawkins was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
PASADENA >> An ambulance collided head-on with a car on Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena Saturday, killing an elderly patient who was riding in the back of the ambulance and sending three other people to the hospital, police said.
The crash occurred just after 4 p.m. on Fair Oaks Avenue, just south of Hammond Street, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
The cause and circumstances of the crash remained under investigation, however it appeared the vehicles collided head-on, police said.
The patient, a man in his 70s, suffered major injuries in the crash, Carrillo said,
He was already in cardiac arrest when firefighters arrived on-scene, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. He succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
The driver of the ambulance and his partner suffered apparently minor injuries, the lieutenant said. A woman who was at the wheel of the car, a four-door Jaguar, was hospitalized with injuries believed to include a broken ankle.
Carrillo said the ambulance, operated by Montebello-based Lifeline Ambulance, was taking the patient to a routine medical appointment. It was not using emergency lights or a siren.
The ambulance was heading south and the Jaguar was heading north when the crash took place, he added.
Police shut down Fair Oaks Avenue between Hammond and Mountain streets as officers continued their investigation Saturday evening.
PASADENA >> Officials are planning continued nightly closures of up to two lanes of the 210 Freeway in both directions between Pasadena and Glendale over the next two weeks as Caltrans continues work on a replacing and maintenance project, officials said.
Up to two lanes of the eastbound 210 Freeway will be shut down between Ocean View Boulevard in Montrose and the Lincoln Avenue and Howard Street overcrossing in Pasadena nightly from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. between Monday and July 17, Caltrans officials said in a statement.
Up to two lanes of both the eastbound and westbound 210 Freeway will be closed between Dunsmore Avenue in Glendale between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Monday to July 20.
And between Wednesday and July 24, up to two lanes of the eastbound and westbound 210 Freeway will be closed from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. between Dunsmore Avenue in Glendale and Los Robles Avenue in Pasadena.
The paving and median work is part of an ongoing $148.5 million project being carried out by Santa Fe Springs-based contractor Flatiron West Inc.
PASADENA >> Police are seeking a gunman who robbed two other men of their gold necklaces in a Pasadena alley Wednesday.
Two coworkers, ages 21 and 40, were walking through Herr Alley, just north of the 100 block of Palmetto Drive, about 6:45 p.m. when the robber approached, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
The robber brandished a semi-automatic handgun and demanded the victims turn over gold necklaces they were wearing, the lieutenant said. The victims complied, and the robber was last seen fleeing west on Waverly Drive.
Police searched the area but did not find the suspect, Luna said.
PASADENA >> Police arrested an Azusa man late Saturday after a routine traffic stop led officers to discover nearly half a pound of marijuana in his car, officials said.
Jerry Barragan, 19, is accused of transportation of marijuana for sales following his 8:40 p.m. arrest in the 700 block of North Marengo Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
Officers stopped his car for a traffic violation, Mercado said. “When they walked up to it, they could smell a strong odor of marijuana.”
Barragan consented to a search of his car, during which police found 220 grams of marijuana, as well as a “large amount” of cash, the lieutenant said.
PASADENA >> Police used a Taser to subdue and arrest a Pasadena man for possession of PCP for sales Friday afternoon in a Pasadena park, officials said.
Oscar Brown, 40, was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail Saturday pending his initial court appearance, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Police first approached him after spotting him about 5 p.m., drinking from a 40-ounce bottle of beer in La Pintoresca Park, at Washington Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said. Brown ran from the officers.
“As he ran, he held his waistband the entire time, leading officers to believe he had a weapon in his waistband,” Mercado said. Officers used a Taser to subdue Brown.
Police then found a vial of the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his waistband, Mercado said.
Brown was examined at a hospital before being booked into jail, he said.
EAST LOS ANGELES >> Sheriff’s deputies who happened upon an illegal fireworks transaction ultimately seized more than 1,000 pounds of dangerous and illegal fireworks from an East Los Angeles home and arrested two suspects Thursday night, authorities said.
Joseph Valencia, 46, and Daniel Guerrero, 44, are accused of illegal possession of explosives and possession of dangerous fireworks without a permit, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Andrew Cruz said in a written statement.
Deputies were patrolling about 11:30 p.m. in the 5200 block of Repetto Street when they spotted Valencia selling illegal fireworks to another man from a parked car, Cruz said.
“Through a brief investigation, the deputies discovered the suspect resided few properties away from where the vehicle was parked,” the sergeant said. “After searching Joseph Valencia’s residence, the deputies discovered between 1,000 (and) 1,500 pounds of illegal fireworks.” The stash included 49 explosive fireworks commonly known as M-80s.
Guerrero’s specific role in the fireworks sales was not clear Friday.
All fireworks, including those designated “Safe and Sane,” are banned in unincorporated area of Los Angeles County.
PASADENA >> Police chased down and arrested a parolee armed with a handgun who ran from officers late Thursday, officials said.
Davion Laquan Ogletree, 23, of Pasadena was booked on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The incident began about 8 p.m. when officers went to investigate a report of a fight in a bathroom at Brenner Park, 235 Barthe Drive.
A man, later identified as Ogletree, ran from officers as they approached, Pasadena police Lt. John Mercado said.
Officers chased after the man and briefly lost sight of him as he rounded a corner onto Brooks Avenue, he said.
When the officers caught up with Ogletree, he was standing beside a trash can, the lieutenant said. Inside the trash can, police found a .22-caliber revolver.
Ogletree was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.