SANTA FE SPRINGS — Coroner’s officials Saturday released the name of an 81-year-old man killed when his overturned minivan was struck by a freight train late Friday.
Antonio Lizardi died at the scene of the 9 p.m. crash on a set of railroad trucks between Telegraph Road and Florence Avenue, just east of Bloomfield Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
His city of residence was not listed at the coroner’s office, however public records indicated his most recent address was in Norwalk.
How the Toyota minivan ended up overturned onto its side on the railroad tracks remained under investigation, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.
The tracks run on a raised embankment between a group of businesses and an oil field. Investigators were looking into the possibility the minivan went through the oil field before overturning on the railroad.
An autopsy was pending to determine Lizardi’s officials cause of death, Dietz said.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A man armed with a baseball bat and his companion who pretended to have a gun barged their way into a house and robbed the residents of cash Wednesday night.
Lt. Jay Tatman estimated the amount taken as “several hundreds”. Police believe the home invasion robbery in the 11500 block of Claymore Street wasn’t a random attack but think the victims were targeted, according to Tatman.
The robbery took place just after 10 p.m.
When a resident answered the door, he said two robbers forced their way in. The suspects claimed someone who lives at the house owes them money.
He said one of the residents pulled out cash and asked how much was the debt. The robbers took all the money and fled.
The bat-wielding suspect was described as a Latino, 20, wearing a black jacket, black shorts and black beanie. The other suspect who simulated having a firearm was described as a Latino, 20, garbed in a black jacket and blue pants.
Anyone with information is urged to call the investigations bureau of the Santa Fe Springs Police Service Center at 562-409-1850.
- Ruby Gonzales
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A man who allegedly threatened and pointed a gun at a relative was found hiding in a shed Friday night, police said.
Authorities also recovered a MAC-10 automatic pistol and a machete he allegedly left behind.
Whittier police officers were called to the 11000 block of Charlesworth Road in Santa Fe Springs at about 5:30 pm on a family disturbance with an armed suspect.
Sgt. Sam Reed said the man went to the home to talk to family and allegedly threatened them.
Police closed off the surrounding area and called for the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau which is the department’s SWAT.
Deputies cleared the house and saw the man in the backyard, Reed said. The man ran.
Reed said the MAC-10 was found in the house and the machete in the backyard.
The culprit was tracked down several hours later. A sheriff’s dog helped take him into custody and bit him.
Charles Gomez, 48 of Santa Fe Springs was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Reed said Gomez was taken to a hospital to be treated for the dog bites.
- Ruby Gonzales
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A two-car crash sent one of the vehicles smashing into a Carl’s Jr. restaurant Wednesday, causing minor injuries to two patrons inside, authorities said.
The collision took place about 6:30 p.m. at Telegraph Road and Painter Avenue, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
A car was trying to make a U-turn from eastbound Telegraph when it was struck by another vehicle headed westbound on Telegraph, White said.
The impact pushed the car that was making the U-turn into the nearby fast-food restaurant, smashing a large glass window.
Two diners inside the restaurant suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene by paramedics, White said. Both drivers involved in the crash were unhurt.
White added that nothing criminal was initially suspected in the crash, which was being investigated as an accident.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A fire destroyed a Santa Fe Springs cabinet shop and sent an employee to the hospital with second-degree burns, authorities said.
The fire broke out about 3:20 a.m. at Advanced Cabinet Inc., 8214 Sorenson Ave., Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
A lone employee at the business suffered burns to his arms and face while trying to douse the flames with a hose, the lieutenant said. The employee, a man in his late-40s, was hospitalized with apparently non-life-threatening injuries.
The business appeared to be a total loss, Ruiz said.
The cause was under investigation by the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department, he added.
WHITTIER — Prosecutors Wednesday filed a murder charge against a Santa Fe Springs construction worker accused of the shotgun slaying of a former co-worker whose body was discovered buried in recently poured concrete at a business, officials said.
Juan Manuel Ramirez, 45, was charged with one count of murder, along with the sentence-enhancing allegation that he personally used a firearm — described as a shotgun — in the crime, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Ramirez was initially booked under the name of Juan Alberto Galviz, age 35, however officials later determined Ramirez to be his true name and corrected his age, she added.
A scheduled arraignment Wednesday afternoon in Whittier Superior Court was postponed until Jan. 23, court officials said.
The name of the alleged victim was not released Wednesday pending confirmation that his family had been notified, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. Police described him as a Santa Fe Springs man in his late-30s.
“We have evidence that shows they’ve known each other for years,” Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said. “They’ve worked together on and off.”
Both men were involved in the construction industry, Ellis added. Ramirez was working and living at the facility where the body was discovered.
The men were not working together at the time of the killing, he said.
The fatal shooting was believed to have taken place Dec. 23, Robison said.
It was believed to have stemmed from some type of feud between Ramirez and the victim, Ellis said. The lieutenant declined to discuss the motive further, citing the ongoing investigation.
His body was discovered Monday, buried within concrete on the property of Coleman Luxaire in the 9600 block of John Street, according to Whittier police.
The body had been placed into a hole dug into the concrete floor inside the building, then covered over with several inches of concrete, Ellis said.
The body was discovered by detectives acting on a tip, he added.
The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McDonald.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Ramirez was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
If convicted as charged, Ramirez could face life in prison, officials said.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A long-term road closure previously scheduled to begin Monday to accommodate the demolition and rebuilding of the Alondra Boulevard Bridge has been postponed, Caltrans officials announced Wednesday.
Caltrans announced plans Dec. 20 to shut down Alondra Boulevard between Freeway Drive Marquardt Avenue Jan. 7 to begin work, and that the bridge demolition would take place in late January.
“At this time, these closures will not take place on January 7 and the Alondra Boulevard Bridge will not be demolished later this month,” according to the Caltrans statement. “However, the closures and bridge demolition will occur at a later date.”
The project was to include a planned closure for the northbound Santa Ana (5) Freeway onramp to Alondra Boulevard, which has also been postponed, officials said.
The work is part of a $110 million project to widen the 5 Freeway with a new carpool lane and a new general use lane in each direction, reconstruct overcrossings and make other improvements, according to Caltrans.
It is one of three projects currently underway along the 5 Freeway as part of the $1.6 billion I-5 South Corridor Improvement Projects, officials added. Additional roadwork is also being carried out along the 5 Freeway at at Carmenita Road in Santa Fe Springs and Rosecrans Avenue in Norwalk.
Members of the public can sigh up to receive email notifications regarding local street and freeway closures by calling the project hotline at 855-454-6335, or online by visiting www.I-5info.com.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Two men shot up an occupied car Wednesday before leading police on a high-speed chase that ended with a crash, authorities said.
An office was on patrol just before 9:45 a.m. when he heard shots around Santa Fe Springs Road and Ann Street and spotted a four-door sedan leaving the area, Whittier police Lt. Randy Inman said.
The officer followed the vehicle, and initiated a pursuit when it failed to pull over, the lieutenant said.
It was soon determined that the men inside the car had just shot at a Scion containing three men, striking the car four times but not injuring the occupants, Inman said.
The car sped down Los Nietos Road at about 80 mph before colliding with a northbound vehicle at the intersection with Norwalk Boulevard, police said. The suspects’ car overturned.
The two men inside the flipped sedan were arrested, Inman said. One of them was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash.
A woman who was driving the vehicle the suspects’ crashed into was also hospitalized with apparently non-life-threatening injuries, he said.
The names of the suspects’ were not immediately available.
Just before crashing, the suspects sped past the scene of another crash Friday which left two young boys dead and their father seriously injured on Los Nietos Road, just east of Norwalk Boulevard, officials said.
Authorities called for a search dog from a surrounding agency as they hunted for the gun involved in the shooting Wednesday morning.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Two young brothers were killed and their father was badly injured Friday when their Honda Civic crashed into a power pole and was sheared in half, police said.
Damian Medina, 11, and Jonathann Medina, 13, died at the scene of the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said. Their city of residence was listed as Los Angeles.
Jonathann Medina was better known to friends as Nathan.
The 33-year-old driver and father of the boys and witnesses told investigators that another vehicle cut off the Civic, causing it to lose control and hit the pole, Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller in a written statement. The driver’s name was not released.
Police responded at 5:53 p.m. to a 9-1-1 call about a traffic accident on Los Nietos Road, just east of Norwalk Boulevard.
“When officers arrived they found a Honda Civic sheared in half after apparently colliding with a power pole on the south side of Los Nietos Road,” the statement said.
“Witnesses said the victim vehicle crossed the oncoming lanes at high speed. After hitting the pole the front half of the vehicle continued a significant distance from the power pole ending up on the property of a local business.”
The second vehicle did not stop, police added. The speed at which the Civic was traveling when it crashed was unavailable.
Damian Medina was found lying in the middle of the street after being thrown from the car, police said.
Officials found Nathan Medina in the front passenger seat.
It was unclear Saturday whether seat belts were used.
The boys’ father suffered “significant injuries” and was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where he was listed in stable condition, officials said.
No description of the second vehicle possibly involved in the crash was available.
Though they were listed with coroner’s officials as Los Angeles residents, friends gathered a roadside memorial Saturday said they spent a lot of time with relatives in Whittier.
Family friend Jasmine Palomo, 17, of Whittier said she’s known the boys most of their lives.
“Yesterday, we went to the market and we passed by (the crash scene),” she said. But she didn’t realize the crash involved people she knew.
Palomo said she was “heartbroken” to find out the crash involved the Medina family, and that Damian and Nathan were dead.
“Nathan always used to call me his big sister,” she said. “And I called him my little brother.”
Nathan enjoyed playing basketball, friends said.
“He also liked music. He was always dancing,” Palomo said, adding that the teen was especially fond of techno music.
Damien was a fan of video games, often carrying around his Nintendo DS, she said. “Me and Damien would always talk about video games.”
The brothers had a close relationship with one another, Palomo said.
Nathan Medina was an eighth-grader at Los Nietos Middle School, while Damian was in sixth grade at Aeolian Elementary School, said Marie Luisa Gamboa, who knew Nathan from his school, where she works as a special education assistant.
Though Nathan was goofy, funny and fun-loving, he was always “extremely respectful,” Gamboa said.
“He always made people laugh,” friend Mckayla Reyes, 13, of Santa Fe Springs, who went to school with Nathan.
“He had a smile on his face every day,” added another classmate, 13-year-old Kimberly Marquez.
The investigation into the cause of the crash was ongoing, police said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Whittier Police Department, which provides police services to Santa Fe Springs, at 562-567-9200.
- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales