SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Authorities Wednesday continued investigating a two-vehicle crash that claimed the lives of a Norwalk man and woman early Saturday.-
The collision took place about 12:09 a.m. Saturday along Norwalk Boulevard at Smith Avenue, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
Killed were Daniel Mata, 23, and Jazmin Gomez, 19, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Elissa Sleak said. Autopsies determined both died as a result of “multiple blunt traumatic injuries,” and both deaths were ruled accidental.
Mata was at the wheel of a Nissan Sentra that collided with a Jeep Laredo, according to coroner’s and Whittier police officials. Gomez was riding as the front passenger.
A Whittier woman in her late-teens who was riding in the rear of the Nissan Sentra was thrown from the car from the crash. She was taken to a trauma center in critical condition.
Preliminary investigation determined the Sentra was south on Norwalk Boulevard when, for an unknown reason, the car veered toward the right, White said.
The Sentra struck the west curb, “causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and cross into northbound traveling lanes,” he said.
“It was broad-sided by a Jeep Laredo, travelling northbound, who was unable to avoid the Nissan,” White said.
Mata and Gomez were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, White said.
Two people riding inside the Jeep Laredo suffered minor injuries in the crash, he said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, however no arrests or citations were initially made, the officer said.
The incident was the second fatal car crash on the same stretch of road in less than three weeks.
Manuel Diaz Campos, 26, of Whittier died in the early-morning hours of Feb. 13 after the Scion he was driving at a high rate of speed crashed into a traffic signal, shearing the vehicle in half, Whittier police and coroner’s officials said.
The Feb. 13 crash remained under investigation.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A fire scorched a food manufacturing plant in Santa Fe Springs before firefighters doused the flames Saturday afternoon, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 1:33 p.m. at Day-Lee Foods, Inc., 13055 E. Molette Street, a Santa Fe Springs Fire Department dispatcher said.
Both Santa Fe Springs and Los Angeles County firefighters worked the fire, as it occurred near the border between Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk, officials said. They declared the fire “knocked down” at 1:54 p.m.
About employees evacuated themselves from the burning building prior to firefighters’ arrival, Santa Fe Springs Fire Department Division Chief Mike Yule said. No injuries were reported.
Officials determined the fire ignited as employees were moving an air conditioning unit atop the building when they accidentally ruptured a pipe carrying 500-degree oil used to cook tuna fish, the chief said. The oil caught fire, spreading flames to the roof.
Firefighters managed to keep the fire confined to the roof of the building and a single maintenance room, he added.
The fire caused an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 worth of damage, Yule said.
The plant manufactures food products for sales in stores and restaurants, according to its website.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Officials have released the name of a 39-year-old South El Monte man who died in a motorcycle crash in Santa Fe Springs Monday,
Jacob John Valdivia died in the 10:12 p.m. crash at Washington Boulevard and Chatfield Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Valdivia was westbound Washington Boulevard on his 2005 Harley-Davidson motorcycle at an unknown speed when he collided with a 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck that was making a left turn from eastbound Washington Boulevard to northbound Chatfield Avenue, Officer J. Boyd of the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs office said in written statement.
“(Valdivia) failed to stop in time as the front of the Harley-Davidson collided into the right, rear corner of the Dodge Ram,” Boyd said. “This caused major impact damage to the Harley-Davidson. (Valdivia) was ejected from the Harley-Davidson.”
Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, officials said. The driver of the Dodge, a 27-year-old Fullerton man, was not injured in the collision.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — A gunman fled with cash following a liquor store robbery early Friday, police said.
The crime took place about 7:30 a.m. when a man armed with a handgun walked into Bruce’s Liquors, at Imperial Highway and Bloomfield Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Mike Przybyl said.
The robber demanded money from the clerk and fled after obtaining an unknown amount of cash, the lieutenant said. He got into a car, which possibly had a driver waiting inside, which was last seen driving west on Imperial Highway.
A description of the robber was not available.
A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 90 years to life in prison for fatally shooting one man and trying to kill a second man near the railroad tracks in Santa Fe Springs in 2009.
Jose Zapata’s sentencing was held Tuesday at Norwalk Superior Court.
On Oct. 4, a jury convicted Zapata of the first-degree murder of 18-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez of Corning and the attempted murder of then 19-year-old Julio Serrano of Whittier, according to District Attorney spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales.
She said jurors found true the allegations the crimes were committed for the benefit of a street gang, that Zapata personally fired a handgun and used a gun.
The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery, murder during the commission of a carjacking and gang-murder, Davila-Morales said.
Zapata, who was 17 when the murder occurred, was tried as an adult. Whittier police said he was from West Covina at the time of his arrest.
The other defendant in the case, 22-year-old Erick Rodriguez of Whittier, was acquitted of the charges on Oct. 4., she said.
Whittier police said the shooting happened near the railroad tracks, just west of the 8900 block of Dice Road in Santa Fe Springs.
Officers checking out a call about gunfire at 12:20 a.m. Dec. 8, 2009, found the two victims.
Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene. The wounded Serrano was located on Dice Road and taken to a hospital.
Rodriguez and Zapata were identified as suspects in the shooting and arrested.
- Ruby Gonzales
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Police jailed four people on suspicion of drunken driving, and two others on other charges, during a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday, police said.
More than 900 cars were screened at the Whittier Police Department’s checkpoint, which was held from 8:30 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday on Slauson Avenue, just east of Sorenson Avenue, in Santa Fe Springs, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Four suspected drunken drivers were arrested, along with two other people who were jailed due to outstanding criminal warrant, police said.
A total of 22 drivers were cited during the checkpoint, Officer Brad White said.
The Whittier Police Department was planning another checkpoint on Dec. 14, according to the police statement. Such checkpoints have been shown to reduce the numbers of alcohol related injuries or deaths on the road.
“A major component of these checkpoints are the deterrent effects it has on those who might drive drunk or drugged impaired, bringing about more awareness and encouraging everyone to use sober designated drivers,” the statement said.
Funding for the checkpoints is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As always, anyone who sees an impaired driver on the road is asked to report it by calling 9-1-1.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Police plan to screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a Santa Fe Springs checkpoint Friday night, officials said.
The checkpoint is to be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson said in a written statement. The Whittier Police Department provides police services to the City of Santa Fe Springs.
“Over the course of the past three years in the cities of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, DUI collisions have claimed four lives and resulted in 119 injury crashes harming 167 of our friends and neighbors,” Hanson said.
Well publicized and routine DUI checkpoints, combined with “proactive DUI patrols,” have been linked to decreases of as much as 20 percent in crashes involving drunken or drug-impaired drivers, the sergeant said.
Funding for Friday’s checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Anyone who sees an impaired driver on the road is urged to report it by calling 9-1-1.
UPDATE: No burglary charges were filed against Michael Sanchez prior to his court appearance Monday due to insufficient evidence, according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was held in custody until Wednesday, however, before being released with “time served” in connection with an unrelated case out of Antelope Valley Superior Court, records show.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Deputies arrested a man they had been seeking in connection with a burglary investigation Thursday with help from a tipster, officials said.
Michael Anthony Sanchez, 22, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of burglary stemming from two break-ins in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Authorities released Sanchez’s photo and asked the public’s help in tracking him down Sept. 17. He was described as a homeless man who had recently been spotted in the Creek Park area of La Mirada, though he was also believed to have ties to Pico Rivera and the Antelope Valley.
Acting on a tip from the public, deputies from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station found and arrested Sanchez about 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Santa Fe Springs, sheriff’s officials said.
According to county booking records, Sanchez was being in held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Downey Superior Court.
Trial was underway Thursday for a Whittier man and a West Covina man accused of the gang-related slaying of one man and the attempted murder of another along a set of railroad tracks in Santa Fe Springs in late 2009, officials said.
Erick Rodriguez, now-22, of Whittier and Jose Zapata, now-21, of Whittier are accused of the Dec. 8, 2009 killing of 18-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez of Corning, along with the non-fatal shooting of then-19-year-old Julio Serrano of Whittier, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Officials and court documents. Rodriguez, who was 17 at the time of the crime, is being tried as an adult.
Jury trial for the men began Wednesday in Norwalk Superior Court with jury selection, which continued Thursday, court officials said.
In addition to the charges, the two defendants are accused of the special allegations that both men personally fired handguns in the crime, and that the shooting was gang-related.
The shooting took place about 12:20 a.m. along a secluded section of railroad tracks just west of the 8900 block of Dice road in Santa Fe Springs, Whittier police Officer Mike Dekowski said at the time.
Gonzalez died at the scene of the shooting, officials said. Serrano was found wounded nearby.
The following afternoon, investigators identified Rodriguez and Zapata as suspects in the shooting and arrested them in the 8600 block of Alburtis Avenue in an unincorporated county area just west of Whittier, police said.
According to county booking records, Rodriguez was being held without bail, while Zapata was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — An Idaho man is accused of burglary after being captured early Thursday at the scene of a break-in at a Norwalk Boulevard bar, authorities said.
Jonathan Christian Beggs, 23, was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police received a call about 2:20 a.m. from a passer-by who noticed someone inside the closed Sandwich Sports Bar, 10576 S. Norwalk Blvd., Whittier police Officer Brad White said. Officers quickly surrounded the building.
“Moments after the officers surrounded the building, (Beggs) exited the rear of the location and was apprehended,” police said in a written statement.
It was determined a cash register inside the business had been forced open, police added.