MONTEBELLO — Police and coroner’s officials are investigating the death of a woman believed to have plunged from a balcony at a senior citizens’ condominium complex Thursday as a suicide, officials said.
The death was first reported about 5:45 p.m. in the 1300 block of West Beverly Boulevard, Montebello police Lt. Rich Meadows said. The dead woman appeared to be in her 50s.
“She was located in the east driveway, and she had injuries that were consistent with a high altitude fall,” Meadows said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner will conduct an investigation to determine the officials cause of death.
Nothing criminal was initially suspected, however the investigation was ongoing.
LA HABRA HEIGHTS — Authorities have identified a man found dead in a truck on Vista Road from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound as the president of the Don Steves Autoplex in La Habra.
Donald Thomas Steves, Jr., 70, of La Habra, was pronounced dead shorty after his body was discovered about 5 p.m. Thursday inside a Chevrolet pickup truck parked in the 2300 block of Vista Road in La Habra Heights, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s and sheriff’s officials.
A passerby noticed a truck that hadn’t moved in about an hour, went for a closer look and found the body, sheriff’s Sgt. Dwight Miley said.
An autopsy had not been carried out Friday, coroner’s Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said. It was expected to be performed Saturday at the earliest.
Steves was the president of the Don Steves Autoplex in La Habra, previously known as Don Steves Chevrolet. The family business was started by his father six decades ago.
A representative at the business did not wish to comment Friday.
DUARTE — A man died Friday afternoon after apparently jumping from an overpass of the 210 Freeway into rush-hour traffic, authorities said.
The dead man was initially described as a Latino man who appeared to be in his 40s, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Julio Salcido said.
Authorities were alerted about 4:15 p.m. of the situation on the eastbound 210 Freeway, between Mountain Avenue and Buena Vista Street, the sergeant said.
Witnesses reported that the man appeared to have jumped onto the freeway from a pedestrian bridge, officials said. He was then struck by at least one vehicle.
Officials pronounced the man dead at the scene.
Three lanes of traffic on the eastbound 210 Freeway were shut down for about three hours due to the investigation, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The death is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
ARCADIA — A man apparently shot himself to death Friday on the stairwell of a commercial building, police said.
The name of the man, who was in his 50s, was not released pending notification of family members, Arcadia police Lt. Paul Foley said.
“At approximately 9:20 a.m., the Arcadia Police Department was contacted by a 9-1-1 caller who reported a man with a gun in the 500 block of Las Tunas Drive,” Foley said in a written statement. “The caller advised seeing an unconscious man lying on a stairwell at a small common commercial complex and that this man was holding a handgun.”
Officers determined that the man had apparently shot himself in the head, Foley said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
No suicide not was found at the scene, police said.
The death is being investigated by Arcadia police, as well as the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.
MONTEBELLO — A man found fatally shot in front of a gas station Sunday afternoon was believed to have committed suicide, authorities said.
The man’s name was not released Sunday pending notification of his family members, Montebello police Lt. Rich Meadows said. He was described as a 61-year-old Montebello man.
A passer-by called police just before 4:20 p.m. to report the death at a Valero gas station, 1761 Paramount Blvd., Meadows said.
Police officers found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police said. A gun was found near the body.
Police and coroner’s officials were investigating the death as a suicide, Meadows said, and no foul play was initially suspected.
Traffic was blocked on Paramount Boulevard between Arroyo Drive and Neil Armstrong Street during the investigation.
From staff and wire reports:
A missing schoolteacher from South Gate apparently committed suicide in the Angeles National Forest, it was reported Sunday.
Rigoberto Ruelas, 39, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, was last seen last Sunday dropping off a present for his sister’s birthday, according to the South Gate Police Department.
Ruelas notified the school he would need a substitute teacher assigned for his classes on Monday and Tuesday, but he did not show up to work on Wednesday and had not called in, police said. His family reported him missing that day.
Ruelas’ body was found just before 9 a.m. in the forest, said Deputy Jeff Gordon of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.
“(Sheriff’s deputies) had been conducting training exercises near the Big Tujunga Canyon area of the Angeles National Forest,” he said. “On Big Tujunga Canyon Road near mile marker 6.6, they located a vehicle connected to Rigoberto Ruelas, who had been reported missing. A subsequent search in the ravine approximately 100 feet below a nearby bridge lead to the discovery of Rigoberto Ruelas, who was deceased.”
Suicide was suspected, authorities reportedly said.
Family members told a TV station that he scored low on a teacher rating report recently published by the Los Angeles Times, and that may have caused Ruelas to go missing.
The newspaper’s database lists Ruelas as being “less effective than average overall,” “Less effective than average in math,” and “average in English.”
The Times’ analysis of teacher performance took into account available student scores on standardized tests between 2002 and 2009.
“The value-added scores reflect a teacher’s effectiveness at raising standardized test scores and, as such, capture only one aspect of a teacher’s work,” reads a disclaimer on the online database of teachers.
“Although value-added measures do not capture everything that goes into making a good teacher or school, The Times decided to make the ratings available because they bear on the performance of public employees who provide an important service, and in the belief that parents and the public have a right to the information,” according to the website.
The study looked at about 6,000 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers at 470 Los Angeles elementary schools.
Family members reportedly said Ruelas had been a teacher for 14 years, with near perfect attendance.
ARCADIA — A man is believed to have committed suicide early Friday in an Arcadia parking lot.
Hsienmin Kuo, 58, of Temple City was pronounced dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said.
Police received a call about 8 a.m. reporting a “possible suicidal subject” in a business area in the 500 block of Las Tunas Drive, Arcadia police Sgt. Dan Crowther said in a written statement.
As officers were en route, he said, a second call informed them that the person appeared to be dead.
Officials found the body of the man underneath a stairwell in a parking lot, Lt. Colleen Flores said.
“Preliminary investigation revealed the victim died of apparent self-inflicted injuries,” Crowther said.
The injuries were initially reported as stab wounds, coroner’s officials said.
Coroner’s investigators will conduct an autopsy to determine the official cause of death.
From staff and wire reports:
MONTEBELLO — County mental health and child abuse investigators looking into an 11-year-old Montebello boy’s suicide threat said they didn’t learn key information about an abusive stepfather who answered the door at his house until after the boy is believed to have hanged himself, according to a report published Sunday.
The Department of Children and Family Services workers lacked key information on the boy because of communication difficulties at the agency, a newspaper reported.
On June 8, the workers visited the boy’s home in Montebello after he told a school counselor he wanted to kill himself.
The workers did not learn until after the suicide that the stepfather who answered the door had a history of drug abuse and domestic violence and that a court had barred him from living in the home. That information could have prompted officials to remove the boy from the home.
County workers had noted disheveled conditions, drugs, neglect and violence in the houses the boy had lived in since he was a baby. But the social worker who visited him with police officers did not have all of that information.
“This was a very difficult case, and we’re still trying to determine what happened,” Supervisor Gloria Molina said.
The death is among several recent incidents that underscore communication problems that have plagued the department due to lack of funding, unused technology and legal limitations.
The department in 2007 bought 2,400 tablet computers that would have made the information available to the workers by giving them access to the department’s entire database, but only 400 wireless cards to make the devices work.
Most of the tablets gather dust desks while workers use only their cell phones to connect with the office.
The county has worked to expand a database where different agencies can share information like the boy’s complete history, but efforts have stalled as state
legislators attempt to ease restrictions on what information can be shared.
On the day he hanged himself, the fifth-grader had spent the morning at school crying, telling the school counselor life was “unbearable.” He said classmates bullied him and his mother hit him while his stepfather held him down, county records showed.
The boy said he wanted to kill himself “because I’m tired of people hitting me all the time,” the records said.
The school counselor called the county Department of Mental Health and filed a child abuse report with the Department of Children and Family Services. He warned that the boy had threatened to shoot himself, and in the past had threatened to hang himself with a rope. The social worker who visited the home later that day was told of the gun warning and looked for one, but did not look for a rope.
When the social worker asked about the last time his mother struck him, the boy shrugged his shoulders, and said “no” when asked if he feared her. Records showed that the mother seemed concerned for the boy’s welfare that day, and authorities thought it was safe to leave the boy in the home.
The social worker also did not know that the stepfather had been limited to visits to the house, and did not look into whether he was living there.
The mother and other family members reportedly declined to comment on the death.
As his family gathered to watch the Lakers play in the NBA finals, the boy slipped into his mother’s bedroom and closed the door, county records showed.
When his mother went to call the boy for dinner, the stepfather heard a scream, and he walked into the room and found her holding the boy’s limp body in her arms.
Montebello police received a report of an attempted suicide about 9 p.m. in the 100 block of South 3rd Street, police and coroner’s officials said.
“An 11 year-old-male was found by family members unresponsive at their home in Montebello,” Montebello police Lt. Michael Bergman said shortly after the incident.
“It appears the 11-year-old attempted to take his own life by hanging himself,” he said.
The boy was taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital where he died at 1 p.m. on June 10, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Daniel Machian said.
His official cause of death remained under investigation Sunday, Machian added. “The doctor ordered further toxicological studies.”
The coroner’s investigation would likely be completed in early August, he said.
PASADENA — A woman died Wednesday after apparently jumping from the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, police said.
Police received a call from a passing motorist about 1:50 p.m. reporting that a woman had climbed over the guard rails along the bridge, Pasadena police Lt. Tom Pederson said.
“Apparently, just moments before we arrived, she jumped,” the lieutenant said.
Police summoned coroner’s officials to the scene to pick up the body and conduct an investigation, Pederson said.
Wednesday’s incident was the second time in a week that an apparent suicide has been reported at the Colorado Street Bridge.
A passer-by found the body of a 25-year-old Covina man Saturday, who also apparently leapt from the bridge within days of being discovered, police and coroner’s officials said.
Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said Wednesday that an autopsy determined Madril died of blunt force injuries and the death was ruled a suicide.
CASTAIC — Coroner’s officials Wednesday identified a woman who apparently killed herself by mixing chemicals inside a car in Castaic as a 20-year-old West Covina resident who had been reported missing.
The cause of death remained under investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, however the woman initial appeared to have committed suicide by mixing chemicals in her parked car to create a poisonous gas, Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
The woman’s body was discovered about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in a field about 1,000 yards from Lake Hughes Road, near Dry Gulch Road, he said.
A patrol deputy spotted a blue Honda Civic that looked like it may have been abandoned and checked the license plate number, Whitmore said. The plate was listed as belonging to a missing person.
“As he walked up to the car, (the deputy) saw signs saying ‘stay away,’ and ‘suicide,’” and warning of poison gas in the car, he said. The deputy then saw the body of a woman slumped in the back seat of the car.
Sheriff’s arson officials and Los Angeles County Firefighters carefully opened the car, Whitmore said.
The woman had been reported missing by family members Sunday, West Covina police Sgt. Pat Benschop said.
“There was nothing suspicious other than she was not where she was supposed to be,” he said.
Police deferred all further questions to the sheriff’s department.
Though coroner’s officials said the woman was not of Asian descent, the method authorities suspect the woman used to kill herself Tuesday, hydrogen sulfide gas poisoning, originated as a trend in Japan.Hundreds of people reportedly killed themselves in Japan in a similar fashion during the first six months of 2008.
The apparent suicide in Castaic was not the first such incident in Los Angeles County.
A 23-year-old Pasadena man died in August, 2008, after apparently mixing chemicals in his car as it was parked in the 400 block of Rosemead Boulevard in Pasadena. According to coroner’s officials, he too was not of Asian or Japanese descent.