Deputy, elderly woman hurt in South Whittier crash


SOUTH WHITTIER >> Firefighters freed a sheriff’s deputy from a wrecked patrol car following a collision that left her and elderly civilian injured in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier, authorities said.
The crash took place about 10:50 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Valley View Avenue, Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. Both the deputy and the other driver were hospitalized in stable condition.
The deputy, a 6-year department veteran, was responding to a report of an alarm activation when the crash occurred, officials said. She was not using the patrol car’s emergency lights or sirens.
“The deputy was traveling west on Telegraph Road in the No. 3 lane when her patrol vehicle was struck by a Lexus sedan that was making a left turn from eastbound Telegraph Road onto northbound Valley View Boulevard,” Alexander said. “The force of the collision then caused the patrol vehicle to strike a signal pole and wrap itself around it.”
Firefighters cut the deputy free of the mangled patrol car before taking both her and an elderly woman who was driving the Lexus to hospitals for treatment, sheriff’s officials said.
The crash is being investigated by officers from the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Fe Springs area office. Any witnesses, or anyone with information, can reach the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office at 562-868-0503.


PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Elderly man dies at Uptown Whittier car show


WHITTIER >> A man died Saturday after he was found unresponsive at a car show in Uptown Whittier Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
The man, estimated to be in his 70s, was discovered in medical distress shortly before noon inside a portable restroom set up at Philadelphia Street and Bright Avenue to accommodate the Uptown Car Show, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Police officers performed CPR on the man pulseless man until paramedics arrived and rushed him to a hospital, the lieutenant said. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
Jeff Rheaume, 64, of Lake Hughes, who ran a booth at the car show with his wife, said he discovered the unresponsive man when he went to use the restroom himself.
The man appeared unconscious, he said, offering no response when asked if he was OK.
The incident appeared to be a medical issue, and no foul play was suspected, Ellis said.
— Correspondent Trevor Stamp contributed to this report.

Photo by Trevor Stamp

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UPDATED: Driver arrested after wild chase ends in Hacienda Heights

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A man in a stolen Honda Accord led California Highway Patrol officers on a chase that began in Norwalk and wound through the Whittier area before being captured in Hacienda Heights Friday afternoon.
The chase began at 3:04 p.m. at the intersection of the 605 and 105 freeways in Norwalk, CHP Officer Jennifer Bond said.
An officer spotted the car driving along the shoulder of the northbound 605 Freeway, Officer Kevin Tao said. The driver refused to pull over, initiating a chase. Pursuing officers soon determined that the Accord had been reported stolen.
The driver exited the freeway at Whittier Boulevard and drove through Montebello on surface streets before returning the the northbound 605 Freeway via Telegraph Road, Tao said.
The chase then worked it’s way to Washington Boulevard in Whittier, where the car exited the freeway and drove to Turnbull Canyon via city streets. Officers cancelled their pursuit as the driver continued up the winding and narrow Turnbull Canyon Road into Hacienda Heights, officials said.
The driver jumped fro the still-rolling car about 3:40 p.m., allowing the car to strike a dirt embankment near Blue Sky and Holly Tree roads in Hacienda Heights, Tao said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies then launched a neighborhood search for the suspect as he continued fleeing on foot.
Deputies found and arrested the suspect in the area about 4:20 a.m., sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said.

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Man sought in Whittier ice cream parlor robbery


WHITTIER >> Police are seeking a gunman caught on camera holding up a Whittier ice cream parlor last week.
The robbery unfolded about 1:30 p.m. on May 27 at Baskin-Robbins, 15234 Whittier Blvd., according to Whittier police officials and logs.
“The suspect entered the location and went behind the front counter,” Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said. “(He) then produced a black semi-automatic handgun and ordered the money from the cash register.”
After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, the robber fled from the area in a black, 2013 to 2016, two-door Honda Accord with tinted windows, Scoggins said.
He was described as a Latino man in his late-20s, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 170 pounds, wearing a baby blue V-neck shirt, gray pants, white shoes and a grey “Oakley” cap.
Police circulated surveillance camera images of the suspect via social media in hopes of generating tips from the public as to the robbers identity, Scoggins said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police Detective Jose Bolanos at 562-567-9281. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.


PHOTOS courtesy of the Whittier Police Department

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Whittier police plan bike safety crackdown

WHITTIER >> Police are planning a special enforcement campaign Tuesday focused on improving safety for bicyclist, officials said.
During the bicycle safety enforcement operation, officers will conduct special patrols seeking both drivers and bicyclists who make traffic violations, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Officials will focus, in particular, on areas that have seen the highest number of bicycle-involved collisions.
Whittier police have investigated 113 bicycle collisions involving injury or death over the past three years, according to the statement.
Funding for the campaign is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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South Whittier gas station clerk beaten in failed robbery

SOUTH WHITTIER >> Two men attacked a gas station attendant during a robbery attempt in South Whittier on Friday, but fled empty-handed after they couldn’t figure out how to open the cash register, authorities said.
The crime took place shortly before 2 a.m. at a Chevron station at Imperial Highway and Valley View Avenue, in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and logs.
Two men entered the store and punched the clerk, sheriff’s Lt. Robin Limon said.
The robbers tried to help themselves to the store’s money, but were unable to open the cash register and fled without taking anything, she said.
The clerk was taken to a hospital for treatment. The extent of his injuries was not available.
A detailed suspect description was not available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Autistic Whittier man arrested for kidnap attempt released without charges

WHITTIER >> Prosecutors declined to file charges Wednesday against an autistic Whittier man arrested this week on suspicion of kidnapping after he allegedly tried to grab a young girl outside an elementary school, authorities said.
After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors declined to file a criminal case against David Brooks, 50, of Whittier, in connection with Monday’s incident outside Ocean View Elementary School, 14359 E. Second Street, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The decision to declined the case was made, “in the interest of justice,” she said.
Whittier police jailed Brooks on suspicion of attempted kidnapping Monday afternoon after he approached and tried to grab a 12-year-old girl, Whittier police Cpl. Glenn Hedgpeth said at the time. The frightened girl ran onto the school to seek help.
Neighbors and family members immediately came forward to say that Brooks was severely mentally disabled, but kind, gentle and peaceful, and the incident must be a misunderstanding. Police declined to comment on Brook’s mental state, citing medical privacy laws.
Officials booked Brooks into jail and set bail at $1 million pending an initial court appearance, scheduled for Wednesday, Los Angeles County booking records show.
Brooks’ brother Bill Brooks said David is severely autistic and has lived in the same East Whittier home for his entire life.
“I don’t feel by my brother had the physical strength or the wherewithal to commit the type of crime he was accused of,” the brother said.
He pointed out that David Brooks has never been in trouble with the police before. And when coaches at the school told him to stay there and wait for police, he complied, making no effort to flee.
Once family members arrived at the police station Wednesday night and explained David Brook’s condition, officials appeared to be sympathetic, but informed them that he would have to remain in custody pending his court appearance, unless the $1 million bail was posted.
Bill Brooks said he wished the police had been more understanding of his brother’s condition from the beginning, especially since the family has informed the police of his condition in the past as a precaution.
“They assured me that this was in the computer,” so officers who encountered him would immediately be notified of his disability,” Bill Brooks said. “To my knowledge, that did not happened when he was initially contacted by the Whittier Police Department. It took them a long time to realize that he had a disability.”
And Brooks said the $1 million bail amount seemed excessive, under the circumstances. “ He has no drivers license, no ability to drive. He doesn’t have the wherewithal to flee. He doesn’t have a passport,” the brother said.
But Bill Brooks also said he was grateful to Whittier police officials for their consideration.
“He’s a picky eater,” the brother said. Police officers picked up food from Subway Sandwiches and other familiar foods David Brooks was willing to eat.
Bill Brooks said he sympathized with the young girl, as she was likely “traumatized” by the incident.
But the incident was also traumatic for David Brooks, he said. “He thought he couldn’t go home ever again.”
“It’s hard for me to second-guess the police, because I wasn’t there,” Bill Brooks said. “I do not know what David said to his victim. I don’t know if he actually attempted to touch her in any way.”
But Brooks said he feels the incident could be a learning experience.
“I think that the Whittier Police Department needs to review their policies regarding the way they deal with disabled people,” he said.
David Brooks’ father looked after him until his death in 2001, at which time the family obtained caretakers to look after David.
The organization Community Advocates for Peoples’ Choice, or CAPC, initially provided a caretaker seven days a week, Bill Brooks said. But the caretaker services were reduced to five days a week following a change in labor laws related to “domestic workers” in 2014.
Following this weeks incident, the agency plans to again provide David Brooks with a caretaker seven days a week, he said.
According to county booking records, David Brooks was released from custody shortly after noon Wednesday.

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23 arrests made during Whittier checkpoint

WHITTIER >> Police arrested one alleged drunken driver, as well a 22 others during a an overnight checkpoint in Whittier, officials said Saturday.
The checkpoint was held from 7 p.m. Friday to into the early-morning hours Saturday along Mulberry Drive, just east of Santa Fe Springs Road, Whittier police Sgt. David Elizarraras said in a written statement.
In addition to the drunken driver, police arrested and released with citations for driving without licenses or with suspended or revoked licenses, he said. Two of those people were also arrested for outstanding warrants.
Police impounded seven vehicles during the checkpoint, officials said.

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Two men jailed, drugs seized during early-morning raid at Whittier apartment

WHITTIER >> An early-morning search warrant led police to arrest two men — including an injuncted gang member — and seize a cache of methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana, along with suspected stolen property and burglary tools, officials said.
Larry Paul Salazar, 54, of Whittier was booked on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales, drug possession and possession of a billy club during the raid, which took place shortly before 6 a.m. at an apartment in the 7200 block of Milton Avenue, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Joshua Jacob Poore, 34, a Whittier resident an injuncted member of the Whittier Varrio Locos street gang, was booked on suspicion of heroin possession, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools, trespassing and violating the gang injunction, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
Detectives arrived at the apartment, armed with a search warrant, as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
At the targeted apartment, officers found and arrested Salazar, he said. Inside the apartment, officers found a quarter-pound of methamphetamine, 4.5 grams of black tar heroin, 7.1 grams of marijuana and a billy club.
Police found Poore hiding in the laundry room of an apartment building, White said. He had heroin, suspected stolen checks and credit cards and burglary tools with him.
According to county booking records, Salazar was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance. Poore was released from custody Friday afternoon pending his initial court appearance after posting $10,000 bail.

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Glendale woman sentenced for DUI crash that killed Whittier man in Pico Rivera


PICO RIVERA >> A Glendale woman who triggered a fatal crash when she drove through a red light in Pico Rivera while drunk has begun serving a six-year prison term for the crime, officials said Wednesday.
Christine Vahe Mesdjian, 28, pleaded “no contest” to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated during a pretrial hearing on Thursday in the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
“She was immediately sentenced to six years in state prison,” Ardalani said.
An additional count of felony DUI was dismissed in connection with the Feb. 15, 2015, three-vehicle crash that claimed the life of David Andrew Jaramillo, 59, of Whittier.
Mesdjian initially told investigators she fell asleep at the wheel prior to the crash, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Jose Marquez said. But skid marks created in the street prior to the collision contradicted her story, he said.
Mesdjian was driving a Toyota pickup truck north along Paramount Boulevard about 8 p.m. when she blew through a red light and hit the passenger side of a Toyota Scion heading east on Slauson Avenue, according to Marquez.
The force of the collision pushed the Scion into a Toyota Camry heading west on Slauson Avenue.
Jaramillo, who was driving the Scion, died at the scene.
Mesdjian and three people inside the camera were treated for injuries as well, officials said.
Deputies did not arrest Mesdjian the night of the crash, but ultimately turned over the findings of their investigation to prosecutors, who obtained an arrest warrant for Mesdjian in late June of 2015. She turned herself in to authorities June 30.

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