Long Beach business owner, musician killed in Whittier motorcycle crash identified

WHITTIER >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 33-year-old Long Beach man killed in a motorcycle crash in Whittier on Friday.
Carlos Gomez died at a hospital following the 4:45 p.m. crash on Hadley Street near Court Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
1001_NWS_WDN-L-MCIDHe was riding a Triumph motorcycle westbound when a vehicle turned in front of him, resulting in a collision, according to coroner’s and police officials. Following the initial impact, a second vehicle struck Gomez.
The drivers remained at the scene and cooperated with authorities, Whittier police officials said. The investigation was ongoing.
Friend Mari Mercado said Gomez leaves behind a wife and two children.
Gomez owned American Vintage Barbershop, she said, which has locations in both Long Beach and Whittier. He also served as lead singer of the rockabilly band, “Hi-Strung Ramblers.”
Fans of the band wrote condolences on songs posted on YouTube.
“Sad news today RIP Carlos,” wrote one user. “What a sad loss!!,” posted another.
“Carlos was a gentle soul a caring man (and) friend,” Mari wrote in an email. “He was the sweetest person you’d ever meet.”
Funds to benefit Gomez’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/carlosgomez.

PHOTO courtesy of the California DMV

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Truck crash shuts down Pickering Avenue in Whittier

WHITTIER >> A truck crashed into a utility police in Whittier Wednesday, causing no injuries but prompting the all-day closure of a portion of Pickering Avenue to accommodate repairs, authorities said.
The crash took place about 8:30 a.m. on Pickering Avenue, just north of Camilla Street, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The driver lost control of his northbound box truck and struck an electric pole, shearing it from the ground, Ellis said. The pole remained precariously upright, supported only by the power lines.
The driver suffered no injuries in the crash, and nothing criminal was initially suspected, Ellis said.
Officials shut down Pickering Avenue in both directions between Camilla Street and Pasadena Street as Southern California Edison workers repaired the damage, police said. It was unclear how long the closure would remain in place, though it was expected to last through much of Wednesday.

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Man found hanged in San Gabriel Riverbed, suicide suspected

INDUSTRY >> A man was found hanged in the San Gabriel Riverbed near the 605 and 60 freeway interchange Saturday afternoon in a what was being investigated as a suicide, authorities said.
A passer-by discovered the body of a 44-year-old El Monte man about 1 p.m., hanging from a tree in the riverbed near Pearson Avenue and Pellissier Road, in an unincorporated county area just outside of Industry, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene, coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral said.
An autopsy was pending, however there were no signs of foul play, and the death appeared to be a suicide, officials said.

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UPDATED: Man stabbed to death in South Whittier; suspect sought


SOUTH WHITTIER >> A man died as his alleged killer remained at large after a fight between two men over a woman escalated into a fatal stabbing early Saturday, authorities said.
The stabbing took place about 7:30 a.m. in the 13500 block of Trumball Street, in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier, according to Deputy Sara Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Tyrone Duran, 43, died in the alleged attack, Deputy Ruan Rouzan said. He was initially believed to be a San Gabriel resident.
Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said it appeared the Duran and his killer knew each other prior to the slaying.
They became involved in an argument, then a fist fight over an unknown issue, the lieutenant said.
“At some time during the fight, the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim one time,” Corina said.
“The victim stumbled on to the front lawn of a residence here. People at the house try to render him some aid.”
The attacker ran away and remained at large Saturday afternoon, Corina said.
Investigators recovered a large folding pocket knife believed to have been used in the stabbing at the scene, Corina said.
The wounded victim was taken to PIH Health Hospital in Whittier, where he succumbed to his injuries, officials said.
Officials said the fight and stabbing stemmed from an argument over a woman as the men were hanging out together.
“It appears that the victim and suspect had been arguing over the ex-girlfriend of the suspect when the fight and stabbing occurred,” Rouzan said.
George Delgado, 53, was being sought in connection with the slaying, Rouzan said. His city of residence was unclear.
Several neighbors said they didn’t see or hear anything unusual Saturday morning prior to deputies’ arrival.
Detectives continued seeking and interviewing witness. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Motorcyclist killed in Whittier crash

WHITTIER >> A man died after his motorcycle collided with an SUV along Hadley Street Friday afternoon, police said.
The crash took place about 4:45 p.m. at Hadley Street and Court Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
The injured man was taken to a hospital, but died a short time later, he said.
Ruiz said the SUV driver remained at the scene and was cooperating with investigators. No further details were available.
Hadley Street was shut down in both directions as police continued to investigate the scene Friday evening.

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Slauson Avenue shut down in West Whittier after car strikes high-voltage power pole

WEST WHITTIER >> A car crashed into a power pole along Slauson Avenue Friday afternoon, prompting a street closure expected to last through the night, officials said.
The crash took place about 3:40 p.m. at Slauson and Sal Avenues, just west of the 605 Freeway, in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
The driver of the newer-model Honda Accord, a man in his late-teen or early-20s, suffered apparently minor injuries in the crash but declined to be taken to a hospital, Los Angeles County Fire Department Firefighter John Andicochea said.
But the crash left a Southern California Edison power pole significantly damaged, officials said.
“It’s right below a transformer, so it’s super high-voltage. About 12,000 volts, I believe,” Andicochea said.
SCE officials were summoned to the scene to replace the damaged pole, CHP Officer Alex Rubio said.
Both directions of Slauson Avenue were expected to remain closed all night as utility workers made repairs, he said.
Westbound traffic was shut down between Pioneer Boulevard and Sal Avenue, while eastbound traffic was closed between Passons Boulevard and the 605 Freeway, officials said.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by officers from the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office.

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Man killed by deputies in Downey restaurant standoff was sought for questioning in East L.A. slaying, fire

Los Angeles County Sheriff's with other police agencies stand outside the Chris & Pitts restaurants where deputies shot and killed the carjacking suspett in Downey on Thursday September 10, 2015. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s with other police agencies stand outside the Chris & Pitts restaurants where deputies shot and killed the carjacking suspett in Downey on Thursday September 10, 2015. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

A man fatally shot by deputies after carjacking a woman in West Whittier, firing shots and taking hostages inside a Downey barbecue restaurant last week was being sought for questioning in connection with the slaying of a woman found dead inside her burning East Los Angeles home in August, authorities said.
Eddie Tapia, 41, died shortly before 9 p.m. Sept. 10, when Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau deputies stormed the Chris’ & Pitt’s restaurant on Lakewood Boulevard in Downey where he had held four people hostage for more than an hour and shot him, according to county sheriff’s and coroner officials. The hostages were freed unharmed.
0918_NWS_WDN-L-TAPIAFOLOThe standoff began after Tapia was spotted driving in a stolen car in the Pico Rivera area, then carjacked a woman in West Whittier before firing shots from a handgun as he fled into the crowded Downey restaurant, officials said.
As the investigation continued into Tapia, an ex-convict released from jail four months prior to the deputy-involved shooting, detectives revealed he had ties to 46-year-old Rocio Vasquez, who was found dead inside her home in the 700 block of Brady Avenue in East Los Angeles home early Aug. 8, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“Initially, the preliminary consensus was that the fire may have been accidental, but additional investigation, as well as an autopsy, would be necessary to confirm how the victim died,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“It was determined during the autopsy that Victim Vasquez had not died as a result of the fire, but she had been shot and killed prior to the fire being set,” according to the statement.
Though not named a suspect in the slaying, Tapia was one of several persons of interest detectives have been seeking in connection to their investigation into Vasquez’s slaying.
“He was a person we wanted to talk to,” Corina said.
“He was her friend,” the lieutenant said, adding that Tapia was known to frequent the victim’s home.
Tapia’s city of residence was unclear.
No arrests in have been made in Vasquez’s slaying.

— Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

PHOTO [ABOVE] by Keith Durflinger [BELOW] photo of Eddie Tapia courtesy of the California DMV.

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Whittier man accused of kidnapping, carjacking woman in Pasadena

PASADENA >> Police jailed a Whittier man on suspicion of kidnapping and carjacking a woman in Pasadena late Friday.
The strange crime took place shortly before 8 p.m. in the 400 block of South Lake Avenue as a 25-year-old Los Angeles woman was returning to her car after shopping in the area, Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo said.
A suspect ultimately identified as Andrew Sevillano, 27, of Whittier jumped into the passenger seat of the woman’s car and ordered her to drive, Carrillo said. He gave no destination where he wanted to go, but simply told the frightened woman to continue keep driving.
The car had reached Alhambra when the woman decided to jump out of the car and run, Carrillo said. Sevillano drove off in her car.
The woman sought help from a nearby resident, who called police on her behalf, the lieutenant said.
Officers found the car parked outside Pasadena High School about four hours later, Carrillo said. They found and arrested Sevillano at neighboring victory park.
Sevillano displayed no weapon during the crime, and his motives were unclear, he said.
Police were looking into the possibility that mental illness or intoxication may have played a role in the strange incident.

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Special needs student found dead on school bus in Whittier identified

WHITTIER >> Authorities have released the identity of a 19-year-old special needs student found dead after being left on a school bus for hours Friday afternoon.
Paramedics pronounced Hun Joon Lee of Whittier dead at the scene after he was found unresponsive in a bus parked at a Whittier Union High School District parking lot at Mulberry Drive and Greenleaf Avenue about 4:25 p.m., Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. An autopsy was pending.
Lee was believed to have been left alone on the bus for hours before being discovered by the bus driver, though the exact length of time was not clear, Whittier police Officer Brad White said. The investigation is ongoing.
WUHSD Superintendent Sandy Thorstensen said the incident left the district devastated. She offered condolences to Lee’s family and called for and called for a “speedy and thorough” investigation into Lee’s death.
Lee was a student at the Sierra Education Center’s transitional program, located adjacent to the district parking lot, WUHSD officials said.
The involved bus and driver were provided by Pupil Transportation Cooperative, a Whittier-based company providing school bus services to several Whittier-area school districts.

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UPDATED: Teenage special needs student found dead after being left on school bus for hours in Whittier

WHITTIER >> A 19-year-old special needs student died after he was left inside a school bus parked at a Whittier Union High School District parking lot for hours Friday afternoon, officials said.
The incident was first reported as a patient in “full arrest” about 4:25 p.m. in a school district parking lot along Mulberry Drive, between Painter and Greenleaf avenues, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials.
Firefighters responded to the scene but cancelled their response almost immediately, a fire dispatcher said. He said he had no further information.
Police officers first responded to a report of a “man down” on a bus at the district parking lot, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“The bus company, Pupil Transpiration (Cooperative), driver received a call from dispatch that a student was missing,” Whittier police Officer Brad White said. “He (returned) to his bus and that’s where he found this young man unresponsive.”
It was unclear how much time had passed.
When officers arrived at the scene, “They saw several bus drivers performing CPR on an adult male,” according to the statement. “Officers took over in an attempt to revive the adult male, but their attempts were unsuccessful. The Los Angeles County Fire Department arrived on scene shortly after and pronounced his death at 4:33 p.m.”
The teen’s cause of death was unknown, officials added.
There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
Friday’s afternoon temperatures soared well into the 90s.
Police labeled the incident a “suspicious death.”
It was unclear why the young man he did not get off with the other students when it arrived at the district office. District officials said he attended Sierra Education Center’s transitional program, adjacent to the district parking lot.
The bus driver was cooperating with investigators, White said.
“This tragedy has devastated all of us,” WHUSD Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson said in a written statement.
” We are still gathering information about what happened.  The District is calling for a speedy and thorough investigation to determine how something like this could happen,” Thorstenson said. ” Our hearts are with our student’s parents and family–we’re all grieving.  We’re making ourselves, our counseling services and our staff available to his family and to our students and staff who were close to him.”  — Sandy Thorstenson, Superintendent.”
The Whittier Union High School District contracts for it’s buses and drivers with the Whittier-based company Pupil Transportation Cooperative.
PTC also provides school bus services for the Whittier City Elementary School District, the East Whittier City Elementary School District, the Los Nietos Elementary School District, the Little Lake City Elementary School District, the South Whittier Elementary School District and the El Rancho Unified School District.
Representatives of PTC could not be reached for comment late Friday.

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