Man badly injured in motorcycle crash in forest north of Azusa

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ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Rescuers flew a man to a hospital in critical condition Sunday following a motorcycle crash on San Gabriel Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa, officials said.
The crash took place about 1 p.m. on San Gabriel Canyon Road, near the Bichota Canyon Trail, north of the San Gabriel Reservoir, according to California Highway Patrol officials.
For reasons that were being investigated by the CHP’s Baldwin Park office, the motorcycle collided with a Mercedes-Benz sedan, CHP Officer Patrick Kimball said.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department captain described the 21-year-old man’s condition as critical.
Two people who were inside the Mercedes-Benz were unhurt, officials added.
The occupants of the Mercedes-Benz, as well as other passers-by, comforted the motorcyclist until help arrived.
Paramedics loaded the motorcyclist into a helicopter and rushed him to a hospital for treatment, Kimball said.
Authorities shut down both directions of San Gabriel Canyon road at the crash scene for about half-an-hour following the collision.

PHOTO courtesy of Manny Amaya

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Pasadena man accused of burglary, assault

PASADENA >> Police arrested a man on suspicion of assaulting a party bus driver early Sunday before discovering the suspect had also just broken into a nearby home, officials said.
Mario Anjel Caraveo, 22, of Pasadena is accused of assault with a deadly weapon and residential burglary following hi 8:30 a.m. arrest at Colorado Boulevard and Craig Avenue, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records
Officers first responded to a report of a burglary just after midnight in the 1800 block of Monte Vista Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
A 62-year-old man returned home from a bike ride to find an intruder inside his home, Luna said. The resident went to a neighbor’s house and called the police.
The burglar was gone when officers arrived, and he was not found during a search of the area, the lieutenant said. Several items, including a replica handgun, were stolen in the break-in.
Police responded to a second report of an alleged assault about 3:35 a.m. in the 1900 block of East Foothill Boulevard.
A party bus driver, 51, told police a man had approached him and pointed what appeared to be a handgun directly at him, Luna said. But the man ran off when another person approached the bus. It was not clear whether the incident was an abandoned robbery attempt.
Police did not find the suspect immediately following the crime, Luna said. However, an officer spotted a man matching the description of the assault suspect walking in the area of Colorado Boulevard and Craig Avenue about 6:30 a.m. and took him into custody.
Not only did officers identify Caraveo as a suspect in the assault on the bus driver, but they soon discovered that a replica handgun he was carrying had been taken in the Monte Vista Street burglary, Luna said.
Officer arrested Caraveo in connection with both crimes.
According to county booking records, Caraveo, who already has a previous criminal case pending against him, was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.

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UPDATED: Female Covina Valley Unified School District teachers accused of sex with students

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WEST COVINA >> Deputies arrested two Covina Valley Unified School District teachers on Saturday on suspicion of having sexual relationships with students, officials said.
South Hills High School teacher Melody Lippert, 38, of Covina and Michelle Ghirelli, 30, who was working on special assignment at the district office, are accused of engaging in sexual conduct with male students during two separate trips to San Clemente State Beach late last year, according to Orange County sheriff’s and CVUSD officials.
Records indicate Ghirelli served as a girls’ junior varsity softball coach at South Hills High School in 2010 through 2012.
Their arrests came just 10 days after police in West Covina arrested South Hills High School part-time girls’ wrestling coach Anthony Vidales, 29, of Covina on suspicion of having sex with a female student on Jan. 7. Police disclosed Vidales’ arrest Tuesday.
0119_NWS_SGT-L-WCTEACHERS2The alleged inappropriate conduct by the women began in November, when Lippert met a group of male students at San Clemente State Beach in Orange County, sheriff’s officials said.
• SOCIAL MEDIA: What students think of the Covina teachers’ arrest
“During the meeting at San Clemente State Beach, Lippert provided alcohol to students and engaged in a sexual relationship with one of them,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
“Several weeks later, Lippert orchestrated an overnight camping trip to the same location with Ghirelli and several of the same high school students,” the statement continued. “During the camping trip, Lippert and Ghirelli are suspected of engaging in sexual relations with two students.”
The student Lippert was allegedly involved with was 18 or older, Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said. Ghirelli’s alleged victim was under 18.
The camping trips took place over the Thanksgiving and Winter holidays and was not sponsored by the school or the Covina Valley Unified School District, CVUSD spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said.
District officials were in the process of placing both teachers on administrative leave Sunday, she said. Parents were notified of the arrests by a recorded telephone message.
Lippert, an English teacher at South Hills High School, has worked for the school district for 15 years, Van Der Linden said. Ghirelli has been with the district for five years.
Van Der Linden said she had no information regarding any previous assignments the teachers may have had in the district prior to their current positions.
“We’re obviously taking it very, very seriously,” Van Der Linden said. She encouraged anyone with information to contact sheriff’s investigators.
“We’re gong to have additional counselors available Tuesday for students and staff,” Van Der Linden said.
Orange County sheriff’s officials began investigating the women on the evening late Friday after West Covina police notified them of the alleged sexual misconduct in their jurisdiction, officials said.
The allegations came to light when a fellow teacher reported the alleged inappropriate relationships to district officials, Van Der Linden said.
“No additional information about the alleged sexual relationships or the student victims is being released,” according the sheriff’s department statement.
Neither woman could be reached by telephone for comment Sunday.
Social media exploded with comments about the latest scandal at South Hills High School, many from students and alumni of South Hills High School. Comments ranges from apparent concern to jokes and sarcasm.
“Headlining every news channel, go south hills,” Twitter user @_toricazarez posted on the social network.
“South hills is a joke now,” Twitter user @ChrisCjmartin posted.
Others posted about their shock in learning of the arrests.
“Mrs. Lippert would never do this? she’s a sweet person and very loving,” Twitter user @ellieeamayaa wrote.
“my prayers go out mrs lippert and mrs ghirelli.!” user @victor92999 posted on Twitter.
Officials booked Lippert on suspicion of conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Ghirelli was booked on suspicion of oral copulation and unlawful sex with a minor.
According to Orange County booking records, Lippert posted $20,000 bail and was released from custody Sunday pending her initial court appearance. Ghirelli was freed on $50,000 bail.
No additional incidents or victims were known to investigators Sunday, Hallock said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227.

PHOTOS: Top – Melody Lippert, 38, of Covina; Below – Michelle Ghirelli, 30, of Covina. (Courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

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VIDEO: Hikers rescued via helicopter from Switzer Falls mountain ridge


ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> A sheriff’s helicopter crew hoisted three stranded hikers and their dog to safety Saturday after they became trapped on a mountain ridge north of La Canada Flintridge, officials said.
The rescue took place about 12:45 p.m. near the Bear Canyon Campground in the Switzer Falls portion of the forest.
The hikers, two men, a woman and a dog, went off a trail, became disoriented and ended up stuck on a mountain top, unable to get back down, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“One hiker was able to make a cell phone call to contact the local sheriff’s station, Crescenta Valley Station, and requested help.
A sheriff’s department helicopter responded and hoisted all three people and their dog into the aircraft before flying them to safety, officials said. They were not hurt.

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CHP hosts teen driver safety class in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK >> The California Highway Patrol is hosting a class for teen drivers and their parents this month in Baldwin Park geared toward keeping young people safe while behind the wheel, officials said.
The CHP’s “Start Smart” class will be held from 6:15 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the CHP’s Baldwin Park office, 14039 Francisquito Ave., CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The free program educated both teens ages 15 to 19 and their parents regarding safe driving. A driver’s license is not needed to take part.
The main focus of the class is to demonstrate, “how poor choices behind the wheel of a car can effect the lives of numerous people,” Jimenez said.
Also discussed will be the CHP’s mission, the responsibilities of newly-licensed drivers, the responsibilities of parents (and) guardians and collision avoidance techniques,” he said.
Due to graphic pictures and video shown during the program, every teen must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and sign waiver form before the class begins.
Seating is limited.
To sign up, contact Officer Jimenez at the CHP’s Baldwin Park office at 626-338-1164, or email rjimenez@chp.ca.gov.

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Death of man struck by train in Pico Rivera ruled accidental

PICO RIVERA >> The death of a Pico Rivera man struck and killed by a train last month has been ruled an accident by coroner’s investigators, officials said.
Matthew Anthony Rivera, 25, died at a hospital shortly after being struck by a passenger train about 5:40 p.m. Dec. 19, alongside the 9200 block of Bermudez Street, Los Angeles sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
Though initially investigated as a possible suicide, an autopsy determined that Rivera died from “multiple traumatic injuries” and ruled the death accidental, coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Rivera was clipped by an eastbound passenger train while standing between two sets of tracks, officials said.
He had crossed the tracks just in front of a westbound freight train, but may have not seen the second train traveling in the opposite direction, coroner’s officials said.
Paramedics rushed Rivera to a hospital, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

- Staff writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.

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Whittier checkpoint nets 1 DUI arrest, 10 citations

WHITTIER >> Police arrested one alleged drunken driver and issued 10 citations during an overnight checkpoint in Whittier, officials said Saturday.
Officers screened 1,216 drivers during the checkpoint, which was held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday on Whittier Boulevard at Redman Avenue, just east of the 605 Freeway, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
Two drivers were given field sobriety tests, however only one of them was ultimately arrested for DUI, he said.
Officers cited nine people for driving without licenses and issued one additional “miscellaneous” citation, Ruiz said.
Police impounded two cars, one of them for 30 days, he added.

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UPDATED: Man arrested following East Valinda stabbing

EAST VALINDA >> A man is accused of stabbing his friend during an argument in East Valinda Friday, officials said.
The alleged attack took place about 3 p.m. in the area of Valley Boulevard and La Seda Road, in an unincorporated county area surrounded by West Covina, La Puente and Industry, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. David Contreras of the sheriff’s Industry Station said.
Deputies ultimately booked Manuel Castellanos, 22, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Capt. Tim Murakami said. He was believed to be a local resident.
The suspect and his alleged victim, also a man in his 20s, became involved in a dispute, Contreras said. The suspect pulled a knife, stabbing the victim in the torso and slicing his arm.
Contreras said the attacker fled from the scene but was soon captured by deputies.
Authorities said the victim was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
The suspect’s name was not available.
According to county booking records, Castellanos was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail his arraignment, scheduled Wednesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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UPDATED: Missing Pasadena woman found safe in Los Angeles

PASADENA >> A missing autistic woman with bipolar disorder and high blood pressure who went missing Wednesday turned up safe and sound at a Los Angeles bus stop Saturday, police said.
Authorities sought the public’s help in finding Gena Richardson, 46, after she disappeared from her home Pasadena home Wednesday afternoon. She had possibly been spotted at the Memorial Park Gold Line Station the same day.
A woman who recognized Richardson from media coverage saw her Saturday morning at a bus stop at the corner of Adams Boulevard and Figueora Street, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said. The good Samaritan flagged down a Los Angeles police officer.
Luna said Richardson was unharmed and was being reunited with her family.

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Meth lab discovered in Alhambra apartment


ALHAMBRA >> Police discovered a methamphetamine lab inside an Alhambra apartment Friday, officials said.
Officers checking up on an elderly man at the request of his landlord found the clandestine drug lab about 1:40 p.m. at an apartment in a complex at 110 N. Chapel Avenue, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
A landlord asked police to check on the apartment after not hearing from it’s elderly resident for several days, the sergeant said. “He was very concerned.”
Police went to the apartment and found “large pots filled with foul-smelling chemicals” throughout, Johnson said. No one was at the home, and the apartment did not appear as if anyone lived there.
Officials evacuated nine people from nearby apartments as they summoned a hazardous materials crew and a California Department of Justice team specializing in meth lab clean-up, Johnson said.
Preliminary testing confirmed the operation was a methamphetamine lab, he said.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the lab, or whether the elderly man police were initially sent to check on was involved, police said. The resident still had not been found Friday evening.
No suspects were in custody as the investigation continued, Johnson said.
The evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes about 6:30 p.m., Johnson said. The clean-up process continued Friday night.

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