ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Coroner’s officials Wednesday confirmed that skeletal remains found near an overgrown SUV crash scene in the Angeles National Forest near Mt. Wilson last week are those of a 47-year-old Sunland woman who went missing more than two years ago.
Kimberly Ann Blum, 47, was last seen on June 5, 2014, after leaving her sister’s home in La Crescenta, according to Los Angeles police investigators and her mother, Rosalie Blum.
After more than two years with no answers as to the circumstances of her disappearance, authorities discovered Blum’s Honda CRV SUV on Aug. 24, more than 500 feet over the side of Angeles Crest Highway, near mile marker 41.69, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Skeletal remains were found near the SUV, which was being overgrown with weeds and foliage, the lieutenant said. But the remains remained officially unidentified due to the condition of the remains.
Coroner’s investigators determined through dental record comparison that the person found dead at the apparent crash scene was, in fact, Kimberly Blum, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Chief of Operations Brian Elias said.
Blum’s cause of death remained under investigation, Elias said.
PHOTO of Kimberly Blum, courtesy
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Coroner’s officials have confirmed that two scorched bodies found in the wake of the 5,400-acre San Gabriel Complex fire in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa in late June were those of a teenage hiker and his cousin, who had gone missing during a camping trip into area just hours before the fast-spreading fires ignited, authorities said.
The remains of Johnathan Adrian Pardo, 16, and Carlos Antonio Perez, 31, were first discovered about 2 p.m. June 7 along San Gabriel Canyon Road, just east of the Morris Dam, near the origin point of the Reservoir Fire, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials. Both were described as Los Angeles residents.
Worried family members reported Pardo and Perez missing on the evening of June 23, after they failed to return from the forest, Azusa police Sgt. Terry Smith said. Family reported they had gone camping and fishing in the forest on the morning of June 20, just hours before the Reservoir Fire ignited nearby at about 11 a.m. Less than two hours later, the Fish Fire also began tearing through brush in the area.
Searching for the missing cousins was limited as the wildfires continued to rage, officials said.
The remains were recovered from the forest June 8, the day after they were discovered.
Though officials and family members, some of whom joined officials in the search, suspected they knew who the bodies belonged to all along, official identification at the coroner’s office was delayed due to the charred condition of the remains.
Causes of death for both Pardo and Perez have not yet been determined, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The Reservoir fire was sparked when a truck crashed off the side of the road, authorities said.
The driver of the truck, 53-year-old Michael Spengler, died in the crash, coroner’s officials said. An autopsy determined he died from multiple blunt force injuries and thermal burns. The death was ruled accidental.
The Reservoir fire, along with the Fish fire, which ignited just a few miles away the same day, became known as the San Gabriel Complex fires, which burned for more than a week before being fully contained.
More than 1,300 residents were evacuated as a result of the fire, but no structures were damaged or destroyed.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Investigators recovered skeletal remains found near an overgrown SUV crash scene deep in the Angeles National Forest north of Mt. Wilson on Wednesday, launching an investigation into who the remains belonged to and how the person died, a homicide detective said.
Caltrans officials first noticed a set of skid marks about 1:30 p.m. leading off side of Angeles Crest Highway, near mile marker 41.69, Lt. Randy Tuinstra of the sheriff’s La Crescenta Station said.
Members of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team descended the steep roadside and found an SUV 500 to 600 feet over the roadside, Lt. Steve Jauch of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. The SUV, which the lieutenant declined to describe in detail, was being overgrown with weeds and foliage. He declined to speculate how many months or years the SUV may have been there.
The original skid marks that prompted the search were found to have been the result of an unrelated crash that occurred about a week ago, Jauch said.
No body was initially found.
But officials returned to the scene Wednesday to resume their search. Search and Rescue officials discovered the skeletal remains “in the vicinity” of the SUV about 8 a.m., Jauch said.
The vehicle identification number on the SUV connected it to a missing person’s case launched by the Los Angeles Police Department about two years ago, Jauch said. He declined to discuss the specifics of the LAPD missing person case pending the identification of the remains. “It wouldn’t be responsible,” the lieutenant said.
The age or gender of the person whose skeletal remains were found remained a mystery, he said.
“We have no idea who they belong to,” Jauch said.
Despite the remains being found near the crashed SUV, Jauch said detectives had yet to determine whether the person had been inside it, or if the location of the remains was yet another coincidence.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is now conducting an investigation into the identity of the person, as well as the cause of death.
Anyone with information can reach 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.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> The death of a man found shot at a shooting range in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa over the weekend has been ruled a suicide, coroner’s officials said Wednesday.
The shooting took place shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday at the Burro Canyon Shooting Park, 22100 East Fork Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The man, a 25-year-old South El Monte resident, was found collapsed and mortally wounded on a firing range at the facility, according to Brian Elias, chief of operations for the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. There were no eye-witnesses to the actual shooting.
An autopsy determined the man died from a gunshot wound to the head, and the death was ruled a suicide, Elias said.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Coroner’s officials and sheriff’s homicide investigators continued working Friday to recover the remains of two people discovered in an area burned during the recent San Gabriel Complex fires in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa, authorities said.
The badly charred remains were first discovered shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday along San Gabriel Canyon Road, near the origin point of the Reservoir Fire, which was ignited June 20 when a pickup truck crashed off the side of the road, bursting into flames and killing the driver.
“The identification and gender of the remains are unknown as they were burned beyond recognition,” according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau said.
“Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner personnel indicate it may take approximately four weeks to accurately identify the remains,” she said.
A passery-by first reported making the grisly discovery.
“A fire crew from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, working in the area, was flagged down by a person who indicated they had located human remains,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Sheriff’s officials responded to the scene but did not immediately find the remains described by the witness, officials said.
“The Los Angeles County Fire Department conducted an initial search from the air, but did not locate any signs of remains in the steep and rough terrain,” according to the statement.
Members of the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team continued searching on the ground and ultimately found “what appears to be the human remains of two people,” according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
The remains were discovered on a ravine just east of the Morris Dam, Winter said.
Sheriff’s officials cordoned off the scene and kept watch overnight. Sheriff’s homicide detectives and coroner’s Special Operations and Recovery Team members, who specialize in excavating and recovering remains, returned to the site at dawn Friday to resume their investigation and recovery efforts.
The remains were exhumed Friday afternoon, officials said.
It was unclear whether the death were a result of the fire, or occurred before it began.
The Reservoir Fire grew to more than 1,100 acres before being contained, U.S. Forest Service officials said.
About 90 minutes after the Reservoir Fire ignited, a second fire broke out in the hillsides north of Duarte, officials said. The Fish Fire, named due to it’s proximity to Fish Canyon, scorched more than 4,200 acres before being contained. The cause remained under investigation Friday, U.S. Forest Service Fire spokesman Nathan Judy said.
The two separate but nearby wildfires were christened the San Gabriel Complex fires.
PHOTO: Los Angeles sheriff’s County Deputy Harper looks over a ridge on June 23, 2016, where a truck was found that was believed to have started the Reservoir Fire, one half of the two-fire San Gabriel Complex Fire, that ignited in the Angeles National Forest north of the San Gabriel Valley on June 20, 2016. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Firefighters made quick work of a 5-acre brush fire that ignited Saturday on a rifle range at the Burro Canyon Shooting Park along East Fork Road in the Angeles National Forest, officials said.
The fire, dubbed the Burro fire, was first reported just before 11 a.m. on a rifle range at the shooting range, along East Fork Road just east of San Gabriel Canyon Road, U.S. Forest Service Fire Information Officer Nathan Judy said.
The fire grew to 4 to 5 acres in size by early afternoon, but was already 20 to 40 percent contained, according to U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials. County firefighters assisted their federal counterparts.
Officials announced the fire had been 100 percent contained shortly after 3 p.m.
Eight fire engines, as well as firefighting aircraft, were summoned to battle the blaze, which burned through light to medium brush on moderately steep terrain, he said.
California Highway Patrol officers shut down San Gabriel Canyon Road leading into the forest as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies headed into the forest to prepare for any possible evacuations, should they become necessary, sheriff’s Lt. Elisabeth Sachs said.
Officials ended up evacuating the shooting range itself, but other nearby recreation areas, such as Crystal Lake, remained open.
All affected forest roads were reopened once the fire was extinguished.
U.S. Forest Service officials raised the Fire Danger Level in the Angeles National Forest from “High” to “Very High” on Monday ahead of this weekend’s predicted heat wave.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation. Judy pointed out that steel-core bullets are prohibited on the shooting range due to the risk of sparks igniting a wildfire.
Judy said the Burro Fire burned up against the already-charred areas scorched by last year’s 1,700-acre Cabin Fire.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Authorities have released the identity of a 72-year-old South Carolina man who died in a collision with a Jeep along Angeles Crest Highway in the forest north of Altadena over the weekend.
Richard Bucci died at following Sunday’s 1:45 p.m. crash near mile marker 46 of Angeles Crest Highway, deep in the Angeles National Forest, just south of Mount Mooney Road, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials said.
A 52-year-old Covina woman and a 53-year-old Walnut man suffered injuries in the collision between their 2006 Jeep SUV and Bucci’s 2011 BMW motorcycle, Officer A. McAllister of the California Highway Patrols’s Altadena area office said in a written statement.
Bucci was riding east along Angeles Crest Highway just prior to the crash, McAllister said. The Jeep, being driven by the Covina woman with the Walnut man riding as a passenger, was westbound. Conditions were clear, cool and dry.
“As both vehicles approached each other, the motorcycle crossed into the westbound lane and struck the (Jeep),” the officer said.
Paramedics pronounced Bucci dead at the scene, officials said.
The driver and passenger from the Jeep were treated for injuries described as moderate, McAllister said.
An autopsy found that Bucci died from “multiple blunt trauma,” and the death was ruled accidental.
The cause of the collision remained under investigation. No arrests were made.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer McAllister at the CHP’s Altadena area office at 626-296-8100.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> A man died and two other people suffered serious injuries in a crash between a motorcycle and a car Sunday afternoon on Angeles Crest Highway, deep in the Angeles National Forest north of Altadena, authorities said.
The collision was reported about 1:45 p.m. near mile marker 46.35 of the winding mountain road, on the forest road just south of Mount Mooney Road, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said.
A man died at the scene of the crash, Rubio said.
Two other patients were flown to a hospital by helicopter for treatment, sheriff’s officials said. Their conditions were not clear, and officials could not immediately confirm initial reports that the two injured patients had been riding in the car that collided with the motorcycle.
The CHP issued a Sig Alert affecting both directions of Angeles Crest highway through the late afternoon, logs show.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Two men beat and robbed a woman Saturday as she was stopped along San Gabriel Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora to take pictures of the scenery, authorities said.
The violent robbery took place about 11 a.m. near mile marker 19 of San Gabriel Canyon Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Elisabeth Sachs said.
A woman in her mid-20s parked her car and was taking photographs over the roadside when she saw to men approach her car, the lieutenant said.
The woman confronted the men, who attacked. “They struck her with their fists and kicked her with their feet,” Sachs said.
The victim fought back but was overpowered by her two attackers.
The robbers then rifled the woman’s pockets and fled with a small amount of money and other personal items.
The woman suffered significant but non-life-threatening injuries, Sachs said.
Both robbers were described as young Latino men between 16 and 20 years old.
One stood about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 150 to 170 pounds, with short black hair and clean-shaven, Sachs said. He wore a red short-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and black shoes.
His accomplice stood 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 240 to 260 pounds, with black hair grown long on top, also clean-shaven, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and black shoes.
The attackers fled in two separate vehicles, Sachs said. One was a 1990s-model four-door Honda, and the other was a gray, four-door Saturn hatchback.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s San Dimas Station at 909-450-2700. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of the 57-year-old San Diego doctor killed over the weekend when his single-engine airplane he was piloting crashed into a mountainside amid poor weather in the forest north of Altadena.
Thomas Bruff died in the crash, believed to have taken place about 9 a.m. Sunday, when his Cessna 182 disappeared from radar, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s and sheriff’s officials.
Bruff was reportedly a medical doctor with offices in San Diego and El Centro, who had traveled to Nepal and Ecuador to help with earthquake relief, according to NBC7 San Diego.
An autopsy determined Bruff died from “multiple blunt traumatic injuries,” and the death was determined to be accidental, according to coroner’s records. Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease was listed as a significant factor in the death.
Sheriff’s search and rescue teams spent more than seven hours searching for the wreckage after the airplane, registered to a San Diego-based company, disappeared by radar while en route to Santa Monica Airport from Montgomery Field in San Diego, according to sheriff’s and Federal Aviation Administration officials.
Rough weather and low visibility slowed the initial hours of the search efforts, as conditions did not allow for the use of search helicopters, according to sheriff’s Lt. Randy Tuinstra.
Once the crash site was located near Brown Mountain Sunday afternoon, paramedics pronounced Bruff dead at the scene. A lengthy process then began to recover his remains.
The FAA is carrying out an investigation into the cause of the crash.
PHOTO of June 15, 2016, airplane crash site near Mr. Brown in the Angeles National Forest north of Altadena courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.