POMONA >> Officials have identified a San Bernardino man who died in a crash on the 71 Freeway in Pomona on Friday night.
Brayan Noe Andrade Pacheco, 23, died at the scene of the 11:50 p.m. crash on the 71 Freeway at Old Pomona Road, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator John Kades said.
He was in a northbound car that crossed into opposing traffic and struck another vehicle in the southbound traffic lanes, Pomona police officials said.
Another person in the northbound car was also seriously injured, police said. It was not initially clear whether Andrade Pacheco had been the driver or a passenger.
One person in the southbound vehicle suffered injuries described as serious, while two others were treated for moderate injuries.
The investigation is ongoing.
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.
COVINA >> A 33-year-old West Covina woman died in a crash early Saturday after an SUV ran a red light and slammed into her pickup truck in an unincorporated county area just outside of Covina, authorities said.
Leslie Mendiola died in the 6 a.m. collision in the intersection of Lark Ellen Avenue and Cypress Street, according to Officer J. Smith of the California Highway Patrol’s Baldwin Park area office.
She was driving a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck south on Lark Ellen Avenue in the left-hand lane just prior to the crash, Smith said. A 27-year-old Covina woman was driving a 2002 Ford Expedition west on Cypress Avenue.
“(The driver of the Expedition) failed to stop at the circular red light at the intersection of Lark Ellen Avenue and Cypress Street,” Smith said. “Due to (her) failure to stop at the circular red light, the front of the Ford Expedition collided into the left side of the Ford F-150.”
Paramedics pronounced Mendiola dead at the scene.
The driver of the Expedition was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries described as minor, Smith said.
The investigation was ongoing Saturday afternoon, and the driver had not been arrested.
BASSETT >> A woman and a young girl believed to be her daughter died and two more girls suffered critical injuries in a solo-car crash alongside the 605 Freeway in Bassett in early Friday, authorities said.
The fatal crash took place about 7:30 a.m. on the southbound 605 Freeway, just north of the 60 Freeway, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Rich Licon said.
The identities of the victims had yet to be determined, according to Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Their city of residence was unclear.
Though not identified, a photograph found at the scene indicated that the four victims were a mother and her three children, California Highway Patrol Officer Gina Jojola said.
The 2005 Pontiac Grand Am was heading south when it veered off the side of the road, overturned and struck a tree, she said.
“As a result of the collision, the driver and right rear passenger sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased,” CHP Officer D. Jones said in a written statement. “The two remaining passengers were transported to Los Angeles County Medical Center in critical condition.”
Firefighters had to free the two surviving girls from the wreckage.
“We had to extricate two people,” Licon said.
All four occupants of the Pontiac wore seat belts, according to the CHP.
The woman at the wheel of the Pontiac appeared to be about 30 years old, Jojola said. The girl who died in the crash was estimated to be 7 years old.
The two surviving girls were about 3 and 11 yeas old, Jojola said. They were taken to a trauma center for treatment. An update on their conditions was not available Friday afternoon.
While the investigation remained in its early stages, drugs or alcohol were not initially suspected as factors, Jones said.
“No witnesses have been found,” Jojola said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.
Officials issued a Sig Alert for the right-hand lane of the southbound 605 Freeway for nearly four hours as they investigated the scene.
- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
PHOTOS by Walt Mancini
WEST COVINA >> A Montebello woman died early Sunday after the car in which she was riding as a passenger crashed on a 10 Freeway offramp in West Covina early Sunday, officials said.
Melissa Ann Villanueva, 33, died following the solo-car crash, Officer T. Brazier of the California Highway Patrol’s Baldwin Park area office said in a written statement.
The driver of the 2013 Kia Forte, 34-year-old Jeanet Cuadra, was arrested, Brazier said. CHP officials declined to say Sunday what crime Cuadra was suspected of.
The fatal crash occurred just before 6 a.m. on the Barranca Street offramp of the westbound 10 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Stephan Brandt said.
Cuadra was driving at 65 to 70 mph and had just crossed into the right-hand lane in advance of exiting the freeway, Brazier said.
“Cuadra fell asleep and traveled onto the fore point of the offramp and collided into the multiple attenuators,” he said.
“Cuadra was seat belted and sustained moderate, non-life-threatening injuries,” Brazier said.
“The right, front passenger of the Kia, Melissa Ann Villanueva, was asleep at the time of the collision and was not wearing her seat belt,” the officer said. “The impact into the attenuators caused Villanueva to be propelled forward and into the Kia’s windshield.”
Cuadra and good Samaritans got Villanueva out of the mangled car. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene at 6:08 a.m.
Authorities issues a Sig Alert for the offramp that lasted through noon as they investigated the scene and repaired the damaged roadway.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Brazier at the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office at 626-338-1164.
GLENDORA >> A La Puente woman died and a West Covina man suffered injuries in a solo-car crash in Glendora Saturday night, officials said.
The fatal crash took place at 9:19 p.m. on Grand Avenue, near of Juanita Avenue, Glendora police Sgt. Shelly Gold said.
A northbound Toyota Corolla veered from the roadway and struck a tree just south of the intersection, Lt. Matt Williams said.
Paramedics pronounced the driver, described as a 30-year-old La Puente woman, dead at the scene, police said.
The passenger, a 30-year-old West Covina man, was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment, the lieutenant said. An update on his condition was not available.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation by the Glendora Police Department’s Traffic Bureau.
Any witnesses to the crash can reach Glendora police at 626-914-8250.
DIAMOND BAR >> A motorcyclist died following a crash on the eastbound 60 Freeway at the 57 Freeway interchange Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The fatal crash took place about 4 p.m. in the right-hand lane of the 60 Freeway, where it expands to seven lanes as it merges with the 57 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Jennifer Bond said.
The motorcyclist succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash at a hospital, she said. No further details were available.
The circumstances of the crash were being investigated by the CHP’s Baldwin Park area office, Bond said.
Anyone with information can reach the CHP’s Baldwin Park office at 626-338-1164.
Officials issues a Sig Alert for the No. 7 lane of the eastbound 60 Freeway for just under an hour.
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.
WEST COVINA >> Coroner’s officials have identified a Lakewood man who died in a fiery multi-car freeway wreck in West Covina last week along with a South Pasadena man described as one of Taiwan’s most wanted fugitives, authorities said.
Gregory Donald Smith, 69, died at the scene of the crash, which took place about 1 a.m. on May 27 on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Citrus Avenue, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
He was unable to get out of his pickup truck following the crash. The truck became engulfed in flames.
An autopsy determined Smith died of “thermal burns,” and the death was ruled accidental, Winter said.
Also killed in the crash while driving another vehicle was 89-year-old You T. Wang, also identified by authorities as Wang You-theng, of South Pasadena.
Wang was in the middle of a decade-long court battle to avoid extradition to Taiwan, where he’s accused of embezzling more than $9 billion from a steel company called Rebar, which Wang founded in 1959. He allegedly drained the company’s assets and fled to the U.S. after the company when business took a sour turn in 2006.
Wang was ordered removed from the U.S. in late-2014 after years of litigation.
His appeal of that order was dismissed in December, but he then filed a petition for a review of his case by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
That review was yet to be heard when Wang was killed in last week’s crash.
The cause of the fiery five-car chain reaction, which resulted in two separate crash scenes, remained under investigation by the CHP.
It was initially believed to have been triggered when a Toyota Tacoma driven by Smith sideswiped a Lexus in the left-hand lane, initiating a series of collisions, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
Anyone with information can reach the Baldwin Park area office of the CHP at 626-338-1164.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
WEST COVINA >> Two people died in a fiery three-vehicle crash on the 10 Freeway in West Covina early Friday, authorities said.
The crash was reported about 1:10 a.m. on the westbound 10 Freeway, just east of Citrus Avenue, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
Two patients were pronounced dead at the scene, CHP Officer Patrick Kimball said. One more person was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in unknown condition.
One of the two involved vehicles caught fire, and “multiple explosions,” were reported, according to CHP logs.
The source of the explosions was unclear, Kimball said.
Bryan Garcia said he was on his way home with his wife when the collision unfolded behind him in the westbound lanes.
“A car lost control then I saw a fireball behind me,” he said.
It appeared one vehicle struck another, then hit the center divider and burst into flames, Garcia said.
Witness Lauren Walton described a similar scenario via Twitter, but from a vantage point behind the crash.
“I watched the car drift, collide, then a huge explosion. Called 911,” she posted on the social media network.
“I watched the last few minutes of someone’s life tonight… that’s heavy. I feel for the one lady that got out,” she wrote.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the crash were immediately available.
Officials issued a Sig Alert, shutting down all westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway, officials said. The closure was expected to remain in effect past 5 a.m.