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Police Files

Tragic rollover collision lands local man in hospital, friends urge support with GoFundMe campaign

On Friday, Aug 17, at 11:15 am, a traffic collision was reported on Coast Highway between Legion Street and Laguna Avenue. 

“LBPD and Fire responded to a rollover traffic collision in the 400 block of South Coast Highway,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “The traffic collision involved five vehicles resulting in one driver being injured. South Coast Highway between Laguna Avenue and Legion Street were closed for approximately an hour to conduct the investigation.”

The driver who was injured was local father Mark Nelson. A friend of his, Dustin Bainbridge, took to Nextdoor to start a GoFundMe campaign. 

Bainbridge said, “While I am not always a fan of GoFundMe campaigns, this one means a lot to me. My friend Mark Nelson, a full-time single father of three elementary school aged boys, was involved in a horrific accident in Laguna Beach. Mark was traveling on PCH on Aug 18 and within seconds flipped his car and the injuries landed him in the hospital.”

Police Files Nelson Car

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From GoFundMe website

Beloved father and community member Mark Nelson’s car was mangled; he also sustained injuries

Nelson’s new car was reportedly totaled and he may have sustained neurological and spinal injuries, according to Bainbridge’s GoFundMe page for Nelson.

Nelson is an active member in the Laguna Beach community, a coach for flag football, serves on the parent advisory council at Top of the World Elementary, and is currently running for LBUSD school board.

Bainbridge explained, “His sole source of income comes from being a delivery driver and with no car and medical bills adding up…it is going to be a long road to physical and financial recovery for him.” (Nelson regularly delivered food to our own Stu Saffer before he passed away.) 

Police Files Nelson Kids

Click on photo for a larger image 

From GoFundMe website

Mark Nelson with his three boys

Bainbridge said, “The mother of his children is gone, so I am asking the community for any support you can offer to help him pay down his medical bills and help him rest for the next 30-60 days, babysitter, etc. as his health progresses.”

To help, go to www.gofundme.com/2fffp9pr.


LBPD DUI checkpoint on Saturday nets three arrests

LBPD conducted a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint on Saturday, Aug 18 in the Coast Highway and Aliso Beach area, between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. 

“Checkpoints are placed in locations that have the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence and provide the greatest safety for officers and the public,” LBPD Lieutenant Tim Kleiser said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while also yielding considerable cost savings. Ninety Percent of California drivers approve of checkpoints. 

On Saturday, 2,162 vehicles went through the LBPD checkpoint, 902 drivers were engaged with, three DUI-Alcohol suspects were arrested, and four drivers were cited and arrested for operating a vehicle unlicensed or while suspended or revoked.

Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, other expenses that can exceed $10,000, not to mention the repercussions on employment, transportation, and also the embarrassment of friends and family finding out. 

LBPD will be conducting numerous DUI education and enforcement details throughout 2018 in the police department’s ongoing commitment to lowering deaths and injuries upon our streets and highways. 

The checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the NHTSA, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Drivers and call 9-1-1.’ 

For more information, please contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Out-of-towners throw lit firecrackers out of BMW

On Saturday, Aug 18, at 7:08 p.m., at Montage Resort and South Coast Highway, LBPD officers responded to a reckless driving call with suspects reportedly throwing lit firecrackers out of their car window, a black 325 BMW.

It was reported that there were three male occupants according to LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock.

“Fireworks were reported. Subjects were cited, three people from out of the state, for LBMC and California Vehicle Code,” Villwock said. “The firecrackers tied together were relatively small. Yes, they threw at least one grouping of lit firecrackers out of the window of a moving vehicle.”

The suspects were cited for Laguna Beach Municipal Code and California Vehicle Code Violations, according to Villwock.


Police Files

Road rage suspect allegedly leaps out of car and assaults Laguna Beach youth

According to LBPD, a suspect got flipped off and flipped out, ensuing a road rage incident involving a Laguna Beach juvenile.

On Sunday, Aug 12, at 3:55 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the intersection of Forest Avenue and Glenneyre Street for an alleged assault that had just occurred. The male juvenile from Laguna Beach said he was shoved and punched. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The 17-year-old victim said a white Dodge van stopped behind him and a male got out of the passenger side of the vehicle and shoved him for ‘no reason.’”

According to Sgt Cota, it was later revealed that the juvenile allegedly flipped off the van before he was shoved and punched. The suspect got back into the vehicle and fled outbound on Laguna Canyon Road.

“The case is currently being investigated by detectives. We already have the suspect identified and will be interviewing him,” Sgt Cota said.

Residents are asked to contact LBPD with any information if they saw the incident at (949) 497-0701 or any instance of apparent road rage.

Drunk or high on a bike can land you a CUI

“Yes, you can be arrested for being intoxicated on a bicycle,” reminds Sgt Cota.

On Sunday, Aug 12, at 6:35 p.m., LBPD and Fire personnel responded to Montage and South Coast Highway for a traffic collision involving a vehicle and bicyclist.

According to a witness, the biker cut right in front of the vehicle. 

When LBPD arrived, it was determined the female bicyclist sustained minor injuries, including a bruise and minor road rash. She declined medical attention. 

 “She was clearly intoxicated and was riding her electric assist bicycle in the roadway,” Sgt Cota said. “The other involved motorist said the bicyclist swerved into the number one lane and struck the rear passenger door of her vehicle.”

Independent witnesses provided similar statements about her poor riding skills.

“A cycling under the influence (CUI) was conducted and the suspect was later arrested,” Sgt Cota said. “She provided a breath sample which resulted with readings exceeding .08% BAC.”

The intoxicated biker was riding with a beach chair strapped on her back, crossing the street, apparently headed to the beach. 

LBPD reported that northbound traffic was delayed for approximately one hour.

Bail was set at $500.

(Editor’s Note: Stu News Laguna does not publish names of DUI offenders on their first arrest, unless there are additional circumstances (e.g. injuries to others or major property damage) which we feel warrant including their name.)

Lost tortoise still at large: can we help lead him home?

In Tuesday’s edition of Stu News, it was reported in the Police Files that a turtle was found by a Good Samaritan, but it was actually a tortoise. 

The report said, “On Thursday, Aug 9, at 1:57 p.m., at the 100 block of Avenida Majorca a woman reported to LBPD that she found a turtle and has had it for a week. ‘She thought she would find the owner, but she hasn’t.’”

 Some may call it semantics – tomato/ tomato, turtle/tortoise – but that’s not the case in this case. According to a source, both reptiles are from the same family, Testudines. “Turtles can live in water or on land with some species being almost solely aquatic, whereas tortoises are land-dwellers.”

Major difference between turtles and tortoises are feet and shell shape. Because turtles spend time in the water, they have webbed-feet, and their shells are flatter for stream-lined swimming. A tortoise has more of a dome shape to its shell.

Police Files Tortoise

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Courtesy of LBPD

A tortoise not a turtle has still not been matched with its owner, but remains hopeful and upbeat 

“The tortoise that was picked up the other day in Laguna Woods has been temporarily relocated to a reptile rescue facility better suited to house and care for a tortoise than the animal shelter,” said LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres. “The tortoise is still under the custody of the City even though it is at the reptile rescue facility.”

In an exciting turn of events, a Stu News reader contacted us and said she might know the owner/parent/guardian.

“My neighbor here in Laguna Woods has been missing her turtle. The turtle I believe is 40 years old,” said the hopeful/helpful reader.

To no avail, unfortunately, the picture was not a match.

“No one has contacted the animal shelter so far regarding a missing tortoise,” Beres said. “If someone from Laguna Woods recognizes this as their missing tortoise, they should contact the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter at (949) 497-3552.”

If anyone has information or knows who could be the owner/parent/guardian, please don’t hesitate to contact Stu News.

We’re looking for very happy ending – fingers crossed!


Police Files

Running on empty, suspected car thief busted at gunpoint at Chevron

On Sunday, Aug 12, at 10:28 a.m., LBPD officers were alerted by dispatchers to a stolen vehicle, a 2012 Toyota Prius, from Norwalk, traveling southbound on North Coast Highway from Ledroit Street. 

“The vehicle was located, and after running red lights, the driver pulled the car into the Chevron gas station at Coast Highway and Legion Street,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “A high-risk vehicle stop was executed and three occupants were detained.”

James Saaf, 22, of Santa Ana, was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, driving on a suspended driver’s license, possession of narcotic paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance. He was booked, taken into custody, and transported to OCJ. 

Police Files Vehicle Theft

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Photo by Mark Vuille 

Guns drawn, LBPD Officers capture suspected car thief James Saaf at Chevron

Shantell Apodaca, 38, of La Mirada, was arrested for theft/appropriation of lost property, and the third passenger, a male, was released.

 “A search of the vehicle revealed numerous credit and debit cards, some of which were in Apodaca’s purse. A full inventory of the cards was taken and follow-up will be conducted by detectives,” Sgt Cota said. “It should be noted Saaf was arrested earlier in the year near El Morro in a similar case where he provided a false identity to the officers and was arrested/booked for possession of stolen property and identity theft.” 

Bail was set at $10,000 for Saaf and $500 for Apodaca.

Mark Vuille, a 48-year Laguna Beach resident and avid Stu News reader, caught the account first-hand. 

“I had just pulled into the Chevron Station at Legion Street when a Toyota Prius pulled in, came to a stop at the pump with a Station 45 unit on his tail, all lit up,” Vuille said. “Thinking it was a mere car stop for a minor traffic violation, I paid little attention until back up arrived. First one unit, then two, three, four, and pulling up the rear, the field Sergeant, all with lights but no siren.”

He said at that point he decided to catch all the action.

“The show was in full swing when it dawned on me, I ought to video this fine display of Station 45 in action,” Vuille said.

Props to LBPD for all they do.

Brawl on the beach: 10 to 12-man tussle reported, suspect tries to tackle LBPD

On Wednesday, Aug 8, at 4:38 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Main Beach for a physical fight in progress. According to a dispatch report, the caller said, “10 to 12 guys were punching each other right in front of Ocean Avenue on the grass.” 

An officer arrived on scene and detained two male subjects for further investigation. 

One subject, Brian Ensley, was bleeding from the mouth and “clearly intoxicated,” according to Sgt Cota. “Ensley got up and walked away from the officer. The officer followed Ensley giving verbal commands to which he did not comply. The officer deployed his Taser which was ineffective.” 

A supervisor arrived on scene as Ensley continued to walk away from the officer.

“Verbal commands were again given without compliance,” Sgt Cota said. “Ensley attempted to tackle the supervisor and was taken to the ground.”

Brian Scott Ensley, 40, of Mission Viejo, was placed under arrest for assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $20,000.

Turtle on the run, on the lamb, lost in some jam?

On Thursday, Aug 9, at 1:57 p.m., at the 100 block of Avenida Majorca, a woman reported to LBPD that she found a turtle and had it for a week. “She thought she would find the owner, but she hasn’t,” reads the report. 

According to LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres, LB Animal Services “picked up a turtle that a resident in Laguna Woods found and took the turtle to the Animal Shelter.” 

Calls by Stu News on Monday afternoon to LBPD, Animal Services, and the Animal Shelter found no trace of the turtle. Each agency said they didn’t have a turtle.

Will the turtle turn up? Will it be reunited with its owner?

Beres said he would follow up and try to locate a photo of the found turtle. “A photo might help with locating the owner of the turtle,” he said.


Police Files

Keep your dogs on leashes, reminds LBPD

The City of Laguna Beach wants to remind residents that dogs are prohibited on city and county beaches between the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the summer through September 10, and also that dogs must be on leashes at all times in public places.

Dogs in Laguna must be leashed at all times, but lately we’ve been getting complaints about unleashed dogs on beaches and in parks,” said the City in a statement. “LBPD is committed to strictly enforcing its ordinance relating to dogs on leashes. Fines will be administered to those found in violation of the ordinance. Please keep your dog on a leash!”

Police Files dog on leash

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

Leash up or pay, says LBPD

“During this time, dogs can be on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. provided they are on a leash no longer than six feet in length,” said LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres. “Dogs must always be on a leash no longer than six feet in length in all public areas including city parks and some of the City’s nature trails that allow dogs provided they are on a leash no longer than six feet in length.”

Residents are encouraged to check the signs posted at the beginning of each trailhead, which indicate whether dogs are allowed on that trail.

 Dogs are never allowed off leash at any time on city and county beaches.  Additionally, per county policy, dogs are not allowed at Thousand Steps beach throughout the year – that means never, at anytime.

Dogs are allowed off leash only at the City’s Dog Park located at 20672 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Police Files No Dogs

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Photo by OC Parks 

Canines can get big fines for roaming free without a leash…except at the City’s “Bark Park”

“The Police Department receives many complaints from citizens regarding unleashed dogs and in response to these complaints, the City is committed to strictly enforcing its ordinance relating to dogs on leashes,” Beres said. 

Fines will be administered for those found in violation of the ordinance.

If you have any questions about the ordinance relating to dogs in Laguna Beach, please contact Jim Beres, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator at (949) 464-6669.

Womans throws milk at officer

On Tuesday, Aug 7, at 10:53 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the Village Mart parking lot, at North Coast Highway and Broadway Street, amidst reports of vandalism. The alleged victim had been driving her car by the area when a female reportedly threw a large rock at her vehicle, a 2011 GMC Denali, shattering the windshield and causing dents on the roof.

While one officer was speaking with the alleged victim, another officer was standing with the suspect Stephanie Marie Monge, 31, of Santee, who allegedly became violent.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Without any warning or provocation, Monge threw a bottle of milk at the officer which hit him in the face and chest. An LBPD officer struggled with Monge briefly to handcuff her and once she was handcuffed she began spitting at them and trying to kick them.

“She was transported to LBPD for booking. Once at the station, she continued to be uncooperative and the decision was made to transport her directly to OCJ,” said Sgt Cota.

Monge was arrested for felony vandalism of $400 or more, throwing substances at a vehicle with intent of causing great bodily injury, and battery of a police officer.

“No officers or the suspect were injured during the altercation,” said Sgt Cota.

Bail was set at $20,000.

DUI Checkpoint is on August 18

LBPD will be conducting a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint on Saturday, Aug 18 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between the hours of 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

California has seen a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes. LBPD supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety that aims to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” 

“If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, you might be impaired enough to get a DUI,” LBPD Lieutenant Tim Kleiser said. “Marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.”

The deterrent effect of High Visibility Enforcement using both DUI checkpoints and DUI Saturation Patrols has proven to lower the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug impaired crashes. Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely. 

Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes. 

Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent).

Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol. Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects. 

In 2016, LBPD kicked off a “Know Your Limits” campaign to help reduce DUIs. In 2015, there were 389 DUI arrests and in 2016 that number dropped significantly to 307.

PF DUI Costs

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Courtesy of DMV.org 

Hand over your keys if you’re impaired or take keys away from impaired drivers

LBPD offers these reminders to ensure you have a safe night of fun that doesn’t involve a DUI:

--Decide before you go out whether you plan to drink or drive. You can’t do both.

--If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver before going out or map out another safe way to get home by taxi, ride-share or public transportation. You can also look up designated driver services in your area using the National Directory of Designated Driver Services (NDDDS).

--See your friend or other patron impaired trying to get behind the wheel? Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.

--Report drunk drivers – Call 911.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with law enforcement nationwide during the 2018 Labor Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” high-visibility enforcement campaign from August 15 through September 3.

Drug-impaired driving is a problem across the country. Like drunk driving, drugged driving is impaired driving, which means it is dangerous and illegal. Whether the drug is legally prescribed or illegal, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to the driver, vehicle passengers, and other road users.

NHTSA wants to spread the word about drug-impaired driving and to remind all drivers: If you are impaired by drugs and thinking about driving, pass your keys on to a sober driver.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the LBPD by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to “Report Drunk Driving – Call 9-1-1,” it could save lives. 

For more information, contact LBPD Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Police Files

Alleged purse thief who attacked mom and her family in Laguna brought down

On Saturday, July 28, at 10:05 p.m., a male, later identified as 25-year-old James Michael Kelley, from San Bernardino, was walking southbound on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. 

According to reports, as Kelley approached a family that was walking northbound on Coast Highway, he knocked the mother to the ground and took her purse. 

“The woman’s teenage son grabbed Kelley’s legs in an attempt to trip him. As the suspect lost his balance, he turned and struck the teenager with a black metal flashlight,” Laguna Beach Police Department PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

“The woman’s husband chased after Kelley who had fled southbound on the sidewalk. When he caught up and confronted him, Kelley struck the husband in the head with the flashlight, causing a large cut,” Sgt Cota continued.

“Kelley then entered a white vehicle parked nearby and accelerated in reverse toward the husband and a nearby witness, before pulling the vehicle out onto South Coast Highway and fleeing northbound,” Sgt Cota said.

Shortly thereafter, a Laguna Beach Police officer located Kelley’s vehicle in north Laguna Beach. The vehicle initially yielded for the officer. However, when the officer attempted to hold the suspect at gunpoint, Kelley again fled. 

A pursuit was initiated and continued into Newport Beach. The Newport Beach Police Department assisted and placed spike strips on Coast Highway near Bayside Drive, deflating all four tires. 

Kelley was taken into custody without incident. The weapon was located and one of the victim’s credit cards was also found in the vehicle. Kelley was booked for robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and reckless evading of a police officer.

Cota added that the family was on vacation in Laguna Beach from a small town in the Bay Area of North California when tragedy struck.

Bail was set at $100,000.

Fire Files

LBFD commends Brian Adams for graduating from Firefighter’s Paramedic School

LBFD congratulates and recognizes Firefighter Brian Adams for his recent successful completion of Paramedic School at Saddleback Community College. This process started for Firefighter Adams seven months ago and included three months of didactic classroom, two months of clinical shifts at a local trauma center and 576 hours of ride-out shift with OCFA at Station 19. 

Police Files Brian Adams

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Photos courtesy of LBFD

LBFD firefighter Brian Adams, seen here with his baby Rown on Father Day’s, graduated from Firefighter’s Paramedic School

Once Firefighter Adams becomes a Nationally Registered Paramedic, he will be working in the capacity of a Firefighter Paramedic at Station 1. Firefighter Adams’ paramedic training and position was funded through Measure LL. Once certified he will be one of 23 Paramedics in the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

Police Files Firefighters Congratulate

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Adams is congratulated be his fellow LBFD firefighters


Police Files

LBPD nails and jails three out-of-towners who assaulted locals at The Saloon

On August 11, 2017, at 1:30 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a fight in progress at The Saloon in the 400 block of S Coast Highway. Officers contacted two separate victims of an assault and began an investigation into who committed these acts of violence.

At the conclusion of the initial investigation, it was determined that three male subjects assaulted two male Laguna Beach bar patrons and a Good Samaritan female who tried to intervene. Both male victims sustained injuries, including broken bones and lacerations. The female victim sustained minor injuries.

Police Files Jeremy BishopLBPD detectives began a lengthy investigation in the search for the individuals responsible for the assault. Over a dozen interviews were conducted during the investigation and hours of video reviewed.

In January 2018, three male suspects were arrested. They subsequently pled guilty and were sentenced this week to the following charges:

Jeremy Bishop, 37, Ontario, was charged with assault with means likely to produce great bodily injury and sentenced to 180 days in jail and formal probation. Daniel Little, 28, Prescott Valley, Ariz., was found guilty of assault and battery and sentenced to 120 days in jail and formal probation. Joshua Little, 28, Prescott Valley, Ariz., was charged with assault with means likely to produce great bodily injury and sentenced to two years in prison and mandatory Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS).

“This was the culmination of excellent police work coupled with a steadfast determination by our investigations unit to apprehend the offenders,” said Capt Jeff Calvert in a statement.

Suspected drug dealer caught hanging around North Laguna with Ecstasy, coke, and shrooms

On Tuesday, July 24, officers conducted a vehicle stop in the 200 block of Aster Street following an illegal turning violation just after midnight. Officers contacted the driver and passenger. Both from Banning, they denied being on probation or parole. 

A records search was conducted and it was learned that the driver, Matthew Schelin, 28, was indeed on probation.

He subsequently consented to a vehicle search.

Police Files Schelin“He was searched and a large amount of cash was located inside his wallet in smaller denominations,” said LBPD spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

According to Sgt Cota, he stated that he sells items on Amazon and [has] two Airbnb homes.

LBPD had reason to believe he was selling more than this.

“Ten Vicodin pills were located under the front driver’s seat that were not prescribed to him. In the rear passenger compartment was a dark backpack,” Sgt Cota said. “Inside the front pouch of the backpack were three pieces of psilocybin mushrooms and 29 Ecstasy pills. Inside one of the pockets was a baggie of cocaine.” 

Schelin came clean and stated that the backpack was his. 

He was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sales twice. He was booked and transported to OCJ, with bail set at $25,000 for both charges.

Another one bites the dust on Third Street hill

On Tuesday, July 24, at 6:16 a.m., at Third Street and Mermaid Street, a large flatbed truck got stuck carrying a heavy load up the hill. Perhaps the idea of an alternate route didn’t cross his mind, obviously not a local. 

The event snarled traffic for an hour, prompting a Nixle alert from LBPD.

Stu News photographer Mary Hurlbut saw said truck in action, well, actually, inaction. 

Police Files Third Street

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Another one bites the dust on Third Street

“I saw the guy drive by with the very long, car transportation trailer, and I couldn’t believe he thought he could go up Third,” Hurlbut said. “Of course, he got stuck.”

“A large tow truck had to respond and was able to remove the truck,” said Jordan Villwock, LBPD Spokesperson and Emergency Services Coordinator.

When asked how prevalent Third Street “truck/bus stucks” are, Villwock stated, “My guess would be 1-2 times per year.”


Police Files

Teen boy rescued and airlifted from Emerald Bay Beach after boulder severs his arm

In a tragic accident, a 15-year-old boy was struck by a boulder, severing his arm and pinning him against the rocks at Emerald Bay Beach on Wednesday, July 18. He was airlifted to UC Irvine Medical Center in serious medical condition but is expected to survive. 

Local and county emergency services quickly responded to the teen who was walking along the rocks about 100 feet offshore at Emerald Bay Beach with a friend.

Orange County Fire Authority spokesperson PIO Capt Tony Bommarito said that he thinks the boy could be a local. 

Police Files Rescue 1

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Courtesy of LBPD

A teen loses his arm in tragic accident walking the rocks at Emerald Bay Beach; rescuers came fast airlifting him to UCI Medical Center

“His friend said that they’ve walked the area before. And his mom was with him. I can only speculate that they are [locals] unless they are a guest of someone,” Capt Bommarito said.

He explained that the boys were walking on the rocks along the waterline at the bottom of the cliffs. Basically along the waterline climbing up and down the rocks that were there, not scaling the cliffs or anything.

“His friend was with him. They were walking and a boulder came down about the size of a cooler, 400-500 pounds coming down. Hit him, knocked him down and basically landed on his right arm and severed his right arm in between his elbow and shoulder,” Capt Bommarito said.

 At the same time, he said the teen was knocked backwards and his foot got stuck in a crevice or a rock. They had to move the boulder so they could get him dislodged from where he was stuck.

“There’s no damage to his foot; it just kind of got lodged and they couldn’t get him out of it until they moved the boulder that cut off his arm,” Capt Bommarito said.

LBFD Engine 201 was integral in saving his life.

“They had what are called rescue airbags or heavy rescue airbags. They’re real flat, but we can stick them under things and in really small spaces, and we expand them with an air bottle,” Capt Bommarito said. 

The devices can lift thousands of pounds.

“They got the rock up enough so they were able to push it free from him and get him dislodged,” Capt Bommarito said. “They put him in a rescue basket, the OC helicopter came over, lowered the cable down and lifted him up into the helicopter and they went to UCI in serious condition.”

When asked how the teen was found and quickly rescued he said, “He started screaming or his friend started screaming which alerted the OC Parks lifeguards and one or two of them went over there, they put a tourniquet on his arm. That probably helped save his life, really.”

Police Files Rescue 2

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Courtesy of LBPD

Teen is expected to survive because of the quick response of local and county emergency agencies

Asked about a timeline of the events, Capt Bommarito said, “The fire department got the call at 3:20 p.m. He was extricated and being flown out at 4:01 p.m. I am thinking about 50 minutes total from the time of injury to when he was loaded into the helicopter.”

As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, he said he hadn’t heard any updates about the teen’s condition. He went to the hospital on Thursday morning to check on him but was unable to see him.

Asking if he’ll be ok, he responded, “He’s going to live.” 

As for safety precautions in that situation for beachgoers or adventurers, he said there are really none. 

“You have to assume if you’re walking along a cliff that it’s unstable and unsafe until proven otherwise. And nobody is proving that it is, so you’ve just got to be cautious. Somehow you’ve got to be cautious,” Capt Bommarito said. “I’ve been a firefighter for 28 years. What it sounds like is just a fluke accident.”

He wanted to thank all the agencies involved in the rescue calling it a collaborative effort, which included OC Parks Lifeguards, LBFD and Orange County Fire Authority.

Large barge parks it at Thousand Steps Beach

On Wednesday, July 18, a large barge was spotted beached at Thousand Steps Beach. Stu News reader reports started coming in around 9 a.m. asking us what this barge was doing landing on our beach.

Stu News looked into the matter.

Greg Pfost, City of Laguna Beach Community Development Director, had some answers.

He explained that the barge was connected to a private residential project that is under construction at Thousand Steps Beach. The property has two structures, including a guest house right on the sand, and then it has a house further up the slope. 

“The house that’s on the sand has been deteriorating so the homeowner received approval from the City to remodel the lower structure that’s on the sand,” Pfost said. “We don’t have a lot of structures on the sand but that one is so they got approval from the City to refurbish the house because it’s falling apart.”

The City submitted the approval for the owner.

“The contractor, he worked out with this barge company to bring materials to the site off this barge because it would have been very difficult to deliver the materials, including steel, which is very heavy, from Coast Highway,” Pfost said. “There’s this steep slope and there’s no good way to get down Thousand Steps Beach.”

The only other option would have been to use a crane and crane it in, but that would have been more expensive and cost prohibitive. 

Police Files Barge

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Photo by Jim Peasley

A large barge at Thousand Steps Beach causes a stir among locals

“So they contracted this barge company. It’s the same barge company that was used by South Coast Water District years ago; they used the barge as part of their tunnel rehab project,” Pfost said.

The barge first made a trip on June 18 to bring in materials to the home site and this was the second trip, which was to remove materials.

The homeowner needed authorization from three agencies to move forward with their barge. The ocean is regulated by California Coastal Commission, the sand is a County beach in this case, and the home itself is on Laguna Beach land. 

“What I made sure before this barge had any authorization to land is that they had County Parks’ approval because they were landing on their beach. They got approval from OC Parks,” Pfost said. “I also let them know they were arriving in waters and needed Cal Coastal Commission, and they got approval from the Coastal Commission.” 

So they were able to land because they secured all of the authorizations from the agencies they needed. Aliso Fish & Wildlife was involved in the review as well.

The only other barge landing in recent history is the one he recalled earlier involving the South Coast Water District. 

Stu News reader Brett Keast shared a memory from the 1970s of a barge landing at Three Arch, although that area was not incorporated as part of Laguna Beach at the time. 

“Back in the early ‘70s my dad had a military barge land at Three Arch to bring in equipment and build volleyball courts and bathrooms,” he said.

Even with these three known barge landings over the past decades, none have been on a Laguna Beach City beach. 

“To my knowledge there have been no barge landings on City beaches,” said Pfost.

Do you have any interesting Laguna Beach barge or boat stories to share? Submit with details and photos to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bad mix: pills, $100 bills, coke, and meth land Tustin woman in jail

On Tuesday, July 17 at 6:49 p.m., LBPD conducted a vehicle stop in the 900 block of Glenneyre Street near Thalia Street. According to LBPD PIO Sgt Jim Cota, officers contacted a female, identified as Tustin resident Dianna Tateyama, 55. 

“She was shaking and jittery as officers spoke to her. Officers observed a pill bottle of Ciprofloxacin, 15 pills, on the passenger side seat that was prescribed to Victor Hernandez,” Sgt Cota said. “She claimed the pills were hers and she did not know Victor Hernandez. This was a violation.”

Police Files TateyamaCiprofloxacin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.

Tateyama consented to a search of her vehicle. Inside the center console were three narcotic pipes and two empty baggies containing cocaine and methamphetamine. 

According to Sgt Cota, a female officer observed a clear plastic baggie hanging out of her bra. A search of the bra revealed two $100 bills and three small plastic baggies. Inside the baggies were cocaine and methamphetamine. Inside her wallet was $528.00 in cash. The baggies of narcotics were individually packaged with 4 grams of narcotics each. 

Tateyama was arrested and booked on four felony charges: possession of a controlled substance for sales, transporting a controlled substance on a highway, possession of a controlled substance, and sales of a controlled substance. 

Bail was set at $25,000.

Unknown substance sprayed on City Trolley, causing temporary panic

According to LBPD, on Thursday, July 19 at 4:24 p.m., officers responded to Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway to a report of someone spraying an unknown chemical on a City Trolley. 

“Several people on the City Trolley reported they were coughing and having difficulty breathing,” Sgt Cota said. “As the investigation continued it was determined someone may have sprayed something by mistake, possibly sunscreen.” 

LBFD responded as well and found no caustic agent or anything suspicious. 

“Allegedly there were five people who were experiencing irritation after someone allegedly sprayed some sort of unknown substance on the trolley,” LBFD Chief Ed Valdez said. “There were two fire trucks and one ambulance that responded – a total of four paramedics and four EMTs.”

The person who allegedly sprayed the substance was gone upon emergency responders’ arrival. He had gotten off the trolley and walked away, according to witnesses.

The scene was cleared around 5 p.m. as if nothing had happened.

No one was taken to the hospital and all of the trolley riders declined medical attention. Some of the trolley riders even admitted that the symptoms they were feeling could be psychosomatic, induced by thoughts of possibly being harmed. 


Police Files

Tragedy strikes twice in Laguna on Saturday: Deaths have community in mourning

Alcohol suspected in fatal car crash on Saturday

On Saturday, July 14 at 8:55 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to a fatal injury traffic collision on Coast Highway and Country Club Drive, which resulted in the death of Francisco Rojas, 27, of Murrieta, and injured three other occupants in his vehicle, including his girlfriend, 22, and two children, ages 13 and 3, one confirmed to be his child.

 According to a LBPD investigation, Laguna Beach resident Marshall Glen Eichenauer, Jr., 57, was driving his Chevrolet Avalanche north on Coast Highway, near Aliso Beach, when he broadsided a Nissan Altima that was making an illegal left turn from Country Club Drive, directly in front of him.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said Eichenauer, the surviving driver, a South Laguna resident, was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

“Eichenauer displayed symptoms of alcohol intoxication. A DUI investigation was conducted and he was subsequently arrested for DUI. He consented to a blood test and we are awaiting results,” Sgt Cota said.

The results should be in within a week or so. 

The traffic collision investigation is still underway. LBPD traffic officers will be working with the OCDA’s office for the possible filing of charges. 

Coast Highway was closed for over four hours near the accident scene.

Eichenauer is the founder and president of a wealth management firm, Sagent Wealth Management, LLC located in Laguna Beach.

Swimmer dies despite rescue efforts at Thousand Steps Beach on Saturday

On Saturday, July 14 at 10:45 a.m., LBPD, LBFD and Marine Safety lifeguards responded to an unconscious swimmer pulled from the water at Thousand Steps Beach. 

“Lifeguards performed CPR and the person is unresponsive so far. Mercy Air is en route for transportation,” said Sgt Cota, as rescue efforts were occurring on Saturday.

Polices Files 7 17 18

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

OCFA helicopter Mercy Air takes an unresponsive swimmer in dire condition to Mission Hospital

“Our lifeguards responded to a victim in distress at 10:45 a.m. this morning [Saturday] and that person in the course of the rescue went unconscious and was not breathing,” said Jason Young, OC Lifeguards Chief. “Lifeguards were able to get him [the victim] to shore and extricate him up to the beach with the help of some bystanders. Our lifeguard personnel responded as well as fire.” 

Chief Young added, “Our lifeguards got to him, he was obviously struggling when the lifeguards got to him but he was alive.” 

A Mercy Air helicopter transported the victim to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo, where he was pronounced dead.

According to sources, the man was identified as Brian Riggs, 52, of Aliso Viejo.

“As far as the cause of what led up to the patient’s condition, the cause of death, I don’t think the coroner even knows that yet, they have to conduct their investigation,” Chief Young added.

“It’s very traumatic for the lifeguards that got to him. We obviously hoped for a different outcome,” Chief Young said. “We are taking care of our guards, we debrief with them and will be doing an after incident action review and looking at all the details. Getting help for anyone who needs it.”


A special edition of Police Files

Where the Wild Things Are…

Avid Stu News reader shaken by “tarantula-sized” cockroach

Hot of the press, yesterday at 11:04 p.m. in the Boat Canyon area of North Laguna, long-time resident Christopher Kling reported in a Stu News exclusive a horrific experience of the entomology variety. 

Kling said, “I thought I was all alone a couple days ago, sitting on the toilet, minding my own business, when an intruder the size of a tarantula, zipped into my bedroom from the bathroom. I was so mortified!”

The unwanted guest, a cockroach, was the size of a silver dollar coin, Kling said, and probably the biggest he had seen in his life.

“I told my neighbor about it, who reported back to me today, that he too had an intruder as well. Turns out the humidity is the culprit, and I want to confirm with all the neighbors that the roaches aren’t just at your place,” Kling said.

Keep your eyes peeled and beware, Laguna!

Police Files Cockroach

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the Internet

Cockroaches are on the rise in Laguna right now due to increased humidity

Extra-large raccoon and “wolves” reported on Catalina Street

On Sunday, July 8 at 9:41 p.m., at the 800 block of Catalina Street, a caller reported “a 30 lb. raccoon hanging around the house.” According to Wikipedia, the average raccoon weighs between 7.7 and 20 lbs, meaning this was a very large and well-fed raccoon.

A couple of days later, on July 10 at 9:21 p.m., also at the 800 block of Catalina, LBPD received a call from a resident about a “possible wolf” in their backyard. Moments later, the caller reported the “possible wolf” was now in their neighbors’ backyard.

Animal Services was notified of the incident via email…and rest is history/a mystery.

Duck, duck, geese, shoo them away please

Recently, at 9:19 a.m. at the 5500 block of Paseo Del Lago, a caller reported that geese were “defecating by the doors and [were] also near garages.” 

The caller went on to state that, “[the] Geese are not afraid of people and are coming very close to people.”

The resident requested further contact from Animal Services to resolve the situation. It is unknown what the next steps were.

Snaking around on the ground…those slithering snakes seem to abound

There have been at least five recent rattlesnake sightings reported locally, including one on Monday, July 9 at the 0 block of La Costa Court, and another one that day at the 900 block of Quivera Street; two on Thursday, July 5 – one at the 900 block of Park Avenue and one at the 3400 block of Bahia Blanca Way; and then two at the 3200 block of Bern Court within three days – one was an extra large snake and the other was likely a baby snake.


Police Files

Knifing on Laguna Beach trolley: argument escalates, juvenile reportedly stabs adult male

On Monday, July 11 at 3:55 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to 3rd Avenue and Coast Highway amidst reports of a stabbing that had just occurred on a city trolley. According to reports, a juvenile male stabbed an adult male during an argument that quickly escalated.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, the suspect, a juvenile out of South County, pulled out a 3” to 4” folding knife and stabbed the victim in the hand. The physical and verbal altercation continued and the suspect tried to climb out of a window, which caused it to break.

“Once on scene, two people were detained in handcuffs and officers were directed toward “Lovers Beach” where the suspect supposedly ran,” said Sgt Cota. “As more officers arrived, a search was conducted and more witnesses came forward to direct the officers to the suspect. 

“Two officers on the hillside above the beach tried to make contact with the suspect who was hiding in a cavern on the beach. The suspect eventually came out, although he initially acted as if he had no idea what was going on. When he realized he had no place to run, the officers were able to talk him up the hillside where he surrendered. 

“Due to the public safety concern, he was asked where he hid the knife and finally told the officers he buried it in the sand. An officer scaled the hillside to the beach and retrieved the knife. Through the course of the investigation, it appears he and his friend were on the trolley and possibly tried to rob two female juveniles of one of their backpacks. This initial incident occurred around Solana and South Coast Highway. The female juveniles resisted, got off the trolley, and contacted their parents.”

The injured adult male was treated for a small cut on his left hand. According to Sgt Cota, the male juvenile suspect was eventually taken into custody for assault with a deadly weapon and later transported to juvenile hall.

In addition to creating quite a scare for fellow trolley goers, the incident also snarled traffic in South Laguna for hours. A traffic alert from the City notified residents of delays on Southbound Coast Hwy “due to police activity” starting at 4:14 p.m. The delays lasted for at least two hours.

Skateboarder without helmet gets nailed and jailed for drugs and a slew of other crimes

On Saturday, July 7 at 9:52 p.m., an LBPD officer saw a skateboarder at Aster Street and North Coast Highway not wearing a helmet per the Laguna Beach Municipal Code. The officer contacted the male subject and advised him the reason for the stop. 

“Officers asked him if he was probation or parole and he said “Yes” and asked if he had to give his name,” Sgt Cota said. “Terms of his probation were to always cooperate with law enforcement and not refuse to provide information.”

The male subject, who did not have any identification on his possession, was taken into custody for not wearing a helmet while skateboarding.

Police Files GalloiscosenzaHe was later identified as Huntington Beach resident Beau Galloiscosenza, 29.

“A search of Galloiscosenza revealed heroin and a pipe with methamphetamine inside of it. Galloiscosenza also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for Battery with injuries,” Sgt Cota said. “Galloiscosenza was also in possession of several credit cards, not in his name, and a blank check in a large bag.” 

But that’s not all. Also inside the bag were stolen license plates that he allegedly took in Laguna Beach. 

Galloiscosenza was arrested for the outstanding warrant, possession of heroin and cocaine, possession of a narcotic pipe, and misappropriation of stolen property.

Bail was set at $20,000.

Trespassing juvie boys jump from 4th story into pool

On Saturday, July 7 at 9:26 p.m., in the 31500 block of Tablerock Drive, approximately four male juveniles, ages 12-16, were reported trespassing at the Tablerock Terrace Apartments. According to the RP, they were seen jumping from the 4th story into the pool with what “looked like cameras or GoPros in their mouth when they jumped.”

LBPD responded to the scene but the boys had already fled and were not located.   

Take heed pool-jumping boys, a Laguna pool-jumper known as “8booth” was still hobbled more than six months after shattering both feet following a pool jump at Pacific Edge Hotel in December 2016. A video of the incident showed him hitting the edge of the pool, falling into the water, and then crawling away from the scene. He was also charged with trespassing.

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