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Police Files

Black market marijuana farm discovered in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, open space damaged

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Orange County Parks just completed a massive cleanup of a black market marijuana grow discovered late last year at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, according to a release issued by CDFW.

The black market marijuana grow was discovered on September 27, 2018 by CDFW during routine flights over Orange County with the National Guard’s Counter Drug Unit. Following the discovery, Newport Beach Police Department conducted an eradication mission at the site. Attempts to apprehend the suspects were unsuccessful.

According to CDFW, officers eradicated 500 plants and confiscated 75 pounds of processed marijuana. The grow, when in full production, contained almost 1,500 plants. During the eradication, CDFW documented numerous environmental violations including streambed alterations, haphazard pesticides left on the property, trash within 150 feet of a waterway, and a poached deer.

 According to Laguna Canyon Foundation Executive Director Hallie Jones, the grow area was well-hidden in a remote part of the 7,000 acre park, and caused significant habitat damage to our endangered coastal sage scrub habitat.

“Growers remove native plants and cause additional damage by creating trails and using chemicals on the marijuana plants. This grow site will require extensive repair and mitigation to restore the destroyed habitat,” said Jones in a statement to Stu News on Thursday.

“Passive restoration, in which we remove the problem and let the plants re-establish themselves, will take years. The rains this winter will help, and within a few years we should be hard-pressed to identify exact sites,” Jones continued.

The team cleanup effort was conducted in two phases, in December and January, and included the removal of approximately 3,120 pounds of trash, 1,500 feet of plastic irrigation piping, 24 ounces of pesticides as well as other forms of garbage that can be detrimental to the environment.

Police Files black market Marijuana

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Courtesy of CDFW website

CA Department of Fish and Wildlife and OC Parks worked together to clean up Laguna Coast Wilderness Park after an illegal marijuana grow was discovered

For the cleanup, OC Parks worked with a specialized hazmat contractor, Clean Harbors, to ensure the pesticide was removed and disposed of correctly. Through testing, the pesticide was confirmed to be carbofuran, a highly toxic and banned substance. To understand the toxicity, just a teaspoon can kill a 300-pound black bear.

“Protecting California’s natural resources takes commitment from federal, state, county and city entities. I commend all those that were involved in this effort to identify the black market grow, eradicate it and clean it up,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “Working together, we can protect the environment and help the permitted cannabis market thrive.”

Between 2013 and 2018, CDFW has removed more than 2.4 million feet of irrigation pipe, 50 tons of fertilizer and 65 gallons of chemicals, many illegal in the U.S., on black market grows. CDFW has also removed 709 dams and water diversions resulting in restoration of 800 million gallons of water back into local watersheds.

CDFW would like to remind the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP” followed by a space and whatever the desired message, to 847411 (tip411).

Read more Police Files on our Front Page II – click here


Police Files (Cont.)

Car slams into pole in slick Canyon, resulting in live wires down

On Wednesday, Jan 16 at 10:10 a.m., at Phillips Rd and Laguna Canyon Rd, a female driver crashed into an Edison pole, resulting in downed live wires and the closure of Laguna Canyon Rd in both directions for hours.

Police Files wires down crash

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

Single-car accident downs Edison pole in wet weather Wednesday

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “the female driver stated she slid off the roadway due to the wet surface. Although not raining at the time, the roads were wet.”

Thankfully, according to Sgt Cota, she was able to exit her car safely and no major injuries were reported.

Laguna Canyon Rd was closed for approximately two hours while Edison repaired the pole and wires.

Wild Alta Laguna chase ends in Taser

On Sunday, Jan 13, at 5:47 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched following a report of a male driving a white pickup recklessly with no headlights on near Alta Laguna Park.

Police Files Newton“An officer arrived on scene first and observed the pickup driving in circles in the Alta Laguna parking lot. The officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but the suspect failed to yield. Another officer arrived on scene as the suspect drove out of the parking lot and onto Alta Laguna Blvd,” Sgt Cota said.

According to Sgt Cota, officers initiated a pursuit and followed the vehicle at speeds of 35 mph across Alta Laguna Blvd to Mountain View, back to Alta Laguna and back into the Alta Laguna parking lot.

“Officers blocked the exits and the suspect continued to drive over the planters and drove in circles around the parking lot before pulling into a parking space and attempting to flee on foot,” Sgt Cota said. “Officers gave chase and were able to take him into custody safely utilizing a Taser.”

Huntington Beach resident, Gregg Antonio Newton, 30, was arrested for violation of failure to yield and resisting arrest.

He was booked and transported to OC Jail. 

Bail was set at $500.

Laguna artist’s car broken into, art supplies stolen

Laguna Beach artist Paulette Adams reports that her vehicle was broken into and her art supplies stolen on the evening of Saturday, Jan 12, at the 700 block of High Dr. Adams discovered her car window bashed in the next morning, Jan 13.

Police Files Artist Royal Crown

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Courtesy of Paulette Adams

Local artists seeks help getting her art supplies back after a smash and grab of her car last Saturday

 “Someone bashed in the passenger side window of my car and stole art supplies, including two Crown Royal bags with handmade seashell molds that I’d really like to get back,” Adams said.

Also stolen was a large turquoise and brown paisley print quilted turquoise satchel with glazes and a brown newsprint design carry on.

Police Files Artist car broken into

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of Paulette Adams

Adams’ latest ceramic creation using her seashell molds

Adams is seeking the public’s help. 

“If you see them along the side of the road or in the alley, please let me know,” Adams posted on Nextdoor. 

Read more Police Files on our Front Page I – click here


Police Files

Brawl with a bus? Man punches and breaks bus window for no apparent reason

On Wednesday, Jan 9, at 12:50 p.m., at the 300 block of Broadway Street, an LBPD officer was flagged down at the Bus Depot by an OCTA bus driver in regards to a male subject who had allegedly just punched and broken the window of his bus.

Police Files Perez“Officers contacted homeless subject Elvis Perez, who is on formal parole for battery. A private person arrest was requested by the OCTA bus driver and Perez was arrested for violating the terms of his parole. He was transported to LBPD for booking and transported to OC Jail,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

Elvis Perez, 54, Laguna Beach, was arrested for vandalism and violating parole.

No bail was set.

Laguna man alleges late night abuse at Brooks Street, pepper sprays suspect

On Saturday, Jan 12, at 12:41 a.m., LBPD officers responded to Brooks Street and S Coast Highway for a report of a battery that had allegedly just occurred. 

“The RP/victim, 57, said the suspect, 46, punched him in the jaw and shoulder and threatened him if he saw him again,” Sgt Cota said.

 According to police records, the suspect reportedly said he would kill the RP and threatened that “he knows where he lives.”

“The suspect took off after the altercation, but before he fled, the victim pepper sprayed the suspect. The two have a past history in which one of their altercations led to charges being filled,” Sgt Cota said.

Charges were filed in a previous incident in April 2018.

The suspect was located a short distance from the altercation and detained. After the investigation, the victim decided not to press charges. A report was taken to document the incident.

Stolen vehicle lands three El Monte men in jail

On Saturday, Jan 12, at 1:37 a.m., an LBPD dispatcher advised officers of a stolen vehicle inbound on Laguna Canyon Road. Officers saw the white 2017 Honda Accord at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, at which point the vehicle made a U-turn at the light and headed back out the canyon. 

A traffic stop was initiated and the vehicle yielded just prior to Canyon Acres.

“Three occupants were detained. The driver, Geovany Martinez, was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. The front seat passenger, Enrique Llamas, was arrested for an outstanding warrant. The rear seat passenger, Sergio Vera, was arrested for possession of narcotic paraphernalia. Llamas also had what appeared to be stolen mail and checks,” Sgt Cota said.

Police Files Mugs

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Geovany Martinez, Enrique Llamas, and Sergio Vera

Geovany Daniel Martinez, 26, El Monte, was arrested for felony vehicle theft. Sergio Arturo Vera, 24, El Monte, was arrested for being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, and Enrique Llamas, 25, El Monte, was arrested on an undisclosed warrant.

“Additional investigation from detectives is needed,” Sgt Cota said. 

Bail was set at $20,000 for Martinez, $30,000 for Llamas, and $500 for Vera.

Timber, driver hits fallen tree blocking S Coast Hwy

On Saturday, Jan 12, at 4:31 a.m., LBPD received a call in reference to a non-injury traffic collision involving a blue Mini Cooper that hit a tree in the road at the 30600 block of S Coast Hwy. According to police reports, “The RP hit a tree and his windshield is messed up.”

 According to police notes, the tree was blocking lanes and already in the road when the reporting person unexpectedly ran into it.

“Calling for tree removal. The tree is blocking lanes #1 and #2 both northbound and southbound and the sidewalk.”

Caltrans was notified and the tree was removed.


Police Files

Zzzzzzz, drunk man crashes in stranger’s bed

On Tuesday, Jan 1, at 9:44 p.m., LBPD officers responded to a residence on Lower Cliff Drive for a report of an unknown male subject inside the reporting person’s apartment, asleep in his bed. 

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “Officers arrived and contacted the subject, identified as Christopher Crabtree. An investigation was conducted and Crabtree told officers he was currently in Los Angeles at his friend’s apartment.”

 According to Sgt Cota, the reporting person told officers he just wanted Crabtree out of his residence.

“Crabtree was displaying signs of alcohol intoxication and based on his inability to understand the current situation he was arrested for public intoxication,” Sgt Cota said.

Bail was set at $500.

Welcome mat revoked after “friends” enter house, refuse to leave

On Sunday, Jan 6, at 8:55 p.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to a keep the peace call on Catalina Street. Officers were informed that two men had come into the reporting person’s residence without permission and were refusing to leave. 

“Officers arrived on scene and located [two suspects] inside of the house. Prior to the officer’s arrival, the other subject had left the property, but [Olando] Edie stayed to confront officers,” Sgt Cota said.

The reporting person wanted to press charges against anyone still inside of the residence. 

“Officers contacted Edie, but he still refused to leave and was arrested for violation of trespassing,” Sgt Cota said.

According to police reports, the two subjects were friends of the reporting person’s father, who was out of town. The reporting person called his dad and his dad said they weren’t supposed to be there. “He said he was invited over five years ago, not now.”

Olando Dave Edie, 35, Midway City, was arrested for trespassing.

According to LBPD, both suspects apprehended have a history with LBPD.

“The officers were very familiar with both. They have come and gone throughout the years,” Sgt Cota said.

Bail was set at $500.

Man arraigned by OCDA for criminal threats against Laguna customer will face pretrial hearing Feb 4

Mitchell Ralph Todd, 51, of Huntington Beach, pled not guilty during an arraignment on Friday, Dec 28, to charges that he made criminal threats against a Laguna Beach man, his client, in November. 

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, at the time of the alleged crimes, Todd was the owner of OC Doves and was hired by the victim to release doves at his son’s funeral. Based upon an alleged dispute on the day of the funeral involving scheduling and payment, Todd did not render his services nor was he paid. 

On Monday, Nov 10, Todd is accused of requesting payment from the victim. The next day, he is accused of leaving the victim a series of threatening text messages and voicemails and further demanding payment.

According to Sgt Cota, Todd first threatened with court proceedings, but quickly appeared to become upset and further threatened to have specific people come to his work and to his relatives’ home until he was paid.

In the last voicemail left for the victim, Todd is accused of recording the sound of a handgun slide being pulled back and released as if chambering a round.

During a search of Todd’s house, LBPD, who investigated this case, located 57 firearms, nearly 30,000 rounds of ammunition, over 100 magazines, a practice bomb, several body armors, swords, and Nazi paraphernalia.

Todd’s pre-trial hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb 4 at the Harbor Justice Center.

Todd is charged with one felony count of criminal threats. The maximum sentence he faces is three years in state prison.


Police Files

Man hit by car on S Coast Hwy while allegedly intoxicated dies

William Edward Hemphill, 68, Laguna Beach, never recovered from his injuries after he fell onto S Coast Hwy while allegedly intoxicated and was hit by a car. Hemphill passed away on Friday, Jan 4 at Mission Hospital – Mission Viejo, according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

On Wednesday, Dec 26, at 7:21 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a vehicle versus a pedestrian on S Coast Hwy between Laguna Avenue and Legion Street, in the southbound lanes.

Hemphill was unconscious upon arrival at the hospital and according to reports, never regained consciousness. 

In a previous interview, Sgt Cota said, “After speaking to witnesses and the driver involved in the collision, it was established the pedestrian, William Hemphill, was heavily intoxicated.” According to witness reports, “Hemphill staggered into the roadway and was struck by a vehicle.”

According to LBPD, the driver of the vehicle did not display any signs or symptoms of alcohol intoxication.

Animal Files

Trained falcon hired to deter seagulls at the Montage attacks hotel guest’s small dog in pool area

As reported in Stu News on Friday, Jan 4, on Sunday, Dec 30, at 2:45 p.m., at the 30800 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD received a report of “a wild bird attacking people and dogs.” According to reports, the distressed reporting person “was yelling at security and stated she fell and scraped her knees and hands.” 

According to LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres, “The incident occurred at the Montage in the outdoor pool area. The ‘wild bird’ was actually a falcon hired by the Montage to deter seagulls from hanging around the resort. The professional falconer hired by the Montage released his falcon, and rather than focusing on the seagulls as the falcon is trained to do, the falcon instead attacked a Montage guest’s small dog in the pool area. The dog’s owner interceded in an attempt to protect her dog from the falcon, and she tripped and fell while trying to protect her dog. The female hotel guest sustained some kind of injury due to falling down.” 

Because the incident happened on private property and no crime was committed, it was a private civil matter between the injured guest, the Montage, and the contract falconer.


Police Files (Cont.)

Man arrested for robbery with $100,000 bail after allegedly stealing one can of beer from Circle K

On Tuesday, Jan 1, at 12:22 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to Circle K, at 885 Glenneyre Street, in reference to a theft investigation. The subject was described as wearing a hat, a blue sweater, and grey sweatpants.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Michael Matekel took a single can of Coors beer and started to exit the store. The clerk approached Matekel and attempted to remove the beer from him. A struggle ensued and Matekel fled the store with the beer.”

 Officers arrived and detained Matekel in the area of S Coast Hwy and Anita Street. Matekel was positively identified as the suspect. 

“It was determined the elements of robbery were met. Matekel was subsequently taken into custody and transported to OC Jail,” Sgt Cota said.

Michael Hayes Matekel, 30, was arrested for felony robbery.

Bail was set at $100,000.

Animal Files

9 lives indeed, cat stuck in storm drain rescued

On Sunday, Dec 30, at 10:22 a.m., at the 1900 block at Catalina Street, LBPD and Animal Services received a call about a “cat stuck in the storm drain, trapped.” 

Public Works was called to respond and assist opening the storm drain. 

The cat’s owner was on scene as was Public Works.

Luckily, the cat had nine lives (eight now) and the incident has a holiday feel good ending. “The cat was released to the owner.” Purrfect!

Wild bird gone rogue attacks people & pets

On Sunday, Dec 30, at 2:45 p.m., at the 30800 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD received a report of “a wild bird attacking people and dogs.” According to police reports, the reporting person stated she “fell and scraped her knees and hands while she tried to get the…” [presumably heck out of there].

Stay tuned…we will be following up with Animal Services for more details on both of these incidents, which we hope to publish next week. 

Scroll down to bottom of page for Police Beat

Read more Police Files on our Front Page I – click here


Police Files

Stabbing in ASL parking lot reported, victim transported to hospital

On Sunday, Dec 30, at 9:12 p.m., at the 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Road, LBPD received a report of an alleged stabbing that occurred at the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) parking lot. The victim, a 29-year male, was reportedly stabbed three times. 

Police Files York“The victim and suspect were familiar with one another from the past. The suspect was staying at the ASL and the victim was sleeping in the parking lot inside a sleeping blanket. At the time of the incident, he was wearing multiple layers of clothing to stay warm. The victim sustained several puncture wounds that were minor in nature,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

The victim was transported to Mission Hospital - Mission Viejo, according to Sgt Cota, and has since been released.

“The knife was not located so there are no specific details about it. Charges are currently pending. The suspect was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon,” Sgt Cota added. 

The suspect was identified as Michael York Kelsey, 33.

Bail was set at $25,000.

Woman arrested for defrauding Surf & Sand on NYE

On Monday, Dec 31, at 10:15 pm, LBPD officers were dispatched to Surf & Sand Resort, at the 1500 block of S Coast Hwy, for a report of a woman unable to pay for her stay. The total amount due wsa $966.43, accordingly to LBPD records.

“The credit card on file declined. Officers arrived and conducted a thorough investigation, which concluded with Rosario De Bugarin, 50, of Laguna Beach, being arrested for violation of Defrauding an Innkeeper for over $400,” Sgt Cota said.

According to Sgt Cota, Bugarin has been contacted several times in 2018 for theft related incidents. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

Read more Police Files on our Front Page II – click here


Police Files

Repeat offender caught with stolen steak from Ralphs

On Friday, Dec 21 at 4:28 p.m., at the 200 block at St. Ann’s Drive, an LBPD officer observed Reese Westenberger from the rear parking lot of the Woman’s Club holding a Duraflame log and a Christmas stocking. 

According to reports, Westenberger did not see the officer as he crouched behind a retaining wall and began to stuff the log into the stocking.

“The officer contacted Westenberger and also noticed a large bulge underneath his coat. The officer inquired about what he was concealing. Westenberger admitted that he had food items in his coat, as he pulled out a package of tortillas and three pounds of ribeye steak,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “He claimed a women gave it to him as a charitable gift although he had no bag. A review of video surveillance showed Westenberger was inside the supermarket [Ralphs] carrying the items and exiting the store.”

According to LBPD, the total loss was $61.21. Westenberger was not allowed in Ralphs anymore because he is a repeat offender of stealing items, Cota explained.

Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, was arrested and taken into custody for possession of stolen property and possession of narcotic paraphernalia, a hypodermic needle located in the pocket of his jacket.

Since May 1, 2018, over an 8-month period, Westenberger has been arrested eight times by LBPD, according to Stu News Laguna records. He has also been arrested two times by Newport Beach Police Department in that same time.

Bail was set at $500.

Local man struck by vehicle while allegedly intoxicated still in critical condition

As previously reported in Stu News, on Wednesday, Dec 26, at 7:21 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a vehicle versus a pedestrian on South Coast Hwy between Laguna Avenue and Legion Street, in the southbound lanes.

“After speaking to witnesses and the driver involved in the collision, it was established the pedestrian, William Hemphill, was heavily intoxicated,” said Sgt Cota. According to witness reports, “Hemphill staggered into the roadway and was struck by a vehicle. Hemphill was not responsive at the scene and was transported to Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo.”

William Edward Hemphill, 68, suffered critical injuries, including a laceration to spleen, fracture to face, spine, pelvis, hip, and ribs.

“Hemphill was unconscious upon arrival at hospital and was kept sedated,” Sgt Cota said. “As of Saturday, William Hemphill is still in critical condition in an induced coma.” 

According to police, the driver of the vehicle did not display any signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication.

Tree falls on Laguna streets, blocking intersection

On Friday, Dec 28, at 8:53 a.m., LBPD and LBFD received a call about a fallen tree branch blocking an intersection at Santa Cruz and Agate Street.

According to police logs, the tree hit wires on the way down, but the wires stayed intact. A neighbor tried to drag the tree out of the way but it was too big.

“Laguna Engine 2 was dispatched to a report of a tree branch that fell into the street and was blocking the intersection,” said LBFD Chief Api Weinert. “Upon our arrival we found a large tree branch in the intersection. LE2 crew moved tree branches off to the side of the street for the responsible party to dispose of.”


Police Files

Man allegedly pulls out his private parts, makes lewd suggestions and threatens Ralphs manager

On Sunday, Dec 23, at 4 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Ralphs grocery store, at 700 S Coast Hwy, in reference to a male subject allegedly causing a disturbance. The male was identified as 39-year-old Braden Bolton. 

Police Files BoltonAccording to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The manager advised Bolton to leave the store. Bolton refused, removed his male genitalia from his pants, and instructed the manager to ‘suck it.’” 

An independent witness told Bolton he was calling 9-1-1.

“Bolton then aggressively followed the witness and threatened his life,” Sgt Cota said. “Bolton was taken into custody for trespassing, indecent exposure, and terrorist threats.”

Bail was set at $51,000.

Man allegedly goes on spree cutting city X-mas lights

On Sunday, Dec 23, at 9:43 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Hennessey’s Tavern for a report of a male subject who was allegedly throwing condiments and creating a disturbance. Officers arrived in the area but did not locate the subject right away. 

Police Files Marston“A short time later, LBFD firefighters located a male, later identified as Craig Marston, who matched the description cutting the lights wrapped around the trees on Forest Avenue at Glenneyre Street,” Sgt Cota said. “Firefighters confronted Marston and he quickly tossed a box cutter on the ground.”

Officers arrived on scene and LBFD firefighters told the officers they had witnessed Marston, 47, cutting the lights with the box cutter.

“Officers noticed the lights did not work and noted the wires had been cut. A box cutter was found next to the tree,” Sgt Cota said. “Marston then spontaneously admitted to cutting the lights with the box cutter because he was upset. Officers arrested Marston for vandalism.”

Bail was set at $500.

Bike vs. car accident, rider transported to hospital

On Sunday, Dec 23, at 6:17 p.m., LBPD officers responded to a traffic collision with injuries, involving a vehicle versus a bicyclist. 

“The driver of the vehicle was making a left hand turn from Catalina Street onto Graceland Drive when the bicyclist, who did not have any lights on her bicycle, rode in front of the vehicle,” Sgt Cota said. “The bicyclist sustained no visible injuries, due to it being a slow speed crash, but was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach due to a complaint of pain to her hip.”

 The driver of the vehicle was able to drive her vehicle from the scene.


Police Files

Man dies following self-inflicted vehicle fire at Aliso Beach

On Tuesday, Dec 18, at 9:09 a.m., at the 31100 block of S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach Emergency Services received an emergency call about a vehicle fire. Local residents, including those dining at nearby Lost Pier Café, also reported the sound of a large explosion.

Sadly, according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “This was self-initiated and so far appears to be an attempt of suicide. There was no bomb, but an excessive amount of gas was located, so it appears the sound of an explosion was the gas and fire igniting the vehicle.”

 The man involved in this tragic incident is described as a 56-year-old man from Lake Forest. Sgt Cota said no drugs were involved.

The man was pulled from his vehicle by emergency personnel after at least one local resident was unable to extricate him on their own due to the significant car damage sustained.

The man, who was still alive as of Thursday after being transported to Orange County Global Hospital in Santa Ana by Mercy Air, died this morning (Friday, Dec 21), according to a message from Sgt Cota.

Police Files Car

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Scott Brashier

A 56-year-old Lake Forest man who was saved from his burning vehicle by emergency personnel on Tuesday has died

LBFD Division Chief Api Weinert said the man sustained “Head to toe burns, all the way from the head to the toe. I would say the gamut from first, second and third-degree burns.”

Chief Weinert reiterated Sgt Cota’s statement that a bomb was not responsible for the vehicle fire.

“It was not a bomb. Although bystanders did report hearing a loud explosion,

anytime you have confined combustion, you can hear what sounds like an explosion or a pop,” LBFD Chief Weinert said.

The event was hard to fathom and to experience.

“Even though we see horrible accidents throughout our careers, it doesn’t mean they don’t accumulate over time or just that one accident that some of our members haven’t seen before won’t affect us,” Chief Weinert said. “We reached out to Trauma Intervention Program (TIP), not just for ourselves but for bystanders. They are an incredible organization. TIP made contact with the civilians, police officers, firefighters, and first responders that were there.”

Holidays are a particularly rough time of year for depression and death.

“A lot of people think we’re really slow, but we’re actually really busy,” Chief Weinert said. “The holidays can be an intense time for people.”

Suicide prevention help is available. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In Orange County, you may also visit this site.

Know the warning signs. Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline. Behavior includes:

--Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

--Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun

--Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

--Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

--Talking about being a burden to others

--Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

--Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

--Sleeping too little or too much

--Withdrawing or isolating themselves

--Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

--Extreme mood swings

Read more Police Files on our Front Page II – click here

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