L.A. Now
California: This just in
UCLA flood: DWP crews ready to begin welding ruptured pipe

Repair crews were able to completely shut off the flow of water Wednesday night to a ruptured main line near UCLA, clearing the way for workers to begin welding new pipe after an estimated 20 million gallons of water flooded the area.

A Department of Water and Power official told reporters around 9 p.m. that the flow was finally stemmed and that crews would continue working around the clock to repair the 93-year-old high-pressure line that flooded the school and created a huge sinkhole on busy Sunset Boulevard.

The Fire Department said six workers were treated Wednesday evening after they were exposed to exhaust fumes from a generator while they were helping pump out water from a flooded structure on campus.

Two of the adult male workers were taken to a hospital in fair condition, a Fire Department spokeswoman said, and the others were treated at the scene.

The pipeline, which ruptured on Sunset Boulevard shortly before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, sent a cascade of water onto the UCLA campus...

Read more
FBI agent opens fire during suspected kidnapping; chase ensues

An FBI agent shot at a man in Canoga Park after it appeared that he was trying to kidnap a woman and force her into his car, law enforcement authorities said late Wednesday.

The man left he scene and led officers on a high speed chase across the San Fernando Valley and into Malibu, where he was on a hillside overlooking the ocean Wednesday night as officers mobilized below.

The man was taken into custody about 9 p.m. and could be seen with officers near patrol cars on Pacific Coast Highway, television news footage showed.

The man was being treated at a hospital Wednesday night for injures. It was not immediately clear how he was injured.

Los Angeles police said the incident began Wednesday evening in an L.A. Fitness parking lot near De Soto Avenue and Nordoff Street. The man allegedly fired at least one shot at an off-duty officer, said Officer Bruce Borihanh of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was not immediately clear whether that officer was the FBI agent.

Borihanh  said that...

Read more
Plane crashes in parking lot of San Diego Costco; 1 killed

An 80-year-old female passenger of a single-engine plane that crashed in a Costco parking lot in San Diego Wednesday has died, authorities confirmed. 

The crash occurred around 5:30 p.m. in the 7000 block of Othello Avenue in Kearny Mesa, said Lee Swanson, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Two unidentified women were the only occupants of the plane. The pilot, a 52-year-old woman, suffered serious injuries, Swanson said. Her condition was not released.

The plane came to rest between two buildings and did not hit anything, Swanson said.

“The pilot did a great job of bringing it down away from buildings and cars,” he said.

Two witnesses who tried to help the women out of the plane suffered scrapes and cuts, Swanson said.

Social media was filled with pictures of the wreckage because of the unusual spot it was located.

It is unclear what caused the crash. Federal Aviation Administration investigators are at the scene.  

Follow @theryanparker for breaking news

Read more
Councilmen call for DWP report on water main break near UCLA

In response to the pipeline rupture that flooded UCLA, City Councilman Paul Koretz made a motion Wednesday with Council President Herb Wesson for an immediate report from the Department of Water and Power on what caused the break.

Koretz and Wesson also sought information on whether the ruptured line was scheduled for upgrades and a rundown of the DWP's efforts to replace aging infrastructure and whether they should be accelerated.

The spectacular rupture, which flooded the storied Pauley Pavilion, stranded hundreds of cars in underground garages and is estimated by university officials to have caused millions of dollars in damage, has renewed attention to the aging pipelines running underneath Los Angeles.

The DWP estimated in a report two years ago that 20% of city pipelines were at least a century old. By 2014, it predicted, that number would hit 27%.

Two years ago, the utility had proposed hiking rates by roughly 5% beginning in July 2013, but later abandoned the proposal.


Read more
3-year-old boy dies after being trapped in hot car in Sylmar

A 3-year-boy died Wednesday after apparently becoming trapped in a car at his home amid the afternoon heat in Sylmar, Los Angeles police said.

The child was found unconscious in the car around 3:30 p.m. in the 14400 block of Foothill Boulevard, said Officer Bruce Borihanh of the Los Angeles Police Department.

A preliminary investigation shows that the boy was playing in his yard and then went into the car. "He was overcome by heat and couldn't get out," Borihanh said.

He said the boy was found by his brother and was taken by firefighters to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Temperatures in the area Wednesday afternoon were in the mid-to-upper 90s, according to the National Weather Service.

"It appears to be a tragic accident,"  Borihanh said.

Officers were conducting an investigation and gathering evidence at the home Wednesday evening. No other details were immediately available. 


Follow @LAJourno for breaking news

Read more
Group protests L.A. loan rates by dumping trash at downtown bank

A coalition of city workers and community groups delivered debris from a South Los Angeles alley to the front door of a bank downtown Wednesday to protest what they call "toxic" deals between the city and large Wall Street firms.

In 2006, the city entered into an interest-rate swap deal with Bank of New York Mellon and Dexia, a Franco-Belgian financial institution, for its 1988 Wastewater System Revenue Bond.

The city wanted to take advantage of what were then historically low interest rates. But as rates dropped even lower during the recession the city was left paying more than the market rate.  

The coalition, known as Fix LA, wants the city to renegotiate the deal, which it estimates has cost the city up to $65 million. 

"That money could be better spent on city services including cleaning our streets," said Scott Mann, a spokesman for the coalition, which includes labor unions, clergy and community groups. 

Members of the coalition picked up debris from an alley at 101st Street and...

Read more
Federal bills would crack down on college sexual assault

Congressional legislators in California and several other states took aim at campus sexual assault Wednesday, introducing two bills that would require universities and colleges to provide more support and training to combat the problem.

Campuses that receive federal funds would be required to appoint an independent, on-campus advocate to help victims of sexual assault seek medical care, counseling, legal information and other services under a bill by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego).

"Survivors of sexual assault deserve an advocate who will fight for them every step of the way," Boxer said in statement.

The bill has been endorsed by the University of California, which has established a system-wide task force that will deploy more than 100 police officers, administrators, regents, students, lawyers, advocates and others to recommend better ways to prevent and address sexual violence. The task force is expected to present its recommendations at the UC...

Read more
'Spiritual healer' sentenced to prison for sexual assault

A Victorville man who described himself as a spiritual healer was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in state prison for sexually assaulting a woman who visited his makeshift office.

Jose Romulo Felix, 42, was also ordered to register as a sex offender, prosecutors said. Felix pleaded no contest July 1 to rape and sexual battery by fraud.

Prosecutors said Felix advertised himself in Spanish-language newspapers as a spiritual healer who could solve love issues for women.

A woman visited Felix at his office in Downey on Jan. 15, 2013, and was sexually assaulted, prosecutors said. The victim tried to fight back but Felix forced himself on her.

Felix was arrested less than a month after the victim reported the assault.  

For breaking news in Los Angeles and the Southland, follow @debbietruong or email her at debbie.truong@latimes.com.

Read more
Skydiver never activates ripcord, falls to his death

Without ever activating his ripcord, a skydiver was killed Wednesday when he jumped from a plane and fell to the Earth in eastern San Diego County, officials said.

Authorities said that when they arrived about 10:21 a.m. at  Skydive San Diego in Jamul, the skydiver was dead.

Buzz Fink, the facility's owner, said the 53-year-old San Diego man was wearing new equipment and turned off his activation device, which automatically opens the parachute, before jumping. 

The man, Fink said, jumped off the plane, was in a free fall for about a minute and landed in the drop zone.

With at least 30 years of skydiving experience, the man was a regular at the facility, stopping by three to four times a month to skydive, Fink said.

Fink said the skydiver was apparently depressed and going through a divorce.

The owner said his employees have been second-guessing themselves, asking whether there was something they could have done to prevent his death.

"I wish that he could have gotten the help before...

Read more
UCLA flood: Estimate of gallons lost in main break doubles to 20 million

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Wednesday doubled the estimated amount of water lost in a massive main break that flooded UCLA to 20 million gallons.

A section of Sunset Boulevard pummeled by the geyser that erupted from the rupture will remain closed for an additional 48 hours, officials announced.

The pipeline, which ruptured on Sunset Boulevard shortly before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, sent a cascade of water onto the UCLA campus for about four hours, inundating parking garages, sports facilities and campus buildings, including the Pauley Pavilion, where university officials said a recently installed wood floor will have to be completely replaced.

It also closed Sunset from Marymount Place to Westwood Plaza, putting a clamp on the busy morning commute.

Meanwhile, the estimated number of vehicles marooned in flooded underground parking garages increased to roughly 900, and officials warned that crews may not be able to start towing them out until Friday.


Read more
Thousands of jellyfish-like creatures wash up near San Francisco Bay

Thousands, possibly millions, of hockey puck-sized creatures washed up along the shoreline near San Francisco Bay this week, but an expert says don't be alarmed.

Strong winds probably drew the colony of creatures, known as Velella velella, to Ocean Beach in San Francisco, where they dried out and died, said Rich Mooi, curator of invertebrate zoology and geology at the California Academy of Sciences. The creatures, he said, are not dying off.

They  are known to bloom and float to shores along the northern continents around April, May and early June. The latest bloom, however, is unusual because it happened later than expected.

"It's a little bit out of whack," Mooi said.

Although Mooi doesn't know why the silver and purple creatures bloomed late, he said the event doesn't indicate something is wrong with the ocean.

In any event, dozens of spectators took to Twitter this week and posted photos of the creatures along Central and Northern California shores.

The creatures were also spotted...

Read more
Family of woman fatally hit by car on Venice boardwalk files lawsuit

The family of an Italian woman fatally struck by a car on the crowded Venice Beach boardwalk claims in a lawsuit that the city and county of Los Angeles failed to provide adequate protection for pedestrians on the busy walkway.

Attorneys for the parents and husband of Alice Gruppioni contend the boardwalk was in "dangerous condition" when the 32-year-old was struck Aug. 3 by a car driven by Nathan Campbell, 38, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Campbell was able to enter the boardwalk from adjacent Dudley Avenue and then drive his car, unimpeded, because the city and county did not provide adequate barriers and bollards to prevent unauthorized vehicles from driving on or near the thoroughfare, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the city and county of Los Angeles had knowledge of the "dangerous condition" and had received public complaints about increased vehicle traffic and the "inadequacy of existing measures" to prevent vehicles from...

Read more