L.A. Now
California: This just in
UCLA says DWP should pay for flood damage caused by water-main rupture

The cost of flood damage at UCLA caused by a ruptured water main should be covered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a university official said Wednesday, even as officials continued to tally the cost.

“We believe all costs associated with this incident should be borne by the DWP; they weren’t our pipes,” said UCLA spokeswoman Carol Stogsdill.

The pipeline, which ruptured 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 and Wooden Center.

“We’re keeping a running log of what this is costing, including anything we have to pay out," Stogsdill said. "This all comes under the DWP. This will cost the people of Los Angeles, not UCLA."

The university is self-insured, as is standard for UC schools.

The pumping continued at two badly flooded underground garages Wednesday, but more than 700 marooned cars will not be able to be moved...

Read more
Parents of slain USC student unable to enter U.S. for almost a week

The parents of a slain USC student from China are expected to arrive in Los Angeles late Wednesday, their trip delayed for almost a week because the U.S. visa system crashed, according to a family friend.

Xianren Kong, the family friend, said in a statement on the couple’s behalf that their biggest wish now is to claim the body of their only child.

“They have had to cancel their airline tickets several times,” he said.

A State Department official said she was prohibited from commenting specifically about the couple's case, but she acknowledged that problems with the system that processes non-immigrant visas had caused a “significant document backlog.”

More details about Xinran Ji's death emerged as prosecutors filed charges Tuesday against the suspects, identified as Jonathan DelCarmen, 19; Andrew Garcia, 18; Alberto Ochoa, 17; and Alejandra Guerrero, 16.

The murder case carries a special-circumstance allegation that Ji was killed during an attempted robbery, allowing prosecutors the...

Read more
Man found guilty of murdering Army veteran, burying her body in canyon

An Orange County man has been convicted of killing an Army veteran days shy of her college graduation and then disposing of her body in a canyon.

Kwang Chol Joy, 55, was found guilty Tuesday of killing 36-year-old Maribel Ramos in May 2013, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

At the time, Joy and Ramos lived together in an apartment in Orange. Authorities said Joy got into an argument with Ramos after she told him to move out because he was not paying his rent.

Surveillance video shows Ramos dropping off a rent check at the property manager's office later that day, according to prosecutors.

Ramos, who served tours in Iraq during her eight years in the Army and was a student at Cal State Fullerton, was reported missing when she failed to show up for a softball game and a veterans' event where she was scheduled to speak.

Authorities said they later learned that Joy had used a computer at a public library to do Internet searches on the human body decay process. He...

Read more
Watch: Huge gusher at UCLA creates huge mess
Water-use restrictions take effect in California; daily fines possible

Tough new statewide regulations restricting outdoor water use took effect Tuesday, the same day millions of gallons of water gushed from a ruptured water main near the UCLA campus. 

Under the emergency conservation restrictions, which were approved July 15 and were prompted by the statewide drought, hosing down driveways and sidewalks is prohibited, as is watering outdoor landscapes if it causes excess runoff.

In addition, water can't be added to a decorative water feature unless it uses a recirculating system. Californians can use a hose to wash their cars only if the hose has a shut-off nozzle.

Offenders can be subject to a daily fine of $500.

The state Water Resources Control Board says the conservation steps are crucial because the drought shows no signs of abating.

The regulations will remain in effect for 270 days.

In some parts of California, 50% or more of the water used goes onto lawns and other outdoor landscaping, according to state officials.

Water suppliers throughout the...

Read more
Central California wildfires continue to grow in harsh conditions

An out-of-control wildfire in Madera County in Central California more than doubled in size overnight to 5,600 acres, officials said.

In addition to scorching temperatures, high winds and dry conditions, crews attempting to reach the blaze, dubbed the French fire, have had to traverse steep, rugged terrain in an area that has no recorded fire history, said Royjindar Singh, spokesman for the fire's incident management team.

"It's been a long time since they had something in this area," he said.

A brief downpour Wednesday morning did nothing to help tackle the flames, which are currently 0% contained and continue to rage between Fish and Rock creek campgrounds of the San Joaquin River since the fire was sparked Monday.

Wildlife, meanwhile, appear to be fleeing the area to protect themselves from the flames, said Erica Stuart, spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff's Department.

A photograph taken Tuesday at the fire showed a bear running through a smoke-filled wooded area.


Read more
UCLA water-main break: Hundreds of cars remain marooned on campus

At least 700 cars remained trapped Wednesday inside two parking structures at UCLA after a 93-year-old water main ruptured, spewing up to 10 million gallons of water onto the campus and nearby streets.

Using an online registration system to track vehicles in the university's lots, campus officials have determined that nearly 400 of the marooned cars belong to students, almost 300 to campus staff, more than a dozen to faculty and about 40 to visitors.

Officials on Wednesday said up to 300 of the vehicles were partially submerged in water and several hundred more were damaged.

On Tuesday, firefighters helped five people escape two underground parking garages that were flooded with torrents of water. Firefighters searched about 200 cars but found no other victims.

UCLA is offering marooned faculty and staff members paid administrative leave or the ability to telecommute.

“The last thing we want them to do is have them worry about coming to work,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor of...

Read more
Prostitute tortured, held captive in O.C. motels for days, police say

A group of kidnappers tortured a prostitute in Costa Mesa and Westminster motel rooms for about a week before officers were able to free her, authorities said Tuesday.

Police said they found the 26-year-old woman bruised and burned Monday evening in a motel room on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa.

She had been held against her will while her kidnappers intermittently beat her or pressed hot glass drug pipes against her skin, police said. She was taken Monday to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and then transferred to a women's shelter, the Daily Pilot reported.

Officers found the woman at the motel with Renice Stevenson Flores-Davis, a 26-year-old Costa Mesa man, and Cierra Rose Thompson, 27, of Oregon, police said. Both were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking.

Police believe Flores-Davis kidnapped the woman with the help of two conspirators. The woman's name has not been released.

Police said the woman had been working for Flores-Davis as a prostitute throughout Orange County...

Read more
UCLA water main rupture: Repairs to take 'extended period of time'

Repairs to a ruptured water main near UCLA that gushed up to 10 million gallons of water onto Westwood roads as well as the campus will not be completed Wednesday and may take "an extended period of time," a utility official said.

The effort to repair the damaged main is complicated by the 30-inch steel pipe’s location and connection to other valves east of the rupture, said Jeff Bray, general superintendent for water distribution at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

“This leak repair will not be completed today. We’re looking at an extended period of time,” he said.

Until the water main is repaired, the section of Sunset Boulevard from Marymount Place to Westwood Plaza was expected to remain closed, prompting officials to warn commuters to stay away.

“If you don’t have any business in the area, or don’t live in the area, please don’t come close to the closure,” said Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman Aram Sahakian.

He urged drivers to use Wilshire...

Read more
Venice Beach lightning storm victim was electrocuted, coroner says

A 20-year-old man who died after a freak lightning storm hit while he was in the water at Venice Beach was electrocuted, the Los Angeles County coroner said.

Nick Fagnano, of Los Angeles, was pronounced dead late Sunday afternoon, not long after he was pulled out of the water as thousands of beachgoers scattered for cover.

Los Angeles County coroner's officials said Wednesday that they had listed his cause of death as accidental electrocution.

The 15-minute thunderstorm struck as more than 20,000 people were visiting the southern portion of Venice Beach.

All told, officials said, firefighters responded to the medical complaints of 13 beachgoers, eight of whom were taken to hospitals. One of them, a Los Angeles County lifeguard who was off duty at the time of the lightning strike, was initially listed in critical condition.

UCLA hospital officials Tuesday upgraded his condition to fair. His name hasn't been released.

Friends and relatives of Fagnano gathered Tuesday evening in North...

Read more
Broken water main floods UCLA at 75,000 gallons per minute

Crews have cleaned up the sludge and broken pavement around a burst water main that deluged UCLA on Tuesday but still have to drain the pipe so they can begin repairs, officials said.

A cause for the rupture had yet to be determined and it was unclear how long a stretch of the pipe would have to be replaced, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokesman Albert Rodriguez said Wednesday morning.

The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said.

The water main ruptured shortly before 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of Sunset Boulevard, fire officials said, sending a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air. The main, which delivers 75,000 gallons a minute, was finally shut down about 7 p.m., officials said.

But by then, Sunset Boulevard and UCLA had been deluged. Sunset was closed in both...

Read more
UCLA water main break expected to challenge L.A. commuters

Commuters were advised to avoid Sunset Boulevard near UCLA on Wednesday morning as crews work to clean, repair and assess the damage after a water line break spewed millions of gallons of water.

The flooding was caused by a break in a 30-inch water main, which burst about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, sending up to 10 million gallons of water onto parts of UCLA and Sunset Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Crews were expected to work throughout the day Wednesday to repair the broken high-pressure main, complicating the morning rush-hour commute for scores of drivers.

“There's almost no chance that any portion of Sunset around UCLA will be open," Councilman Paul Koretz said at a news conference Tuesday night.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said drivers should consider using Olympic and Santa Monica boulevards as alternate routes.

"People should avoid the area unless absolutely necessary," Garcetti said in a statement.

The 90-year-old water main ruptured shortly before 3:30...

Read more