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Corona del Mar Today: D.A. reviews girl's fall from prom bus

The California Highway Patrol has completed its investigation of a June 7 incident in which a Corona del Mar High School student fell onto the 73 Freeway from a party bus headed to prom, a spokesman confirmed.

The District Atty.'s office is reviewing the case, but has not filed charges, said spokeswoman Roxi Fyad.

A CHP official earlier said the D.A.'s office had not reviewed the case, but Fyad said that was inaccurate.

Charlotte Boyse, 17, was one of 58 students on the bus headed to prom at the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course when the incident occurred on the 73 south of Newport Coast Drive.

According to a CHP news release, the bus was traveling 35 to 40 mph, and Boyse was standing and dancing on a seat bench next to a window when she leaned against the window and it opened, causing her to fall into the middle of the road. She then ran to the center divider.

Boyse was taken to the hospital and treated for scrapes and a bruised tailbone.

According to an accident report, the "cause of this collision was other than the driver."

The driver, the report said, claimed she checked all windows and latches at the beginning of the shift, making sure all windows were latched shut because the bus was air conditioned.

Boyse told investigators that she was on the left side of the bus next to the second to last window.

"Ms. Boyse noticed cool air coming from a vent on the ceiling of the bus," the report said. "In order to get closer to the air vent, Ms. Boyse stepped up onto the bench in which she was sitting on."

She and another girl began to dance, and when she leaned her back against the window, it flung open.

"When asked, Ms. Boyse claimed she did not unlatch the window, or know if anyone else had unlatched it," the report said.

Another girl on the bus told investigators that no one touched the window latches, and that all windows were covered by black curtains, which no one had moved.

The window was 4 feet, 8 inches wide and 2 feet, 8 inches tall, the report said. A supervisor inspected the window and "found the window latch to be in good working condition."

Students had each chipped in about $50 to rent the party bus, which was supplied by the Leon Party Bus Co. in Downey.

The company apparently was operating illegally, based on letters and records of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates party buses. The incident led to a new PUC investigation, but updates on that case were not immediately available.

Boyse's father, Conrad Boyse, said she was doing well. He also questioned who should have been responsible for making sure that the functioning latch was securely fastened.


Park near Hobie shop delayed

A planned park to be built on a sloping hill near the Hobie Surf shop mural is delayed at least until fall, City Councilman Ed Selich said.

"It's still in play," he said. "We think this will be resolved by the fall, and then we can get going."

Selich first suggested creating a pocket park in the space in 2012, and the property owner agreed to donate the land to the city. The owner died in December, however, which caused delays in the property transfer while estate details were resolved.

Plans for the 1,300-square-foot plot of land at 3140 East Coast Highway include terraced, drought-tolerant landscaping, an irrigation system, low block retaining walls, concrete seating and walkway, and up-lights for the existing adjacent Hobie wall mural. The cost would be $90,000.

When the park is complete, it will include a bronze plaque to honor the owner, Myrtle Cox.


El Cholo to watch parking lot

An El Cholo will be opening this fall in the former Landmark Steakhouse space — but the restaurant has already claimed ownership of its parking lot off Orchid Avenue, adding chains to prevent people from using the spots.

"We're going to be doing lunch," said Carlo Divita, chief financial officer for the El Cholo restaurant chain. "We need to make sure customers have a place to park."

El Cholo, which will open at 3520 East Coast Highway, is paying $4,000 to $5,000 per month for about 29 spaces, including a parking lot, as well as five adjacent parallel parking spaces. On Monday, workers were adding permanent chains that cordon off the area.

Ritz Cleaners owner Arman Karakesis said a Realtor visited him about a month ago and warned that the spaces were going to be reserved.

"It shouldn't affect us that much," he said. "But now we'll have to put up signs on our building saying, 'Half hour parking.' We'll see what happens."

Divita said many of the spaces were used by residents or employees of nearby businesses, not necessarily customers of local shops and restaurants.

El Cholo wanted to implement parking restrictions now so residents could become accustomed to the change, and so construction equipment could be parked there, he said.

Construction won't begin for weeks, he said, and the restaurant is working on its city permits.

In the past, Landmark's owners had informal agreements to let businesses use the spaces during the daytime because the restaurant opened only at night.

"They didn't bother securing it because they didn't need it," Divita said. "We are not going to be a nightclub. For us to be successful we have to do lunch."

City code requires specific numbers of parking spaces be available: 30 for lunch and 45 for dinner, he said. When the restaurant opens, an attendant likely will monitor the spaces.

"I know parking is tough there," he said.

Construction on the restaurant space will include some structural improvements, as well as removal of the black awnings in front and the addition of a retractable awning.

Disabled access will be added to the front of the restaurant, instead of from the side, and landscaping and planters will be upgraded. The restaurant recently removed dead or dying palm trees from the front of the restaurant.

Landmark closed in April.

Corona del Mar Today appears Sunday in the Daily Pilot. Read daily updates at coronadelmartoday.com.

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