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Man Fined in Crash That Doused Bus With Chemical

A San Dimas contractor has been fined $1,125 for allowing conditions resulting in a truck accident that splashed 25 Newhall schoolchildren with a hazardous liquid.

Chris Rischau, owner of San Bon Constructors in San Dimas, pleaded no contest Nov. 29 to having faulty brakes and an overweight load on a tractor-trailer and was fined by Newhall Municipal Court Judge Floyd Baxter, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Anthony G. Patchett. An additional misdemeanor count of carrying an unsafe load was dismissed, Patchett said.

The charges stem from the Jan. 28 accident in which a tractor-trailer traveling on Sierra Highway at Placerita Canyon Road swerved to avoid a school bus, Patchett said.

As the truck swerved, its brakes failed, and a large, rectangular container slipped off its flatbed trailer, splattering liquid chemicals through the windows of the school bus. The students, from Newhall Elementary School, escaped serious injury, but at least 13 were treated at area hospitals for minor eye or skin irritations, Patchett said.

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Patchett said Rischau told him that he had been hired by Morrell’s

Electroplating, a Compton company, to move the container from Carson to Rosamond.

Rischau said he asked Morrell’s owner, Roy Axford, to dispose of all materials in the vat before it was transported, Patchett said. But a caustic mixture of copper and zinc remained inside, Patchett said.

Axford pleaded no contest on behalf of his company Sept. 20 to illegally transporting hazardous wastes, and Axford was fined $12,000, Patchett said.

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The driver of the truck was not charged.


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