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Traffic Death, Brawl, Blaze Mark End of Long Holiday

Times Staff Writer

The long Fourth of July weekend came to a violent end Tuesday night in Orange County with the death of a 28-year-old Newport Beach motorcyclist, a Huntington Beach brawl that left a teen-ager seriously injured and the torching of a lifeguard station.

The four-day weekend, which was marked by excellent weather, also saw thousands of arrests and citations for violations such as drunk driving and disturbing the peace. All this came as beach city police geared up to handle anticipated overflow crowds along the coast. And their predictions were correct.

‘First Good Weather All Summer’

“We started to get nice weather on Friday, and it was the first good weather we’ve had all summer,” said Huntington Beach Police Lt. Mike Biggs, who reported that 110,000 people crowded onto the city beach on Tuesday in the biggest attendance of the weekend.

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“Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday we had terrific weather,” he said. “Today (Wednesday) we have fog and wind. We would have preferred to have this the rest of the weekend. It would have made the crowds a lot smaller.”

The Santa Ana office of the California Highway Patrol reported that two adults and an unborn child were victims of traffic accidents in Orange County during the period that began at 6 p.m. Friday and ended at midnight Tuesday. In all, said Leslie Lazo, a spokeswoman for the CHP in Westminster, there were 78 traffic-related fatalities statewide.

The motorcycle death in Newport Beach came at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday when Dietrich Charles Long, heading south on MacArthur Boulevard near San Joaquin Hills Road, was hit by a pickup truck. The truck was driven by Ira Louis Radstone, 21, of Lancaster, said Newport Beach Police Lt. Tim Newman.

A preliminary investigation showed that Radstone apparently was trying to make a U-turn over a painted center divider when his truck collided with the motorcycle. Long was not wearing a helmet, Newman said. Long was treated by paramedics and then taken to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, where he died, Newman said.

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Police did not cite or arrest Radstone, Newman said, but an investigation is continuing.

Another fatality occurred Monday in Huntington Beach when Jewel Gray, 86, of Huntington Beach was struck by a car as she was trying to cross Brookhurst Street near Kamuela Drive. Gray died Tuesday at UCI Medical Center in Orange.

Huntington Beach Police Lt. Ed McErlain said there was no traffic light at the intersection, and no marked crosswalk. He said there was no evidence that the driver of the car, Susan Kane, 23, of Bellflower, was speeding and she was not charged. An investigation is continuing, he said.

On Sunday, a 29-year-old woman who was 7 months pregnant was struck in a hit-and-run accident in Santa Ana, killing the unborn child.

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The holiday problems in Orange County were not confined to the streets.

Police arrested six youths in connection with a stabbing Tuesday night after a brawl at the Huntington Beach Pier.

The six, from Los Angeles and Duarte and ranging in age from 14 to 17, were taken to Orange County Juvenile Hall and arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in connection with the stabbing.

The 17-year-old Los Angeles youth, whose name was withheld, was stabbed as he and some friends were fighting with another group of six boys Tuesday in a parking lot near Pacific Coast Highway, just south of the pier at Huntington Street, McErlain said. The victim was reported in serious condition at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, he said.

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Huntington Beach’s Lt. Biggs said officers issued 190 citations on Tuesday alone. He did not have a tally of the weekend’s citations, but said, “As Fourth of Julys go, it was about average.”

Most of citations were for alcohol-related infractions, he said. “There were a few assaults. The rest fell into the normal run-of-the-mill drinking and possession-of-drug charges,” he said. “It’s our biggest problem--people drinking on the beach.”

In Newport Beach, a special two-day operation Monday and Tuesday placed 150 officers on the street at one time, a contrast to the usual 30 to 40 on a regular day, Lt. Newman said.

Newman said there were 172 arrests made during the two days, compared to 224 from the year before. On a regular, non-holiday night, there might be only 30 arrests, he said.

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“They were predominantly alcohol-related offenses, drunk driving, drunk in public, assault, disturbing the peace--a wide variety of things,” he said. But the penalty was a bit stiffer this year.

“If you broke the law on the Fourth of July in Newport Beach, you probably went to jail,” he said.

He also said a lifeguard stand at 40th Street was torched on Tuesday night.

Three males were seen running from the scene, but there are no suspects in custody, he said.

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The fire destroyed the wooden structure valued at $2,000, he said.


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