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Gregory Yee, Times reporter who chased the stories that shaped L.A., dies at 33

Gregory Yee.
(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)
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Gregory Yee, a hard-charging breaking news reporter for the Los Angeles Times, died unexpectedly Wednesday at the Hollywood bungalow where he lived. His family said the cause appeared to be complications from a respiratory issue. He was 33.

Yee joined The Times in summer 2021 as a night reporter on the Metro staff, and he had been working as one of 18 reporters on the Fast Break desk, the paper’s breaking news operation. He worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, sometimes posting three or four breaking-news stories a night.

He covered heat waves and wildfires, gun violence in Oakland and the controversy surrounding robotic police dogs. He chronicled the hunt for the mountain lion known as P-22, and L.A.’s effort to save the historic lampposts on the Glendale-Hyperion Viaduct before thieves could take them all.

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Yee attended UC Irvine and served as editor in chief of the student newspaper, graduating in 2012 with a double major in Spanish and literary journalism.

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“He brought nerve, will, discipline and high ambition to every project he tackled,” said Barry Siegel, who runs the school’s Literary Journalism program. “It was clear to me that Greg would go on to achieve much in the field of journalism, carving out a very special career.”

After a short stint at a newspaper in New Mexico, he covered crime for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and criminal justice for the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., where he anchored coverage of a mass shooting in Rock Hill by a former NFL player.

Yee’s work on the shooting story caught the eye of Times sportswriter Sam Farmer, who was in South Carolina to cover the story himself and reached out to him. Yee said his ambition was to work for his hometown paper, and an interview with The Times quickly followed. When The Times offered him a job in 2021, he packed his Toyota Camry and drove cross-country back to his home state in the company of his pit bull mix, Jake.

“We did a nationwide search and he was far and away the best candidate we could get,” said B.J. Terhune, an assistant managing editor who oversaw his work. “He was truly passionate about breaking news. That really stood out when we were interviewing him.”

Hired during the pandemic, he worked from home and did not have a chance to meet many of his co-workers in person. Colleagues said he enjoyed the adrenaline rush and constant novelty of breaking news, and studied the paper’s online analytics to gauge how much time readers were lingering on his stories.

“When he had the opportunity, he tried to turn it into a tale that readers wanted to stay with,” Terhune said.

Yee had been living with his dog in Franklin Village near the Hollywood sign, and he frequently roamed the city taking photographs.

Yee’s father, Andrew, is a retired pulmonologist, and his mother, Mirta, a retired nurse.

Yee’s father remembered that his son was voraciously inquisitive about the world as a young boy — fascinated by the different varieties of clouds, trucks and dinosaurs.

“He was always curious about everything,” Andrew Yee said. “I take comfort in knowing Gregory came back to L.A. and was thriving at the paper. He said he felt like [journalism] was a calling, like it’s in his genes to do it.”

Along with his parents, Yee is survived by two sisters, Halina Yee of Hershey, Pa., and Emma Yee of San Francisco.


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