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BRIEFLY IN PUBLIC SAFETY

Man struck on highway, critically injured

A 57-year-old man was hit by a vehicle as he attempted to cross Coast Highway near South Coast Medical Center shortly after 6 p.m. on Feb. 9, Laguna Police Sgt. Bob Rahaeuser said.

The man, described by police as homeless, may have been impaired due to alcohol consumption when he apparently darted into traffic at a point in the road where there was no crosswalk.

He was struck by a vehicle traveling in the northbound “fast” lane. The driver of the vehicle, a 30-year-old Laguna Beach woman, was ruled not responsible for the accident and was not charged after an exhaustive investigation, Rahaeuser said.

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The victim was in critical condition after the accident, having sustained multiple fractures, including a possible fractured neck, Rahaeuser said. He is expected to survive his injuries, Rahaeuser said.

He was transported to Mission Hospital’s trauma unit after paramedics determined he needed a higher level of care than available at a standard emergency room.

After the accident, the driver pulled over, dialed “911,” and then went to help the victim, Rahaeuser said.

The accident tied up traffic on Coast Highway during the Friday evening rush hour.

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Fireworks lead to bomb scare, Sigalert

Fireworks left in a South Laguna roadway on Feb. 10 led to an early morning visit to Laguna Beach by the Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad and a Sigalert on Coast Highway at West Street.

The incident began around 5 a.m., when someone called Laguna Beach police to report a possible gunshot at Florence and Third avenues, said Sgt. Bob Rahaeuser.

Police responding to the area noticed two tube-type devices in the roadway, both wrapped in white paper with black tape — one with a fuse at the top.

The bomb squad was called in, and, at 5:15 a.m., a Sigalert was put into place, stopping traffic in all directions on Coast Highway between West and Fourth streets. The Sigalert remained in effect until 6:15 a.m.

The bomb squad investigators determined that the devices were fireworks, one of which had been set off earlier, presumably causing the gunshot-like sound reported by the resident.

The bomb squad took the devices away.

— Cindy Frazier

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