Local News Roundup: Dec. 29, 2008

Here are some of the stories around the Southland on Monday...

Mental Health Workers Visit Covina Neighborhood

Mental health experts will visit the Covina neighborhood where nine members of one family were killed in a fiery Christmas Eve massacre. To help residents deal with the shock, experts will conduct a 7 p.m. community meeting. Police said 45-year-old Bruce Jeffery Pardo fatally shot his ex-wife and eight other members of her family before burning the house and committing suicide.

LA Times: LAUSD Suspends Arts Partnership

Los Angeles Unified School District budget crunchers are warily awaiting a final state budget. In the meantime, the Los Angeles Times reports that the district suspended an arts partnership as part of a spending freeze and may have to increase class sizes, lay off teachers or provide fewer meals, depending on state funding. The district is also considering a $300 bonus for employees who take a survey on an early retirement plan under consideration.

Driver Swerved Around Truck Bedliner Before Pileups

A motorist swerving to avoid a truck bedliner in the southbound lanes of the Orange (57) Freeway in Fullerton Monday afternoon led to two separate pile-ups involving six vehicles and leaving several people injured, a California Highway Patrol officer said. The initial crash involving four vehicles was reported at 1:05 p.m. south of Chapman Avenue and was believed to have caused the two-vehicle crash in the same area, said Officer Jennifer Hink. The most seriously injured patient had to be cut out of a vehicle and was taken to UCI Medical Center, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Greg McKeown.

Driver Misses Dead Dog, Hits Divider

The California Highway Patrol said a dead dog on the westbound San Bernardino (10) Freeway in Rosemead caused a driver to swerve, lose control and crash into the center divider near Walnut Grove Avenue at about 7:30 a.m. No one was injured. It was unclear how the dog ended up on the freeway, but the California Highway Patrol said the owner was at the scene.

Stowaways Found in LA-Bound Container Vessel

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has taken custody of two Nigerian stowaways discovered on a Los Angeles-bound container vessel. It is unclear how the pair were discovered, but the U.S. Coast Guard said they were found out at an earlier port call and handed over to an LA-based Coast Guard vessel Sunday. 

Suspect in Pasadena Rape Under Investigation in Another Case 

A 29-year-old man arrested for allegedly raping a woman over the weekend also is under investigation for the alleged sexual assault of an acquaintance of hers in November, police said Monday. Jason Renaux, of Saugus, was arrested Saturday, said Pasadena police spokeswoman Janet Pope Givens. A 19-year-old woman told police that Renaux approached her at Colorado Boulevard at Kinneloa Avenue and asked if she wanted a ride, Givens said. The woman accepted and Renaux drove her to the 3800 block of East Foothill Boulevard, where he threatened her with a box cutter and raped her, Givens said. The woman escaped and she gave police the suspect's license number, authorities said.

Happy Fuel Year: Average Price Falls to $1.78

The average price of gasoline in LA and Orange counties was at $1.78 Monday. Prices increased an average of 2 cents last week. The increase was due, in part, to the extra cost of adding anti-polluting oxgenates to fuel sold in California. Gasoline is a steal compared to this past June 21 when prices topped out at about $4.62 per gallon.

Highs Climb Toward 70s

Forecasters said LA residents can expect blue skies and highs in the upper 60s and low 70s. Forecasters said the rest of the week looks much the same, but we'll start seeing some clouds and slightly cooler temperatures by Friday.

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