Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 18, 2012

News Digest

Seven injured in multi-vehicle crash in Palo Alto

A traffic collision involving an airport shuttle van and three other vehicles in Palo Alto late Wednesday night, May 16, sent seven people to the hospital, one with serious injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol and the Palo Alto Fire Department.

The collision was reported at 11:53 p.m. on southbound U.S. Highway 101 just north of San Antonio Road, near the border of Palo Alto and Mountain View, CHP said.

Nine people were evaluated for injuries, and seven were taken to Stanford Hospital with various injuries, according to a statement from Palo Alto Fire Battalion Chief Chris Woodard.

One of them, a man from San Jose, was taken to Stanford Hospital with a laceration to his left eye, CHP said. The man also complained of chest pain.

Another man and a woman were also injured but less severely. They were both transported to the hospital to be treated for neck pain. Several lanes of the highway were blocked for more than an hour while emergency crews cleaned up the scene.

The driver of the airport shuttle reported that the shuttle was slowing down because of road construction near the San Antonio exit when it was hit from behind by a car, according to Woodard. That car, which was reportedly traveling at regular highway speed, pushed it into another car.

East Palo Alto woman pleads not guilty in DUI fatality

An East Palo Alto woman accused of killing another woman in a drunken-driving crash last year has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Wednesday, May 16.

Leylani Simmons, 26, also pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in great bodily injury or death, and driving on a suspended license on the night of the crash, which occurred on June 17, 2011, according to the district attorney's office.

East Palo Alto patrol officers allegedly spotted Simmons driving recklessly on Pulgas Avenue at about 10:30 p.m., Wagstaffe said. East Palo Alto woman Lorina Veamatahau, 22, was a passenger in the car. Police tried to initiate a traffic stop, but Simmons refused to pull over, according to the district attorney's office.

A video camera on the console of the police patrol car recorded the subsequent pursuit, which allegedly shows Simmons driving through at least six stop signs, driving on the wrong side of the road and reaching speeds of up to 80 mph on surface streets, Wagstaffe said.

The chase continued for about 1.5 miles until Simmons lost control of her car and crashed at an intersection with East Bayshore Road. Simmons and Veamatahau were both ejected in the crash. Veamatahau was pinned beneath the vehicle and died from her injuries at the scene.

Simmons was taken to Stanford Hospital, where she was arrested three days later. Simmons, who had an active arrest warrant in Santa Clara County for reckless driving, remains in custody without bail at San Mateo County jail. She is scheduled to be back in court for a pretrial conference on July 31.

Agents target heroin-trafficking ring, arrest 12

Twelve people were arrested in the Bay Area Tuesday, May 15, as part of a multi-agency operation targeting an international heroin-trafficking ring.

Federal and state investigators served arrest warrants in East Palo Alto, Hayward and Oakland as part of a long-term operation, named "Operation Middle Man," that aimed to dismantle the Santa Clara County-based Carlos Jose Moreno drug trafficking organization — a large-scale heroin and methamphetamine distributor, according to the state attorney general's office.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and officers with the Department of Justice-led South Bay Metro Task Force arrested the suspects and seized nine guns and small quantities of marijuana and methamphetamine, the attorney general's officials said.

The Moreno organization is comprised of Norteno gang members with connections to Mexico, and they distribute drugs around San Jose, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Redwood City, state officials said. Law enforcement officials said the crystal methamphetamine was manufactured in California's Central Valley and the heroin was imported from Mexico.

Among those arrested Tuesday were East Palo Alto residents Jose Izabel Moreno, 26; Pearl Moreno, 27; Jose Arreguin, 21; Jose Macias, 25; Elizabeth Kovac, 23; Victor Hernandez, 23; and Edgar Enrique Bustos, 18. Macias and Hernandez were in the United States illegally, a spokesperson for ICE said.

The suspects were booked into Santa Clara County Jail and are facing charges that include conspiracy, residential burglary, firearm sales, sale of methamphetamine and heroin and gang enhancements.

— Bay City News Service

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