First Responders in OC Answer Calls to Recent Tragedies

First Responders in OC Answer Calls to Recent Tragedies
A deadly house fire burns in a mobile home park in Westminster, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2020. (Courtesy of the Orange County Fire Authority)
Jack Bradley
Police and firefighters in Orange County, California, were called last weekend to deal with a deadly high-speed chase in Newport Beach and the tragic killing of a 3-year-old in Orange, after earlier in the week fighting the spread of a fatal house fire in Westminster that killed an elderly woman.

Toddler Killed By Pickup Truck in Orange

A 3-year-old boy on a bicycle was killed on Sept. 20 by a woman driving a pickup truck in a mobile home park in the city of Orange, California.

Sgt. Phil McMullin said that the Orange Police Department received a call at around 7:19 p.m. on Sunday night about “a vehicle that had struck a child” at 1931 E. Meats Ave.

The child was riding a bicycle on the private streets of the mobile home park when he was struck by a Dodge Ram making a sharp left turn, McMullin told The Epoch Times.

“The child was out riding the bike and the vehicle was making a left hand turn, didn’t see the child, and ran him over,” McMullin said. “He was in serious condition when we arrived.”

Officers arrived on the scene and started performing CPR, he said. “And then the Orange Fire Department arrived on scene and pronounced the child deceased.”

The parents were not at the scene when the incident took place, but “the mother showed later,” according to McMullin.

McMullin said officers usually arrive on the scene first, before an emergency medical team, because they are already patrolling.

“We’re already out driving around and we’re dressed,” he said.

McMullin identified the driver as a 23-year-old resident of Orange, who remained at the scene and cooperated with the police.

“They did not suspect DUI or other drugs,” he said.

The case is currently under investigation by the major accident investigation team, McMullin said.

A police vehicle responds to the death of a 3-year-old riding a bicycle in a mobile home park in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 20, 2020. (Courtesy of the Orange Police Department)
A police vehicle responds to the death of a 3-year-old riding a bicycle in a mobile home park in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 20, 2020. (Courtesy of the Orange Police Department)

Dangerous Pursuit Turns Deadly in Newport Beach

A passenger involved in a high-speed chase in Newport Beach died Sept. 20 when the driver of his vehicle crashed while trying to get away from police.

The driver survived, but has been hospitalized with serious injuries and remains under police supervision.

The incident began when a Huntington Beach police officer ran the license plates on a black Honda Accord, with two passengers inside, at Goldenwest Street and Ellis Avenue at 5:35 a.m.—only to discover that the vehicle was listed as stolen from Modesto.

Huntington Beach Police Capt. Tim Martin told The Epoch Times that when the officer tried to stop the vehicle, the driver accelerated—and headed south through downtown at over 100 mph.

The officers initially followed the suspects “for a while until they got enough officers there to make a safe stop,” according to Martin.

“Most of the pursuit they pretty much stayed within a speed limit. They just didn’t stop,” Martin said.

But “then once they cleared the downtown area and PCH [Pacific Coast Highway] kind of opened up … he accelerated to 80 to 100 miles an hour.”

Martin said that “once he started going over 100 miles an hour, and it looked like he was going to enter into Newport Beach,“ which is much more densely populated with lots of apartments, houses, and side roads, officers ”made the decision to cancel the pursuit because of the speed of the suspect.”

Due to the unsafe speed and reckless driving of the pursuant, the police supervisor called off the chase when they reached Brookhurst Street, so as not to endanger the public by potentially causing the driver to threaten more people, police said.

Newport Beach police discovered the Accord crashed at Old Newport Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway around 5:45 a.m.

“He went over the center divider and then overturned, landed on the sidewalk,” Martin said.

The passenger died in the crash.

The driver took off on foot, Martin said, but was later tracked down by Newport Beach police and arrested when Huntington Beach police arrived on the scene.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Huntington Beach Police Department detectives at 714-536-5951 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

Elderly Woman Dies in Westminster House Fire

An 82-year-old woman was found dead inside a Westminster mobile home on Sept. 14 after it was badly damaged by an accidental fire.

Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) Capt. Greg Barta told The Epoch Times that the body was discovered as first responders fought to keep the blaze from spreading to nearby homes.

Police and firefighters initially responded to reports of a residential structure fire in the 5700 block of Garden Grove Boulevard at 4:24 a.m.

“When our crews arrived on the scene, they found a mobile home that was heavily involved with fire, and it was also imminently threatening the adjacent mobile home,” Barta said.

“So our firefighters immediately began an aggressive offensive fire attack while also simultaneously searching the home for any potential victims.”

The OCFA “dispatch received reports prior to our arrival on scene that there was potentially someone trapped or still inside the home,” Barta said. “And then our firefighters did unfortunately find that one individual that had perished inside.”

The Orange County Coroner identified the victim as Westminster resident Mary Penn.

Barta said the fire was classified as “accidental.”

“The cause of the fire was an undetermined, unspecified, electrical malfunction,” he said.

Though the elderly victim could not be saved, firefighters successfully managed to halt the spread of the flames.

“There were multiple adjacent mobile homes that were significantly threatened by the fire. … We were able to knock the fire down, and prevent it from spreading and causing a bigger incident,” Barta said.

The victim’s son survived the blaze. He was evaluated on the scene for possible smoke inhalation but did not require hospitalization, according to Barta.