Investigators looking into that deadly Northern California bus crash involving L.A. high school students have received conflicting reports about whether the Fed-Ex truck that hit the bus was on fire before impact. But they say there’s no physical evidence that there was anything wrong with the truck. National Transportation Safety Board investigators will be in Los Angeles today to interview some of the 44 students on the bus. Among other things, they’ll be asking if riders were wearing seatbelts and whether they were given emergency evacuation instructions. Federal officials are also due to meet today with the owner of the coach – San Luis Obispo-based Silverado Stages. 10 people died in the crash: five students, three adult chaperones and both drivers.
Police are promising more details today about two men arrested on suspicion killing four women in Orange County. Franc Cano, 27, and Dean Gordon, 45, are both described as transients – and both are sex offenders who have been convicted of lewd acts with a child under 14. They are required to electronic monitoring devices and check in with police every month. They reportedly cut off their tracking devices two years ago and fled to Las Vegas. They were arrested after about two weeks on the lam. The body of one of their alleged victims was found last month at an Anaheim trash sorting facility. The other three women went missing from Santa Ana in the fall.
The economic recovery has triggered a big jump in the number of rent-controlled apartments in L.A. that are being converted into condominiums or torn down entirely. Property owners filed to remove 378 rent-controlled units from the market last year, a 40 percent jump over 2012. Some of those apartments will be converted into condos, which is allowed under state law. Other buildings will be raised to make way for pricey new apartment complexes or other uses. There are roughly 638,000 rent-controlled units in the city. But that number has been dwindling because controls typically apply only to older buildings.
Orange County congressman Ed Royce will use a two week congressional recess to lead a delegation of elected American representatives to volatile regions of Ukraine. The Fullerton Republican is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. His contingent is the first Congressional panel to visit Eastern Ukraine since Russia annexed Crimea and armed groups began taking over buildings in the region. The delegation will meet with presidential candidates and groups assisting in Ukraine’s May 25th elections. They’ll also travel to former Soviet Republics Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Environmentalists are getting set to roll out a $500,000 mobile classroom that will teach students about the L.A. River. The River Rover is the latest and splashiest educational effort by the group Friends of the L.A. River. Starting next month, the rover will begin its mission of visiting 120 public schools within a mile of the river. FOLA received a $1 million grant from the Miss Me clothing company to build and operate the 38-foot-long River Rover. The rolling classroom will teach students about river ecology, history and efforts to revitalize the waterway.