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2 Storm Systems Blamed for 3 Deaths, Power Outage

November 02, 1987|SHELDON ITO | Times Staff Writer

Two Pacific storm systems that converged on Southern California over the Halloween weekend, dumping almost an inch and a half of rain on Los Angeles, were being blamed Sunday for the deaths of three people, numerous traffic accidents, power outages and at least one mud slide.

The heavy rains, which began late Friday evening and ended Saturday night, resulted when the remains of Tropical Storm Selma, which formed off the coast of Mexico, met the season's first winter-type low-pressure system from the North Pacific, according to Mike Smith, a meteorologist at WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times.

The brunt of the storm headed east into Arizona during the day after some residual showers, mainly near the foothills, overnight. Los Angeles can expect partly cloudy skies today with highs in the upper 60s to low 70s, Smith said.

But another low-pressure system, centered over the Western states and spinning in a counterclockwise direction, drawing in moisture both from the Pacific and the weekend's storms, could bring scattered showers here again as early as this afternoon, he said.

Smith said Los Angeles has been unusually wet since midsummer--2.47 inches or rain has fallen on the Civic Center since July 1, contrasted with the average to this date of .64 inches.

This weekend's storms dropped 1.39 inches downtown, 1.79 at Santa Monica and 4.94 at Mt. Wilson, Smith said.

At Least 11 Injured

Three people were killed and several others injured in traffic accidents that authorities blamed on the heavy rains.

A 31-year-old Los Angeles woman died Saturday evening, when the car she was riding in slid out of control on Figueroa Street and ran a red light at 42nd Street, crashing into and ricocheting off five other vehicles before stopping, Los Angeles police said.

The driver of the car, Brenda Carter, 34, was being treated at County-USC Medical Center for massive face injuries, officers said. Five people in a van Carter's car struck were treated for minor injuries.

In Newhall, a head-on collision on the rain-slick Sierra Highway killed a 15-year-old boy and injured five others Saturday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol said.

Keith Cooper died at an area hospital after the car he was riding in with his two brothers started hydroplaning and struck an on-coming car carrying three teen-age girls, officers said.

The CHP blamed heavy rain and fog for a head-on collision on Pearblossom Highway near Palmdale on Saturday afternoon that killed Robert Wells, 30, of Agua Dulce and critically injured Clarence Rachel, 30, of Pacoima.

On the Ventura-Los Angeles County line, near Chatsworth, a mud slide blocked the northbound lane of Box Canyon Road just south of Studio Road for several hours Sunday, said CHP Officer Bill Burdick. Ventura County road crews cleared the slide by mid-afternoon.

Los Angeles County health officials closed beaches to swimmers from Zuma to Long Beach for the second time in two weeks, after more than 4 million gallons of partially treated sewage overflowed into Ballona Creek and Santa Monica Bay on Saturday.

Toby Staheli, spokeswoman for the county Department of Health Services, said the closure was a precautionary measure until tests of the water's bacterial content are completed.

Sewage Into the Creek

About 2.7 million gallons of chlorinated sewage flowed into the creek and bay Oct. 23, causing a similar beach closure.

The city's sewer system is designed to overflow into Ballona Creek when rainwater floods its tunnels, said Anna Sklar, spokeswoman for the Department of Water and Power.

The rain, which besides putting a damper on Halloween festivities throughout the Southland, played a few other tricks Saturday night.

Lights flickered, then went out in about 5,000 homes and businesses in South-Central Los Angeles, DWP spokesman Ed Freudenburg said. Most of the power outages, which lasted from a few minutes for some customers to hours for others, were repaired early Sunday, he added.

Firefighters plucked two Los Angeles men, one of them wearing a pink ballerina's outfit, from the roof of their car early Sunday morning after they accidentally drove into the surging Los Angeles River near Griffith Park, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells said.

The two men, whose names were not released, told police that they were on their way home from a Halloween party when they got lost and drove into the water.

Tornado Reported

Wells said firefighters were able to reach the men by swinging a ladder over the river and pulling them out with rescue harnesses.

Hours later, a 13-year-old boy who ventured into the area of the river on his surfboard was rescued by firefighters after he got tangled in debris in the fast-moving water.

"I guess the board took off without him and he got stuck in some debris and rocks," Firefighter Gil Espinoza said. "We got him out with a lifeline."

The boy, who name was withheld, was not injured, but was taken to Glendale Memorial Hospital for a checkup, Espinoza said.

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