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Woman in power-pole crash dies

January 06, 2007|Sara Lin | Times Staff Writer

An 80-year-old Montclair woman who was critically injured last month when a car driven by her husband slammed into a power pole dangling from a crane has died, her son said Friday.

Betty Jean Deyo-Ridley and her husband, Joel Ridley, were returning home Dec. 6 after visiting a friend who was helping plan their honeymoon when they crashed in Upland.

Ridley, 81, who was driving, died at the scene. Deyo-Ridley suffered skull fractures and cranial bleeding. She was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where she died Thursday afternoon.

"It's been a long month," said Deyo-Ridley's son, Stephen Deyo, 57, of Palm Springs. "She just never came back. It was time."

The couple were long-ago friends who had lost touch but reconnected at their 60th Pomona High School reunion two years ago. They had wed in an impromptu Las Vegas ceremony two days before the crash.

Upland police said contractors for Southern California Edison failed to take proper safety precautions to avoid the accident.

David Jenkins, 29, of Lake Elsinore, a utility worker who was hit by the pole, also died.

The crane operator, Joseph Dimaano, 31, a contractor for Southern California Edison, was arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and released. The San Bernardino County district attorney's office has not decided whether to file charges.

At the hospital, Deyo-Ridley's family kept vigil at her bedside, but she never regained consciousness.

The couple had known each other as children, and Deyo-Ridley's father had taught Ridley to fish. But the two went their separate ways.

Ridley married, worked for the U.S. Postal Service and owned a jewelry shop before retiring in San Dimas. Deyo-Ridley married and worked as a nursing assistant while raising a son and a daughter in Montclair.

Both their spouses had died by the time they met again at the class reunion.

The couple became world travelers, taking cruises and tours to Europe and Africa.

The power pole had been hanging four feet above a traffic lane on Benson Avenue near 11th Street when the couple hit it about 10 p.m., police said. The impact of the crash sheared off the roof of their car.

sara.lin@latimes.com

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