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2 plead not guilty to tossing objects onto freeway

July 07, 2007|Tami Abdollah | Times Staff Writer

Two men pleaded not guilty Friday to felony charges of throwing bricks, bottles and other objects from an overpass onto vehicles on the Pomona Freeway, officials said.

Justin Adam Pecor, 20, and Anthony John Balsz, 24, both of Hacienda Heights, are charged with four counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and two counts each of throwing a substance at a vehicle in connection with the Tuesday morning incident.

According to authorities, the two threw rocks, bricks, bottles and other objects -- including a street sign attached to a piece of tree trunk -- at vehicles on the eastbound 60 Freeway from an overpass in Hacienda Heights. The incident began shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday.

A truck and a car were hit. Two passengers in the car were struck by a brick or a rock and suffered minor injuries that could easily have been fatal, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Ramon Escamilla of the Industry station.

A woman sleeping in the front passenger seat sustained a gash on her neck, Escamilla said. A male passenger was hit in the shoulder by a brick, and both were showered by glass, said Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. The two were taken to a hospital and released, officials said.

The truck driver nearly lost control of his vehicle when a brick landed in front of it, Gibbons said.

According to Escamilla, after a night of heavy beer drinking at the home of one, Pecor and Balsz went up to the Barford Avenue pedestrian bridge over the freeway and began hurling items from the semi-enclosed overpass.

"It looked like maybe they were timing it, seeing cars coming eastbound, looking from one side of the bridge, timing it, and throwing objects over," Escamilla said witnesses told deputies.

Superior Court Judge Abraham Khan set bail Friday at $1 million for each defendant, Gibbons said. If convicted, they could face up to seven years in state prison.

Authorities Friday appealed to the public to come forward if someone's vehicle was struck by debris.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Industry sheriff's station at (626) 330-3322.

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tami.abdollah@latimes.com

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