A Fresno man accused of a hit-and-run crash that fatally injured a 7-year-old boy was alone in his car, a controversial gravel mine is approved by the Fresno County Planning Commission, and Fresno firefighters rescue a man who got wedged in the chimney of a vacant central Fresno house.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: Central High School coach Loren LeBeau, who is charged in the drunken-driving, hit-and-run death of 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado, was alone in his car when the crash happened, a Fresno police captain said Thursday. But LeBeau was drinking with a female friend before the deadly collision, said Capt. Andy Hall. LeBeau, 42, is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; drunken driving causing great bodily injury to Donovan's father, Jesse Maldonado, and sister, Bella; driving with a blood-alcohol level above the state's legal limit of 0.08; and leaving the scene of a collision involving death and injury.
What it means: Thursday morning, a nervous LeBeau made his first appearance in Fresno County Superior Court. He got a big break when a judge allowed him to remain free on $256,000 bail and delayed his arraignment until Aug. 16.
What readers said:
"I'm trying to figure out how a man that hits 3 people while he is drunk, which ends up killing a child, and then he leaves the scene of the crime and only gets a bail of $256,000. Yes, he has a right to bail but the bail amount should also fit the crime a person is charged with." -- Bonice Reed
"This man made a horrendous mistake, clearly. But I made a series of hurtful mistakes years ago, and Loren LeBeau treated me no differently from day one to the current day. He has dedicated his life to teaching kids, to coaching kids, and to basketball. I'm not saying he's a saint, but who among us is? ... My empathy and compassion go out to everyone involved in this situation. May society have some mercy on them all." -- mintzworks
"O! i believe hammerschmidt has INDEED divulged a defense...and it's gonna be that the victims and the city have some responsibility here. if i recall this crossing has a gate that locks... i wonder what the policy of the city is on locking that gate??? and i bet it is that it should be locked at dusk. like i said only two things are a given here... the little boy is dead and the city's gonna get sued." -- haveyouseen myslipper
What happened: The Fresno County Planning Commission on Thursday approved the Carmelita Mine project, an 886-acre mine and asphalt plant in eastern Fresno County that would extend the reach of mining in the rural Kings River bottom area. Planning commissioners cited the county's need for construction material as grounds to permit the project.
What it means: Opponents, concerned that the mine will clog roads, hurt air quality and harm wildlife habitat and farmland, vowed to appeal the decision to the county Board of Supervisors.
What readers said:
"OK people please tell me what will happen after you have banned all mining and there is NO MORE sand and gravel for construction? I will tell you, no more construction, no more road building or maintenance! Get real people, do you really think the millions of other citizens in this valley are really going to support you when they are driving on dirt roads???" -- Loydant
"Yes, in answering questions such as "Do the benefits of the project outweight its drawbacks?" What it suggests is that the Planning Commission felt that the benefits of the project were greater than the impacts it would cause. Opinion? Sure. That's what happens in representative democracy, even when the decision-makers are appointed." -- TheMadHater
What happened: A man who spent the night trapped in a chimney of a vacant central Fresno house was rescued by firefighters Friday morning after neighbors heard cries for help. Neighbors said police chased several people out of the house on North Ferger Avenue, southeast of Roeding Park, on Thursday night, and it was possible the man was trying to hide from officers. The vacant house recently was remodeled and had a for-sale sign in the front yard.
What it means: The unidentified man was taken to Community Regional Medical Center after firefighters worked about a half-hour to pull him through the top of the chimney. The soot-blackened victim suffered scrapes, bruises and neck and back injuries.
What readers said:
"Santa Clause does not "hide". He was merely getting a head start." -- Kristen Raegen
"Bet he'll sue the homeowner/bank for "wrongful imprisonment"! lol" -- cinziaaus
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.