News Briefs


Man caught allegedly cutting phone lines

Fresno police booked a man on charges of damaging phone lines Sunday night near Grantland and San Ramon in northwest Fresno.

Sgt. Rodney Cancio said officers spotted Craig Yanes, 35, attempting to cut the lines. When questioned, Yanes said he worked for the telephone company and was authorized to remove copper wire, Cancio said.

Officers checked with the firm owning the lines and determined that Yanes' story did not hold up. Yanes is being held on $5,000 bail.

Drug suspect hospitalized in critical condition

A 20-year-old man arrested on drug counts was in critical condition Monday at Community Regional Medical Center, having been injured when he ran into traffic after escaping his handcuffs, police said.

Fresno police spokesman Jeff Cardinale said the incident started about 9 p.m. Saturday when officers were investigating reports of drug dealing near a Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue, just north of Ashlan Avenue.

Dustin Perger had an outstanding drug warrant and was discovered to have a bottle of suspected narcotic pills, Cardinale said. The man was arrested and placed in a police vehicle but slipped out of the handcuffs and escaped.

Chased by an officer who fired a Taser to no avail, Perger ran into traffic on Blackstone and collided with a motorcycle. He suffered a "very serious head injury," but his condition was improving, Cardinale said.

The uninjured motorcyclist managed to stay upright.

Drowning victim sought

Searchers Monday resumed looking for a presumed drowning victim last seen Friday at Huntington Lake, the Fresno County Sheriff's Department said.

Sheriff's spokesman Chris Curtice said divers were waiting for a sonar device, which was considered necessary because of the lake's elevation and depth.

"They're doing a surface search today with a boat," Curtice said Monday.

Car in fatal crash stolen

An unidentified man who died in a fiery crash just east of Fresno about 2:30 a.m. Sunday was driving a vehicle that had been stolen earlier in the night, the California Highway Patrol reported Monday.

Officers said the 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was heading east at high speed on Olive Avenue at Fancher Avenue when it ran a stop sign and left the road, slammed into a fence and tree, overturned and burst into flames.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Accident closes street

One person was taken to Community Regional Medical Center by helicopter Monday morning after a vehicle crashed into a utility pole on Adams Avenue at Frankwood Avenue north of Reedley.

The California Highway Patrol said the 5:39 a.m. accident closed Adams Avenue briefly between Frankwood and Reed avenues for the helicopter landing.

Man killed in car crash

A 47-year-old San Fernando man died Sunday evening after his car ran off the road on Interstate 5 just south of Derrick Avenue near Coalinga, officials said Monday.

The California Highway Patrol said the victim was driving south in a 2002 Infiniti that ran off the inside edge of the roadway about 5:20 p.m. and entered the dirt median.

The driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the car and killed. An 18-year-old male passenger, also from San Fernando, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, but was uninjured.


Containment seen today

The Telegraph fire, which charred more than 53 square miles of Mariposa County, was expected to be fully contained this morning -- just as a new fire risk was forecast for the Sierra.

The fire, sparked July 25 by a target shooter, destroyed 21 homes and 33 outbuildings and has cost more than $34 million so far to fight, Cal Fire officials said Monday.

At the fire's peak, 4,531 firefighters were assigned to combat the blaze. By Monday, 2,574 firefighters were assigned to patrol fire lines. Hot spots remained within the burn area, including smoldering trees, Cal Fire officials said.

The National Weather Service forecast a chance of lightning storms in Central California, including the Mariposa County mountains and Yosemite National Park.


Hearing postponed for one suspect in killing of Madera girl

A preliminary evidence hearing scheduled Monday in Madera County Court for Dustin Robert Gran, 19, one of two suspects charged in the January killing of 18-year-old Krista Pike, was delayed after a fire last week destroyed the office of Robert McGurty, Gran's defense lawyer.

Gran will be back in court Aug. 11, when a new preliminary hearing date will be set, Madera County District Attorney Ernest LiCalsi said.

The cases against Gran and the other suspect in the killing, 16-year-old Brittany Navarra, are proceeding through the courts separately.

After an April preliminary evidence hearing, Judge Eric Wyatt ordered Navarra held for trial.

Murder charge dropped

Prosecutors dropped a murder charge Monday against Ray Dell Sims, a 73-year-old man who is serving a life sentence for the kidnap, murder and rape of a Fresno teen in the 1970s.

Reached late Monday, Assistant District Attorney John Savrnoch said he did not have details on why the charge was dropped, but he said prosecutors thought they would not be able to prove Sims committed the crime.

Sims still faces two more murder charges for allegedly killing two Fresno girls in the mid-1970s. The trial in the first murder case -- in which he is accused of killing 15-year-old Elizabeth Ann Ortega -- begins this week in Fresno County Superior Court.

Sims was convicted in 1978 of first-degree murder, rape, sodomy and oral copulation for an attack on 17-year-old Janet Herstein.