Kings fall to Devon Toews, Avalanche

Though the Kings played a superior game to their effort Friday, they lost by an identical 3-2 score to the same opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, at Staples Center Saturday.

Defenseman Sean Walker and rookie center Rasmus Kupari lit the lamp for the Kings. Cal Petersen negated 27 of 30 shots.

Defenseman Devon Toews scored twice for the Avalanche while defenseman Cale Makar produced a goal and an assist. Winger Andre Burakovsky had two assists for the second straight night, stretching his point streak to five games. Jonas Johansson made 16 of 18 saves for his fourth win in six starts since being acquired by Colorado.

“They pushed, they played hard, to a man, through the whole lineup,” Kings Coach Todd McLellan said of his team despite its defeat.

McLellan said that in the dying days of a season condemned to end next week, he was attempting to focus on a specific area each night. Saturday, it was the forecheck, and McLellan liked what he saw for most of the game. Additionally, he said he was evaluating intangibles among his young group.

“We’re looking for the character part. That, I think, is as important at this time of year as structure, passing skills and all those types of things. We passed that test tonight,” McLellan said.

The Kings managed to piece together a solid third-period push including a promising rush and an opportunity for center Anze Kopitar to feed winger Lias Andersson in the slot. They did not record a shot on goal in the former instance, and were thwarted by a last-instant stickcheck by Makar in the latter.

They pulled Petersen with around two minutes to play but failed to score. They have not yet scored six-on-five this season, which has three games remaining for the Kings.

“That third period was as fast of a period as we’ve played in a long time,” McLellan said.

An early third-period power play breathed life into the Kings’ game. First they sustained pressure on one trip up the ice, and then they scored two seconds after Colorado’s penalty expired, 5:21 into the period.

Andersson extended his point streak to three games when he made a short pass to Kupari, who had somehow found ice between the circles that was quiet enough to load up a lively shot. It was Kupari’s first NHL point, and in his first game action since March 8.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling to score my first NHL goal. I’ve got to give credit to Lias, it was a great pass,” Kupari said.

Kupari said he continued working on his physical play and puck protection over the past two months. McLellan said he felt the rookie settled in as the game progressed, carried the puck with confidence and made effective use of his respectable shot.

In the second period, the Kings did not build significantly on the momentum of a strong finish to the first period. Their best shift of the second came right near its conclusion. Earlier, they needed an authoritative glove save from Petersen on a sterling chance for center Nazem Kadri during a power play to avoid falling down three goals.

Near the halfway mark of the game, Colorado earned some breathing room. They drew the Kings to the right side of the zone, at which point Toews activated, creeping from the left point to the left faceoff circle. There, he received the puck from Makar, lurched toward Petersen and whipped a shot high to the short side for the second time Saturday for his ninth goal of the campaign.

The first period featured the Avs darting out to a two-goal lead before the Kings halved their deficit, all on goals where a skate came into play.

Center Gabe Vilardi combined his formidable reach with his soft hands as he extended his stick around defenseman Patrick Nemeth to deliver a deft pass to Walker. Walker controlled the puck off his skate and then went backhand to forehand for his fourth goal of the season with 6:02 left in the first period. Walker has 16 points on the year, five of which have come in his last three games, and Vilardi has three goals and an assist over his three-game scoring streak.

“I liked our game tonight. There were moments where I thought where we were, especially early, maybe a little bit intimidated; they are a very good team,” McLellan said. “Once we started to play we were aggressive, our forecheck was much better than it was yesterday.”

The Avs had gone up by a pair 3:27 earlier off a power-play goal. A failed clearing attempt that hit the skate of forward Adrian Kempe extended Colorado’s zone time. While it was Makar to winger Mikko Rantanen on the power play for a one timer on Friday, the play went the opposite direction Saturday with Rantanen sending a nimble pass for a heavy one-timer from the point by Makar. Winger Gabriel Landeskog set an effective screen in front for Makar’s eighth goal and his second in as many games.

Petersen had to contend with point-blank shots from forwards Joonas Donskoi and J.T. Compher off miscues, and his work kept the Kings in a game where they were despite being doubled up in shots through 20 minutes.

Colorado had opened the scoring less than five minutes in when Compher’s pass off the rush first struck Burakovsky’s skate and then Kupari’s stick before landing on Toews’s blade for a rising wrist shot that became his eighth goal of 2021.

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Troy girls basketball tops Sonora, likely saves its state-record streak of league titles

FULLERTON — This might be a time when people have to accept big changes in their lives, but don’t tell the Troy girls basketball team that.

After losing to Sonora at the start of Freeway League play, the Warriors knew they were in danger of seeing their state-record streak of consecutive league titles — currently at 28 — come to an end.

The Warriors made it clear Friday night they aren’t ready to let that happen, as they won the league rematch with the Raiders 48-39 at Troy High.

Bella Pearson had a game-high 18 points for Troy, and Endigo Parker (six blocks) was an important defensive presence.

Troy now is in a good position to extend the title streak to 29. The Warriors (11-7 overall) and Raiders (11-4) are both 5-1 in league with four league games remaining against opponents both teams have defeated easily this season. Most likely, they will end up sharing the title.

  • Troy’s Jamie Choi, right, and Isabella Pearson celebrate the team’s win over Sonora in an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy’s Isabella Pearson shoots during an Empire League game against Sonora at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Sonora’s Mia Miyatake, center, tries to keep the ball away from Troy’s Endigo Parker, left, and Maggie Teven during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Sonora’s Kiana Graham shoots during an Empire League game against Troy at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy players celebrate Kaitlyn Osako’s basket on the buzzer in the third quarter during an Empire League game against Sonora at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy’s Isabella Pearson, right, shoots under pressure as Sonora’s Alyssa Ke defends during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy’s Isabella Pearson, left, shoots over Sonora’s Jazmin Sheikh during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy’s Aliyah Gonzalezm right, celebrates her basket with Isabella Peason as Sonora’s Haylie Dermer looks away during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Sonora’s Haylie Dermer, center, shoots as Troy’s Maggie Teven, right, and Endigo Parker look on during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy head coach Roger Anderson gives instructions to his players during an Empire League game against Sonora at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy’s Keira Ujiki, right, shoots over Sonora’s Haylie Dermer during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Sonora’s Alyssa Ke, front, goes up for a basket under pressure as Troy’s Aliyah Gonzalez defends during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Sonora head coach Melissa Barajas, left, gives instructions to her players during an Empire League game against Troy at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Troy’s Endigo Parker, right, shoots over Sonora’s Mia Miyatake during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Sonora’s Jazmin Sheikh, left, blocks the shot by Troy’s Isabella Pearson during an Empire League game at Troy High School in Fullerton on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

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“I’m just proud of the way the girls competed,” Troy coach Roger Anderson said. “They’re representing 28 years before them.”

“Bella (Pearson) played really strong offensively and led us,” he added. “Endigo (Parker), she’s a force and defensively she’s a force and when she gets aggressive, she’s hard to stop.”

The Warriors trailed 10-9 after the first quarter, but they used a 13-2 scoring run in the second period for a 10-point halftime advantage, 22-12.

“I thought they were able to take advantage of their strength tonight,” Sonora coach Melissa Barajas said. “They did a really good job getting Endigo the ball deep on the block, and they also did a good job of disrupting us on offense.”

Parker finished with 10 points.

Isabella Pearson (18 pts) speaks on the importance of Troy’s 48-39 win over Sonora. The Warriors victory helps them take steps to secure at least a share of league, which would make it 29 years in a row. @ocvarsity @troyhs_gbball @bellapearson44 pic.twitter.com/AZ8ApW2ADL

— David Delgado🇪🇨 (@DavidDelgado_OC) May 8, 2021

Troy was helped at key moments by Jamie Choi and Aliyah Gonzalez in the second period, while Parker challenged each Raider that came into the paint.

The Warriors’ defensive intensity was a factor throughout the game, but especially in the second quarter.

Pearson began the contest 0 for 3 shooting, but started to heat up late in the second quarter. She had five points in the period, including a corner 3-pointer right before halftime.

Haylie Dermer did her best to keep Sonora in the game with a team-high 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Sonora’s Alyssa Ke was held scoreless in the first half but finished with 11 points, hitting three shots from beyond the arc.

Jazmin Sheikh, who had 13 points for Sonora in its win over Troy on April 21, was held scoreless.

The Raiders closed the gap in the third quarter to six points, 31-25, when Ke drilled a 3-pointer, but Pearson responded with a 3 of her own and Kaitlyn Osako’s buzzer-beater, 3-point shot gave the Warriors a 39-28 lead entering the fourth.

The victory, while important to the Warriors’ league title hopes, wasn’t the best news Anderson received in recent days. He was able to bring his wife, Trudy, home after she spent months in the hospital and going through rehabilitation after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke on Feb. 10.

She nearly lost her life, and due to the restrictions that are in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, Anderson wasn’t able to see her while she was recovering.

Anderson said he leaned on his Troy family during the difficult times.

“The beautiful thing about my team is we are family,” he said, “and they’re like a bunch of daughters that watch out for me and hold me up as I get through this. It’s really special.”

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12 indicted in alleged Southern California ‘green’ loan and mortgage fraud scheme

LOS ANGELES — A dozen people have been indicted in connection with an alleged mortgage fraud and “green” loan scheme that operated throughout Southern California and resulted in losses of about $15 million, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

The 133-count grand jury indictment, handed up April 26, alleges that the crimes occurred in Los Angeles, Riverside and Ventura counties.

The indictment charges the defendants with a variety of counts, including conspiracy, mortgage fraud, grand theft, identity theft, forgery, filing a false or forged document and money laundering.

The defendants allegedly exploited the Yrgene Energy Fund and Renew Funding, companies that provide funding to licensed contractors for energy- efficient home improvements for homeowners, and used false identities to get mortgage loans from conventional banks and hard money lenders, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“The allegations against these defendants charge a pattern of disregard for the law and willingness to go as far as stealing the identities of the deceased just to further their scheme,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement announcing the charges. “Our office will seek to hold these defendants accountable for their alleged actions.”

Those named in the indictment are: Tamara Dadyan, 39, Richard Ayvazyan, 42, Artur Ayvazyan, 41, Grigor Tatoian, 50, Andranik Petrosyan, 46, Arshak Bartoumian, 48, Artashes Martirosyan, 43, Lilit Malyan, 39, Lubia Carrillo, 41, Rosa Zarate, 49, Estephanie Reynoso, 31, and Vanessa Bell, 60.

Eleven of the defendants have pleaded not guilty, with Malyan due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for arraignment May 18.

The case stemmed from a multi-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, with assistance from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

The attorney general lauded the two agencies for “their work to put an end to an extensive, six-year fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of an estimated $15 million.”

“If you were a victim or have information please call 213-486-6979,” said a tweet from LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza.

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Smith, Ruidíaz lift Sounders past Galaxy

SEATTLE (AP) — Brad Smith scored one goal and assisted on another, Raúl Ruidíaz scored twice, and the Seattle Sounders stymied Javier Hernández and the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 3-0 win on Sunday night.

Seattle remained unbeaten on the young season, getting a pair of goals three minutes apart in the first half and keeping Chicharito from continuing his early-season scoring barrage for the Galaxy.

It was Seattle’s goal-scoring sniper who gave the Sounders the early advantage in the 20th minute, when Ruidíaz volleyed a cross from Smith past Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.

Three minutes later, Smith completed a terrific build up by the Sounders following up his initial shot that was saved by Bond for his second straight game with a goal. Smith had Seattle’s only goal in its 1-1 draw with Los Angeles FC last week.

Ruidíaz added a second goal late in second-half stoppage time, giving him four goals on the young season.

“We all know what we kind of need to do in every position. … For me personally it’s good that I can go forward and join the attack,” Smith said. “I can definitely get forward more and help the team.”

While Seattle gave itself numerous scoring chances at the Galaxy goal, its defense also managed to make Chicharito mostly invisible after his blistering start to the season.

“They’re a very good team who has been together for a while and exposed a lot of things for us, and for me that that we need to continue to improve upon. That’s what today was,” first-year Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said.

Hernández had five goals in the first two games for the Galaxy, scoring a pair in their opening 3-2 victory over Inter Miami and following up with a hat trick in last week’s 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls. Hernández was just the second player in league history to have five goals in the first two games of the season, joining former Houston star Brian Chang.

Seattle was determined not to let Chicharito have the same influence. Hernández had just one shot and never found himself open in a scoring position. The Galaxy had just two shots on goal in the match.

“I thought we just did a really nice job of cutting off his service and not allowing him to dictate game inside the penalty box,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.

There was also a brief injury scare early in the second half when Hernández landed awkwardly leaping for a header and immediately grabbed at his left foot. Hernández was checked by athletic trainers and after a couple minutes of limping appeared to be fine.

Seattle’s domination in possession and limiting touches for Hernández led to numerous scoring chances for the Sounders in the second half. Kelyn Rowe had a pair of terrific chances, the best a header that bounced of the crossbar and post but didn’t cross the goal line.

Seattle finished with nine shots on goal, but it was the defensive effort that drew most of the praise. Seattle and Orlando City are the only two teams in the league to have played three games and allowed just one goal.

“It’s difficult to break us down and that’s what we wanted to do. … You saw a little bit of frustration form Chicharito and I thought defensively we did a very good job,” Rowe said.

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Kings out of playoff mix, look ahead to series vs. Coyotes

After failing to improve their own fortunes, the Kings now have the opportunity to play spoiler as they finish their season against two teams vying for the final West Division playoff berth and another with aspirations of a first-place finish.

That’ll start with visits Monday and Wednesday to face the Arizona Coyotes. They are currently fifth in the West standings, three points behind the St. Louis Blues, who have three games in hand on Arizona to boot.

“From this point on through, we’re going to play some tough games against some tough teams and we have to get over the fact that we are where we are,” Kings Coach Todd McLellan said. “Let’s face it, we’re not going to make the playoffs, I might as well say it right now, we’re not going to make the playoffs. I just don’t see how that’s going to happen, and we have to get over the fact that that’s happened.”

Though the Kings were not exactly owning their competition before the trade deadline–they had gone 6-10-0 in the month leading up to decision time–they were still  in the playoff hunt thanks to other middling West teams’ underperformance.

After dealing away forward Jeff Carter, who had spent parts of 10 seasons with the Kings, and adding very little, the Kings summarily dropped four of their next five games and lost six of nine overall.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, that’s where we’re at right now,” McLellan said. “There isn’t an athlete that can win when they’re not all in.”

Now they face Arizona for the final two meetings of the season after having split the first six meetings. They’ll also play St. Louis once and the Colorado Avalanche, which sits in second place, four more times before the season ends.

Their most recent meeting with Arizona was one of the Kings’ poorest performances of the season, and their struggles were exacerbated by some precise execution on the part of Coach Rick Tocchet’s ‘Yotes.

Arizona won 4-0, a lopsided final score that flew in the face of the earlier showdowns. All five previous matches either went to a shootout, were one-goal games or were close enough to feature an empty-net goal near the final horn.

Two-time Stanley Cup champion and right winger Phil Kessel has led Arizona up front while breakout defenseman Jakob Chychrun has emerged as its most dangerous blue-liner. Those two have paced Arizona all season and against the Kings in particular, with each player notching six points in six games thus far.

Lesser known players have also proven thorny for the Kings, as rookie Michael Bunting recorded a hat trick and former first-round pick Lawson Crouse scored half of his four goals this season against the Kings.

Kings at Arizona

When: 7 p.m. Monday/7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Gila River Arena (limited in-person attendance)

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West//iHeartRadio

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Credit unions are a better solution for unbanked than AB 1177

Now, more than ever, solutions are needed to help decrease the number of unbanked and under-banked individuals in the state of California and across the country. Assembly Bill 1177, however, is definitively not the answer. The proposed legislation by the BankCal NOW coalition would put in place a risky, high-cost government banking system that is unnecessary for Californians. Plus, the program would be a massive undertaking for the state.

Why would we prop up the proposed banking structure when our state already has tools in place that can support these individuals?

Credit unions’ explicit and sole purpose is to serve our members as not-for-profit, member-owned cooperatives. We are truly the financial institution of the people, and serve communities by providing affordable financial products, services and education. This is proven by the reliable system of nearly 300 total credit unions in California, of which more than 100 are low-income designated and reach every corner of the state.

Orange County’s Credit Union is one of these 100 low-income designated credit unions – and has been designated a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) as well. As a CDFI, we have a commitment to providing fair, affordable, and accessible services that address challenges faced by low-income families and communities. In total, 61% of Orange County’s Credit Union’s membership qualifies as being at least low-income. More than half, 55%, are considered very low income, while 21% are extremely low-income, based upon sample testing of the credit union’s loans performed for our CDFI certification application. As part of our commitment, we’ve developed specific products to help our communities, such as low-rate emergency loans, first-time auto loans and zero-down home loans.

By working in partnership with credit unions to educate the unbanked population on the benefits of community lenders, the State of California could spend a fraction of the high cost of instituting AB 1177 and achieve even greater results in reaching these individuals. Credit unions also bring the added benefits of having a large presence and being local representatives in the communities they serve, which makes a greater and more lasting impact than a hierarchical government system.

Additionally, many of the major banks and credit unions in the state participate in the BankOn program, a nonprofit that ensures everyone has access to a safe and affordable savings or checking account. This program is a tangible example of how seriously California’s existing financial institutions take accessibility, and the ways they’re already bringing unbanked or under-banked individuals into the financial mainstream.

Those assisted by this program receive low entry costs, little to no fees, and unrestricted customer service access – all selling points of this new, proposed financial structure, but already in existence through the BankOn program statewide.

The legislature should help lift up and promote the BankOn program, which again offers a less expensive and safer alternative to the proposed banking structure presented in AB 1177.

AB 1177 has a commendable goal – but the proposed bill is not the right solution and is not in the best interest of those it aims to help, or our state as a whole. Instead, we need to invest in the reliable and substantial solutions that already exist through the state’s credit unions.

Shruti Miyashiro is CEO of Orange County’s Credit Union.

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Driver charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in Santa Ana crash that killed a passenger in his car

SANTA ANA — A 22-year-old man was charged Wednesday with gross vehicular manslaughter for a collision in Santa Ana a year and a half ago that killed a passenger in his vehicle.

Manuel Jesus Galindo was behind the wheel of a 2013 Hyundai Sonata that was southbound on Newhope Street about 10:50 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2019, when the sedan collided with another car and slammed into a street pole at Westminster Boulevard, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

The brunt of the impact was on the passenger side of the car, where 20-year-old Kobe Kidwell of Santa Ana was sitting, Bertagna said. Kidwell died of his injuries.

Galindo sustained serious injuries in the crash, and two women in the back seat of his car also were injured and taken to an area hospital, Bertagna said.

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As people vote with their feet, California to lose a representative

Every ten years the Census Bureau counts the residents of the United States and determines the number of representatives in Congress that each state will have, based on its population. The total number of representatives will continue to be same, so states that gain population relative to the others gain additional representatives at the expense of states that have lost population.

This year for the first time in California’s history, the state has lost a representative. It is hard evidence of the lack of growth, even the exodus, of the state population. This cannot be dismissed as political spin or a talking point. The Golden State is flaking off.

In all, seven states lost a representative in the reapportionment, while five states gained one and Texas gained two.

Where did everybody go, and more importantly, why?

Along with California, the states that lost population relative to the others are New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The states that gained, along with Texas, are Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Montana and Oregon.

From the perspective of residents, the success or failure of a state government’s policies may be indicated by factors such as tax rates, unemployment and housing starts.

The top marginal income tax rate in California is 13.3%, the highest in the nation. In New York, it’s 8.82%; in Illinois, 4.95% (flat rate), in Michigan, 4.25% (flat rate), in Ohio, 4.797%; in Pennsylvania, 3.07% (flat rate); and in West Virginia, 6.5%.

Among the states that gained population, Texas and Florida have no income tax. Colorado’s state income tax rate is a flat 4.55%; North Carolina has a flat rate of 5.25%; Montana’s top rate is 6.9% and Oregon’s is 9.9%.

California’s top tax rate applies to incomes above $1 million, but the state isn’t shy about grabbing money from people who are barely surviving. Taxable incomes above zero and up to $8,932 are taxed at 1%, then 2% up to $21,175, 4% up to $33,421, 6% up to $46,394, and it just gets worse from there. Relative to California, the tax rate of zero in Texas and Florida is highly attractive.

Texas and Florida are also building more new housing than California. In November 2020, for example, Texas issued nearly 20,000 building permits for new housing, while Florida issued about 11,000. California, despite a significantly larger population, issued just 9,000 building permits for new housing. Scarcity drives price increases, which helps to explain why the median home values in Florida and Texas are about $215,000 and $173,000 respectively, while in California the median home value is now above $500,000, according to data from Zillow.

Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, California’s unemployment rate in March was ranked 47th at 8.3% tied with Connecticut and New Mexico, and New York was even worse at 8.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Florida, at 4.7%, ranked 19th.

While no single factor explains why people leave one state for another, California ranks badly in category after category, including the Census Bureau’s ranking of the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account. State residents are paying the highest taxes and the highest prices, and struggling with high unemployment. It’s long past time for state lawmakers to recognize that California is competing with other states for businesses and residents, and it’s losing.

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San Bernardino County honors L.A. County Sheriff’s first responders for efforts in search for rescuer

LOS ANGELES — Five first responders with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were presented with a Medal of Valor from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday for their efforts in the search and recovery operation of an SBSD member who died while searching for a missing hiker from Irvine on Mount Baldy in December 2019.

Undersheriff Dicus, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department presents the Medal of Valor to #LASD Air Rescue 5 crew members for daring snow/ice rescue/recovery of two San Bernardino SD SAR members during inclement weather at high altitude on Mt Baldy. Saving lives priority 1. pic.twitter.com/roWbW7eZfy

— SEB (@SEBLASD) April 27, 2021

 

Undersheriff Shannon Dicus of the SBSD presented the medals to Los Angeles County Air Rescue 5 Crew members Deputies Todd Kocisko, Scott Helbing, Steve Pratt and Jennifer Shepard and Sgt. Dave Carver for their bravery during the operation.

The five crew members were searching for SBSD Search and Rescue member Timothy Staples. The 32-year-old Staples was one of 126 people across 23 teams searching for Sreenivas “Sree” Mokkapati, who was reported missing on Dec. 8, 2019, after becoming separated from his group while ascending Mount Baldy.

Staples’ partner had alerted the Sheriff’s Department that he had become separated from Staples.

“Despite inclement weather conditions and treacherous terrain, members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air Rescue 5 helicopter crew located Staples in an area of ice and snow,” the LASD said. “He was unresponsive, and a crew member lowered to Staples determined he was dead.

“Even though the operation turned into a recovery, the crew’s efforts still demonstrate the dangerous working conditions search and rescue personnel face every day.”

Staples was a teacher at Damien High School in La Verne, an all-male Catholic school. Mokkapati’s remains were eventually recovered and identified in June 2020.

Our most sincere gratitude & appreciation to @sbcountysheriff for presenting @SEBLASD Air Rescue 5 Crew with the Medal of Valor. The hope, the mission, the priority has always been to Save Lives. Please accept our deepest thanks. pic.twitter.com/7gNebLgiyq

— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) April 27, 2021

“In my opinion, the LASD has one of the best search and rescue programs in the nation, and the flight deputies and crew of Air 5 are the cream of the crop,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony in Los Angeles.

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