By Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale police have arrested a 15-year-old La Crescenta boy as the driver who plowed through several cars during a wild trip through a quiet neighborhood on Nov. 1.
According to Sgt. Tom Lorenz, the boy had borrowed his grandmother’s vehicle without permission, pick up some friends in the area and went on a wild ride around La Crescenta in the early morning hours following Halloween.
Around 3 a.m. on Nov. 1, driving at a high rate of speed the boy lost control of the vehicle at the four-way-stop at Maryland and Santa Carlotta avenues. The car spun out of control and hit four parked cars, eventually coming to a stop.
The boy and a passenger fled the area on foot. The Glendale detective bureau identified the suspect after conducting several interviews. He was arrested on Dec. 6 on charges of hit and run and driving without a valid California driver’s license. He was released to his mother’s custody pending his court appearance.
Residents of the normally quiet La Crescenta neighborhood awoke to the sounds of tires squealing and metal crunching early that morning. Alexa Ruegg was one of those neighbors that came out and found her street looking like a movie set with skid marks and smashed cars.
Ruegg was notified on Wednesday of the teen’s arrest.
“I am happy they found him,” she said.
She turned her thoughts of what could have happened. There was no one on the street however just a few streets above a Halloween party was wrapping up with a lot of people on the street.
“That could have been very bad. And the [teen driver] could have been hurt,” she said.
Neighbors had said it had appeared the driver was injured when he fled however the police found no evidence of injury.
“I [was told] they were wearing their seatbelts,” Ruegg said.
She added that a neighbor had told her that he had seen the vehicle earlier driving down Santa Carlotta Avenue that night.
“He said the car was going so fast he couldn’t tell who was driving,” she said.
Ruegg said she is going to be interested in how it all plays out in court.
According to Lorenz the grandmother had not reported her vehicle stolen.
“I read the report and she said she had noticed her keys missing but just thought her grandson had taken her car out because he had done that before, “Ruegg said.
It has not just been an emotional roller coaster since the crash but an expensive one as well. The Ruegg’s had to purchase a new vehicle and were told that the car driven by the teen had no insurance.
The neighborhood has had its share of accidents in the last three months. One neighbor had a Toyota Pruis that was part of the sudden acceleration defect. And a couple of nights ago Ruegg heard another squeeze and crash. She went out to her front yard but saw nothing. She later found out a vehicle had side swiped her neighbor’s car.
“But at least he left a note,” she added. “So the Toyota was in October this accident was in November and the latest one was in December. I hope January is better,” she said.
As far as the young suspect Ruegg is glad he is all right but hopes he has to face some consequences for what happened.
“I hope he gets more than a slap on the wrist,” she said. “It was only by the grace of God that my husband’s car was parked where it was otherwise the car could have gone through [someone’s] house. I hope this has scared [the suspect].”
She had one suggestion for the judge concerning some community service hours. During the impact of the accident a battery exploded causing battery acid to fly everywhere.
“I think he should come to my house and scrub the battery acid off my wall,” she said. “With a toothbrush.”