Briefly in Public Safety

October 06, 2011

Driver involved in seven-car crash dies

A Laguna Beach man died last week, a few days after he allegedly hit seven cars along South Coast Highway.

About 3 p.m. Sept. 22, authorities received reports of a hit-and-run on South Coast Highway and Diamond Street, according to Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz. Witnesses reported that a Jeep Cherokee hit three parked cars and fled southbound on South Coast Highway.

Police later concluded that Lee Henry Vuille, 73, was the Jeep's driver.

Vuille rear-ended a car at Nyes Place, causing another four-vehicle crash, Kravetz said.

A 4-year-old girl and a 31-year-old were taken to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo after the second incident.

Vuille was also taken to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo, where he died due to natural causes Sept. 26, according to the Orange County coroner.


Kravetz said alcohol and drugs were not immediately suspected, but the crash is still under investigation. Traffic investigators have obtained a blood sample, he said.

"We do suspect that he may have been having some type of medical issue, but cannot conclusively say that was the cause until we receive the toxicology results," Kravetz said.


Cause of boutique fire unknown

A fire erupted at Virtu boutique Saturday morning, and the majority of its inventory was damaged, according to the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

Firefighters responded at 9:36 a.m. to 1042 N. Coast Hwy. They observed smoke coming from the ground-level boutique and located the fire inside, Division Chief Dan Stefano said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

"Laguna Beach firefighters quickly had to force their entry, locate the fire and promptly extinguish what could have been a much larger fire had a nearby resident not heard a smoke alarm and called 911," Stefano said in an email.

The boutique has two residential floors above it. One of the apartments had moderate smoke damage but no fire damage, Stefano said.

Efforts by Laguna Beach and Orange County Fire Authority firefighters limited the structural damage, Stefano added.

A tenant was treated for a leg injury, but officials do not believe it was directly related to the fire.


Murderer extradited to O.C. Jail

A previously convicted serial murderer that allegedly killed a Laguna Beach woman in 1986 has been extradited from Illinois to Orange County Jail.

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