E.C. police unit damaged, officer injured during high-speed chase

May 30, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

El Centro police were involved in a high-speed chase through city streets Wednesday morning that left an officer with an injured knee and a car with a sideswipe before the chase reached a muddy conclusion.

El Centro police Lt. Tim Blankenship said the pursuit started at 10:28 on Orange Avenue after El Centro police were told by U.S. Border Patrol agents they were following a vehicle that might be carrying illegal immigrants.

Agents told police the vehicle was heading west on Orange at a high rate of speed. Agents were following the vehicle with an air unit and some unmarked vehicles.


El Centro police officers saw the vehicle in the 200 block of Orange Avenue and attempted to stop the driver, later identified as Francisco Javier Castro Correa, 22.

Correa drove west on Orange to First Street and headed south. While two police vehicle units were pursuing him, Correa kept increasing the speed in his sedan.

Officers backed off and followed at a distance. Correa turned east on Ross Avenue and his car almost spun out of control.

He went past Dogwood Road and stopped at the KAO mobile home park, 371 E. Ross Ave., and fled on foot.

Correa jumped over a 9-foot fence. An officer also jumped over the fence but injured his knee when he landed.

Correa then ran into a muddy alfalfa field in which he became stuck. Agents went in after him and arrested him. Correa, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was arrested for driving without a license and fleeing from peace officers. He was in the county jail today with bail set at $5,000. No other illegal immigrants were in the car.

The accident in the chase sequence, according to a press release from the California Highway Patrol, happened at the intersection of Orange Avenue and New Street.

An officer was driving east on Orange Avenue behind Venesa Mendivel.

Mendivel failed to see the officer's squad car, which had both the siren and emergency lights on, as Mendivel was attempting to make a left turn onto New Street. Her car hit the squad car as the officer tried to pass her on the left.

The front left side of Mendivel's car sideswiped the right side of the police vehicle. No injuries were reported and both drivers were wearing seat belts.

Mendivel was not arrested.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The City Council, seated as the city Redevelopment Agency board, voted 3-2 to rescind a $15,000 contribution to the Imperial Valley Small Business Development Center at a special meeting Wednesday.

The RDA board voted to contribute $15,000 to the center at an April 9 meeting. After its vote to rescind the contribution, the RDA board voted 3-2 to contribute $7,500 to the center, which helps entrepreneurs further fledgling businesses.

Councilman David Ouzan said the city of El Centro gives the center $5,000 a year and past Calexico councils have given the center $3,000 a year, when they did contribute to the center. He said he thought it was "outrageous" the center was given $15,000 this year.

"It's way too much. I don't think we should cut down on our services," he said.

Mayor John Renison said, "This is an investment in the business community, in the small business community of which many people in this city thrive. … That's what we're looking at here tonight, whether we're investing in small business or not, and has this benefited Calexico, not how it has benefited El Centro or Brawley but how it benefits Calexico?"

Councilman Alex Perrone said Ben Solomon, director of the SBDC, has "done a great job" but added, "But I do have a concern. I see previous years where we have supported the program with $3,000 and then it's bumped up to $15,000. It concerns me."

Perrone said $7,500 would be a fair amount.

"We can talk about principles, we can talk about ethics but when we're playing or we're working, with city moneys I think we should be good stewards," Perrone said.

Mayor Pro Tem Frank Montoya said he doesn't like to revisit issues but he said he would go along with the $7,500 figure.

Councilman Victor Carrillo said, "It's unprofessional for us to renege on a contribution that we made to a professional organization or an agency that now has based that premise for their funding for the calendar year. .. I believe that it's unethical, it's unprofessional. This sends out a very negative image throughout the Imperial Valley."

Renison said the city should fund the $15,000 and revisit the issue if it comes back before the council next year.

"I think this benefits Calexico," he said.

After the RDA board voted 3-2 to reconsider the previous action taken, the board voted 3-2 to give the center $7,500.

After the votes, Renison asked why a special meeting had been called for this one item.

The board met at 6 p.m. before it was scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. as the Housing Authority board of commissioners.

City Attorney Michael Rood said the mayor or the city manager usually sets meetings with the approval of at least three board members.

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