nat 69

Tuesday April 18 11:35 AM ET

Storm, Wind Rip Los Angeles


AP Photo

By PAUL CHAVEZ, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - High wind ripped through part of the city early today, upending mobile homes and toppling trees, as a storm dashed through the region with record rainfall.

There were no immediate reports of injury from the wind, although traffic accidents during the storm killed two people. Two teen-agers had to be rescued by helicopter from a rushing flood in a drainage channel.

Authorities had reports that a tornado struck in the Paramount neighborhood about 8 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, but that had not been confirmed, said Los Angeles County fire Capt. Joe Romero. ``We don't have a full idea of what occurred,'' Romero said.

``We had damage to the mobile home park, power outages throughout a large area, trees down, wires down, damage to cars, debris strewn all over the area,'' he said.

Jeremy Levy said he woke up to the sound of thunder, then heard the wind.

``It quite literally sounded like a freight train coming right down on top of us,'' he said.

The damaging wind, accompanied by three-quarter-inch hail and lightning, came at the end of a powerful Alaska storm that dumped as much as 3 inches of rain on parts of Southern California.

Two teen-agers had to rescued by helicopter from water rushing at 30 mph down a drainage channel late Monday.

The helicopter crew, being careful to avoid a web of telephone and power cables in the area, lowered Deputy Jim Harrell to the water's surface. Harrell grabbed the boys one at a time, holding them close to his body so they could be raised into the helicopter.

``If I get tangled in one of those wires, we're all going to die in that case,'' Harrell said today as he watched a videotape of the rescue on ABC's ``Good Morning, America.''

``I was probably just as scared as that kid was,'' he said. It was his first swift water rescue.

At one point, Harrell gestured to one of the boys: ``I told him everything was OK and he said he was going to get in trouble when his parents got hold of him,'' the deputy said. ``These boys are extremely fortunate.''

One of the boys suffered a broken wrist, authorities said. They were rescued near Glendora, 25 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Authorities said they had ventured into the flood-control channel to find a watch.

At its peak, the storm flooded city streets and highways from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and caused traffic collisions at the rate of 75 an hour, including one that involved 25 vehicles.

In Santa Clarita, two people died and several others were injured in a five-vehicle pileup that closed the southbound Golden State Freeway for about an hour. In Glendale, a pickup truck ran into a California Highway Patrol car parked on the shoulder of a freeway. The officer was treated for minor injuries.

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