Lasorda Killed in Accident with Boca Police Vehicle

Joseph Smokey Lasorda, picture from Facebook.

Joe “Smokey” Lasorda died last night in an accident with an unmarked Boca Raton police SUV. Lasorda, 83, was the brother of Tommy Lasorda, former manager of the LA Dodgers and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Smokey was also the founder of the former Lasorda’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in Exton, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. He had retired to Florida and lived in Colonnade at Glen Oaks near Yamato and Jog Road (upper left corner of the map, below).

The accident happened at the intersection of Military Trail and Potomac at the southeast corner of Lynn University.

Intersection of Miltary Trail and Potomac; Image and map data from Google Maps.

According to an accident report from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s office, Sgt. Doug Immler of Boca PD was on duty, traveling southbound in an unmarked Chevy Traverse. Lasorda was traveling northbound on Military and turned left toward Potomac, causing the collision. The two vehicles then came into contact with a third vehicle that was stopped on Potomac. Sgt. Immler sustained minor injuries and the other driver was unhurt.

Joe “Smokey” Lasorda’s profile picture from Facebook.

The media relations staff from PBSO and Boca PD have both been responsive to our inquiries. The accident occurred inside the city and it seems wise for Boca PD to have called in PBSO to conduct the investigation. The PBSO Vehicle Homicide Unit determined that Sgt. Immler had a steady green light and was not at fault in the accident. They are working on an accident reconstruction and we know from experience that takes time.

Sgt. Immler’s father is Mark Immler, former chief of Boynton Beach PD and currently employed as an attorney for Boca PD. Sgt. Immler’s brother Zachary Immler was a police officer in West Palm Beach who made the news in the wrong way recently for stealing money during a narcotics investigation.

Sgt. Immler, right, with city council member Robert Weinroth

Lessons from Hurricane Irma: 1. Roundabouts

West Boca News has often advocated for roundabouts. Hurricane Irma showed us another advantage. When the power went out so did traffic lights, and our intersections became chaotic nightmares. Roundabouts are unaffected by power outages.
In general they’re safer and more efficient than regular intersections. Carmel Indiana converted over 100 intersections to roundabouts and saw “a 40% decrease in accidents, with an 80% decrease in injury-causing crashes and90% reduction in fatalities.” By comparison its non-roundabout neighbor Indianapolis saw: “a 30 percent increase in accidents with injury and a 16 percent increase in accidents resulting in a fatality ….”
I was discussing this with a friend who lives south of Glades off Lyons. FDOT is in the middle of a $1.8 million dollar project on Lyons. The main problem was the high volume of serious accidents at or near the intersection on Lyons with Escondido Way, the entrances to Escondido and Timbers of Boca. The so-called solution: straighten the curves and bank the roadway. Not only does this fail to address the intersection itself, but it will allow traffic on Lyons to go faster, making the intersection even more dangerous.
FDOT was more concerned with cars going off the road due to excessive speed on the curves, but their crash analysis did not break down severity by type of accident. Anyone who drives there knows that making a left turn onto Lyons there from either side is uncomfortable at best.
It is well known that roundabouts make intersections safer, but FDOT and our local politicians ignore that. Instead FDOT is increasing the speed of traffic entering an intersection known to be dangerous.
Below are a series of images showing what the intersection of Lyons and Escondido would look like with a Carmel roundabout superimposed on it. The images and map data are from Google Maps.




Many of our readers dismiss roundabouts with quick responses. Let’s be clear – Carmel Indiana saw a 90% reduction in traffic fatalities by converting many intersections to roundabouts. You can only oppose roundabouts if you want more people to die. Roundabouts save lives.

Dead Body Identified in Coral Springs – Weston Faulkner

Weston Faulkner from Facebook

Coral Springs Police have identified the dead body found yesterday near US-441 and Wiles Road. Weston Faulkner, a 20-year-old male from North Carolina, died of an apparent overdose. The cause of death is not expected to be verified for at least a few months.
Our research indicates that Mr. Faulkner is a graduate of South Rowan High School in China Grove, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte. He was a lineman on the football team weighing up to or over 300 pounds.
Faulker in his football jersey, from Facebook

The young man was troubled by drug abuse and depression, and well aware that he was at risk.

It appears he was living in South Florida at least off and on for the past year or two, with at least some minimal connection to Boca Raton. We have not been able to determine more than that.

Motorcycle Victim ID'd: Jeffrey Valarezo of Delray

WARNING: This article contains photos that may upset some readers. If you don’t want to see them, don’t scroll down.

A fatal motorcycle accident backed up traffic on Palmetto Park Road and horrified drivers passing by on Monday evening.

Reader photo looking westbound on Palmetto Park Road.

Sources led us to think we knew who the victim was and the Sheriff’s office just confirmed it was Jeffrey Valarezo (20) of Bolero Circle in Delray Beach.
We think Mr. Valarezo may have been a student at Spanish River High in the past, but we’re not sure. We also think his family may be from the country Ecuador. He was registered to vote here in Florida.
One reader told us she saw it happen:

There was no driver at fault: I saw what happened. He was on the lane next to me going the opposite direction. He just tried to switch from the middle lane to the right hand lane right at that curve right before the bridge and he lost control. I saw it all and I haven’t stopped crying because I’m still in shock that I just witnessed this.

From this reader it appears Mr. Valarezo was traveling eastbound on Palmetto Park Road coming up to the bridge over Boca Rio and the Turnpike. The police report does not provide much detail as to how the accident happened or if anyone was at fault.

V-1 was traveling eastbound on W. Palmetto Park Road approaching Boca Rio Road. V-1 struck the center median. D-1 lost control of the vehicle and came to final rest on the median. D-1 was ejected off V-1 and struck a tree. D-1 died on the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.

Valarezo’s motorcycle ended up in the median of the roadway.

WARNING: This is where the photos get more troubling for some readers. Stop now if this bothers you.
SERIOUSLY — IF THIS BOTHERS YOU, DO NOT SCROLL DOWN



Further west his body lay on the ground near a tree. Not long after it happened several passers by attended to his body in the hope they might be able to help.

Later the body was obscured by a yellow covering:

Friends of Mr. Valarezo expressed their sadness:

He was a beautiful soul with a smile always on his face. He was loved by all his friends and he will be missed.

He was an amazing person and didn’t deserve what happened to him, even if it were his fault or another. Today heaven gained an angel and he will be riding in the skies smiling down at us. You will be greatly missed Jeff

We noticed expressions of concern from a wide variety of places including Ecuador, Cuba, South Africa and more.
This location on Palmetto Park Road has seen many serious accidents. Readers complained that something should be done to make it safer, though it’s not clear what caused this accident or that any change to the roadway would have prevented it.
It should be also noted that Mr. Valarezo was wearing a helmet.

Huge Project Proposed for Glades Road

johns-glades-1024
Residents of Palma Vista are concerned about a project proposed for the south side of Glades Road between Home Depot and 95th Avenue. This would be across from the Glades Road library.

Johns Glades West parcel in red near Home Depot and Library. Satellite image and data by Google.
Johns Glades West parcel in red near Home Depot and Library. Satellite image and data by Google.

The proposal, called Johns Glades West (or Johns Glade West) calls for:

  • 169,000 square feet of commercial space with restaurants, a theater, retail and a grocery store
  • A 133,000 square foot parking garage for the stores
  • 7 residential buildings, 5 stories each, with a total of 456 units and a clubhouse all totaling 650,000 square feet of residential space
  • A 112,000 square foot parking garage for the residences
  • A total of approximately 2000 parking spaces

It is our understanding that the developers will make a presentation to the Palma Vista Homeowners Association on November 21st at 7 pm. Some homeowners have expressed concern insufficient notice and about having “5 story buildings looking down on our single family homes.”
This would seem to be a very intensive use of the property with major traffic impacts on Glades Road. Our best guess is that the developer is floating a plan it knows will never get approved and they’ll come in later with a real plan for something much less.
Below is a close-up of the stores section of the plan.
johns-glades-west-stores
And next the homes section:
johns-glades-west-homes
PDF of the project plan is below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Johns-Glades-West_PSP.1.pdf”]

Repeat Offender Recklessly Injures Deputy on 441

Mazariegosorellana
Traffic on US-441 was blocked from Glades to Yamato this morning after a serious accident near Kimberly Road. Hector Mauricio Mazariegos (age 31, Coral Springs) was arrested and charged with several offenses.
According to the Sheriff’s report:

P-1 (the deputy) was working a traffic enforcement operation on State Road 7 just south of Kimberly Blvd with several other deputies. P-1 obtained a speed reading of 97 mph on V-1 (Mazariegos on the motorcycle) in a 45 mph zone.
P-1 stepped into the center lane, faced southbound and was waving V-1 over. According to witnesses the deputy had been out in the roadway for more than enough time for the rider to see him and stop. The deputy was wearing a neon green reflective vest at the time. V-1 slowed and tried to drive around P-1, but at the same time P-1 feared V-1 was going to run him over and moved slightly to his right.
V-1 impacted with the deputy, then made a heavy brake applicated (leaving a lengthy skid mark) and overturned. V-1 slid to final rest at Kimberly Blvd.

Mr. Mazariegos has quite a history in the courts, as explained below the scene photos.

Reader photo of accident scene
Reader photo of accident scene

Reader photo showing what we believe to be the deputy on the ground at the scene.
Reader photo showing what we believe to be the deputy on the ground at the scene.

By our count, Mazariegos has had 9 traffic cases (7 of them criminal) in Broward County dating back to 2007:
mazariegos-broward-1
mazariegos-broward-2
He also was arrested in 2015 in Palm Beach County for driving without a valid license. Despite his lengthy history, that charge was resolved with a fine and “adjudication withheld.”
Similar to a case we reported last year, the prosecutors and courts in Palm Beach and Broward County seem to have a policy of going easy on serious repeat traffic offenders. In the previous incident three young males were badly injured. Now it’s a deputy taking the hit.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg is running unopposed in this year’s election so we can expect another four years of lax enforcement. Mr. Mazariegos has probably run out of luck.
PBSO reports the charges against Mazariegos as:

  • Reckless Driving resulting in serious bodily injury
  • No Driver’s License causing serious bodily injury
  • Driving without a motorcycle endorsement
  • Driving an unregistered vehicle
  • Attaching an unassigned tag to a vehicle

Mazariegos’ Facebook page indicates he works (or worked) for Fit Foodz Cafe, which is on Clint Moore near 441.

Update on Dead Body in Park: Photos & Video

WARNING: Some of the photos may be unpleasant or offensive to some readers.


SO – DO NOT READ THIS
IF YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE OFFENDED OR DISTURBED.


Photo copyright Warren Redlich © 2016.
All photos copyright Warren Redlich © 2016 unless otherwise noted; other media may use free by crediting West Boca News or @WestBocaNews.

The Yamato Road entrance to South County Regional Park was effectively closed Wednesday around noon for over an hour after a dead body was found. Sheriff’s deputies and investigators surrounded the area with crime scene tape.

Many people are asking – We do not know the name of the victim and we do not expect PBSO to tell us.

The body was found on the east side of the road in front of a black car. You can see detectives near the body on the right side of the photo below.
wide-scene2
The next photo shows the scene before the minivan arrived. The body was in front of the black sedan which we believe was his car.
wide-scene3
At the time we were first notified about the incident, we did not know what the cause of death was. We arrived on the scene and notified the public of the situation by posting this video on our Facebook page:

Later we learned that the investigators determined it was a suicide. We do not normally report on suicides, but when it blocks a road or otherwise creates a scene and disturbance in the general public, we feel it is our duty to follow up and inform our readers as to what happened.

Body was found where the red pin is marked on the map, just north of the ball field, south of Yamato Road, and not far from Sunrise Park Elementary. Image and map data by Google.
Body was found where the red pin is marked on the map, just north of the ball field, south of Yamato Road, and not far from Sunrise Park Elementary. Image and map data by Google.

We also had an unpleasant encounter with Detective Amanda Pfeifle who did not like us taking pictures. She abused her power, expanding the crime scene tape to interfere with journalism. It didn’t work.

For the commenters who claim I was interfering with the investigation, that’s nonsense. I was far away, staying out of the way, taking pictures. They did absolutely ZERO investigation inside the area of the expanded crime scene after they moved me. I was on the scene until they starting taking the tape down. Detective Pfeifle did this only to interfere with a journalist. They had no reason to stop doing their jobs to bother me. Police abuse of journalists is a longstanding problem in the US, documented extensively by Photography is Not a Crime.

After a subsequent and somewhat more polite request from Detective Brian Allison, we held off on publishing this article for 24 hours to allow next of kin to be notified.
Now at this point, we must remind you again:


WARNING
The photos below may be particularly disturbing or offensive to some. If you think that might be you, stop now. Do not read any further.


PBSO investigators and other staff working on the scene, with the body on the ground beyond them.
staff-body
The body was removed by staff in the minivan mentioned earlier.
body-van


It gets worse. Again, do not scroll down if these might bother or offend you. We have blurred certain features.


The body was in front of what appears to be a fairly new black sedan, possibly an Infiniti Q50. Update – A reader tells us it is a first generation Hyundai Genesis (years 2009-2014).
car-body
And these are closer shots showing the body.
body1
body2
And the following photos were sent to us by Juliette Falcone, who was on the scene before we were.
Photo by Juliette Falcone
Photo by Juliette Falcone

Photo by Juliette Falcone
Photo by Juliette Falcone

April Accident Turns Fatal – 441 at Stonebridge

US-441 looking north with Stonebridge on the left and The Oaks on the right; image by Google
US-441 looking north with Stonebridge on the left and The Oaks on the right; image by Google

In mid-April we reported about a serious accident on 441 at the entrance to Stonebridge Country Club.

•••WEST BOCA RATON•••
TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
US Hwy 441/Stonebridge Country Club
PBCFR Station-54 is onscene of a head-on collision, heavy damage, 2 occupants unconscious trapped, extrication is underway, 3 Rescue units requested, 2 ground Trauma Alerts to Delray Medical Center

This morning we learned that the driver of one of the cars passed away on Friday in hospice. Phyllis Panzer, age 88, owned a house in Stonebridge for 15 years.
At the time of the accident the Sheriff’s office described the accident (early evening of April 19th) as follows:

V-1 (Panzer) was traveling northbound on U.S. 441 and was attempting to turn left to head westbound on Stonebridge Country Club Boulevard. V-2 was traveling southbound on U.S. 441 and as it reached Stonebridge Country Club Boulevard, V-1 turned left into its path.
D-2 attempted evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision, but violently struck the front passenger side wheel of V-1 with its front end.
D-1 (Panzer) and O-1 were transported to Delray Medical Center for serious injuries and remain in critical condition. D-2 was also transported to Delray Medical Center but for minor injuries.

Panzer’s passenger, Michael Weitzmann (91), is also a resident of Stonebridge. He suffered critical injuries. We do not have any update on his status.
The police report indicates that Panzer and Weitzmann were not wearing seatbelts. The other driver, Jeffrey Young (59) of Lake Worth, was belted and suffered only minor injuries.

Jim Thompson (53) Killed in Car Wreck on SW 3rd at Lyons

jim-thompson
Friends and family are mourning the loss of James Patrick Thompson. Mr. Thompson passed away in a car accident Saturday night at the intersection of SW 3rd and Lyons Road.
The crash report, prepared by Investigator Loudermilk of PBSO, indicated that Thompson was headed eastbound on Southwest 3rd street, approaching Lyons Road in the right turn lane approaching the intersection with Lyons.
crash-report-sw3rd
A witness indicated “a high rate of speed and at least one flat tire, possibly two.” Thompson lost control of the vehicle, traveled through the intersection, and “violently collided with a traffic signal pole, and palm tree on the northeast corner of Lyons Road.”
Two readers sent us photos of the scene.

Reader photo of accident scene
Reader photo of accident scene

truck-pole
Next of kin were notified and we noticed many friends and family mourning their loss.
james-thompson
West Boca News sends our best wishes in this difficult time to all of them.

Rollover Accident: Photos & Video

All photos copyright Warren Redlich 2016; anyone can use by crediting @WestBocaNews
All photos copyright Warren Redlich 2016; anyone can use by crediting @WestBocaNews

The eastbound lanes of Palmetto Park Road were closed this afternoon between Shorewind Drive (Boca Winds) and Riverside, about 2 miles west of US-441. The closure resulted from a two-car accident where one vehicle, a new Kia Optima, rolled over and an older Lincoln Town Car ended up in the median.

We talked to a few people at the scene, though none saw the accident happen. As best we understand it the Town Car, with an elderly driver, was coming out of Boca Winds making a right turn onto Palmetto. The Optima driven by a West Boca High School student, was traveling straight and was unable to avoid the Town Car. Some suspect the Optima was speeding but we suspect that may not be accurate.
town-car-marks
While the Optima did roll, it did not travel very far from the point of collision, the vehicles did not appear to have dramatic damage (other than from the rollover), and we’re told the injuries were not critical.
The debris trail starts in the lower left corner of the photo.
The debris trail starts in the lower left corner of the photo.

From a legal perspective the general rule is that the vehicle traveling straight (the Optima) has right of way and primary responsibility for the accident falls on the vehicle turning (the Town Car). There did not appear to be any obstruction interfering with the drivers’ ability to see each other.
town-car2
Eventually a tow operator was able to roll the Optima back to right-side up. We caught most of that operation on video, and here’s a short version of that:

Sheriff’s investigators then looked inside the car before it was taken away.
investigators
falls
Tire
wide-scene
town-car1