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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California • Page 83
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California • Page 83

Los Angeles, California
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2003:07:04:23:22:44 B4 CALIFORNIA LOSANGELESTIMES The Region By Kristina Sauerwein Times Staff Writer One morning three years ago, Las Vegas limousine driver Michael Hughes flipped on the tube after an all-night shift on the Strip and dozed off watching Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po the four doughy stars of the TV show Hughes dreamed, he said, of crashing limos into a Teletub- by belly. When he awoke, a new career was born. Tonight, the Ontario man will cover his body in bubble wrap and gun his 3-ton white Cadillac limousine up a ramp at 65 mph hurtling skyward. If everything goes as planned, land 125 feet away in a pile of 500 tires before a roaring crowd at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. I feel like the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, when he suddenly runs off a Hughes said. the price I pay for a life not The daredevil chauffeur will try to beat the current world record for jumping a limo 103 feet. a mark he set last year, one that put him in the Guinness Book of World Records. Sure, Hughes said, he could die or injure himself. But up for the challenge and the money. a serious thing, but the money should be said Hughes, 47, who stands to earn $10,000 to $20,000 for the stunt. Slight, mustached, with dirt beneath his fingernails, Hughes mean to sound money-grubbing, but leaping limos is how he earns a living. That, and occasionally driving the vehicles in Southern California and Las Vegas. He also hopes to cash in by starring in the independent film a movie that he pitched and may release later this yearbased on his escapades in Las Vegas as a unlicenseddriver from 1996 to 2000. jump will be filmed and included in have a lot of things working said the former Hollywood stuntman. He chatted about his ambitions earlier this week while he was at the speedway inspecting the 30-foot long, 6-foot high steel ramp that will send his limo flying. Originally from Oklahoma City, Hughes described details of the stunt in an animated twang: start gunning his limo about one-eighth of a mile from the stadium. drive up the ramp, fly over the speedway fence and crash in the dirt center on 500 interlocked car tires. To soften the blow, Hughes will cover his body in bubble wrap. also put the material around his seat. sounds he said, bubble wrap works the An estimated 2,500 to 4,000 auto racing fans are expected to attend event, which will also include racing. In September, Hughes earned a Guinness ranking at the Perris Auto Speedway by hurtling a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine 103 feet, beating his previous 75-foot jump in Las Vegas. Tonight, try for 125 feet. In Perris, Hughes said, he injured his back seriously when the tires intended to catch his limo separated and he hit a wall. The tires for his jump tonight will be laced together to avoid a similar situation. going to be tough for me to do said Hughes, who studied trajectory physics to plot his stunt. going to be a lot for me to just focus and not think about anything going No Guinness category in limo ramp-jumping existed until Hughes, a former motorcycle racer, contacted the record-keepers to ask if they would be interested. Limousine Chauffeured Transportation Magazine praised Hughes as Evel Knievelof the limousine in its May 2003 issue. At the Orange Show Speedway, Hughes is a celebrity of sorts. are excited to be associated with said Steve of motor sports for the speedway, part of the National Orange Show Events Center, which also hosts concerts, fairs, trade shows and weddings. had heard of him Larsen said. confident break the Hughes also said in and out of talks with Hollywood producers and Las Vegas casino executives about performing stunts on live TV, including hopping a limo from the top of one building to another. been hard to get anyone to sign on because of liability he said. Hughes said he plans to stop his limo stunts by his 50th birthday. By then, he hopes to have enough money to move to Lake Havasu City, where he plans to live on a houseboat and play piano at a bar after fine-tuning his keyboard skills. To fulfill that dream, Hughes keeps his expenses down. He rents abedroom in a trailer for $250 a month. His van is paid off. He has to feed only himself and his gray cat, Alex, who, he said, smarter than half the people He acknowledged he has sacrificed a lot for his lifestyle. twice divorced. He moves alot. He owns little. And he risks his life doing stunts. want to live like a he said. want to worry about a mortgage or someone opinion. I want to work behind a desk every Leaping-Limo Driver Aims for a Record Swathed in bubble wrap, Michael Hughes hopes to sail his Cadillac 125 feet at a San Bernardino event. Irfan Khan Los Angeles Times LAUNCH PAD: Michael Hughes peers through the ramp he will use tonight to try to set a record for limo jumping. By Ashley Powers Times Staff Writer You know the story, right? she asked, nodding toward the wooden stakes planted in tight rows. How a guy put themup, just because he sleep. The war in Iraq bothered him. These are for its dead. a beautiful Mary Laurinsaid softly. would they want to take it At the corner of Yaleand Bryanavenues in Northwood Community Park, a makeshift memorial has become local lore. It appeared in March, 10 days into the war in Iraq, as the brainchild of a local medical company executive. Only a few wooden stakes, topped with nametags for the dead and votive candles to be lit at sunset, dotted the corner at first. Two weeks later, a core of regulars was coming nightly to pay tribute. As the numberof dead grew, sodid the number of mourners. Sunday, it will be taken down, acasualty of laws prohibiting such displays on property. It was supposed to be dismantled months ago. But like the candles that flicker into the night, the memorial found a reserve of fuel: people who see those wooden stakes as something bigger. Visitors call the shrine intimate, speaking of the memorial as if it had sprung from the earth. There were no design squabbles or funding debates that tend to pock tributes such as the bronze Vietnam War memorial in Westminster. The park never was the site of sparring protesters, the fate of a sidewalk Sept. 11 memorial in La Habra. The simplicity of the Irvine memorial gave it purity; its location gave it peace. Its narrative madeit legend. Day 9 of the war. Asher Mil- gromwatches the news. The 44- year-olddecides he mustdo something. Something spills out in the garage. He fashions a clear glass cup for a candle and a red plastic cup for flowers onto a stake about 5 1 2 feet tall. He makes 30, one for each American killed. The next day, he heads to Northwood, an 18-acrepark. In sight of a baseball field, a playground and a bus stop, Milgrom births the memorial. Each stake has a sheet of paper listing the name, age, rank and military branch of its soldier. That night, six people light candles at sunset. The flames blink in the glow of stoplights and passing traffic. So it has gone every night since. This week, the stakes numbered 201 as more markers were added to honor those killed since the official end. Neighbors have added photos and biographies from the Internet: Marine Pfc. Tamario D. Burkett, 21, Buffalo, N.Y. Killed March 23.A yellow silk flower is tied to his stake price tag: $4.50. The memorial resembles those that sprouted on a chain- link fence in Oklahoma City after the bombing, or at the British Embassy after Princess Diana died places where a commu- nity poured its grief. Photographer Kornelius Schorle, 61, swearsthat the Irvine park has an aura and lugged his camera and tripod to the nearby intersection to capture it on film. better than anything you put into he said. is without feeling, without heart. This this is heart and There are, of course, personalities and politics in the background. Milgrom, the president of American Medical Aesthetics Irvine, says he shies away from discussing his role in the memorial. He does have political views he watches only Fox News and says the city of Berkeley But he says he sees the memorial through the prism of charity, like the soup kitchens he volunteers at with his wife, Alice, 39, and their three kids. Something above politics or pettiness: think the story is more resounding if just who did this. Otherwise, more When Milgrom speaks at the sunset gatherings for brief announcements the crowd shushes. The mood is reverential, like a church service in after- work clothes. Milgrom was willing to go to the Irvine City Council to defend his creation. The day in late April when he got a call asking him to dismantle the memorial coincided with a council meeting. The city thought making the memorial permanent would have a snowball effect, opening the way for displays from the or friends of Saddam the city attorney said at the meeting. Dozens of people flocked to the park nightly. Bugles sounded out taps, and some men cried when they heard it. we say something warm and fuzzy is OK and something offensive is council member Beth Kromsaid recently. The council allowed an extension to Memorial Day. Then dozens more Americans were killed in Iraq; Milgrom and the regulars said it time for the memorial to die. Another extension was given, until Sunday, allowing Marines from Camp Pendleton to visit the June 29ceremony. At least 250people showed up. Milgrom envisions a permanent memorial, in bronze with gas flames. Krom said the council has discussed building some kind of war memorial, but not at Northwood Park. As Laurin, 69, wound her way through the staked paths, all that mattered were the names and ages and faces, close enough to touch. a lot of good- looking young men here. A lot of their babies born yet. They come Her companion, 70-year-old Chuck Eklund, had been teary- eyed at the Marine candle-lighting. He wanted Laurin to see too. They met a Korean War veteran that sunny afternoon. He was holding a tissue wet with tears. Eklund stared at the memorial minutes later. guy who did he said, loves his Glenn Koenig Los Angeles Times FINAL DAYS: Scott Couchman of Irvine visits the memorial to American victims of the U.S. war in Iraq during its final week. The display at Northwood Community Park is slated to be dismantled Sunday, after two extensions. Informal War Memorial Loses Its Final Battle With City Hall The tribute took root in a park in Irvine. Despite support from the public, it fell victim to laws banning such displays on municipal property. better than anything you put into this is heart and Kornelius Schorle, photographer By Ashley Powers and Jack Leonard Times Staff Writers Two men were shot and killed Friday evening near a busy La Habra intersection by two men ridingin the car with them, authorities said. The shooting, which occurred shortly after 6 p.m., followed an argument among the four men, who pulled their 2000 Acura sedan over to the side of the road near Lambert Road and White- bookDrive, said La Habra police spokeswoman Cindy Knapp. One victimwas pronounced dead at the scene. The other, believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s, was taken to UCIMedical Center in Orange in critical condition; he later died at the hospital, authorities said. As of late Friday, police said they had yet to determine the identities of the victims or the killers or a reason for the argument. are not able to establish any motive for the crime Police Capt. Jeff Love said. Officers are searching for the two men who sped away in the Acura, described as blue-gray with California license plate 4KAD698. Police said they believe that the car continued easton Lambert after the shooting. Neighbors said they heard three or four gunshots, which brought an immediate halt to Fourth of July barbecues and other celebrations in the neighborhood of apartments and single-family homes. One passerby, who gave her name only as Sylvia, said she was returning from work when she saw two wounded men lying at the side of the road. were just two guys shot in the she said. thought the two guys had been run Valerie Jones, 21, said she saw an ambulance pull away soon after the shooting. Jones said that awoman in her 30s with two young girls was talking to police. The shootingstook place a few hundred yards from the site of another fatal shooting in January, when a 20-year-old man was gunned down outside a mobile home park. Despite the violence, neighbors saythe area issafe for families. is shocking, totally said Connie Ordaz, 53. think any place goes without crime, but you expect it to be out front of your 2 Men in Car Fatally Shot in La Habra Gunfire follows an argument among four men in a vehicle. Police seek the pair who fled. evacuated, and a Red Cross shelter was established at a local school. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the blaze appears to have begun in an area of tall, dry grass near Stage and Barranca roads. Fanned by 12 mph winds, it tripled in size in about an hour as it moved east. Firefighters battled the flames on foot as well as with helicopters, bulldozers and 41 fire engines. Many of the firefighters were already in the area after containing an 850-acre brush fire in the Lake Elsinore area late Thursday. Two firefighters suffered minor burns in that blaze, which destroyed a church that was under construction. From a Times Staff Writer Riverside County firefighters battled a brush fire that threatened numerous homes Friday near Hemet and prompted the evacuation of more than 200 people, according to authorities. The fire began about 2:30 p.m. and was contained by evening. Authorities said they hoped to have the blaze surrounded by midnight. No structures were damaged Friday evening, but one of more than 450 firefighters involved in the effort suffered minor injuries, said Riverside County Fire Capt. Rick Vogt. Between 25 and 30 homes along Scorpion Canyon Drive and Chameleon Road were Fire Chases 200 From Homes Near Hemet From a Times Staff Writer Authorities Friday arrested a Ventura man wanted in connection with the shooting of his wife last month. Joseph John Olivarez, 35, had been hiding in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since the June 20 shooting, in which Michelle Olivarez, 33, was seriously wounded, authorities said. Shortly after 1 a.m. Friday, investigators surrounded a house in Port Hueneme where they believed Joseph Olivarez was hiding. Officers from Oxnard and Port Hueneme took him into custody as he tried to sneak out aback door, and he was booked into Ventura County Jail. Larry Caro, brother-in-law, also has been arrested as a possible accessory. Man Arrested in Shooting

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