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Police gather more information on fatal hit-and-run

by Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

Claremont police are continuing to piece together a hit and run crash that left a Rancho Cucamonga man dead and a Covina woman behind bars.

Helen Scheuplein, 67, was arrested on January 8 on suspicion of striking 50-year-old James Radzik on the 1600 block of Towne Avenue around 2:30 a.m. on January 7 and leaving the scene of the accident.

Mr. Radzik was found in the roadway roughly a minute later by a passing LA County Fire truck crew, who pronounced him dead at the scene, Lt. Jason Walters of the Claremont Police Department said.

Police used surveillance footage from multiple nearby homes and businesses to identify the Toyota Sienna minivan they say Ms. Scheuplein was driving when she allegedly hit Mr. Radzik.

Claremont police currently have video footage of the collision, and Lt. Walters acknowledged that Mr. Radzik was lying down in the road before Ms. Scheuplein allegedly hit him.

But, Lt. Walters added, there was no evidence Mr. Radzik, “would have sustained blunt force trauma prior to being struck by the vehicle.”

It was unclear why he was in the road, and a toxicology report is pending.

Lt. Walters noted Mr. Radzik was renting a room in a nearby Claremont home at the time of his death.

A GoFundMe purportedly belonging to Mr. Radzik’s family was created on January 9, seeking to pay for funeral expenses. The GoFundMe states Mr. Radzik was the father of two young boys, ages 5 and 8.

“Jamie was a caring, thoughtful, friendly, and kind spirit,” the GoFundMe stated. “He loved his family, he adored his kids, he could talk to anyone about anything, he had a deep appreciation for nature, he was a huge sports fan, he enjoyed surfing, and he visited the beach with this sons as often as they could go.”

The COURIER reached out to Mr. Radzik’s family for comment but did not receive a response.

Ms. Scheuplein runs a karaoke DJ business, and has a regular gig every Tuesday night at the Hi-Brow bar in Pomona, according to her website. Lt. Walters said she was traveling from the Hi-Brow when she allegedly hit Mr. Radzik.

She was convicted of a previous DUI in 2013 in West Covina, according to the LA County Superior Court database.

Ms. Scheuplein was found and arrested on January 8 just before 6 p.m. at the Hi-Brow.

“She acknowledged she was involved in a traffic collision or struck something the night of the collision,” Lt. Walters said.

Her Sienna had minor front-end damage, as well as “evidence collected at the scene which was consistent with the traffic collision the day before,” Lt. Walters said.

Ms. Scheuplein was initially arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, hit and run and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. But the latter charge was dropped when Ms. Scheuplein was arraigned on January 13 at Pomona Superior Court.

The reason, Lt. Walters said, was because the LA County District Attorney’s Office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt Ms. Scheuplein was driving drunk at the time of the incident, given the length of time between when it happened and when she was arrested.

As it stands now, she is charged with hit and run causing death, which has a maximum potential sentence of four years in state prison, as well as misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

She is currently being held at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood on $50,000 bail, according to LA County inmate records. Her next court date is scheduled for February 3 at Pomona Superior Court.

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