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Prosecutors charge man who allegedly left son in car after drinking binge

October 19, 2010 |  2:00 pm

Prosecutors charged a 23-year-old West Covina man with child endangerment and other offenses after authorities alleged he got drunk and lost his 3-year-old son for more than a day.

Joe Louie Kurihara was initially arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and resisting arrest. Pasadena police said that when he sobered up, he told them he had lost track of his son after attending a wedding at the Masonic Lodge in Pasadena.

Officials said Pasadena resident Rowdy Metzger, 39, found the boy about 10:40 p.m. Sunday, strapped into his car seat in his father's car in a parking structure. Officials said Dylan was dehydrated and taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where doctors found him to be in good health.

In addition to the felony child-endangerment charge, Kurihara faces four misdemeanor counts, including two of resisting arrest, one of obstructing or delaying law enforcement and battery on an officer, and one of public intoxication. 

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum of six years in state prison. He is expected to plead not guilty to the charges Tuesday afternoon in a Pasadena courtroom.

According to Pasadena police, Kurihara and the boy attended a wedding Saturday at the Masonic Lodge.

Officials said the boy’s mother, Kurihara's girlfriend, also was at the wedding and said she saw Kurihara leave with the boy. When she hadn't heard from either of them for hours, officials said, she began to call police stations and hospitals.

The woman, whose name has not been released, reached the Pasadena police about 8 a.m. Sunday, officials said. Her call immediately launched a search for the child and the car.

Metzger said he first heard about the missing 3-year-old boy from a reverse-911 call that went out Sunday afternoon in Pasadena.

The 39-year-old father of two, including a daughter the same age as the missing boy, volunteered to help police. For more than an hour Sunday night, he said, he searched alleyways, bushes and dumpsters for any sign of the child.

As he was walking home, Metzger said, he noticed a blue Lexus with tinted windows and a license plate matching the number put out by authorities. He saw the boy inside and immediately called 911.

On Monday, the boy was placed in the custody of Los Angeles County child-welfare authorities pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

-- Andrew Blankstein