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Drunk man who lost child will spend year in jail

February 10, 2011 |  9:38 am

A West Covina man who got drunk and lost his 3-year-old child — later found safe in a parked car — will spend a year in jail and attend a residential drug treatment program, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Joe Louie Kurihara, 23, had been arrested for public drunkenness and resisting arrest on a Pasadena street on Oct. 16. He did not mention, nor apparently remember, that he had his young son, Dylan, with him when he drove off from a family wedding party earlier that evening. Authorities initiated a search the following morning after the boy’s frantic mother began making inquiries.

In proceedings in Pasadena Superior Court on Wednesday, Kurihara pleaded guilty to a felony count of child abuse as well as to misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and public intoxication. Kurihara also must attend a year of parenting classes and will be on probation for five years. 

Prosecutors wanted a longer term in custody, said a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. Kurihara is challenging an order to pay restitution totalling $16,202.

The daylong search for Dylan involved dozens of officers and and volunteers, including local resident Rowdy Metzger, who has a daughter about the same age. Metzger found the boy strapped in a car seat, thirsty but unharmed. Authorities had missed seeing Kurihara’s abandoned vehicle during the search because a view of it was obstructed within a parking garage under a commercial building.

During the dragnet, officials feared an abduction and dogs traced the scent of the boy or his father to the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, about two miles from the parking garage. That turned out to be a blind lead.

Investigators also returned to the scene with Kurihara in hopes that he could retrace his steps or jog his memory. That effort was futile.


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-- Howard Blume