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Man Charged with Causing Monday's 'Hissing' Gas Leak

James Viramonte Cogley is believed to have crashed a pickup truck into some gas valves at a So Cal Gas storage facility, then crashed it again against a parked car a mile away.

Originally posted at 5:50 p.m. Feb. 20, 2014. Edited to add more details.

A 22-year-old man who allegedly caused Monday’s “hissing gas leak” in Playa del Rey was charged today with four felonies.

James Viramonte Cogley pleaded not guilty to charges of arson, grand theft auto, unlawful taking of a vehicle and vandalism.

Cogley allegedly went to the Southern California Gas storage facility in the 8100 block of Gulana Avenue around midday Monday, damaged some electrical panels and stole a pickup, driving it over a gas valve that caused a natural gas leak, according to police and prosecutors.

The gas leak was capped after about three hours.

The pickup truck was found about a mile away from the facility, crashed against a parked car, prosecutors said. He was arrested 

According to police, investigators found Cogley at a hospital being treated for injuries consistent with a traffic collision, and he was arrested Tuesday.

Outside court following the hearing, defense attorney Alan Eisner said his client “suffers from bipolar disorder.”

“At the time of the conduct ... he was in the throes of an episode of the disease,” Eisner said. “He has very strong family support and both he and his parents are determined to engage in the proper treatment and the rehabilitation to ensure nothing like this will happen again.”

“This is a reminder that even secured facilities can benefit from working smarter with law enforcement agencies,'' said company spokesman Javier Mendoza.

“We are reviewing our security protocols and procedures. We're also enhancing the security at Playa del Rey with additional staff and surveillance cameras. We encourage the public to get involved to help keep our communities safe. If you see something, say something.”

--City News Service

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