WHITTIER, California– 25 recruits from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office were injured when they were fleeing when they were hit by a man driving the wrong way, the sheriff’s office said.
Five of the recruits were seriously injured and four sustained moderate injuries, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Sheila Kelliher said at a news conference.
The 22-year-old driver who was arrested has minor injuries, Kelliher said.
The California Highway Patrol said it will investigate whether the accident was intentional or the result of distraction or drinking and driving. The driver reportedly crashed into a light pole after hitting the recruits.
The driver has not yet been formally identified but has since been arrested. According to our sister station KABC, Eyewitness News has been told he is cooperating with authorities.
About 75 recruits converged at the time of the accident, which occurred around 6:29 a.m. Wednesday while it was still dark, officials said.
Street guards wearing safety vests walked outside the recruits, officials said.
The sheriff’s office also had a car in the front and back of the group to protect the runners.
“It’s hard to see because these young people are preparing to put their careers at risk. And who knows, you’re actually in danger while training for that,” Kelliher told a news conference. “My heart goes out to all of them as they pursue this career. I hope they all recover quickly.”
The accident happened right in front of a fire station, so firefighters immediately rushed to the scene, officials said.
Surveillance of the incident, recorded from a nearby backyard, shows the group of recruits walking in tight formation along the roadside, escorted by two cruisers at the tail of the columns.
The SUV drives on the left side of the road and doesn’t seem to slow down or swerve when driving straight into the jogging group.
There was no evidence of obstacles or other vehicles on the road that would trigger the driver’s behavior.
The Honda SUV also crashed into a light pole, knocking it over after hitting the recruits.
CLOCK | The video shows an SUV crashing into recruits
In fact, there was evidence that the driver might have accelerated just before the collision, Villanueva said.
“Some recruits say they heard the car speeding up, they estimate about 30 to 40 miles per hour,” the sheriff said. “You can see how little reaction time that allows someone.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the recruits came from several different agencies, including Bell, Glendale, Pasadena, El Segundo and UCLA Police Departments. The rest was with the sheriff’s department.
The driver was also injured and only suffered minor injuries, according to the fire department.
Villanueva said the driver underwent a field sobriety test shortly after the accident and “blew a 0.0.”
The test doesn’t rule out drugs, but Villanueva said the official cause of the incident remains unknown.
Villanueva said injuries ranged from head injuries and broken bones to loss of limbs. He said at least one recruit is on a ventilator. However, some are expected to be discharged from hospital as early as Wednesday afternoon.
Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement today:
“Our hearts go out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Recruits who were injured this morning while training to minister to their communities. Jennifer and I send our best wishes for her recovery and stand with her loved ones and colleagues at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at this difficult time.”
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https://6abc.com/los-angeles-county-sheriffs-department-recruits-accident-car-crash-hit-by/12459056/ Recruits hit: 25 Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits injured after being struck by car, according to authorities