WHITTIER, California – Twenty-five law enforcement officers from various Los Angeles County agencies were injured, five of them critical, after a Honda CR-V going the wrong way ran into them and hit a light pole during their morning drive in Whittier, authorities said.
The California Highway Patrol said the incident was reported at 6:25 a.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Mills Avenue and Telegraph Road. Upon impact, LA County Fire Station 96 firefighters heard a loud bang and immediately rendered aid to the cadets, calling for additional resources. Authorities said 20 law enforcement vehicles from various agencies were at the scene.
The members of Academy Class 464 head to the Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services (STARS) Center at the 11500 block of Colima Road, about a mile and a half from the crash site.
Whittier is located 20 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
CHP Captain Charlie Sampson said the 22-year-old suspect was traveling south on Mills Avenue when he turned into the opposite lanes and hit victims who were running north in formation. The CHP is not releasing the suspect’s name at this stage of the investigation, but said he is a resident of Diamond Bar.
The suspect underwent a sobriety test at the scene and was arrested. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed that the suspect passed the breathalyzer test and that he also sustained injuries in the accident that required hospital treatment.
At around 10:15 a.m., Sheriff Villanueva and LA County Fire Captain Tony Maroney gave an update from the UCI Medical Center in Orange County, where some casualties were being transported.
Of the 25 struck, Villanueva said 16 recruits suffered minor injuries, four moderate injuries and five serious injuries.
“I just felt sick. Here were all those recruits on their morning drive that were basically plowed over by this driver,” LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn said, adding that the county is devoting all of its resources to helping the victims. “We hope they make it.”
Angelica Musick, a friend of one of the victims, told FOX 11’s Christina Pascucci that the cadets believe the crash was intentional because they don’t remember the driver using his brakes.
“He just told us that the car hit them directly and some of his classmates were seriously injured,” Musick said. “The driver was still stepping on the accelerator, so he tried to smash the car window to get the driver to stop because he was still just accelerating.”
SkyFOX was on scene and showed the wreckage debris as well as additional patients being treated by medical personnel.
The circumstances under which the driver hit the victims are being investigated.
A 22-year-old driver went the wrong way when 22 LASD cadets were hit.
A neighbor told FOX 11 that the recruits often jog in the area and run in packs wearing high-visibility vests.
Roads are expected to be closed for hours for the investigation.
No further information was immediately released.
Those who witnessed the crash are asked to contact California Highway Patrol.