WHITTIER, Calif. – Twenty-two recruits for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were injured, five critically, after an SUV going the wrong way plowed into them and hit a light pole during their morning run 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, firefighters with LA County Fire Station 96 heard a loud crash and immediately rendered aid to the cadets and called for additional resources. Authorities said 20 law enforcement vehicles from various agencies responded to the scene.
The members of the LASD recruit class attend the Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services (STARS) Center located in the 11500 block of Colima Road, which is roughly a mile and a half from the crash site.
Whittier is located 20 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
CHP Capt. Charlie Sampson said the 22-year-old suspect was going southbound on Mills Avenue when he veered into the opposing lanes and struck the victims. The CHP is not releasing the suspect’s name at this stage of the investigation but said he is a Diamond Bar resident.
The suspect underwent a sobriety test at the scene and was taken into custody. The results of the sobriety test are unknown, and he also suffered minor injuries in the crash.
Of the 22 who were hit, LA County Fire officials said 14 recruits suffered minor injuries, four had moderate injuries, and five were critically injured. However, LA County authorities said those numbers are expected to fluctuate.
“I just felt sick. Here were all those recruits on their morning run who basically got plowed into in by this driver,” LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn said, adding the county is putting all its resources into aiding the victims. “We’re hoping they pull through.”
Angelica Musick, a girlfriend of one of the victims told FOX 11’s Christina Pascucci the cadets believe the crash may have been intentional because they do not recall the driver using his brakes.
“He just told us the car went straight into them and several of his classmates were severely injured,” Musick said. “The driver was still on the accelerator, so he was trying to break the car window just trying to get the driver to stop because he was still just pressing on the gas.”
SkyFOX was over the scene and showed the debris from the wreckage as well as additional patients being triaged by medical personnel.
The circumstances leading up to the driver striking the victims are under investigation.
A 22-year-old driver was going 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.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Tony Maroney and LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva were at the UCI Medical Center in the city of Orange where some of the victims were taken for treatment.
Roads are expected to be closed in the area for hours for the investigation.
No further information was immediately released.
Those who witnessed the crash are asked to contact the California Highway Patrol.