WHITTIER, Calif. (AP) — An SUV traveling on the wrong side of the road hit 25 recruits at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy early Wednesday, injuring five of them, officials said.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the range of more serious injuries included a head injury, broken bones and “loss of limb.” Trainees include recruits for the Sheriff’s Department and many local police agencies.
The crash investigation is being handled by the California Highway Patrol, and “so far, it looks like an accident, a terrible accident,” Villanueva said.
CHP Assistant Chief Charlie Sampson said about 75 officers were running northbound on the street when a southbound vehicle crossed into the oncoming lane and struck the victims.
Sampson said all possibilities, ranging from intentional act to impaired driving, will be investigated.
It was only revealed that the driver was a 22-year-old man from suburban Diamond Bar. The sheriff said the driver’s field sobriety test was negative. County Fire Department spokeswoman Capt. Sheila Kelliher said the driver also suffered minor injuries.
“I’ve personally suffered from heart disease,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who said she’s focusing on injured cadets to pull through.
The crash happened just before 6:30 a.m. in suburban Whittier, where the training academy is located.
Two black-and-white radio cars and eight “road patrolmen” deployed in four columns wearing reflective vests, said Capt. Patrick McDonald, the academy’s president.
Deputies received assistance from a nearby county fire station, but rushed some of the most seriously injured to hospitals, possibly saving their lives, said County Fire Chief Anthony C. Marron said.
Television news helicopter broadcasts showed firefighters and ambulances, an SUV with severe front-end damage passing a downed power pole on a sidewalk, as well as scores of people in uniform gym clothes nearby. There was also a 25 mph (40 kph) speed limit sign nearby.
Running shoes and a backpack were scattered at the scene.
“Our hearts go out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s recruits who were injured this morning while training to serve their communities,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “Jennifer and I send our best wishes for their recovery and stand with their loved ones and colleagues at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during this difficult time.”
Antsak reported from Los Angeles.
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