A wrong-way driver slammed into a group of about 75 law enforcement recruits who were out on a pre-dawn training run in Southern California, injuring 25 of them — some critically.
According to KABC-TV, the recruits were running in the South Whittier area at around 6:30 a.m.
Injuries included broken bones and head injuries.
“We have had some loss of limb,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters at a news conference, the Los Angeles Times reported. He said five of those struck were in critical condition and one “is currently on a ventilator.”
Villanueva said the scene “looked like an airplane wreck. There was so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injury that it was pretty traumatic for all individuals involved,” the Times reported.
Villanueva said the recruits were from several Los Angeles-area law enforcement agencies, including the Bell, Glendale, Pasadena, El Segundo and UCLA police departments and the sheriff’s department, KABC reported.
The Times reported the 22-year-old SUV driver is from Diamond Bar, but he was not identified.
Sources told the Times the driver complained of being sleepy.
The driver “blew a 0.0 on a breathalyzer” and passed a field sobriety test, Villanueva said, according to KCBS-TV.
The driver suffered minor injuries, according to the fire department.
LASD Capt. Pat MacDonald told KABC that the recruits were accompanied by two patrol vehicles as escorts.
“There was a light pole on the east side of the street and the one thing that was relayed to me was, ‘Thank God for that light pole’ because the vehicle ultimately hit it and stopped as opposed to possibly hitting more recruits,” MacDonald said, according to KABC.
Villanueva said the runners at the front of the formation saw the vehicle approaching and were able to get out of the way, but those farther back took the brunt of the impact, KCBS reported.
Some of the cadets reported hearing a car accelerating before the impact. They estimated it was going around 35 mph, Villanueva said, the Times reported.
“It does seem like this car did not slow down,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said, according to the Times.
“It made me just sick when I heard [about] it,” Hahn told KABC-TV, according to the Times. “I’m just hoping and praying that they all come through it.”
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