A Pasadena cadet was among police trainees injured by a driver this morning in Whittier according to City News Service.
The extent of his injuries are unknown at this time. At least 26 people were injured including the driver, according to one news report five people are in critical condition.
According to outgoing Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva the driver who struck a group of trainees on a run this morning was not drunk at the time, based on a Breathalyzer test, which showed him with no alcohol in his system.
However, that does not mean he did not have drugs in his system.
Members of the Pasadena Police Department’s command staff were en route to the scene after the incident.
“They were in their eighth week of a career that requires so much motivation and determination,” said Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian. “It’s tragic many of the recruits have been injured and others had to witness the horrific accident. Our thoughts are with the families of the recruits and everyone involved. We will be standing by our impacted personnel and ready to assist others.”
The training class included recruits from various law enforcement agencies, and the group of injured trainees includes two each from the Bell and Glendale police departments and two from Pasadena. The rest were sheriff’s department employees.
Sheriff’s officials said the group was running in columns northbound on the roadway when an SUV going southbound struck them and then hit a light pole and stopped. A law enforcement vehicle was behind the runners for traffic control, but there was no law enforcement vehicle in front of them. The first runners managed to avoid being hit by the vehicle, which plowed into those behind them, authorities said.
Villanueva said the most serious injuries included head trauma, broken bones, and “loss of limb.” Further details were not released.
Law enforcement agencies across the Southland quickly began sending words of support to the sheriff’s department in response to the crash.
“We are praying for the LASD recruits involved in today’s accident in Whittier,” the Pomona Police Department tweeted.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents deputies, said it was monitoring the unfolding situation.
“We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for the injured cadets and their families,” the union tweeted.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a statement saying, “I am shocked to hear that a driver plowed into a group of young sheriff’s academy cadets during their morning training run. These individuals represent the future of law enforcement, they have incredible courage and my utmost respect for wanting to serve their communities. I’m tracking this incident closely — it’s senseless and tragic. From the bottom of my heart, I am hoping no one was seriously hurt.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued a statement: “Our hearts are with the Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits injured this morning while training to serve their communities. 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,” he said.
The motorist, a 22-year-old Diamond Bar man, was taken into custody by authorities near the scene of the crash, which was reported at about 6:30 a.m. in the 10600 block of Mills Avenue.
Authorities said the SUV swerved into the runners while heading in the opposite direction and wound up crashing into a light pole, which was knocked to the ground by the impact.
Paramedics set up a triage area at the scene, and transported the injured victims for hospital treatment, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said 25 recruits were injured, five with critical injuries, four with moderate injuries, and 16 with minor injuries. The driver of the SUV also suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
The crash occurred near the sheriff’s STARS Explorer Academy, which is in the 11500 block of Colima Road. Neighbors told reporters at the scene that recruits often run in groups through the neighborhoods near the academy.
The case is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.
“It looks like it’s an accident — a horrific accident,” Villanueva said.
The vehicle were reportedly going about 30-40 mph at the time, authorities said.