While a group of 75 law enforcement recruits were out for an early morning jog on Wednesday in Los Angeles County, a wrong-way driver reportedly drove into the group, speeding up before hitting 25 of them. Five recruits are currently in critical condition, KTLA reported.
The recruits were jogging in a running formation near the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department STARS Explorer Training Academy in South Whittier, California, at approximately 6:25 a.m. when they were struck by the vehicle.
25 law enforcement recruits out jogging in Los Angeles County this morning were run over Darrel Brooks-style by a speeding vehicle. A suspect name has not yet been released. pic.twitter.com/PiFrshxQsb
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) November 17, 2022
The group included 65 people from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, as well as ten people from several local police departments. According to Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the 25 injured cadets included 20 from the sheriff’s department, two from Bell, two from Glendale and one from Pasadena.
“It looked like an airplane wreck, there were so many bodies scattered everywhere,” the sheriff said at a press conference.
Villanueva told reporters that five recruits sustained critical injuries, while four were moderately injured and 16 received minor injuries. Some of the injuries included head trauma, broken bones and loss of limbs, while one individual reportedly had to be placed on a ventilator.
“Now we’re facing some life-altering injuries for the most severely injured recruits … We hope all of them make a full recovery, and they’ll have a chance to come back and complete the academy. That’s my goal,” Villanueva said.
The sheriff also revealed that a few of the recruits reportedly heard the vehicle accelerating up to 30-40 mph before it struck them, and no skid marks were seen at the scene of the crash.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Sheila Kelliher spoke out about the incident.
“It is hard to see because these young people are getting ready to go put themselves in the line of danger in their career, and who knows that while you’re training to do that, you’ve put yourself in harm’s way,” Kelliher said.
“My heart goes out to all of them as they pursue this career. I hope they all have speedy recoveries and that they’re in good shape,” she added.
Kelliher also noted that the driver, who has been detained, was a 22-year-old man. His name has not yet been released. She added that the man was driving the wrong way down the street when the crash occurred.
The cause of the crash is still unknown, though the California Highway Patrol has said that it will be investigating whether it was intentional, the result of distracted driving or driving under the influence.
According to Villanueva, the driver blew a 0.0 on a Breathalyzer test.
After he struck the law enforcement recruits, the driver crashed into a light pole, knocking it down. The front of his vehicle sustained significant damage, while the driver himself only suffered minor injuries.