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CHP vet in critical condition from 405 crash

June 9, 2010 12:22:46 AM PDT
A California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer was critically injured in a crash that shut down a busy portion of the 405 Freeway near Palms on Wednesday.

The accident, involving the motorcycle officer and two other vehicles, was reported on the 405 North, just south of National Boulevard at about 8:30 a.m. Authorities said the officer had completed a traffic stop of a Honda SUV on the shoulder of the freeway when an Infiniti sedan slammed into him from behind, shoving him and his motorcycle into the back of the SUV, which overturned upon impact.

There was a doctor and some other medical personnel who saw what happened and helped the officer, 52-year-old Philip Ortiz.

Those stuck in the gridlock morning traffic watched as crews extricated Ortiz from the wreck. His body was pinned between the two vehicles.

Ortiz, a 27-year veteran of the CHP's West Los Angeles station, was taken to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in critical condition. CHP Sgt. Mark Garrett said his condition was "very serious." As of 11:00 p.m., hospital officials said that Ortiz was still in critical condition.

Authorities say his family members were rushed to the hospital by a helicopter from Victorville to be with Ortiz. They gave this statement to Eyewitness News:

"The family of Officer Ortiz wants the public to know how much they appreciate the community's support in the way of prayers and well wishes at this most difficult time."

Police say they collected multiple witness statements describing the incident, particularly the actions of the Infiniti at the time of the crash.

"That Infiniti was on the right shoulder, obviously in blatant defiance of the law," Garrett said. The Infiniti is registered to a 32-year-old Los Alamitos man named Daniel Ogara, but it is not clear if he was driving the car at the time of the crash. The driver of the Infiniti was transported to St. John's Medical Center in Santa Monica with injuries. Officials say he was treated then released.

Two others in the SUV were also injured from the accident and taken to a hospital, but their injuries are reportedly minor.

Police opened all of 405 North and 405 South late Wednesday afternoon, but Westside motorists faced heavy traffic for most of the day.

"Bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I literally had to pull off and grab gas because there was no way I was going to get to where I needed to go," said motorist Joseph Craig.

"I got around the 105 and started to use my little side streets that I know, but all I could think of was the poor officer and I hope he's okay," said another motorist Kirstin Curren.

The driver of the Infiniti has not been arrested, but he may face charges once the investigation has been completed.

"We want to be careful, we want to be fair, we want to be objective and we want to be thorough on this. We want to find out what happened and we'll come down with any applicable charges at that time if any," said Garrett.

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