Emergency operators received calls about a stranded vehicle with people inside at the corner of Third Street and Downey Avenue under a 60 Freeway overpass at about 6 a.m. That's when three deputies rushed to the scene to render help.
One of the deputies, later identified as Deputy Rudy Juarez with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Transit Bureau, was struck by a passing car.
Sheriff's officials say Juarez was transported to an area hospital with severe head injuries. He was reported in critical condition.
Sheriff Lee Baca visited Juarez at the hospital Saturday.
"Juarez is an amazing person," Baca said of the deputy. "He is a beloved individual, not only inside the department, but with the public as well...He is alive, the doctors are working tirelessly to monitor him and check the vital signs for the sake of make sure that they are sustaining his life."
The driver who struck Juarez remained on scene and is fully cooperating with investigators. Currently, authorities say there is no criminal activity involved. The driver is not facing any charges, and alcohol and drugs were not involved.
Though investigators say speed was likely not a factor in the accident, pedestrians say there is a need for traffic control at the intersection.
Margarita Morelos was not surprised by the incident. She walks the area daily and says drivers don't pay attention.
"Hopefully they do something about it and see now that the deputies are getting hurt doing [their jobs]," she said.
Meantime, the entire force is pulling for a quick recovery.
"Right now it's up to the doctors and Deputy Juarez to make that happen," Baca said.
There were earlier reports that Juarez was struck by a Metro train, as the scene was very close to the Metro Gold Line. MTA officials say that was not the case, and that all Gold Line trains are running on schedule.