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LAPD officer recovering after fatal Beverly Hills crash

The officer who was injured in the fatal Beverly Hills crash Friday is recovering in the hospital and is expected to be released soon.
March 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The investigation continues into a fatal accident in Beverly Hills that killed a veteran LAPD officer and seriously injured his training partner. Their police cruiser was smashed by a dump truck Friday morning.

The officer, whose name has not been released, was undergoing tests at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles Saturday. She was listed in stable condition, and was expected to be released from the hospital soon.

Officer Nicholas Choung Lee, 40, was killed in the crash which took place at the intersection of Loma Vista Drive and Robert Lane Friday around 8 a.m.

The victim was in a patrol car with his partner, a rookie just four months out of the police academy, when their cruiser collided with a truck hauling a crash container down a steep road. The patrol car was nearly demolished. Authorities say the truck may have lost its brakes.

Lee was pronounced dead at the scene. His partner was critically injured, but is doing remarkably well, according to fellow officers. The truck driver was also injured, but is expected to recover.

Lee was a highly respected and much-honored member of the Los Angeles Police Department. In a video posted to YouTube just three days ago, Lee wishes a happy birthday to a 7-year-old boy battling leukemia.

On Friday, officers lined the street as the gurney, covered with an American flag, was moved to a coroner's van. The van was then escorted out of the area by a police procession.

Los Angeles police spokeswoman Sally Madera says the rookie officer spoke with a colleague Saturday. While she appreciates the condolences and concern, she wants support directed to the family of her dead partner.

"She said she is very sore, we don't know whether she is going to be released today, or anything like that, but what she specifically wanted me to tell everyone was again thank you, but she wants the focus to be on Officer Lee," said Los Angeles police officer Erik Helmstetter.

Flowers, well-wishes and expressions of sympathy have been pouring in at the LAPD's Hollywood Division where Lee and his partner were assigned. Officers from that division were given the weekend off so that they could mourn their co-worker's death and visit the injured officer in the hospital.

On Saturday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti held a moment of silence in honor of Lee and his training partner during the California Democratic Convention in downtown Los Angeles. He says he personally worked with Lee several times.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the working men and women who protect us, and I hope you'll keep Nick Lee in your thoughts today, and your prayers tonight and moving forward, and express the deepest sympathy to the friends, to his beautiful family, and to the fellow officers of the Los Angeles Police Department who lost one of their own," said Garcetti.

It is a tough loss for the LAPD. Lee is the first LAPD officer killed in the line of duty since 2008. A 16-year veteran member of the police force, Lee leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.

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