Whittier crash: Here's what we know about law enforcement recruits hit by wrong-way driver

ByDavid González, Eric Resendiz, Michelle Fisher, and ABC7.com staff via KABC logo
Thursday, November 17, 2022
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More than two dozen law enforcement recruits were struck by a wrong-way driver while out on a run in Whittier, and authorities say some of them suffered "life-altering injuries" that include head trauma, broken bones and loss of limbs.

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- More than two dozen law enforcement recruits were struck by a wrong-way driver while out on a run in Whittier, and authorities say some of them suffered "life-altering injuries" that include head trauma, broken bones and loss of limbs.

A class of about 75 recruits were running Wednesday morning as part of a training exercise when a 22-year-old driver crashed into the group. Here's what we know so far:

The victims and their injuries

A total of five recruits are currently in critical condition, four are being treated for "moderate" injuries and 16 have minor injuries. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at least one is on a ventilator.

The recruits were all sent to various hospitals in the area, but the most critical patients were rushed before paramedics arrived. Villanueva said that action helped save lives.

"Fortunately, every class, typically, we have EMTs - I think this class even had an RN, who was a recruit, so they were able to provide first aid right on the spot with the equipment they had," he said at a morning press conference.

A sheriff's helicopter airlifted family members of some of the victims to UC Irvine Medical Center and dropped them off. Other victims were taken to St. Francis Medical Center, USC and Whittier Presbyterian.

"What they have going in their favor is they're all young, able-bodied and in good health, and Lord willing, they'll be able to recover... even the one who is currently in the most critical state at St. Francis. They're just going to have a long road to recover," the sheriff added.

Recruit injured during Whittier crash on ventilator, officials say

The cause of the crash has not been determined, and the victims have not been identified.

"It looks like it's an accident, a horrific accident," Villanueva said.

The recruits in training

Villanueva said the recruits are from several different agencies, including the Bell, Glendale, Pasadena, El Segundo and UCLA police departments. The rest were with the sheriff's department.

The recruits were in their eighth week of training, with 14 weeks to go.

According to LASD Capt. Pat MacDonald, who leads the department's training bureau, the recruits all left for their run with two patrol vehicles that work as an escort, which he said is typical when recruit classes go running.

They were running in the street in a four-column formation.

Authorities said that's the particular route recruits take on their morning run.

Individuals described as "road guards" were wearing reflective vests. The recruits wore white t-shirts and dark green pants.