(LOS ANGELES) — A man driving the wrong way who plowed into dozens of police recruits who were out for a run in Los Angeles early Wednesday has now been arrested, officials said.
The driver, 22-year-old Nicholas Gutierrez, has been arrested for suspicion of attempted murder on a peace officer, the sheriff’s department said on Thursday.
About 75 recruits were on the run with 25 of them suffering injuries in the crash. The group was mostly Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department recruits, but also included others from nearby police departments, including Pasadena and Glendale.
“It looked like an airplane wreck, there were so many bodies scattered everywhere,” LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference Wednesday.
Five of the recruits were critically hurt, four suffered moderate injuries and 16 have minor injuries, officials said at a news conference.
Injuries included head trauma, loss of limb and broken bones, officials said. At least one victim was on a ventilator, the sheriff said.
Gutierrez suffered minor injuries, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Sheila Kelliher said Wednesday.
The cause of the crash is unknown. The California Highway Patrol said it’ll investigate whether the crash was intentional or the result of distracted driving or driving under the influence.
Villanueva said Gutierrez blew a 0.0 on a Breathalyzer test.
“It looks like it’s an accident, a horrific accident,” Villanueva said.
The recruits were running on a routine route at the time of the crash, which took place around 6:29 a.m. Wednesday, while it was still dark out, officials said.
“Road guards” wearing reflective vests ran on the outside of the recruits, officials said.
The sheriff’s office also had two patrol cars escorting the runners.
The accident took place just outside of a fire station, so firefighters immediately raced to the scene, officials said.
Some recruits estimated the car was going about 30 mph, officials said.
“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 are actually in harm’s way,” Kelliher said at a news conference. “So my heart goes out to all of them as they pursue this career. I hope that they all have speedy recoveries.”
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