One of the 25 sheriff’s academy cadets hit by a car in South Whittier is in critical condition.
One of the 25 Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits who were hurt last week when a driver crashed into them during a training run in South Whittier was listed in grave condition on Sunday, the department said.
Alejandro Martinez was identified as the recruit. He has a swollen brain, broken femurs, a collapsed lung, and damage to multiple organs, and has been put on a ventilator, according to people who know about the incident but are not allowed to talk about it publicly.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva had said before that the department was most worried about Martinez, who he said had surgery after Wednesday’s crash because of head injuries and multiple broken bones.
Villanueva said in a statement that the recruit had taken a turn for the worse, making his condition go from critical to the grave. The department asked everyone to “pray for him and his family.” Two other recruits are still in very bad shape, but the rest of those who were hurt have been released from hospitals.
After the crash on Wednesday morning, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, of Diamond Bar, was first arrested on suspicion of trying to kill a police officer. But on Thursday, he was let go because his arrest was just detention.
Investigators are still building their case against Gutierrez, but Sgt. Gerardo Magos, a spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, said that it is against the law to hold a suspect for more than 48 hours without showing the case to prosecutors.
Magos said that once investigators have built a case, Gutierrez will be arrested and the case will be given to the L.A. County district attorney’s office.
In an interview with NewsNation before Gutierrez was freed, Villanueva said that investigators “have reason to believe it was on purpose.”
People tried to talk to Gutierrez, but they couldn’t.
The recruits were running in four lines, with drill instructors and two black-and-white radio cars following them. At 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, a Honda CR-V drove into the group near the sheriff’s STARS Center Academy in the 10600 block of Mills Avenue, authorities said.
Witnesses say that as the group ran north on Mills Avenue, a car came up behind them going 30 to 40 miles per hour. It went off the right side of the road and hit the recruits.
Authorities say that the runners at the front of the group were able to move out of the way before the SUV hit other people and crashed into a light pole.
Villanueva said at a news conference on Wednesday that there were no signs that the car had skidded. The driver stayed in the car after the crash, and the sheriff said that at first, it was hard to get him out.
“As far as I know, he was still in the car with his foot on the gas pedal,” he said.
A Breathalyzer test was given at the scene, and Villanueva said that the driver “blew a 0.0,” meaning that there was no sign of alcohol. But the police are trying to find out if he was under the influence of other drugs when the crash happened. A source in law enforcement who knows about the investigation said that marijuana was found in the driver’s car.