The wrong-way driver who allegedly plowed into a group of law enforcement recruits out for a training run in southern California has been charged with attempted murder.
Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was taken into custody at the scene of the crash along Mills Avenue in Whittier on Wednesday morning.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to DailyMail.com that Gutierrez was charged with attempted murder on a peace officer(s) and that additional charges are pending.
It comes after new surveillance footage was released showing the terrifying moment the driver barreled into a group.
As many as 25 recruits suffered injuries including head trauma, broken bones and a ‘loss of limb,’ with at least five critically injured.
The graphic footage obtained by ABC7 shows the recruits wearing white t-shirts and jogging together in formation in the area of Mills Road and Telegraph Road with two patrol cars following behind seconds before the crash.
There appears to be little traffic on the residential street when a Honda SUV suddenly appears and slams right into the group of recruits with no clear indication of attempting to slow down.
But the 22-year-old driver may have sped up shortly before the collision, Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously said. He blew a 0.0 on a sobriety test, it was reported, and was detained at the scene. The cause of the collision remains under investigation.
New video shows the terrifying moment a wrong-way driver barreled into a group of law enforcement recruits while they were on a training run in southern California
The footage starts off showing the recruits wearing white t-shirts and jogging together in formation in the area of Mills Road and Telegraph Road with two patrol cars following behind
A Honda SUV suddenly appears and slams right into the group of recruits with no clear indication of attempting to slow down. Bodies and debris scattered across the street
‘Some recruits are saying they heard the car accelerating, they estimate around 30 to 40 miles per hour,’ the sheriff told ABCY. ‘You can see how little reaction time that allows someone.’
The SUV barreled into the group and then struck a light pole on the side of the street, which stopped it from hitting more recruits.
‘It happened so quickly that just the people that just saw it veer into them, they jumped out of the way, but the people behind had no chance because they never saw it,’ Villanueva said.
‘They didn’t have that sufficient warning. As soon as the accident happened, the chaos that ensued they said it looked like an airplane wreck, there were so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injuries.’
Authorities say nearly 75 recruits were out for the morning run in Whittier at around 6.25am, when the wrong-way driver plowed into the training platoon.
The driver reportedly blew a 0.0, but was found to have marijuana in his car.
It remains unclear whether he was high at the time of the crash Wednesday morning, but the Los Angeles Times reports he told cops on the scene that he was sleepy.
‘It looked like an airplane wreck, there were so many bodies scattered everywhere,’ Sheriff Villanueva said at one of the press conferences. He added that all of the injuries were ‘survivable,’ but may be ‘life-altering.’
Patients were taken to several different hospitals, including St. Francis Medical Center and LAC+USC Medical Center.
At least one victim was hospitalized on a ventilator at a local hospital.
At many as 25 recruits suffered injuries including head trauma, broken bones and a ‘loss of limb,’ with five critically injured following the crash in Whittier on Wednesday morning
A gray SUV was a mangled mess after the 22-year-old driver slammed into a pole
Authorities say the driver was traveling the wrong way when he plowed into a group of recruits
The 22-year-old driver may have sped up shortly before the collision, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. He blew a 0.0 on a sobriety test, it was reported, but was detained at the scene
FOX 11 reports that the recruits were all attending the Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services Center about a mile and a half from the crash site.
The group was running with drill sergeants as well as two black-and-white radio cars as safety vehicles, and eight road guards. Everyone was wearing reflective vests.
Firefighters at nearby Station 96 were the first to respond after hearing a loud bang outside, where they found the crashed Honda.
Authorities are withholding the names of the victims, until after family members are alerted.
Authorities on the scene are pictured transporting a bloody victim into an ambulance
Some were treated on the scene, while others were transported to local hospitals
‘As we await more information on their conditions, we are wishing everyone a quick recovery.’
Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued a statement saying: ‘Our hearts are with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s recruits injured this morning while training to serve their communities.
‘Jennifer and I send our best wishes for their recovery and stand with their loved ones and colleagues at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during this difficult time.’