Update on LASD recruits injured, several critically, when hit by speeding SUV in devastating incident

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

Slightly before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, November 16, an SUV traveling southbound on Mills Avenue north of Telegraph Rd. in Whittier, CA, veered into the wrong lane and plowed into a group of first year trainees of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who were, at the time, running northbound on Telegraph. 

The car left a path of devastation in its wake, injuring 25 of the trainees, five of them critically. 

According to Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who held a press conference earlier today at the UC Irvine Medical Center, which is the only level one trauma center in Orange County, and which received four of the injured trainees. 

(Although the accident occurred in Whittier, which is in LA County, UCI Medical Center is only around 15 miles from the accident site, meaning it was slightly closer to the crash site than County USC hospital is located.)

The injured recruits were distributed to five regional hospitals including UC Irvine, County USC, Saint Francis Hospital, Whittier Presbyterian Hospital, and Harbor General Hospital.

At the time they were hit, a group of approximately 75 recruits were on a routine run, according to Captain Pat McDonald, head of LASD’s training bureau. Because they were running along what is often a traffic laden street the recruits reportedly were protected by two radio cars that are safety vehicles, meaning they can block traffic when need be.  The trainees were also accompanied on their run by eight of what are called “road guards.” 

Sources tell us that the LASD trainees were running in two formations at the time of the incident, with those in the senior class running ahead of the freshmen.  As a consequence, the senior group was either already out of danger by the time the SUV veered toward the runners, or had crucial seconds to jump out of the way.  

However, the freshmen were not similarly able to dodge the oncoming SUV.

Some of the recruits on site ran to nearby County Fire Station 96 in unincorporated Whitter, and told those at the station what had happened.

The firefighters ran immediately to the scene and began triage.

According to LA County Interim Fire Chief, Anthony Marrone, some LASD personnel rushed four of the most critically injured recruits to a hospital right away, rather than waiting for paramedics, “likely saving their lives.”

Dr. Jeffrey Nahmias of UCI Medical Center, said that his hospital still had the four patients, one of whom is critical. Nahmias also appeared to agree, in this particular instance, with the idea of rushing the four injured recruits to the medical center, rather than waiting.

At the press conference, Sheriff Villanueva reported that one of the injured trainees experienced an amputation due to the accident.  We have heard that this trainee has lost both feet.

Another critically injured trainee is on a ventilator, at one of the other of the five hospitals.

There were also multiple reports that the vehicle sped up as it approached the trainee victims. More recently, however, sources in touch with those present on site have suggested that the acceleration was likely caused by panic, not malicious intention.  

The driver, who tested negative for alcohol, is reportedly cooperating with the California Highway Patrol’s investigation of the terrifying event.

One additional worrisome issue some LASD sources told us, is that the trainees do not have the same benefits as department members would in such a situation.

Hopefully this is a problem that can be remedied.

Sheriff Villanueva said it is his goal that all of the recruits can come back to training and graduate.

May that be the case.


  • Hearing the sirens, or the birds in the sky above, this is something unfamiliar to you, Celeste. This very well be my first time posting a response, but I have sat idly by for quite some time trying to understand your objective. The majority of the material on this site is compiled by “independent” writers who have little to no personal experience in the field they report on, proving time and time again the pen can be mightier than the sword. It very well can be; but it doesn’t have to be this way.

    For the better part of two years, I’ve sat back and watched the banter between active and retired lawmen on your page. While I too grow weary of the machismo BS pissing match some engage in; we all chose this profession to make a difference.

    It seems like for every one recruit that makes it through the academy these days, there are three journalists freshly hatched that want to tell us how to do our job. I applaud efforts in weeding it bad applies, because it worked. Those that remain have been or will be here for the right reasons; to fight unrealistic objectives. The plight ahead for the select few trying to steer this ever changing ship, and those joining is steep enough. We continue to fight through the storm of political ideology, and unrealistic goals set by those who have no genuine commitment or involvement; the last thing we need is for people to bash those brazen enough attempting to right the ship.

    I appreciate the column, Celeste, I really do. We want these kids to pull through, too. But, the fight as a whole is much bigger. I hope you dig deeper to find those that aren’t the troglodytes you paint us all to be. We’ve been here the entire time; but it’s easier to pick low hanging fruit.

  • As a former staff member, both in ELA and at STARS, and ran hundreds of times in the streets around those Academies, I can only say, it was a matter of time until something tragic happened. Sad but true. Street running is dangerous. But so is police work, and in the case of both of those Academy locations, there is no realistic alternatives. Hate what happened to those cadets.

  • TraditionofService

    Darren Hager isn’t a troglodyte & lookit what happened to him; his story can be Googled

    Darren Hager, LASD

    His story hasn’t been told loudly enough

  • @Rakkasan

    Amen! Darren Hager is just the tip of the iceberg of what was going on in AV, John Aujay and the subsequent LASD coverup.

  • Another link on Jon Aujay’s disappearance

    In this link it states that LASD received a tip that Jon “was in a hole” after coming across illegal activity in his run.

    After 24 years Jon’s body hasn’t been found, probably because it is at the bottom of a hole.

    In contrast an inmate from Detention Camp #41 walked away from the Fire camp, located just a few miles away from the Devil’s Punchbowl, and died from the elements.

    His body was found right away by hikers.

    That story is told here

  • Unfortunately the truth in cover-ups within LASD has a dismal record, the same dismal record also applies to cover-ups involving the citizens of Los Angeles County.

  • @Rakkasan

    I know about that story. What I’m eluding to is that for nearly two decades, it’s been a hunt to try and find the “bad apples”. Did they exist? Yes. Did they get flushed out and/or change their ways? Yes. Freedom of speech permits Celeste to write whatever she so chooses about our department; but, touchy “warm and fuzzy” stories don’t sell. I just think it’s time to focus on those that either endured the storm of the last 15+ years and still want to do the job for the right reasons. Or the kids who are answering this call despite pension reform/decline and the increase in adversarial objection on how we do our job.

    Seen enough bashing of AV. The man dug his own grave. He’s getting set out to pasture. People voted for reform and defunding, citizens are going to have to pick up their own slack now. Just hoping Celeste can swing back towards center under Luna.

  • TraditionOfService

    In the military when the troops don’t perform to standard–the “bad Apples”–the troop commander gets relieved of command..

    Happens all the time.

    For the LASD the electorate is doing that: effecting a change of command.

    Exactly the way it should be.

  • @TraditionOfService Reform, yes. Defund no.
    The bashing of Villanueva is therapy for many who were screwed over by him and his foolishness.
    Too many sheep amongst the deputies who are scared of speaking up because of retaliation which leads to the fact that LASD is doomed without reform & equity.

  • Wasn’t impressed under AV’s machismoness. So much needs to change, but only time will tell if our strong roots can sustain.

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