A video has emerged showing the moments before a vehicle plowed through a group of 75 recruits from the Los Angeles County sheriff’s academy during a training run, leaving a few of the 25 injured in critical condition.
The incident, described as “very odd” and “horrific” by Sheriff Alex Villanueva, happened in the city of Whittier early Wednesday. The sheriff said the recruits suffered injuries including head trauma, broken bones and a “loss of limb” while the driver – a 22-year-old who blew a 0.0 on a sobriety test – was detained at the scene.
“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 told reporters. “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.”
Villanueva said the class was in its eighth week of a 22-week training program, and the incident is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. He added that of the 25 recruits who were injured in the group, five were injured critically.
Academy Capt. Pat McDonald said eight of the recruits running in the group were wearing reflective vests, and the entirety of the class was being monitored by two safety vehicles.
In footage of the incident, an SUV can be seen barreling toward the class before striking into the recruits and a light pole on the side of the road.
“Thank God for that light pole, because the vehicle ultimately hit it and stopped, as opposed to possibly hitting more recruits,” McDonald said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday night that it is “hoping for all involved to have a full and speedy recovery.
“The Department would like to thank the community for the continued outpouring of support and prayers received for all affected,” it added.