After their crew was hit by a wrong-way driver in California Wednesday morning, as many as 22 sheriff recruits were injured, with five reported in critical condition.
Chad Sourbeer, a battalion chief with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, told ABC 7 that between 40 to 50 recruits were out for a morning run in the area of Mills Avenue and Trumball Street in Whittier, California at around 6.25am, when a driver plowed into the training platoon.
Five of the recruits are already critically injured, with four others suffering more moderate injuries, according to Capt. Kelliher of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, who spoke at a news conference as the investigation continued.
Police confirmed the driver underwent a sobriety test and was taken into custody. The results of the sobriety test are currently unknown.
It remains unclear whether the 22-year-old male driver was intoxicated as he drove the wrong way on Mills Avenue, but authorities say he was detained and brought to a local hospital for moderate injuries.
Some victims appeared to have been taken to a nearby hospital, while others appeared to have been treated at the scene. Others were reportedly airlifted to nearby hospitals.
Authorities were seen desperately attempting to resuscitate one of the victims, who had suffered a bloody gash to the head.
Roads in the area were closed to allow emergency personnel to transport the victims.
‘The hardest part is finding each victim,’ retired Fire Captain Rich Godinez of the LA City Fire Department told CBS Los Angeles. ‘There are red, yellow, and green tarps used by first responders to categorize the victims.’
He said the red tarps are for those that need to get to the hospital first.
‘First responders will start to reach out to hospitals to start diverting each victim to different hospitals,’ Godinez said.
Patients were said to be taken to several different hospitals, including St. Francis Medical Center and LAC+USC Medical Center.
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.
‘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’ve put yourself in harm’s way,’ Capt. Kelliher said at the news conference.
‘So my heart goes out to all of them as they pursue this career. I hope they all have speedy recoveries and that they’re in good shape.’
The recruits normally run in group formation on streets, with road guards and following a vehicle, Sheriff Alex Villanueva told the Los Angeles Times.
Authorities are withholding the names of the victims, until after family members are alerted.