Whittier Sheriff Recruits Struck in Wrong-Way Driver Accident

Posted on

25 sheriff’s recruits are recovering after being struck by a driver while on a training run. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he believes that the driver struck the group of recruits deliberately.

Victims were from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Pasadena, Glendale and Bell police departments. UCLA and El Segundo recruits were present but not hurt.

Law enforcement expects charges against the driver, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, age 22. He was arrested and then released, giving investigators more time to make their case. They say charges may include attempted murder.

How it happened

The officers-in-training were running in formation as part of a 22-week training course. They wore matching uniforms. Two vehicles tracked them on their run and accompanying road guards wore reflective vests.

Without warning, Gutierrez veered to the other side of the road. Traveling 30-40 miles per hour, he plowed his vehicle into the group. Witnesses say he didn’t stop and may have even sped up as he targeted the recruits. Some were thrown several feet into the air. The driver struck a light post, which may have spared more victims.

Responders describe a horrific scene resembling an airplane wreck. They say victims were scattered in all directions with mild, moderate and severe injuries. Many were hospitalized.

Injuries to Sheriff’s Recruits Who Were Run Over

There were 75 recruits with their drill instructors at the time of the crash. Of the 25 physically hurt, five suffered critical injuries.

Injuries the victims suffered include:

  • Brain trauma, traumatic brain injury
  • Cracked ribs
  • Broken bones
  • Bruising and scars
  • Internal organ damage, bleeding
  • Physical disfigurement
  • Amputation, lost limbs
  • Soft tissue trauma
  • Mental health injuries, psychological damage

The injured victims face a long road to recovery. Careers in law enforcement have been put on hold. Now, they may be in doubt. Sheriff’s representatives say that for many victims and their families, lives have been changed forever.

Driver Likely to Face Charges

Law enforcement continues to investigate the attack. But they have publicly said they believe the act was intentional. They are carefully preparing their case to present to the prosecutor for charges.

The driver may face many different charges and counts, including attempted murder. If a person is convicted of first-degree attempted murder, and the intended victim is a law enforcement officer, the person faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison. The driver may also face charges of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving causing bodily injury and aggravated battery causing serious injury. The prosecutor will decide which charges to pursue.

Compensation for Injuries from Pedestrian Accidents

Regardless of whether the prosecutor’s office files charges, victims may exercise their legal rights. They may have representation from a pedestrian accident attorney to bring a legal claim for compensation.

For a victim, the compensation they receive is critical to pay for medical care and other expenses. Compensation is also a measure of justice for victims and recognition of the harm that has been done.

Victims and their families have suffered in immeasurable ways. These losses may be reflected in their claim, including:

  • Medical bills, emergency care
  • Hospitalization
  • Nursing care, long-term care needs
  • Physical therapy, rehabilitation
  • Treatment for PTSD, anxiety, flashbacks, depression and other mental health injuries
  • Lost income and damaged career path
  • Childcare needs for family where the victim used to provide household services
  • Physical scars, disfigurement and lifestyle changes from physical limitations
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish and trauma

If a claim is based on malice, punitive damages may be recovered in addition to these categories of compensation. Punitive damages do not compensate the victim for any specific losses. Instead, they are an additional payment to the victim that penalizes the victim and deters others from similar acts.

A victim may receive compensation whether their injuries are severe, moderate or mild. Each victim deserves compensation that reflects their injuries and damages. To receive a damages award, a victim must bring their claim and prove their case. They must identify the appropriate amount of damages for their personal situation.

Victims have the right to representation from a car accident attorney. Their attorney can investigate, gather evidence, bring the claim and pursue compensation on behalf of the victim.

How JLF Law Firm Can Help

If you or a family member is a victim, we are truly sorry. The JLF Law Firm is an experienced team of attorneys. We specialize in car crashes, representing victims and families. We handle claims involving pedestrian victims and claims involving catastrophic injury.

We understand how this tragedy has devastated your family. Our team is committed to fighting for the truth and fully pursuing your rights. We will represent you with respect and determination as we work for the compensation that you deserve.

We can meet you at home, in the hospital, or in our offices. Our team can even start working on your case today.

Call us or message us for a free and confidential consultation.

Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.