LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. - As numerous Southern California law-enforcement recruits fight for their lives at the hospital, investigators are piecing together information on what caused a driver to hit 25 cadets during their group morning run in the Whittier area.
On Wednesday morning, a wrong-way driver in a Honda CR-V plowed into 25 recruits going on a group morning run in the Whittier area Wednesday morning, leaving five of the recruits in critical condition. The driver involved in the crash was identified by authorities Thursday as 22-year-old Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez of Diamond Bar.
According to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the investigations left authorities believing that the crash was intentional.
"They did a thorough investigation. They interviewed dozens and dozens of witnesses and victims," Villanueva said, regarding the suspect being accused of intentionally hitting the cadets. "That was the conclusion."
FOX 11's crew was outside a home in Diamond Bar where there was a heavy law-enforcement presence on Wednesday evening. The home, believed to be where the suspect's family lives, was being searched by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Two women were ushered out of the house but returned home shortly after speaking with authorities.
Officials have not specified why they were at the Diamond Bar home. During a FOX 11 Special Report, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva explained the investigation was a joint effort with the California Highway Patrol and LA County District Attorney George Gascón's office.
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"All three of them are working together, trying to determine whether it was an accident or a deliberate act of some sort, or some criminal culpability," Villanueva explained. "Once they determine that, then they'll move forward with either an arrest or a release and it becomes a civil matter."
Of the 25 people who were hit, 16 recruits suffered minor injuries, four with moderate injuries, and five were critically injured. The class is made up of 75 recruits for the following department: LASD, Bell PD, Glendale PD, Pasadena PD, and the UCLA Police Department.
The SUV driver did a sobriety test at the scene before being taken into custody.