Driver charged in 2022 crash that killed Los Angeles sheriff’s recruit, injured 24 others
Nov 9, 2023, 7:58 PM | Updated: Nov 13, 2023, 10:04 pm
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A driver who plowed into a group of Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run last year, killing one and injuring 24 others, was charged Thursday with vehicular manslaughter, authorities said.
Nicholas Gutierrez, 23, was charged with one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, one count of vehicle manslaughter without gross negligence and nine counts of reckless driving causing great bodily injury, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
If convicted, he could face up to 12 years in state prison.
The Diamond Bar man was arrested after the Nov. 16, 2022 crash in Whittier but released while authorities investigated further. He was arrested again on Thursday, the DA’s office said.
About 75 recruits, from the county Sheriff’s Department and several local police agencies, were running in formation on a street near the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier when an SUV veered onto the wrong side of the road and into the cadets, then crashed into a pole, authorities said.
Twenty-five cadets suffered injuries, including severe head injuries and broken bones, then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at the time.
One of them, Alejandro Martinez, was hospitalized for eight month before dying from his injuries in July.
“The felony filings today are a step towards justice for the family of Deputy Alejandro Martinez and all the LASD Recruits who were injured, many of whom have life-altering injuries sustained because of this tragic incident,” current Sheriff Robert Luna said in a statement.
Tests didn’t find any indication that Gutierrez was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Gutierrez told KNBC-TV that he fell asleep at the wheel while heading to work as an electrician installing solar panels.
“I woke up to the sound of (recruits) banging on the windows,” he said.
“I didn’t intentionally do it,” Gutierrez said. “I wish it never happened. I feel bad it happened.”
A statement Thursday from Gutierrez’s attorney, Alexandra Kazarian, said that he and his family have and will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement.
“Nicolas and his family are beyond devastated about this horrifically tragic accident,” the statement said.
This story was first published on November 9, 2023. It was updated on November 13, 2023 to correct the charges Nicholas Gutierrez faces. He was charged with one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one count of vehicle manslaughter without gross negligence, not two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.