Driver who struck LA sheriff’s recruits in deadly crash pleads not guilty to vehicular manslaughter
Jan 23, 2024, 5:56 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 two dozen others, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to vehicular manslaughter.
Nicholas Gutierrez, 23, entered pleas to an 11-count grand jury indictment that also accuses him of severely injuring nine victims through reckless driving, according to a statement from the county District Attorney’s Office.
He remained free on $500,000 bail and could face up to 12 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.
Gutierrez has acknowledged that he was behind the wheel on Nov. 16, 2022, when an SUV veered onto the wrong side of the street and plowed into a group of about 75 recruits from the Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies. They were running in formation on a street near the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier.
Authorities said 25 people were injured, 10 of them severely. One of them, Alejandro Martinez-Inzunza, was hospitalized for eight months before dying from his injuries in July.
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.”