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LAPD patrol car 'unrecognizable' after fatal crash with truck

Highway and Road DisastersLaw EnforcementTransportation DisastersDisasters and AccidentsCrime, Law and JusticeLos Angeles Police Department

Los Angeles police officials said it is "a miracle" a second officer survived a fatal crash with a big rig that left the patrol car a mangled piece of metal.

"The police car is almost unrecognizable even as a vehicle, let alone a police car," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. "It's a miracle that anyone survived this collision."

The officers were crossing through Beverly Hills en route to an "unknown trouble call" when the crash occurred about 8 a.m. near Loma Vista Drive and Robert Lane, officials said.

A male officer driving the patrol car, a 16-year veteran who worked in the Hollywood Division, died at the scene. A second officer, just three months out of the academy, suffered a concussion. She is expected to be released from the hospital tomorrow. 

The driver of the truck remains in serious condition at the hospital, he said.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating a possible mechanical failure with the truck. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference that the problem may have been related to the brakes. 

Smith said authorities will be looking at footage from any video cameras in the area as well as analyzing skid marks and interviewing witnesses. 

The officers were driving up a hill when they collided with the truck, which was heading down the hill carrying a dumpster and a Bobcat.

"As the officers were going up, somehow the truck stuck their car," he said, adding that they appeared to collide head-on.

CHP Officer Leland Tang said debris and the speedometer of the truck will also help determine how fast the truck was traveling down Loma Vista Drive.

At the scene, skid marks stretch from Drury Lane to Doheny Road, where the truck came to a stop and on its side. The marks cross into both southbound and northbound lanes.

Most of the damage to the police cruiser is on the driver's side. Rescuers had to remove the top of the car to extricate the officers trapped inside. 

Tang said investigators plan to dismantle the truck and cruiser to analyze the vehicles. 

Several hours after the crash, Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti accompanied the body as it was removed from his wrecked patrol car and taken to a coroner's van.

Two rows of officers lined the Beverly Hills street to salute the fallen officer. About 100 uniformed officers and civilian employees lined the street outside the Hollywood Station as the van rolled by. 

Garcetti asked that flags across the city be lowered to half-staff. By midmorning they had already been lowered outside the LAPD's downtown headquarters.

“On behalf of the city, we grieve a hero this morning, an officer who gave his life in the service of the people of Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. 

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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