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ANAHEIM : Officer, 3 Others Injured in Crash

A Santa Ana man was in intensive care Sunday, recovering from injuries he suffered when the car he was driving ran into a police car stopped on the shoulder of the Santa Ana Freeway, police said.

The driver, Jose Blanco, 32, of Santa Ana was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving. Blanco was suffering from head injuries, but hospital officials said their main concern was that his condition not deteriorate.

Three other people, including an Anaheim police officer, also were injured in the crash, which occurred at 11:42 p.m. on the northbound Santa Ana Freeway near Harbor Boulevard. Officer James Popa suffered moderate injuries but was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon.

Shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Popa pulled over Martin Hernandez, 23, to issue him a citation. Hernandez complied, bringing his car to a stop on the shoulder, police said.

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Popa then turned on his amber rear light to warn motorists, authorities added.

After talking to Hernandez briefly, Popa had him sit in the back seat of the police car while the officer ran a driver’s license check, a Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Popa was in the front passenger seat using the radio when Blanco crashed into the back of the police car, a CHP spokesman said. A second Anaheim police officer had gotten out of the car to interview Hernandez’s passenger. That officer was not hurt.

Hernandez was injured in the crash, police said, as was a passenger in Blanco’s car. Police said Hernandez was treated for minor injuries at Anaheim Memorial Hospital. Hospital officials, however, refused to comment.

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The third victim was unidentified, but his injuries were serious enough that he was flown to Western Medical Center-Anaheim. By late Sunday, CHP officials were unable to identify that victim, and hospital officials would not disclose his condition, but the CHP called his injuries “major.”

Highway Patrol officers were on the scene within minutes of the accident, and a spokesman said officers noticed a strong smell of alcohol in Blanco’s car.

Officers Sunday still had not interviewed Blanco, who was listed in serious condition. “He’s been unable to speak because of his injuries,” the spokesman said.


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