Sheriff's Deputy Injured in Crash

A Ventura County sheriff's deputy was slightly injured Thursday afternoon after his cruiser was rear-ended on California 126, about three miles east of Fillmore.

Authorities said Deputy James Panza, who was driving eastbound in an unmarked car about 4:15 p.m., was in the last of three vehicles that had stopped on the highway while an unidentified motorist ahead was attempting a left turn.

While the drivers in the three vehicles waited, driver Frank Saenz of Ojai failed to stop his truck in time and hit the rear of Panza's cruiser, touching off a chain-reaction accident involving the other two vehicles, driven by Niel Dwyer and Stan Kovell, both of Bakersfield.

The accident occurred in a construction zone where there is only one lane in each direction, authorities said.

Panza's cruiser received moderate damage to the front and rear. Authorities described the damage to the other three vehicles as minor to moderate.

Ventura County firefighters administered first aid to Panza at the scene. He was later taken by ambulance to Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Officers from the California Highway Patrol are investigating the incident. Depending on the outcome, charges may be filed against Saenz, authorities said.

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