Off-Duty Officer Hurt in Freeway Accident

An off-duty Garden Grove police officer was seriously injured Monday night after his car careened off the freeway and flipped over.

California Highway Patrol officials are investigating the possibility that road rage or reckless driving caused Paul Hartman, 54, to lose control of his 1978 Corvette while changing lanes on the westbound Garden Grove Freeway just east of Trask Avenue.

Hartman, a decorated 21-year department veteran, was reportedly not wearing a seat belt. He was thrown 12 feet from his car, which witnesses estimated was traveling at 75 to 80 mph, CHP Officer Denise Medina said.

He was taken to UCI Medical Center, where he was treated for a fractured pelvis, three broken ribs, a broken right collarbone, a head injury and facial cuts. His condition was upgraded to fair Tuesday morning, hospital spokeswoman Kim Pine said.

Witnesses said Hartman and the driver of a 1989 Toyota 4Runner were racing and weaving down the freeway. Just before the 9:10 p.m. accident, reports state, Hartman was attempting to change from the fast lane to the middle lane when he clipped the 4Runner and lost control.

His car went over a steel guard rail, down an embankment and through a chain-link fence before landing upside down on Trask Avenue, Medina said.

The driver of the 4Runner, Andrew Troy, 33, of Orange, called the CHP when he got home. He told investigators that he didn't realize he had been involved in an accident until he got home and that his car was damaged.

He has not been cited.

The investigation is continuing, Medina said.

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