Four people were injured, two of them critically, when a motorist trying to avoid a parking ticket drove through MacArthur Park and plowed into a group of pedestrians Thursday, authorities said.
The crash was reported at about 12:30 p.m., and the driver was taken to the hospital, Officer Aareon Jefferson said.
The driver was questioned by police but later released. Investigators have concluded he was not under the influence at the time of the crash, Capt. Andrew Neiman said.
News footage from KTLA showed a group of paramedics and firefighters treating four people sprawled on the grass under a tree inside the northwest corner of the park next to a sidewalk. One by one, the patients were wheeled into ambulances and taken to L.A. County-USC Medical Center.
According to police, the driver of the truck was at a meter along Park View Street when he was approached by Department of Transportation ticketing officers. Before the officers reached him however, the driver shifted the truck into reverse and drove several hundred yards into the park, destroying a parking meter and hitting four people, Jefferson said.
Not far from the crash scene Thursday, parkgoer Justyna Sawicka said she knew the driver well. He would usually park under the shade of trees on Park View, she said, and lived out of his truck.
He had lived in the area for the last two years, she said, and would never crash into people on purpose.
“I feel like it’s a dream,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes. “He’s a nice person.”
Down by the lake, Cody Egan walked his two boxers and surveyed the crash scene. A lot of homeless people rest in that area, he said.
“I’m not surprised,” he said, adding that many parkgoers drink in the area and cause a ruckus. “There’s a lot of suspicious activity here.”
About a dozen police officers searched the scene at about 2 p.m. to determine the trajectory of the vehicle and to survey the damage.
Plastic bags, torn clothing, a backpack and worn-out shoes were spread throughout patches of grass, dirt and leaves.
Officers said the clothing belonged to the injured. It’s unclear whether the victims are homeless.
The black Dodge pickup, with a camper shell, was parked nearby on the sidewalk. Police took a dog that was in the truck with the driver, officials said.
All four of the injured were described as men 24 to 35 years old. The driver’s age was not immediately known, Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.
Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.
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7:50 p.m.: This article was updated with details on the driver being released by police.
2:30 p.m.: This article was updated with details of the suspected driver.
1:55 p.m.: This article was updated with details of the crash.
1:30: This article was updated with details about the driver and the victims.
This article was originally published at 1:20 p.m.