Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez: Cops arrest California wrong-way driver who struck 25 sheriff trainees with his SUV

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed that Gutierrez, 22, was charged with attempted murder against one or more peace officers

Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez: Cops arrest California wrong-way driver who struck 25 sheriff trainees with his SUV
Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez (R) was arrested on the charges of attempted murder after he rammed his SUV into sheriff trainees in Whittier, California (Screenshot from Fox11/YouTube)
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WHITTIER, CALIFORNIA: A wrong-way driver has been charged with attempted murder after reportedly plowing into a group of law enforcement recruits out for a training run. At the scene of the collision on November 16, 2022, along Mills Avenue in Whittier, officers apprehended Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department verified to Daily Mail that Gutierrez was charged with attempted murder against one or more peace officers and that further charges are imminent. This is in response to fresh CCTV footage showing the horrific moment the motorist plowed into a crowd being made public. Up to 25 trainees were hurt, with at least five of them being badly injured in the car crash. The injuries ranged from head trauma to broken bones to loss of a limb. In the graphic video obtained by ABC, the trainees can be seen jogging in formation while donning white t-shirts near Mills Road and Telegraph Road only seconds before the collision. Two patrol cars can be seen trailing behind them. When a Honda SUV suddenly approaches and slams into the group of recruits without giving any obvious signs of attempting to slow down. There appears to be minimal traffic on the quiet street.

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Five people were in critical condition, and one of them was on a ventilator after the crash (CBS Los Angeles/video screenshot)
Five people were in critical condition, and one of them was on a ventilator after the crash (CBS Los Angeles/video screenshot)

Sheriff Alex Villanueva earlier speculated that the 22-year-old motorist may have increased his speed just before the crash. According to reports, he blew a 0.0 on a sobriety test before being held on the spot. The cause of the crash is still being looked into. “Some recruits are saying they heard the car accelerating, they estimate around 30 to 40 miles per hour,” the sheriff told ABC.

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“You can see how little reaction time that allows someone. After plowing through the gathering, the SUV slammed into a lamppost by the side of the road, stopping it from hitting any more recruits. 'It happened so quickly that just the people that just saw it veer into them, they jumped out of the way, but the people behind had no chance because they never saw it,” Villanueva said. “They didn't have that sufficient warning. As soon as the accident happened, the chaos that ensued they said it looked like an airplane wreck, there were so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injuries.”

Authorities claim that at around 6.25 am in Whittier, nearly 75 recruits were out for a morning run when a wrong-way vehicle slammed into the training unit. The driver allegedly blew a 0.0 for an alcohol test but marijuana was discovered in his car. Whether he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash on Wednesday morning is still unknown but he claimed to be sleepy to the responding officers.

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“It looked like an airplane wreck, there were so many bodies scattered everywhere,” Sheriff Villanueva said at one of the press conferences. He added that all of the injuries were “survivable” but maybe “life-altering.” Patients were sent to a number of hospitals, including LAC+USC Medical Center and St Francis Medical Center. 

The Sheriff's Training Academy and Regional Services Center, which is about a mile and a half away from the crash site, is where all of the recruits were enrolled, according to FOX11. The group was moving while being protected by eight road guards, two black and white radio cars, and drill sergeants. Everyone wore vests with reflective tape.

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After hearing a huge noise outside, the first responders were firefighters from Station 96 in the neighborhood, where they discovered the Honda that had crashed. In order to give family members time to respond, authorities are holding out the victims' names.

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