Twenty-five recruits from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services (STARS) Center were injured after an SUV going the wrong way plowed into them during their morning run in Whittier. Authorities report five recruits were critically injured, four had moderate injuries, and 16 suffered minor injuries.

The investigation is being led by CHP working in coordination with the LA County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Bureau.

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tells the LA Times that one of the critical patients “is currently on a ventilator.” Villanueva says the injuries included head trauma, broken bones, and some loss of limb.

The 75-member training class included recruits from the sheriff's department and various other law enforcement agencies. Those injured included two each from the Bell and Glendale police departments and one from the Pasadena Police Department, reports KFI AM. The rest were sheriff's department trainees.

“We're going to look at the totality of this incident, from an intentional act, to distracted driving, to possibly impaired driving, to an accident. We will not leave anything uninvestigated at this point right now,” says CHP Capt. Charlie Sampson.  

Sampson tells FOX11 the 22-year-old driver veered into the opposing lanes and struck the victims while they were running in formation. Villanueva confirmed the suspect passed a breathalyzer test after the incident, and that he also suffered injuries in the crash and required treatment at a hospital.

Firefighters at nearby Los Angeles County Fire Station 96 heard a loud crash around 6:30 a.m. when the incident happened.

“After they heard the accident, they immediately responded an extra almost 20 response vehicles to get out there and to help support and get our victims to area hospitals. They were dispersed to about seven different area hospitals,” explains Capt. Sheila Kelliher, of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“I know that in a mass casualty incident like this, it's extremely painful for the family, especially for the sheriff's department. I want to send our sympathies to all the cadets that were injured in this, the other cadets that were part of that formation, and the families involved in this,” Sampson adds.

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