Driver in sheriff’s academy crash says it wasn’t intentional

Posted at 4:33 PM, November 21, 2022 and last updated 4:33 PM, November 21, 2022

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The driver of an SUV that crashed into Los Angeles County law enforcement recruits on a training run last week said it was not deliberate, a TV news station reported Monday.

FILE – Two investigators stand next to a mangled SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. One of the Los Angeles County law enforcement recruits struck by the SUV during a training run last week was in deteriorating condition Sunday, Nov. 20. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says in a statement that Alejandro Martinez has suffered setbacks that have left him in grave condition. The department says three other members of the sheriff’s academy class remain in critical condition. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

“I didn’t intentionally do it,” Nicholas Gutierrez, 22, told NBC4LA during an interview with his family. “I wish it never happened. I feel bad it happened.”

Gutierrez had been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer but was abruptly released. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said further investigation was needed.

The Nov. 16 crash injured 25 members of a sheriff’s academy class, several critically. Authorities said Sunday that one recruit, Alejandro Martinez, was in grave condition.

The crash occurred as sheriff’s and police recruits ran in formation in a street. Authorities said the SUV veered onto the wrong side of the road and into the recruits, then crashed into a pole.

Gutierrez’s attorney, Alexandra Kazarian, said in statement Friday that her client was on his way to work at the time of the crash and had no drugs or alcohol in his system, NBC4LA reported.

“Nicholas comes from a proud law enforcement family and the injuries to these recruits is beyond heartbreaking,” Kazarian said.