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25 LA sheriff recruits hospitalized by wrong-way driver

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(NewsNation) — Two dozen law enforcement recruits remain hospitalized after a wrong-way driver plowed into a group of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy recruits who were jogging in Southern California Wednesday morning.

Five of the recruits were critically wounded with injuries ranging from head trauma to loss of limbs, four were moderately injured and 16 others were minorly injured, said Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

“There were so many bodies scattered everywhere in so many different states of injury that it was pretty traumatic for all individuals involved,” Villanueva said.

The collision occurred just before 6:30 a.m. PT when a group of 75 men and women from various law enforcement agencies were running in formation when a wrong-way driver veered into them head-on.

Recruits reported hearing the car accelerate up to 40 mph before striking the joggers.

“Now we’re facing some life-altering injuries for the most severely injured recruits … We hope all of them make a full recovery, and they’ll have a chance to come back and complete the academy. That’s my goal,” Villanueva said.

The injured recruits, one of whom is said to be on a ventilator, were transported to various hospitals in the greater Los Angeles area.

Family members and loved ones were transported to nearby hospitals to be with the patients in the most critical condition. Others dropped flowers at the scene.

The 22-year-old driver, who remains unidentified, didn’t have alcohol in his system but reportedly told investigators he was feeling sleepy, Capt. Sheila Kelliher of the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported. A police report submitted said the driver drove a 2018 Honda CRV and his injuries were minor.

“The vehicle’s driver that struck the recruits was detained pending further investigation,” the department said in a press release.

A motive and the events leading up to the crash are still under investigation.

The Sheriff’s Relief Association is accepting donations from the public for injured recruits.

NewsNation affiliate KTLA and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  • Investigators gather near an SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (ABC7 Los Angeles via AP)
  • An investigator walks past a mangled SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • Two investigators stand next to a mangled SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • An SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits is seen in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • A deputy stands near a scene where an SUV struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • An investigator stands near a mangled SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • Investigators gather at a scene where an SUV struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • Investigators gather near an SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • An SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits is seen in the distance in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • An officer removes police tape around an SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck several Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday, some were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • A speed limit sign stands near an SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. The vehicle struck 22 Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday and five were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • Los Angeles County sheriff’s personnel gather in the parking lot of the department’s training academy in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. A car struck 22 Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday and five were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • Los Angeles County sheriff’s personnel gather in the parking lot of the department’s training academy in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. A car struck 22 Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday and five were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • A sign stands outside Los Angeles County sheriff’s training academy in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. A car struck 22 Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruits on a training run around dawn Wednesday and five were critically injured, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
  • Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, at podium, talks during a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Orange, Calif. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin)
  • Investigators work the scene where 25 Los Angeles County sheriff’s academy recruits on a training run were hit by a vehicle that veered onto the wrong side of the road on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Whittier, Calif. (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)
  • Investigators work the scene where 25 Los Angeles County sheriff’s academy recruits on a training run were hit by a vehicle that veered onto the wrong side of the road on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Whittier, Calif. (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)
  • Investigators work the scene where 25 Los Angeles County sheriff’s academy recruits on a training run were hit by a vehicle that veered onto the wrong side of the road on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Whittier, Calif. (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)
  • Investigators work the scene where 25 Los Angeles County sheriff’s academy recruits on a training run were hit by a vehicle that veered onto the wrong side of the road on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Whittier, Calif. (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)