Last November in Boyle Heights, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sport-utility vehicle was responding to a radio call of a shooting when it smashed into a car at a busy intersection and jumped the sidewalk, hitting pedestrians and killing two boys.
Since then, questions have lingered about how fast the sheriff’s vehicle was going and whether the emergency lights and siren were on at the time.
The investigation into the fatal crash of Nov. 16 is ongoing, but detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Multi-Discipline Collision Investigation Team have provided more details about the deadly accident.
In a recent phone interview, LAPD Det. Chris Rodriguez said the sheriff’s patrol vehicle was traveling less than 25 mph when it crossed the intersection of Indiana Street and Whittier Boulevard. The vehicle had its lights on but not its siren.
“No audible sounds were made by the emergency equipment of the police car,” Rodriguez said.
As it headed south on Indiana Street, the sheriff’s patrol vehicle crashed into a 1998 Honda Accord going east on Whittier Boulevard. The impact caused the Accord to hit a 2002 Honda Odyssey van that was carrying two women and five children. The van was stopped at a red light on the northbound lanes of Indiana Street.
Simultaneously, the sheriff’s SUV drove up a curb ramp, careened off the wall of a bank building and struck pedestrians on the sidewalk, including a woman and her two sons.
Video footage taken by a security camera at the Green Mill Liquor store showed what happened after the SUV struck the pedestrians. The short clip showed the front of the SUV — with its emergency lights on — hitting a trash can. A person rolled into the frame on the sidewalk.
Seven-year-old Jose Luis Hernandez was pronounced dead at the scene. His older brother, 9-year-old Marcos Antonio Hernandez, was declared dead at L.A. County-USC Medical Center, according to Rodriguez.
The mother and relatives of the two boys could not be reached for comment for this story.
In a statement placed on the family’s page on the GoFund me website, Jessa Ramos said her brothers were eager learners. They loved reading and drawing.
“They were both great students and used to fight for who was getting dropped off first at school,” she wrote.
She said the accident had left her mother in critical condition with a broken pelvic bone, head injury, fractured neck, leg and a broken nose.
In all, 17 people were involved in the three-vehicle accident.
At least one woman, who was a month pregnant at the time, was hit by both the Honda Accord and the sheriff’s SUV as she was crossing the intersection. Her unborn child was not harmed from the accident, according to Rodriguez.
Attorneys for some of the victims declined to comment or could not be reached for comment. Family of the two boys who were killed also could not be reached for comment.
Rodriguez said at the time of the crash, the sheriff’s patrol vehicle was being driven by a 30-year-old female trainee deputy, and her 39-year-old field training officer was in the passenger seat.
“She was on the job for two or three years and was starting the patrol aspect of her career,” he said.
Rodriguez said it would be up to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to release the name of the deputies. The agency has not responded to the Los Angeles Times’ public records request seeking their names.
A day after the fatal crash, the Sheriff’s Department released a statement and expressed its condolences to the families of the crash victims.
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