LOS ANGELES — 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.
“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. Police sources say he made a “spontaneous statement” immediately after the crash. The sources said that Gutierrez said he was following turn-by-turn directions from his cellphone on an unfamiliar route on his way to a job site.
“Nicholas comes from a proud law enforcement family and the injuries to these recruits is beyond heartbreaking,” Kazarian said.