Los Angeles, California – January 28, 2024: Nicholas Gutierrez, the 23-year-old driver involved in a deadly crash that claimed the life of one Los Angeles County sheriff’s recruit and injured two dozen others, has pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter. The plea comes as Gutierrez faces an 11-count grand jury indictment, including charges of severely injuring nine victims through reckless driving.
The incident occurred on November 16, 2022, when an SUV, allegedly driven by Gutierrez, veered onto the wrong side of the street and collided with a group of approximately 75 recruits from the Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies. The recruits were on a training run, running in formation on a street near the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier.
In the aftermath of the crash, authorities reported 25 people injured, with 10 of them sustaining severe injuries. Among the severely injured was Alejandro Martinez-Inzunza, who fought for his life for eight months before succumbing to his injuries in July.
Gutierrez, who had been free on $500,000 bail, now faces the possibility of up to 12 years in state prison if convicted on all charges. The 23-year-old has admitted to being behind the wheel during the incident and claimed he fell asleep while en route to work as an electrician installing solar panels.
“I woke up to the sound of (recruits) banging on the windows,” Gutierrez stated. He emphasized that the crash was not intentional, expressing regret and remorse, saying, “I wish it never happened. I feel bad it happened.”
The legal proceedings will continue as the court examines the evidence and testimonies surrounding the tragic incident that unfolded during the sheriff’s recruits’ training run. The case serves as a reminder of the devastating consequences that can result from accidents caused by reckless driving.