A deputy recruit who was struck by a wrong-way driver while jogging with a group of recruits in South Whittier died Friday night after being hospitalized for eight months.
Alejandro Martinez, 27, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Recruit, died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his family, friends, L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna and other department members.
The Army veteran and Cal State Northridge graduate was one of 75 recruits who were out on a training run at about 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2022.
That’s when the suspect, Nicholas Gutierrez, 22, from Diamond Bar, plowed into the large group. The collision left 25 people injured at the time — five of them critically and three others severely injured.
Martinez was rushed to the hospital after suffering broken legs, brain swelling and internal bleeding from the crash. He remained hospitalized until his passing on Friday night.
“Alejandro has now gone to his eternal resting place,” the LASD said in a statement. “Tragically, he was not able to fulfill his calling of helping others. Our condolences go out to Alejandro’s family, friends, and academy classmates. He will forever live in our hearts and never be forgotten. Words cannot express the extent of our gratitude to everyone who assisted, and continue to assist, and helped ease the burden of that very difficult day.”
The sheriff has said that investigators believe Gutierrez intentionally struck the recruits.
The suspect’s attorney claimed it was not an intentional act, saying her client fell asleep while driving to work as an electrician installing solar panels.
The attorney also said Gutierrez takes the same route every day and that he had no drugs or alcohol in his system.
KTLA’s legal analyst, Alison Triessl, told KTLA of the potential charges the suspect could face at the time saying:
“If in fact this was an accident and the prosecutors do not charge this man with an intentional act, he is still looking at reckless driving, causing great bodily injury for each cadet that was gravely injured and for each of those counts, he could be looking at a maximum of three years in prison per count,” Triessl said.
Triessl also noted that if any of the recruits die, Gutierrez could face vehicular manslaughter either as a misdemeanor or a felony.
All but 10 of the recruits were from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, with some from the Bell, Glendale, Pasadena, El Segundo and UCLA police departments.
A procession took place late Friday night as deputies and law enforcement escorted Martinez’s body from the hospital to the L.A. County Coroner’s Office in Boyle Heights.