One recruit’s long road to recovery after South Whittier crash


Jose Arias, 29, is among the many 25 law enforcement recruits who were hurt when a wrong-way driver plowed into their group as they were jogging in South Whittier Wednesday morning.

Arias is struggling to beat his devastating injuries. A husband and father of two young children, Arias is a former Marine who dreamed of getting a profession in law enforcement, but now his future stays uncertain.

“He has bleeding on the brain,” said Carol Lynch, a family friend of Arias’. “He does have a pulmonary embolism. They think he was thrown at the very least 20 feet within the air.”

The suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Nicholas Gutierrez of Diamond Bar. He was arrested on Wednesday but returned home Thursday night after being released.

“The one reason he has been released is because investigators and the DA’s office are deciding what number of felony charges will likely be filed against him,” explains Alison Triessl, KTLA’s legal analyst.

Triessl says authorities need more time to prove there’s enough evidence to charge Gutierrez with attempted murder.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says California Highway Patrol investigators have developed probable cause that Gutierrez intentionally ran over the cadets.

“[Investigators] went through an exhaustive interview process with everyone involved, with the video surveillance statements from the recruits, the physical evidence they’d, and what they got from the suspect himself. They usually were in a position to form the opinion that this was a deliberate act,” said Villanueva.

Gutierrez’s attorney, Alexandra Kazarian, released a press release saying partly:

“Nicholas comes from a proud law enforcement family and the injuries to those recruits is beyond heartbreaking… As many have asked, we would like to emphasise that Nicholas was on his technique to work, and had no drugs or alcohol in his system on the time of this tragic accident.”

“You’ll be able to bet defense attorneys are going to argue that he had a medical or mental health condition and was incapable of forming specific intent to kill any individual,” said Triessl.

“He’s just a tremendous dad and is so apprehensive about his wife and the family without delay,” said Lynch.

She says Arias also suffered several cracked ribs, a broken leg, internal bleeding and a badly injured foot.

“He had a protracted surgery last night for his foot and he will likely be having one other surgery tomorrow morning,” said Lynch. “And through that surgery, they’ll determine whether or not they have to amputate his foot or not.”

“They’re just such a close-knit family and the love they’ve for one another is immense,” said Lynch.

The investigation stays ongoing and authorities are still trying to find out why Gutierrez swerved into the recruits.

A GoFundMe campaign has been arrange to assist the Arias Family.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Relief Association is accepting donations on behalf of the victims. All donation information can be found here.

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