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Crash Kills LAPD Officer and Motorist : Accident: Patrol car is broadsided in fog by speeding vehicle. Second policeman is seriously injured.

November 05, 1995|JULIE TAMAKI and JOHN M. GLIONNA | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A rookie Los Angeles police officer was killed and his partner was seriously injured early Saturday when a speeding Acura Integra ran a red light at a foggy Reseda intersection and broadsided their patrol car. The driver of the Integra was also killed in the fiery crash.

Officer Gabriel Perez-Negron, 31, died of massive head injuries inside the patrol car. His training officer, Martin Guerrero, 35, a six-year LAPD veteran who was driving the vehicle, was being treated Saturday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center for broken ribs and back injuries, police said.

The identity of the female motorist was not released because her relatives had not been notified. Perez-Negron, who graduated from the Police Academy last year, was the 186th LAPD officer to be killed in the line of duty and the first this year.

"This was a devastating accident," said LAPD Cmdr. Tim McBride, a department spokesman. "The Integra was totally dismantled and destroyed and there was a monstrous impact on the front end of the police car."

Investigators have not determined why the woman was speeding, but said there are indications that drugs might have been involved. They would not elaborate.

According to police, shortly after 2:30 a.m. the Integra sped west on Sherman Way in thick fog, driving about 100 m.p.h., according to witnesses.

The car ran a red light at White Oak Avenue, slamming into the passenger side of the patrol car, which was traveling north on White Oak.

The police car rolled several times, coming to rest on its right side. The Integra spun out of control, knocked over a traffic light and stopped next to the patrol car. Moments later, both cars burst into flames.

Police said a transient at the scene turned hero when he pulled the surviving officer and the woman driver from their burning cars. Mark Burdick, who washes windows at the Mobil gas station nearby, saw the collision and rallied arriving motorists to right the patrol car and search for survivors.

Deputy Chief Martin Pomeroy, commanding officer of the Valley Bureau, described the crash as a "random, senseless occurrence" that snatched the life of a promising rookie officer.

Perez-Negron is survived by a brother, who lives in Los Angeles, and by his mother, who lives in Mexico.

By late Saturday morning, Guerrero was able to talk and walk with assistance, friends said.

Pomeroy described him as distressed, and friends said the injured officer mainly wanted to talk about his partner.

"We told him right away," said a colleague, who asked not to be named. "We didn't want him to see it on TV."

Susan Forster, who has known Guerrero since he was a toddler, described him as the kind of officer who truly wants to help people. "All Marty ever wanted to do was be a police officer," she said.

Police Chief Willie L. Williams was in Berlin attending a media conference Saturday. A police spokeswoman said she did not know whether he planned to return as a result of the accident.

Also, three men who had seen the Integra speed past their car moments before left their vehicle running as they rushed to offer help to the crash victims.

"While they were being good Samaritans, somebody stole their car," said LAPD Detective Robert Uber.

Times staff writer Sharon Bernstein contributed to this story.

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