SHERMAN OAKS — A car barreling down a hill crashed into a police car Sunday, leaving the driver of the speeding car hospitalized in critical condition, police said.
The driver of the car was airlifted from the scene to UCLA Medical Center, said Sgt. Chuck Swanson of the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division, and admitted to the center's trauma intensive care unit with multiple injuries. The officer driving the squad car when it was hit was also airlifted to UCLA, but he was released late Sunday, having suffered only minor injuries in the collision.
Two unidentified passengers of the speeding car were taken to Sherman Oaks Hospital and later released.
At 12:40 Sunday afternoon, a black El Camino carrying two passengers and the driver was traveling north on Beverly Glen Boulevard as the police car headed south up the hill. Unable to negotiate the winding street, the car veered into the other lane, smashing the left front end of the police car in the 3900 block.
"The driver was traveling at a speed much greater than what the police car was going," Swanson said.
Neighborhood residents who witnessed the crash said they were concerned about the condition of the officer.
"The police officer got out of the car with his face all bloodied," said resident Stephanie Watson, who heard the accident and came to the scene to help. "But then he just collapsed. One of the guys from the other car took his T-shirt and wrapped it around the officer's face."
Hours after the accident, the squad car, with a bloodied air bag inside, still sat in the street as officers checked skid marks and talked to residents. The accident was no surprise to people who live on the street off Ventura Boulevard.
"I've only been living here for just over a month and this is the third accident I've seen,' said Watson, adding that the site is known as a hazard. "I think people are coming down the hill so fast and then don't really realize how bad the curve is."
The officer driving the patrol car was on loan to the LAPD's Van Nuys Division from the North Hollywood Division. His name was not released.