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Orange County

Driver Who Hit Deputies Arrested

July 02, 2002|VIVIAN LETRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The driver of a minivan that crashed into an Orange County sheriff's patrol car, leaving a deputy in a coma, was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving, authorities said Monday.

The crash caused the patrol car to overturn several times and skid 20 feet before bursting into flames on an embankment.

The suspect, Karl Jiron, 41, of San Clemente was also hurt and remains hospitalized at Western Medical Center, California Highway Patrol officers said. He was arrested several hours after the accident but was not booked into jail because of his injuries.

Jiron's alcohol level was not immediately known.

Deputy Mike Gaard's left arm was crushed, and he suffered swelling of the brain as well as multiple fractures and other injuries in the crash, which occurred while he was responding to a drive-by shooting in San Clemente.

Doctors said they would try to bring Gaard out of his medically induced coma by today to determine whether he has additional injuries, said sheriff's spokesman Jon Fleischman. The coma was induced to relieve the brain swelling.

"The big milestone is when he awakens from the coma," Fleischman said. "We're still waiting for the swelling in the brain to go down."

Gaard, 33, a 12-year veteran of the department and former Deputy of the Year, remained in guarded condition. His partner and passenger, reserve deputy Henry Gould, 41, suffered a dislocated shoulder and a shattered knee. He was listed in stable condition.

Both officers underwent reconstructive and orthoscopic surgery at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo.

The crash occurred about 10 p.m. on Pacific Coast Highway near Camino Capistrano, Fleischman said.

Investigators determined that the patrol car did not have its red lights and siren on at the time. The CHP is expected to file a complaint against Jiron with the district attorney's office.

Donations for blood on behalf of Gaard can be made Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center, 27700 Medical Center Road, Mission Viejo.

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