BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) – An LAPD officer was killed and another officer was injured Friday morning when a dump truck collided with their patrol car.
The accident took place around 8 a.m. at the intersection of Loma Vista Drive and Robert Lane in Beverly Hills when the driver of the truck apparently lost control of the vehicle and struck the police cruiser, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
A male officer, who had served on the force for 16 years, died at the scene, according to LAPD Media Relations. He was identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office as 40-year-old Nicholas Lee. During his tenure, Officer Lee had received over 70 commendations, according to the LAPD.
A female officer and the driver of the truck were transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Both officers were from LAPD’s Hollywood Division.
“On behalf of the city, we grieve a hero this morning,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said during an 11 a.m. news conference at the hospital, adding that “an officer gave his life to the people of Los Angeles in service.”
Garcetti, who requested that flags around the city be flown at half-staff, was joined by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
Beck said the officers were responding to a call at the time of the collision and that the preliminary investigation suggests the truck’s brakes failed, which caused the “catastrophic accident.”
“The chief and I were able to visit his partner and she’s strong and she’s going to make it through this,” Garcetti said of the injured officer, who graduated from the police academy three months ago.
“This tragedy reminds us of the selflessness of our LAPD officers who put their lives on the line everyday to protect us. Amy’s and my thoughts and condolences are with the families and all of their LAPD brothers and sisters today,” he said.
PHOTO GALLERY: LAPD Officer Killed In Crash
Aerial views of the crash showed the dump truck in several pieces on its side.
Officer Lee’s body remained at the scene for several hours following the crash. Once removed, it was led by a procession of LAPD patrol vehicles.
KCAL9’s Randy Paige spoke to Brad Black, an eyewitness to the crash who said he narrowly escaped being hurt.
Black said he was waiting at a stop sign when he saw the patrol car drive past him on its way up the hill. Then, seconds later, he said he couldn’t believe what he saw in his rear-view mirror.
“I just saw this black dust cloud coming at me and then out of the dust cloud was the yellow John Deere tumbling through,” he said.
Black said he had to hit his accelerator to keep from being hit by the skip loader that was rolling end over end toward him.
He told Paige he is thankful to be alive.
“I could have been right underneath the truck. There was an angel looking over me today,” he said.
CHP Officer Leland Tang said it’s a miracle anyone survived the crash.
“In my 20 plus years, I gotta tell you that is the most horrific thing I’ve seen,” he said.
The female officer, who has not been identified, remains in serious condition but is expected to survive.
Officer Lee is survived by his wife and two young daughters. Most recently, he was featured in a YouTube birthday message for a Rhode Island boy who is battling leukemia.