PALMDALE (CBSLA) — A rookie deputy has been relieved of duty following an early morning crash in Palmdale Sunday, and he had been on the job for less than a year.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. confirmed Nicholas Smith, 24, of Palmdale was relieved as of 7:35 a.m. Sunday. The agency said he had been with the department for six months.
A report from the California Highway Patrol indicates Smith was involved in a collision with five parked cars on 30th Street East, north of Avenue Q-6 in Palmdale at about 2:45 a.m. Sunday. His 2004 Chevrolet Silverado allegedly veered right, resulting in several vehicles being badly damaged.
“It was just a loud, like, bang, and, you know, it kind of startled me,” said Marina Lopez. Hers was one of the vehicles damaged in the collision. “I [saw] the truck rammed into my neighbor’s car, and then my neighbor’s car hit my son. My son hit my other son, and my other son hit me.”
“My car was, like, here, and, somehow, my car ended up all the way over there,” said neighbor Esmeralda Henriquez. Her car was totaled.
“He was kind of [distraught], air bags had just exploded. I was like the first one here. Nobody had woken up,” said Lopez. She said she immediately called 9-1-1.
“He was out, and he was kind of just, like, blabbing,” said Henriquez. “He was saying, like, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it.’ Like, ‘I’m gonna make sure everything gets covered.'[…] You can kind of tell he wasn’t very, like, coherent.”
After several field sobriety tests, Smith appeared to be crying or wincing as he was being taken into custody.
No injuries were reported, and Smith waited for emergency personnel to arrive at the scene, CHP said. He was promptly arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
“I just feel really bad. Sheriff, not sheriff — he’s still, you know, a person, and I wish we could just pray for him because we don’t know what’s going on with him,” empathized Lopez.