LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A battalion chief for the Los Angeles Fire Department is under investigation in connection with a hit-and-run crash which occurred over the weekend in Santa Clarita.
The case involves LAFD Battalion Chief Ellsworth Fortman, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to CBS2 Thursday.
At around 10:45 p.m. Sunday, a Dodge Ram pickup truck slammed into a parked car in the area of David Way and Calhaven Drive, and then left the scene, the sheriff’s department said.
The impact sent the car flying onto a neighbor’s driveway where it hit a Mercedes and came to rest.
The truck is believed to have been driven by Fortman. There was no one in the car at the time and there were no injuries.
Alyssa Vela, who owns the parked car which was hit, told CBS2 Thursday that a passerby who witnessed the crash followed Fortman as he drove to his house and then notified authorities.
Vela added that Fortman returned to her house the following day and apologized for hitting her car. She said he claimed that he was sick at the time of the crash and had to get home to use the bathroom.
“He made an excuse that he was sick, he was vomiting and had diarrhea, that he had to leave the scene to go home ’cause he was sick, ” Vela said.
A sheriff’s sergeant, meanwhile, told CBS2 Thursday that when deputies went to Fortman’s house on the night of the crash, he wouldn’t answer the door, but they could see him in his backyard talking on his cell phone.
“He then went inside his house, the deputies went to his front door which is a glass door, and they were able to watch him walk through the house and go up the staircase and then he just failed to acknowledge the deputies at that point,” Sgt. David Shoemaker of LASD Santa Clarita Station said.
Investigators say there were unable to determine Fortman’s sobriety level at the time of the crash due to a lack of cooperation.
LAFD provided CBS2 with the following statement Thursday: “The Department is aware of an alleged off-duty incident and our Professional Standards Division is cooperating with law enforcement.”
Fortman has not yet been arrested, but the case has been presented to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office for possible charges, the sheriff’s department said.
According to a post on the LAFD Facebook page from January of 2018, Frontman has been with the department for more than 30 years.