An LAPD patrol car was hit by a trash hauler that might have lost its brakes in Beverly Hills this morning, killing an officer inside and putting his partner in the hospital with critical injuries, authorities said.
The collision at at Robert Lane and Loma Vista Drive near Beverly Hills' historic Greystone Mansion was reported at 8 a.m., LAPD Officer Rosario Herrera told us.
That's only a few blocks …
… from LAPD territory to the east. Herrera says the duo was responding to a report of “unknown trouble” when the accident occurred.
The pair is assigned to the Hollywood Division, which patrols that L.A. city area to the east.
The officer who died at the scene was described by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck as an “over decade-long veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department … well respected.”
The other officer was three months out of the academy, Beck said. The man was her training officer. The LAPD union known as the Los Angeles Police Protective League said she was a probationary officer. Herrera said she was hospitalized in critical condition.
Beck said the tractor-trailer truck was a “trash hauler.” He said the truck's brakes might have failed. The California Highway Patrol was heading up the crash investigation, Herrera told us.
Asked if they were looking at the big-rig's brakes, a CHP officer told us, “They're looking at everything.”
Herrera said the driver of the “big rig lost control and collided with a Hollywood black-and-white.” The L.A. Fire Department responded and made a physical rescue, according to that department.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued this statement:
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.
LAPPL president Tyler Izen said this:
With sad hearts we mourn the loss of the brave and courageous police officer who died this morning in a traffic collision. The officer's death is a tragic loss that reminds us of the risks that law enforcement officers take every day to keep our community safe. His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. On behalf of all LAPD officers, our hearts and condolences go out to his family and friends and the entire LAPD family who feels his loss so deeply.
[Added at 2:02 p.m.]: Beverly Hills police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino told us that the big-rig might have also been pulling a Bobcat-type tractor behind it.
We suspect it's the brakes, but you don't know at this point.
[Updated at 5:40 p.m.]: Authorities this afternoon ID'd the fallen officer as 40-year-old Nicholas Choung Lee. Beck tweeted that he was ” … a man of greatness and selflessness. Nick was a great cop. May he rest in peace.”
[Added at 6:16 p.m.]: The LAPD released a statement tonight on the crash. It says, in part:
Officer Lee leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. Officer Lee was a 16 year veteran of the Department. His past assignments include: Van Nuys Area, Wilshire Area and Hollywood Area and has received over 70 commendations. Most recently Officer Lee was involved in sending a live birthday card video to a 7-year-old boy suffering from Leukemia.