DOWNEY (CNS) - Three California Highway Patrol officers were injured today when an allegedly impaired driver slammed an SUV into a patrol vehicle that was stopped on the eastbound Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway in the Downey area, causing the CHP vehicle to erupt in flames and forcing an hours-long closure of the highway.
The crash occurred at 1:24 a.m. at the Lakewood Boulevard off-ramp of the 105 Freeway after receiving a request for assistance from an officer, said CHP Officer Patrick Kimball.
Witnesses told officers the driver was speeding when what appeared on television footage to be a light-colored SUV slammed into the patrol car, causing the CHP vehicle to burst into flames.
CHP officers were responding to a separate crash on the freeway near Lakewood Boulevard when the SUV plowed into their patrol vehicle, authorities said.
CHP Officer Kevin Tao told reporters at the scene that two officers were in the patrol vehicle when the crash occurred and another officer was standing outside the vehicle. The two officers inside the vehicle suffered moderate injuries, but the third officer had serious injuries. All three were taken to a hospital -- the most seriously injured one was rushed a hospital by other CHP officers, rather than waiting for an ambulance.
Good Samaritans at the scene helped the two officers who were inside the patrol car get out of the vehicle, Tao said. He said one of the officers was a 16-year veteran of the department, and the other was a female officer with the agency for less than a year. No information was immediately available on the most seriously injured officer.
The SUV was traveling at high speed when it crashed into the vehicle, according to witnesses. The driver, a female, was taken into custody on suspicion of DUI, officials said.
``The driver did not apply brakes and went straight into the CHP patrol car with all four wheels off the ground,'' witness Robert Martinez told CBS2, which showed footage of a woman in handcuffs being escorted to a CHP vehicle. It was unclear if the woman was injured in the crash, although ABC7 reported that one civilian was taken to a hospital in addition to the three officers.
At least one of the injured officers was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood in unknown condition, Kimball confirmed.
The crash closed all lanes of the eastbound 105 Freeway while the CHP conducted its investigation, but lanes began reopening shortly after 9 a.m.