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Woman injured in patrol car crash

Traffic: A CHP officer trying to join a police pursuit slams into civilian SUV, authorities say

Posted: November 29, 2010 10:11 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.

A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries Monday after a California Highway Patrol officer, driving 90 mph on Interstate 5 in his patrol car to join a pursuit, slammed into the back of the SUV she was riding in, authorities said.

Trina Puri, 31, of Rancho Cucamonga, was listed in fair condition Monday at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital after being rushed to the emergency room with what one CHP officer described as “major” injuries.

Shortly after 10 p.m., a CHP officer traveling southbound on I-5 about 90 mph collided with a GMC sports utility vehicle traveling in the same direction about 68 mph, according to the CHP.

The CHP officer was reportedly in the fast lane, and the vehicle Puri was riding in was in the lane next to it.

The collision happened just north of Lyons Avenue and sent the Puris’ vehicle crashing into a guardrail.

“The officer was responding to requests for an additional unit in pursuit of a fleeing vehicle,” CHP Officer Chris Cabral said.

Puri was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision, CHP Officer John Lutz said.

The woman’s husband, Rishi Puri, 32, was driving. The couple’s 1-year-old twins — a boy and a girl, who were “properly secured” in the backseat — were also taken to the hospital but suffered no significant injuries, Lutz said.

“The twins are doing fine,” Rishi Puri told The Signal on Monday afternoon.

When asked to explain what happened, he said: “I have to speak to my attorney first before I comment.”

The CHP officer responding to the request for assistance has been identified as Officer Luis Oliva and was not injured in the collision.

“This officer was responding to assist an additional unit,” Lutz said. “The details have not been revealed.

“Right now, it’s under investigation,” he said. “The two vehicles came together in the No. 2 lane (next to the fast lane) and, as a result, (the Puris’ vehicle) collided with the guardrail west of the roadway edge of I-5.”

Officer Oliva was reportedly traveling in lane No. 1 — the fast lane — and at some point changed lanes.

The investigation was expected to take two to three weeks.

This marks at least the second local traffic collision this year involving a sworn law enforcement officer in which civilians were sent to the hospital for treatment of injuries.

On May 6, a boy and his sister, ages 16 and 11 respectively, were passengers in a Jeep struck by a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputy driving a patrol car.

As a result of a sheriff’s investigation, Deputy Sarah Campbell was found to have been at fault and was required to attend the department’s remedial driver’s training program, sheriff’s Lt. Brenda Cambra said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department requires internal investigations into all on-duty traffic collisions.

A civil claim filed in connection with the incident against the Sheriff’s Department has not yet been resolved, Cambra said.


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