(June 25, 2005, 2:45 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 4:45 p.m.) -- LBReport.com, which was on scene post-midnight (June 25) with photos of a terrible crash involving an LBPD unit and a private vehicle at Los Coyotes Diagonal and Palo Verde Ave., has received further information on what took place.
It is both horrifying and heroic. LBPD Public Information Officer Nancy Pratt indicates the following in a written release:
At about 12:23 a.m., the LBPD unit with two officers inside was heading southwest on Los Coyotes on routine patrol. A 1996 Mazda MPV driven by Christopher Anthony Mihkelson, 18, of LB, was going in the opposite direction on Los Coyotes. LBPD's release says, "according to witnesses, [the Mazda MPV was] traveling at 60 to 70 miles per hour and weaving in and out of traffic lanes [and] attempted to make a left turn to continue northbound on Palo Verde Avenue, but turned in front of the black and white causing the near head-on collision. The suspect never applied his brakes prior to the impact with the black and white."
The officer in the police car's passenger seat, Michael Barth (five-years with LBPD) was able to exit the vehicle and run to the driverís side to assist his partner, Officer Binh Thanh Duong (six months with LBPD), who was seated behind the wheel and unconscious.
As Officer Barth was checking on his partner, the black and white burst into flames!
While arriving police units attempted to control the fire with extinguishers, citizens and nearby neighbors began filling buckets with water from a nearby hose, pouring water onto the burning police unit to keep flames from the officers.
PIO Pratt told LBRerport.com that someone successfully freed Officer Duong by cutting him out of his boots (apparently cutting laces and/or boots). Officer Duong was immediately transported to a local hospital with two broken legs and head injuries. Officer Barth received minor injuries but was also transported to the hospital.
Suspect Mihkelson received minor injuries, was transported to a hospital and upon his release was booked for Felony Driving Under the Influence with Injury.
Deputy Chief Tim Jackman was on scene shortly after 1:00 a.m., surveying what took place personally. LBPD blocked off the intersection for several hours. Sgt. Hans Kohnlein of LBPD's Accident Investigation Detail is investigating the case: (562) 570-7355.