An off-duty Los Angeles police officer is suspected of driving drunk and causing a three-car crash on the 605 Freeway on Tuesday night, killing a couple and their son who were trapped in a burning car.
The suspect, Edgar Omar Verduzco, 26, of Santa Ana, suffered a broken nose. One of the drivers complained of pain.
Verduzco, 26, was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Armando Perdomo.
CHP Officer Al Perez said Verduzco appeared to have been drinking. Perez identified Verduzco as an LAPD officer, but he didn’t know how long the officer has worked for the department or his current assignment. Verduzco was off duty when the crash occurred.
Transparent California, a database of public employee salaries, shows an Edgar Verduzco worked as an LAPD officer in 2016. But LAPD officials would not confirm if Verduzco was the same officer.
“All we’re confirming is (the suspect) is a current employee,” LAPD spokeswoman Meghan Aguilar said.
Perez said a couple from Riverside and their teenage son died in the 10:15 p.m. crash on southbound 605 Freeway, south of Saragosa Street in the unincorporated community of West Whittier.
The coroner’s office has not released the victims’ names because their next of kin has not been notified.
CHP Officer Gersain Chavez said in a statement that Verduzco was in his 2016 Chevy Camaro speeding in the carpool lane Tuesday night. He said the Camaro rear-ended a Nissan in the No. 1 lane and a Scion in the No. 2 lane.
The Nissan burst into flames. All three fatal victims were trapped inside, according to Chavez. Firefighters pronounced the Nissan’s driver and her two passengers dead at the scene at 10:22 p.m.
Chavez estimated the Nissan and the Scion were traveling about 65 mph before the collision.
The CHP doesn’t know yet how fast the Camaro was traveling before the crash. However, witnesses told the CHP the Camaro was speeding, according to Perdomo.
The Scion’s driver, Berly Alvarado, 31, of Wilmington, complained of pain. Perdomo didn’t know if she was taken to a hospital.
He said Verduzco was transported to a hospital,
Booking records show Verduzco was being held at the Sheriff’s Pico Rivera station jail with bail set at $100,000. A sergeant at the station said he was transferred to the Inmate Reception Center in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday morning.