Lauren Preciado is the latest cadet to be released from hospital after being seriously injured by a driver who hit at least two dozen cadets during training in November. Today, she is at home with her family after spending months in hospital.
“I don’t remember anything. I don’t remember anything. I only know what my classmates told me,” said the 27-year-old, who said she had memory problems since ‘incident.
Preciado was unconscious for almost a month due to brain swelling and bleeding.
When she finally regained consciousness, “I was shocked when I saw my legs,” Preciado said.
“I had an operation that could have left me paralyzed, they changed the femurs and tibias with surgeries and skin grafts,” Preciado told NBCLA and Telemundo 52.
Lauren also mentioned that she had vision and hearing issues.
And while he acknowledges the road to recovery is still a long way off, Preciado says he still has hope.
The driver accused of hitting cadets in Whittier has been released.
“I go with everything, every day, but it’s a long road and I know I have a lot for my recovery,” Preciado said.
Preciado said his father, a retired California Highway Patrol (CHP) sergeant, inspired him to become a police officer and he joined the Explorer program when he was 15, which sparked his interest in pursuing this career.
“I was interested in joining the sheriff’s department because of their special units,” said Preciado, who had only participated in the program eight weeks before the tragic accident.
Two cadets are still hospitalized in critical condition, according to Preciado.
According to sheriff’s officials, a Honda CRV swerved into a group of about 75 law enforcement cadets who were in formation around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning in the 10600 block of Mills Avenue near Telegraph Road, a few blocks from the LASD. STARS Explorer Academy Law enforcement training center.
Sheriff’s officials said the group of recruits were running in columns north on the freeway when the southbound SUV veered across the freeway and slammed into the cadets, leaving a trail of bodies injured that then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva compared it to a plane crash.
The SUV then hit a utility pole, which fell to the ground. The vehicle is believed to have been traveling at around 30 to 40 mph at the time, authorities said.
The 22-year-old driver, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez of Diamond Bar, was released days after the incident, according to the sheriff’s department, which cited the extreme complexity of the investigation, making it necessary to continue gathering evidence.
State law only allows authorities to hold a suspect in custody for only 48 hours, unless prosecutors file criminal charges.
The priority for Lauren is now to be able to walk again.
“I am happy to be able to see my family and friends again and spend time with them. Life is short”.
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