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UPDATED: Accident Kills LAPD Officer in Beverly Hills, Another Injured

VIDEO: Officer Nicholas Choung Lee appeared in a video posted to YouTube three days ago wishing happy birthday to a 7-year-old boy with leukemia, according to the LAPD.

Instagram photo of a NBC screenshot of the accident scene in Beverly Hills, where an LAPD officer has died.
Instagram photo of a NBC screenshot of the accident scene in Beverly Hills, where an LAPD officer has died.

Originally posted at 9:13 a.m. March 7, 2014. Updated with new details.

A veteran Los Angeles police training officer was killed today and a rookie officer just three months out of the academy was injured when their cruiser collided with a trash truck that may have lost its brakes in Beverly Hills.

The crash near Robert Lane and Loma Vista Drive was reported about 8 a.m., according to the Beverly Hills Police Department.

The training officer -- identified by the coroner's office as 40-year- old Nicholas Choung Lee -- died at the scene. A female probationary officer was critically injured and taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but was expected to survive, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

The truck driver was also injured, but is also expected to recover, Beck said.

"It's a sad day today in the city of Los Angeles and the whole region," Beck said outside the hospital.

"Two Los Angeles police officers responding to a call of unknown trouble assigned to Hollywood Division were involved in a catastrophic traffic collision with a truck trailer, a trash hauler. That accident resulted in a fatality of one of our officers, over a decade-long veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, extremely well-respected."

Beck said the female officer graduated from the Police Academy about three months ago.

"She is alert, in considerable pain from injuries that she will survive," he said. "They don't require surgery. She has a tremendous heart. She is determined to recover from her injuries."

The name of the female officer was not immediately released.

Beck declined to discuss the circumstances of the crash, but said the truck's brakes may have failed on the winding hill. The truck wound up on its side.

The crash occurred about one block over the Beverly Hills border near the Hollywood Hills. Beck noted that it is common for officers to cross borders into neighboring jurisdictions.

Lee's body was removed from the wreckage shortly after noon. Officers and firefighters at the scene stood at attention as the flag-draped body was wheeled into a coroner's van. The van was then led in a procession that passed the LAPD Hollywood Division, where officers and employees stood outside to pay their respects.

Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti both visited the injured officer at the hospital. Garcetti ordered city flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the fallen officer.

"We grieve a hero this morning," Garcetti said. "An officer gave his life in the service of the people of Los Angeles. Every officer in uniform, Los Angeles Police Department and any police officer in this city and this county, every single time they suit up, it could be their last day, and today it was.

"The folks in Hollywood Division, which as a council member I represented for a long time, I know are grieving and I hope people will keep the family as well as fellow officers and friends in their prayers. The chief and I were able to visit with his partner and she's strong, she's going to make it through this."

Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, said the crash was a reminder of the dangers faced by police daily.

"His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten," Izen said. "On behalf of all LAPD officers, our hearts and condolences go out to his family and friends and the entire LAPD family who feels his loss so deeply."

Beverly Hills officials said the area surrounding the crash scene would be closed for the balance of the day, and Greystone Mansion was also closed. City flags in Beverly Hills were also lowered to half-staff in honor of Lee.

"The city of Beverly Hills is committed to providing ongoing assistance towards the investigation," Mayor John Mirisch said. "We share our heart- felt sympathy with everyone involved during this incredibly difficult time."

A 16-year veteran who has received more than 70 commendations, Lee had previously been assigned to the Van Nuys and Wilshire Stations prior to the Hollywood Station, police said.

Lee appeared in a video posted to YouTube three days ago wishing happy birthday to a 7-year-old boy with leukemia, according to the LAPD. See him above at the 1:22 mark. 

Lee was the 205th LAPD officer to die in the line of duty, according the LAPPL. The last was SWAT Officer Randy Simmons in 2008, according to Officer Nuria Vanegas of the LAPD's Media Relations Section.

Two LAPD officers died in Iraq in 2010 while serving in the U.S. military, she said.

Lee is survived by his wife and two young daughters, police said.

--City News Service


George Vreeland Hill March 07, 2014 at 06:29 PM
This is indeed a sad day. My heart goes out to the family, fellow officers and friends of the hero officer.

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