An investigator walks past a mangled SUV that struck Los Angeles County sheriff's recruits in Whittier, California, on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.
CNN  — 

A 22-year-old drove a car into a group of recruits from various law enforcement agencies across the Los Angeles County area Wednesday, injuring 25, including five who are listed in critical condition, authorities said.

Another four recruits suffered moderate injuries, while 16 others sustained minor injuries, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. The driver also suffered minor injuries, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Sheila Kelliher said. All were taken to local hospitals.

The crash appears to have been an accident, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a separate news conference Wednesday. “A horrific accident.”

The driver, who was going the wrong way, showed no sign of impairment, Villanueva said, and blew a zero in a breathalyzer test administered at the scene. There were no skid marks visible at the site of the crash, the sheriff said.

“It looked like an airplane wreck – so many bodies scttered everywhere in different states of injury,” said Villanueva of the scene. “It was pretty traumatic for all individuals.”

Kelliher initially said the recruits were all from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. But according to Villanueva, those injured include recruits from the LA Sheriff’s Department, along with Pasadena, Glendale and the Bell Police Departments. Recruits from the El Segundo and UCLA police departments were also present but were not hurt.

The 75 recruits, all wearing white t-shirts and green shorts, were on what Captain Ted McDonald of the LASD Training Bureau described as a “typical run” as part of the department’s 22-week training course. They were accompanied by two safety vehicles and were running in four lines when they were hit, McDonald said.

The crash occurred about 500 feet away from a fire station, officials said. The four most critically injured patients were immediately rushed to the hospital, Los Angeles Fire Chief Anthony Marrone said, likely saving their lives.

Kelliher said the incident was “hard to see because these young people are getting ready to go put themselves in the line of danger in their career. And who knows that while you’re training to do that, you’re actually in harm’s way.”