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Studio City freeway crash that killed LA Fire Department recruit not classified as a hit-and-run

Authorities said Wednesday that the crash on the northbound 101 Freeway in Studio City that killed a Los Angeles Fire Department recruit was not believed to have been a criminal hit-and-run.

The crash that occurred about 5:10 a.m. Monday near Vineland Avenue in Studio City took the life of 22-year-old Jacob Fuerte, who was driving a Jeep that collided with another vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol and the LAFD.

CHP officials said Fuerte, a Riverside resident, collided with a 2021 Ford driven by a 36-year-old Montclair man who was not injured.

“Initial investigation suggests a two-vehicle traffic crash between (the Montclair man) and (Fuerte) took place,” the CHP said Tuesday. “After this initial crash, while his vehicle was still in traffic lanes, (Fuerte) exited his vehicle. At this time, an additional multiple-vehicle traffic crash took place while (Fuerte) was outside of his vehicle. During this second crash, (Fuerte) was struck by an unknown vehicle.”

Two people who were in a 2016 Toyota that was apparently involved in the second collision were treated at a hospital for minor injuries, the CHP reported.

Although authorities initially indicated Fuerte may have been the victim of a hit-and-run, CHP Officer Casey Ramstead of the West Valley Area office told City News Service Wednesday that while the agency’s investigation is continuing, investigators are not actively looking for any hit-and-run suspects.

Ramstead again urged anyone with information on the case, including video, to contact the CHP. He encouraged anyone who may have been in the area of the crash at the time to call authorities.

Fuerte was on his way to training at the time of the crash, according to LAFD Capt. Erik Scott.

Fuerte’s body was eventually covered with an American flag and placed in a Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner’s van, then driven in a solemn procession to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Boyle Heights. Firefighters were seen saluting as the procession exited the freeway.

During Tuesday’s Los Angeles City Council meeting, Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez introduced a motion that would establish a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of the individual responsible for Fuerte’s death. That motion was introduced prior to the CHP’s revelation Wednesday that they are not seeking any hit-and-run suspects.

Mayor Karen Bass said during Monday’s State of the City address that she had met with members of Fuerte’s family. His father is a 17-year veteran LAFD firefighter-paramedic.

“My heart goes out to the family during this difficult time, and I’ve ordered city flags to be flown at half-staff in Jacob’s honor and I thank all first responders, especially today,” Bass said.

City Council President Paul Krekorian called for a moment of silence in Fuerte’s memory before Bass began her speech.

“Jacob had made a commitment to a life of service and he was on his way to the training academy Drill Tower when he saw people in need,” Krekorian said.

“With the kind of selfless heroism that we so often see from our first responders, Jacob immediately sprang into action to come to their aid at great risk to himself, and that decision cost him his life.

“On behalf of the city of Los Angeles, we extend our deepest sympathies to Jacob’s family and loved ones, to his recruit class, and to all of the men and women of the LAFD.”

Scott said Fuerte “understood the importance of helping those in need.”

LAFD Chief Kristin Crowley issued a statement saying, “I received devastating news this morning that one of our firefighters lost their life tragically. He had just started his firefighting career, which requires courage, bravery, and prioritizing others before oneself. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family during this most difficult time.”

Fuerte joined the department on Feb. 12 and was in his 10th week of a 20-week training program, Scott said. He is survived by his father, two sisters and a brother.

Anyone with information regarding the fatality was urged to contact the CHP West Valley Office at 818-888-0980, or the Los Angeles Regional Traffic Management Center at 323-259-3410.

Source: Orange County Register

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