Authorities have identified an LAPD officer who was killed Saturday morning after the police car he and his partner were in was struck by an SUV as they were pursuing another vehicle, police said.
The officer who was killed was a 5-year veteran of the force and is survived by his wife.
“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I announce the death of Roberto Sanchez, killed in the line of duty this morning," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said during a news conference Saturday morning.
The police car was hit by a Chevrolet Tahoe near Anaheim Street and President Avenue in Harbor City around 3:45 a.m.
The officers were involved in a pursuit with a white Camaro when it made a u-turn on Anaheim.
"Our understanding is our officers were following the vehicle at a high rate of speed on Anaheim," LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said. "As they negotiated a u-turn, their vehicle was hit by a Chevy Tahoe."
Two officers were trapped inside the police car and had to be extricated, according to LAPD.
"We received a cellular phone call from one of the officers involved in the collision because he wasnt able to get to his police radio to put out a help call, that's how violent the collision was," Lt. John Pasquariello said.
The driving officer was taken to the hospital in critical condition but succumbed to his injuries. The passenger officer has serious injuries but is in stable condition.
Those inside the SUV left their vehicle and fled the scene. The 26-year-old driver of the SUV was apprehended a short time later.
"There is a possibility of drugs or alcohol involved, but we haven't been able to determine that for sure," Pasquariello said.
Police were still searching for the driver of the Camaro that was initially pursued.
The fatal crash marks the third time this year that an LAPD officer has been killed in a traffic collision. Officers Nicholas Lee died in March and motorcycle officer Chris Cortijo was killed in a wreck in April.
"This third loss of an officer in the line of duty in just two months is a stark and tragic reminder of the dangers our first responders face every day," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "It is with a heavy heart that I am again ordering the city's flags to half staff."
In an unrelated incident, Beck announced that another LAPD officer died of a heart condition overninght.