While transporting a prisoner to jail, an on-duty police officer was involved in a collision on Interstate 15 that left both of them hospitalized Monday.
The officer experienced some sort of medical issue while behind the wheel of his patrol car in City Heights that caused him to skid across four lanes of the freeway and come to a stop on an embankment, according to Lt. Charles Lara with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD).
“I see miracles every day but this is the biggest one I’ve seen today," said Lara. “The fact that he struck no other vehicles—it is a miracle."
An SDG&E employee spotted the accident and called 9-1-1. The crash happened just before 1 p.m. in southbound lanes, south of University Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
Another Good Samaritan also rushed to the scene and helped pull the officer out of his vehicle.
"I told my wife to stop, and me and a couple of guys yanked the door open and pulled the officer out," Dejon Thomas told NBC 7. "We had no idea there was a guy in the backseat and we just did what we could.”
Police said the officer was taken in for observation and is expected to recover. The 31-year-old prisoner was seatbelted and, as per policy, handcuffed in the back seat. Lara said his handcuffs were removed for him to undergo medical treatment.
“The officer was transporting an individual to jail. We’re not sure right now what was the cause of the accident," SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman told NBC 7. "But both of them had been taken to the hospital to be checked out and make sure they’re okay.”
The officer, along with the prisoner, was transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital in unknown condition, Lara said. When crews arrived at the scene, the officer was unresponsive but shortly later he regained consciousness and spoke with paramedics.
"The fact that they’re both conscious and awake and appearing to be unharmed is a great thing," Lara said. "The fact that no other vehicle was struck—a small miracle."
A Sig Alert was issued and the University Avenue on-ramp to southbound I-15 was closed following the crash, according to the CHP. As of 2:38 p.m., the traffic alert was lifted.
CHP will investigate the traffic collision.