A Marine and married father of two who dreamed of joining law enforcement is facing a long road to recovery after becoming one of more than two-dozen cadets who were struck and injured by a driver while out on a training run in South Whittier.
Jose Arias, 29, is expected to undergo at least four more surgeries after he was hit and thrown at least 20 feet during the Wednesday morning collision, leaving him with a broken nose, elbow, rib, knee, leg and ankle, along with a badly mangled foot, according to a family friend.
Arias was undergoing surgery on Saturday that could determine if doctors are able to save his foot, said Carole Lynch, a friend of Arias and his wife, Asteria.
While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Arias decided that he wanted to join the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department once he was out of active military service. Lynch, who worked with Arias’ wife before becoming a friend to the couple, described Arias as an unfailingly polite man who still routinely calls her “ma’am” and who would “give anybody the shirt off his back, literally…
“He is the most caring, giving, loving dad, husband and neighbor,” Lynch said. “He is just one of those guys who is a good, upstanding citizen and wants to do for others as much as possible.”
Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, the 22-year-old man accused of plowing into the group of law enforcement cadets, was released from custody late Thursday while authorities attempt to build a criminal case against him.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva has publicly said that investigators believe the collision — which left five cadets in critical condition, four with moderate injuries and sixteen with minor injuries — was an intentional act. Gutierrez’s attorney has denied that Gutierrez is criminally liable for the collision, describing him as a “nice kid who had an absolutely tragic accident.”
Meanwhile, as Arias recovers in an intensive care unit, Lynch said Arias has focused his attention on his wife and their two babies, not on the driver accused of hitting him and his fellow cadets.
“He has been in healing mode,” Lynch said. “He is very concerned for his wife and kids and he wants to be sure they are taken care of. That s always his go to, that he is worried about family rather than himself. He hasn’t really thought about who hit him or why they did it.”
A GoFundMe page Lynch set up Friday on behalf of Arias and his family drew more than 120 donations by mid-day Saturday, raising more than $17,500 toward a $20,000 goal.
Lynch said Arias and his family have been moved by the response to his injuries, both from other law enforcement members and families tied to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and from the overall community,
“He just keeps saying to me, ‘Ma’am, please tell everyone how overwhelmed and grateful we all are for this show of love,'” Lynch said. “He never expected or anticipated this.”
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