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CHP officer in critical condition; 405 Freeway, Westside streets jammed [Updated]

June 9, 2010 |  4:31 pm

A California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon after he was struck by a vehicle speeding along the shoulder. The accident caused a traffic nightmare on the Westside, with the northbound 405 Freeway closed for much of the day and surface streets jammed.

The officer was identified as Phillip Ortiz, 52, according to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. "The family of Officer Ortiz wants the public to know how much they appreciate the community's continued support in the way of prayers and well wishes at this most difficult time. At the request of the family, no other information is available," the hospital said in a statement.

CHP Officer Mark Garrett said Ortiz had pulled over a Honda sport utility vehicle at 8:35 a.m. when an Infiniti sedan came barreling down the shoulder, hitting him and the SUV.

159158.ME.0609.freeway-closed.7.ALS The crash snarled traffic on the freeway for hours and sent four people, including the officer, to the hospital.

The southbound lanes were reopened after the crash closed them for more than an hour but were closed again about 11:30 a.m. to allow a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter to land on the freeway to pick up CHP investigators so they could take aerial photographs, Garrett said.

Television footage showed the crushed CHP motorcycle tangled with the two vehicles at the National Boulevard offramp, near the juncture of the 405 and 10 Freeways.

Garrett said the southbound lanes would be reopened when the work was finished. He did not know when all the northbound lanes would be opened.

[Updated at 5 p.m.: All lanes were finally reopened about 4:45 p.m.]

-- Kate Linthicum and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Officers walk near the CHP officer's mangled motorcycle after the crash. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times
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