A 40-year-old veteran Los Angeles Police Department officer was killed Friday morning in a traffic collision with a big rig in Beverly Hills that left another officer and the truck’s driver injured.
The officer killed was identified Friday afternoon as Nicholas Choung Lee, 40, of Hollywood Division. His unidentified female partner was hospitalized after the collision, which occurred about 8 a.m. at the intersection of Loma Vista Drive and Robert Lane (map), according to the Beverly Hills Fire Department.
“This is a very sad day. We feel for his family. I feel for Hollywood Division, where he was so well-liked,” police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference outside Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shortly after the crash.
The officers were responding to a “call of unknown trouble,” the chief said.
A preliminary investigation showed that the truck’s brakes may have failed, said Beck, who was joined at the news conference by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“On behalf of this city we grieve a hero this morning, an officer who gave his life in the service of the people of Los Angeles,” Garcetti said. “Any police officer in this city and in this county, every single time they suit up, it could be the last day and today it was.”
Garcetti ordered flags across the city to be lowered in honor of the fallen officer. Beverly Hills later announced that it too would lower its flags.
Lee died at the scene. The female officer, who graduated from the police academy about three months ago, was taken to the hospital, Beck said.
She and the driver of the truck, which was hauling construction debris, were expected to survive, according to Beck.
The male truck driver was in serious condition, while the female officer survived with a concussion and bumps and bruises, authorities said.
“The condition that she’s in, and her spirits and her smile, are nothing sort of a miracle,” Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said outside Cedars-Sinai.
Lee had recently appeared in a YouTube video that LAPD made, along with other law enforcement departments across the country, to honor a Rhode Island 7-year-old battling leukemia, according to a police news release.
Lee received more than 70 commendations and had been with the department for 16 years, serving in Van Nuys, Wilshire and Hollywood areas, the release stated.
He was survived by a wife and two daughters.
Once Lee’s body was removed from the crash site in Beverly Hills, it was escorted by a police procession to the coroner’s office.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by the Beverly Hills Police Department and Fire Department, the LAPD and the California Highway Patrol.
The truck was traveling southbound on Loma Vista, a steep road, while the patrol car was traveling northbound, according to CHP Officer Leland Tang. Both vehicles would be towed back to a CHP yard for “full forensic mechanical analysis,” Tang said.
The area surrounding the crash, next to Beverly Hills Greystone Park and Mansion, was closed Friday, as was the mansion.
KTLA’s Anita Bennett, Melissa Pamer and Christina Pascucci contributed to this article.