Deputy Critically Injured by Alleged DUI Driver in Paramount Identified by Sheriff Villanueva

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A deputy who was critically injured after being struck by an alleged DUI driver in Paramount Monday night has been identified by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Dakota Palanca is shown in a photo released by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Nov. 26, 2019.

Dakota Palanca is shown in a photo released by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Nov. 26, 2019.

Dakota Palanca, 25, responded to a call about a man behaving erratically around 5:40 p.m. in the area of Downey Avenue and Alondra Boulevard. Before she exited her vehicle, the man ran to her window and began assaulting her, Villanueva said Monday.

Palanca was able to get out of her vehicle as the man ran toward the intersection and she chased after him. As she was running across the intersection, Palanca was hit by a Chevrolet Suburban that was turning onto Downey Avenue, the sheriff said.

Daisy Lopez Araiza told KTLA she was with her three sons when she witnessed the crash. It appeared Palanca knew she was in trouble before tires started screeching, but it was too late for her to change course, Araiza said.

“I was just in shock,” she said. “I was on the phone with my husband. I told him, ‘Oh my gosh, I just heard a cop get hit by a car.’ I just couldn’t believe it; it was just so sudden.”

The driver was found a short distance away and was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The man involved in the initial incident was also arrested, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, officials said.

Palanca suffered major injuries and was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in critical condition.

"It’s tough to see one of our own in the ICU,"  Villanueva said in a tweet identifying the deputy Tuesday. "My wife and I said a prayer for our @LKDLASD Deputy, Dakota Palanca, please keep her in your prayers."

In a news release, sheriff's officials said Palanca has been "responsive to treatment," but that she is facing a long recovery.

"She is surrounded by family, to include the military and expanded law enforcement community," officials said in the news release.

Palanca is a two-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department and works at the Lakewood station. Villanueva had previously said Palanca has been with the agency for five years.

No further details about the incident or Palanca have been released.

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