LAFD assistant chief charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run in Santa Clarita crash

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An assistant chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department has been charged with several misdemeanor counts months after allegedly crashing into a parked car in Santa Clarita, officials announced Wednesday.

Battalion Chief Ellsworth Fortman is seen in a photo posted to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Facebook page on Jan. 13, 2018.
Battalion Chief Ellsworth Fortman is seen in a photo posted to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Facebook page on Jan. 13, 2018.

The crash occurred on Jan. 26 while Ellsworth Fortman was driving his personal vehicle “at an unsafe speed,” according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The parked car moved 160 feet forward and was totaled before Fortman fled the scene to his Santa Clarita home, the Los Angeles Times reported. The DA’s office indicated Fortman lives in Saugus.

The chief then made “zero attempt” to respond to Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the incident, the newspaper reported.

Fortman, 54, was charged with one misdemeanor count each of hit-and-run driving resulting in property damage and driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail, officials said.

The case remains under investigation and it is unclear what led up to the crash.

The aunt of the woman whose car was hit told the Times that the morning after the crash, Fortman and two women showed up at her home with his insurance information, saying he might have hit her car.

One of the two women, who identified herself as Fortman’s girlfriend, said she found him unconscious in the bathtub the night before, the aunt told the newspaper.

She said she told the visitors, “That’s what happens when you drink and drive,” but that Fortman said he was not drinking.

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