Sheriff Releases Statement Regarding Double Fatal Crash

Two people were killed when a Kern County sheriff's deputy struck them with his patrol car, said the California Highway Patrol.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood said in a statement on Monday, "On Dec. 16, 2011, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Deputy Swearengin, a five year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, was involved in a traffic accident while responding to a reported stolen vehicle with a suspect at the scene. As an organization, we are deeply saddened for the loss of lives, Chrystal Jolley and Daniel Hiler and for their families mourning the loss of their loved ones. This incident is a tragedy for everyone involved and for our community.

An independent investigation is being conducted by the California Highway Patrol. Additionally, an administrative investigation is also occurring. California law prohibits me from commenting on the investigation. For this reason, I ask for the public's patience at this time.

Many questions have been asked regarding our agencies driving policies. Consequently, I am releasing our department's (Fundamental Purpose Of Code 3 Operations.)

Any time a significant incident occurs, such as Friday night's accident, we take it very seriously and examine our actions. At the conclusion of the CHP investigation Sheriff's Command staff will review the investigation.

Yearly, on average, Sheriff's Deputies drive approximately 10 million miles on Kern county roadways. As such, I constantly emphasize to staff the importance of safe driving. I know the community has many questions, as do I. As the information becomes legally available, I will release it."

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  • Youngblood wouldn't comment on whether or not the deputy was talking on his cellphone, how fast he was going or if he had his lights on.

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