NORTHRIDGE – The front-seat passenger of an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer who were both killed in a crash in Northridge was identified Thursday by county authorities.
Jorge Soriano, 31, and LAPD Officer Darrell Cunningham died on Nov. 4 when a 20-year-old driver allegedly ran a red light while driving drunk at approximately 100 mph, police said.
Soriano and Cunningham were pronounced dead at the scene by Los Angeles Fire Department personnel. Both died from traumatic injuries, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s office.
Firefighters were called to 18101 W. Roscoe Blvd., near the intersection with Lindley Avenue, at 1:19 a.m., where they found three people trapped inside vehicles, one car lodged against a building and a damaged fire hydrant, according to spokeswoman Margaret Stewart of the LAFD.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore had a news conference hours later in front of the medical examiner’s office, where he said the motorist behind the wheel of the black, four-door BMW that crashed into Cunningham’s vehicle was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter.
During the course of their investigation of the crash, detectives from the LAPD’s Multi-Disciplinary Collision Investigation Team identified and arrested 20-year-old Brian David Olivarez. Police said Olivarez was driving under the influence at a high rate of speed when he was involved in the collision.
Detectives presented the case against Olivarez to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for filing consideration Tuesday. Deputy District Attorney Rose Demattia requested further investigation and Olivarez was released from custody to the care of the medical staff at a local hospital.
Detectives gathered additional evidence Wednesday and re-presented the case to Demattia, who filed two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol and drug causing injury against Olivarez.
Olivarez is being held on $4.025 million bail at the Van Nuys Jail, according to county jail records.
A passenger in the back seat of Cunningham’s white Infinity, an off- duty San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy, was among three other people injured in the crash, including the suspect, Moore said.
Cunningham was driving a white Infinity northbound on Lindley with two other occupants when his car was struck by the BMW, which failed to stop for the red light at the intersection, Moore said.
A woman inside the BMW was able free herself from wreckage, the chief said. She suffered serious injuries.
“All others were trapped because of the force and level of damage created by this horrific collision,” Moore said.
Fire crews freed the trapped victims and took them to a hospital.
The off-duty San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy, who the police chief visited at the hospital, has a broken hip and “other serious injuries. It appears that he will survive,” Moore said.
The chief said Cunningham, who had logged nearly five years with the LAPD, was survived by a fiance, a 3-year-old son and a 6-year-old son. The officer had worked out of the department’s West Los Angeles station.
“We mourn the loss of Officer Darrell Cunningham who was killed along with his friend by the senseless violence of a DUI driver. May God welcome him home,” Moore posted Saturday on social media. “We will do everything possible to support his fiancé, two young boys, mom and two brothers.”
Moore added a short time later that he was authorizing the wearing of mourning bands in Cunningham’s honor.
“The investigation is in the skilled hands of the department’s Multi- Disciplinary Collision Investigation Team,” the LAPD posted.