In a tragic case of wrong place, wrong time, two of Galt Police Department’s officers battle for their lives in area hospitals after being struck head-on on Highway 99 in the early morning hours Sunday, Aug. 22.
Officers Harminder Grewal and Kapri Herrera were on their way to assist at the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County, when a southbound Dodge Ram pickup collided with the center median, breaking through that concrete barrier entering the northbound lanes and colliding head-on with the Galt Police Department patrol vehicle, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP).
The emergency call for the accident was logged at 4:35 a.m. with the report that two vehicles had been involved in a collision just south of Dillard Road. Emergency personnel did not know two of their own were involved until they arrived at the scene.
Cosumnes Fire Department (CFD) dispatched fire personnel and apparatuses from Galt, only to be met with 1/2 mile of backed up traffic.
According to CFD Chief Felipe Rodriguez, the initial arriving crews, Engine and Medic 46, had to walk approximately 1/2 mile to the scene, carrying medical equipment to bring aide to the accident victims.
Due to vehicles blocking both northbound lanes, the initial arriving captain requested for additional units to access the scene from the north using Grant Line Road as an entrance point, Rodriguez said.
Emergency vehicles then traveled south on the northbound lanes to reach the accident scene, where the Galt Police vehicle was lodged against the K-Rail.
Rodriguez said over a dozen firefighters manually pushed the Galt Police vehicle away from the K-Rail to help gain access to the trapped officers inside.
Both Grewal and Herrera were transported to local trauma centers. Herrera was transported to UC Davis Medical Center, while Grewal was taken to Kaiser South Sacramento.
As of press time, Herrera is in ICU, listed as critical but stable condition.
Officer Grewal is also in ICU; however, he is listed as critical.
Both officers are relatively new to the Galt police force.
Grewal was sworn into service for the city in March 2019 and was just recently awarded accolades from the California MADD organization for his efforts of keeping roadways safe from drivers under the influence.
Herrera was sworn into service just four months ago at the first public ceremony since the start of the pandemic.
Herrera began her career at the Lodi Police Department, but wanted to return to her hometown, where she graduated from Liberty Ranch High School in 2015.
Due to the smaller sized town, the Galt community has been hit hard by this tragic accident. Hundreds of residents have taken to social media to wish their love and support for the Galt Police community.
“Our community is hurting over this,” Galt Mayor Shawn Farmer said. “The men and women of our department are not just the ‘police’, they are a part of our community, our family. Many are known by name, because our citizens interact with many of them at local events and around town. When they suffer, we suffer.”
Farmer continued, “Law enforcement are like a big family, especially in a small town like ours. To have to push on and do their duty with something like this weighing on their minds has to be difficult.”
Farmer said that Council would be there to support local law enforcement.
“I, my fellow Council Members and our city staff support them in this difficult time and will be there for them in whatever capacity is needed,” Farmer said. “I personally can say my heart breaks for the officers’ families and what they must be going through. The thoughts and prayers of my family and I are with them right now and in the days to come.”
The Sunday accident follows a stream of traffic related incidents affecting the Galt community, both inside and outside city boundaries.
Along with the most recent incident earlier this month when two vehicles collided with a sound barrier wall on Marengo Road due to excessive speed, speeding, “doughnuts”, and not stopping at stop signs have led to numerous complaints across the city, sparking many discussions at the Public Safety Committee meetings.
Galt has lost three area residents to traffic related incidents in two years, beginning with a fatal motorcycle accident on Industrial Drive in June 2019. A mere seven months later, the Highway 99 fatal accident at Ayers Lane on Jan. 29, 2020 claimed the life of a local resident, as did the Highway 99 accident on July 21 of this year.
“Public safety is one of the highest priorities for myself and our city leaders,” Farmer said. “It was important before this tragic event (Sunday’s incident), and it will continue to be after. Keeping Galt safe is imperative to our way of life as Galtonians. Does it bring a larger spotlight on the discussion? Maybe. Maybe it should. Sadly, such tragic events are a reminder to all of us that life is precious; and that we all need to do our part driving safe, driving sober, and be more mindful of traffic laws that exist for the protection of all our families.”
The driver of the Dodge has been identified as Manjot Singh Thind, 25, of Manteca. Thind sustained fatal injuries and was declared deceased at the scene, while the two Dodge passengers suffered moderate injuries. The passengers were transported to a local hospital. No further medical updates for the passengers were available as of press time.
According to CHP, it is unknown at this time if alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in this collision.