A Los Angeles County sheriff's patrol car was struck from behind by a car with an alleged drunken driver at the wheel, knocked off Pacific Coast Highway and landed on a Malibu beach Saturday morning, injuring both deputies inside.
The patrol car landed upright, with its front end in the sand, and all of its doors jammed. Firefighters worked in ankle-deep water with hydraulic cutting tools to get the deputies freed from the wreckage, as the front doors were apparently jammed shut.
The deputies, 51-year-old Jeffrey Miner and 47-year-old James Millage, were taken to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said Lt. Stephanie Shrout of the sheriff's Lost Hills station.
"The deputies' seatbelts saved them from being ejected from the patrol car onto the rocks, or to suffer even worse injuries," said Lt. Josh Thai of the sheriff's Malibu/Lost Hills station. "They were injured and in pain. Luckily, the sand was level and it was low tide or they might have drowned."
Shrout said Miner was airlifted to the hospital because of complaints of neck and back pain, but he was released from the hospital early Saturday.
Paramedics used a ground ambulance to take Millage to UCLA, and Shrout said he was still being evaluated there.
The crash occurred about 1 a.m. in the 19400 block of Pacific Coast Highway between Topanga Beach and Las Tunas Canyon Road.
Shrout said the driver, 44-year-old Woodland Hills resident Mark Liebrecht, was in a dark gray 550 Series BMW. He was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving. Liebrecht's bail was set at $100,000, and he was held at the sheriff's Malibu/Lost Hills Station.
The deputies were conducting a patrol check in the area when the crash occurred.