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A top LAFD official fled a crash but got rewarded instead of disciplined

Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Getuiza later reversed her position on the Fortman case, saying in an email, "There was no delay in the administrative investigation." Asked whether anyone else in the department could have replaced Fortman in the COVID program, Getuiza did not respond directly but cited the large number of tests and vaccines the city administered.

She did not respond to a hypothetical question of whether the LAFD would wait to impose discipline until after a firefighter completed a jail sentence or a term of criminal probation, for example.

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The newly unearthed records and earlier reports from the Sheriff's Department provide a detailed description of the crash and its aftermath.

Sheriff's deputies summoned to the scene found among the wreckage the license plate from Fortman's pickup. They traced the license number to Fortman.

At the crash scene, a GMC Terrain slowly approached the wreckage, and a woman in the vehicle asked what happened. "Oh, my God!" she said after being told about the hit-and-run, an LAFD investigative report states. The GMC pulled away and a deputy noticed it had a firefighter decal on the rear window. That prompted the deputy to follow the GMC in his patrol car, pull it over and ask the woman if she knew who was driving the Dodge.

 

According to the report, the female passenger told the deputy that she was Fortman's girlfriend and said, "I know this is bad! He's an assistant fire chief. It's bad!"

The report states when asked if she knew whether Fortman had been drinking, the woman said, "I'll be real with you, he's probably drunk."

The woman, whose name was redacted from the investigative records, shared with the deputy text messages Fortman sent her that said "call me," "accident," "hurry," "call me."

At Fortman's home, deputies found the damaged Dodge truck in the driveway and had it impounded. One of the deputies heard Fortman speaking on the phone in a side yard and called out to him that he was from the Sheriff's Department.

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