Taft helps injured CHP officer

Doug Keeler
Midway Driller Editor @midwaydriller
Armando Portillo and Lt. Shaun Crosswhite wave as emergency vehicles pass by.

A California Highway Patrol officer from Taft who was critically injured is on the mend an anxious to get back to work.

Armando Portillo's fellow officers and his hometown teamed up to help out his family while he recovers here in Taft.

Armando Portillo was honored with a parade of emergency vehicle with lights and sirens, and a generous donation to his aunt to help cover his families costs incurred while he was hospitalized and later recovering in a rehab facility. He's now in Taft with family.

Portillo was injured during a traffic stop on the San Bernardino Freeway on June 21.

Portillo had parked his patrol vehicle on the right shoulder of the freeway behind a BMW.

He was writing a citation for an other driver when a car made an unsafe lane change from the number 2 lane to the number 3 lane, cutting off a Toyota Rav4. The RAV4 driver hit her brakes and swerved to avoid a collision but lost control, hitting Portillo’s vehicle and knocking it into the BMW. Portillo was struck during that collision.

Portillo suffered a severe concussion and large laceration during the impact, but said he never lost consciousness.

He heard tire screech as the Rav4 went out of control

"It was like 'Dang, they're going to hit me," he said.

Portillo said the driver he was citing was very helpful.

"I remember everything I was trying to get up and he (the driver being cited) was very polite and helped pick me up."

But he was still seriously injured. He spent 10 days at County-USC medical center recovering, then more time at the rehab center.All during his time, his family, especially his aunt, Gloria Diaz, who raised him was driving down on a daily basis to visit him, sometime spending weekend nights at a motel to stay close.

The costs added up.

"We didn't know if he was going to make it," Diaz said. She said there were daily trips and overnight stays all during his ordeal.

That's where the Buttonwillow CHP office and local merchants stepped in and contributed money to cover Diaz's costs.

Buttonwillow Commander Lt. Shaun Crosswhite presented Portillo and Diaz with a check for $5,300 in the shade near the Oilworker Monument last week. He was surrounded by CHP officers, Taft Police and Kern County firefighters, who paraded down Supply Row with red lights flashing and sirens blaring to honor Portillo.

Crosswhite said officers feared the worst when they heard about Portillo's accident and were pleasantly surprised at his recovery.

Portillo said he's finding out the CHP really is close.

"Since I've been in my accident it shows me what a family we are," said Portillo, a 2008 Taft Union High School graduate.

He ready to go back on patrol.

"I'm desperate to get back to work," he said.