Car Drives Through Homeless Encampment in Los Angeles, Injuring 4

At least four people were hospitalized and dramatic rescue efforts were underway after a vehicle crashed into a homeless encampment in a Los Angeles neighborhood on Tuesday morning, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD).

The incident was reported around 6 a.m. local time after a white sedan traveled onto the sidewalk in the 500 block of South Virgil Avenue, in Koreatown, LAFD spokesperson Nicholas Prange said in a news release.

The fire department said paramedics identified a total of five people affected by the crash, including one person who became trapped underneath the vehicle.

Firefighters successfully lifted the vehicle from the encampment and freed the trapped individual using heavy rescue equipment. Officials told Fox 11 the trapped man was sleeping on a sofa when the car plowed over him, and that the sofa might have acted as a barrier to save his life.

"Heavy Rescue 3 removed the sedan from the encampment, freeing one trapped patient. A total of four patients have been transported to the hospital, one in moderate condition and three in fair condition. No other patients in need of care," Prange said in a news release.

Video footage captured by reporters on Twitter showed fire rescue crews airlifting the vehicle from the encampment, while belongings were strewn among the sidewalk and street.

#BREAKING Car slams into homeless encampment in Koreatown. AIR7HD overhead as the car is lifted away... @ABC7 #abc7eyewitness pic.twitter.com/YiUDcNAuFR

— Marc Cota-Robles (@abc7marccr) September 7, 2021

The fire department did not release details with information regarding the cause of the crash, or the identities of the individuals involved in the collision. The extent of injuries for those hospitalized is also unknown.

Newsweek has contacted the LAFD for additional comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.

The collision at the homeless encampment comes just days after Los Angeles implemented a new city ordinance with stricter rules regarding where homeless people can sit, sleep, lie and store personal property.

The updated ordinance will now allow the L.A. City Council to target specific locations including schools, daycare centers, parks, and libraries, and prohibit encampments from being located within 500 feet of them, ABC 7 reported.

Homeless Encampment LA
A car crashed into a homeless encampment in Koreatown, Los Angeles, on Tuesday, injuring at least four people. In this image, people walk past a homeless tent encampment in Skid Row on September 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The new measure has been criticized by activists and individuals who work with homeless populations.

"Passing ordinances that make it a crime to be on the sidewalk does nothing to help solve the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles," Shayla Myers, the senior attorney for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which works with low-income and unhoused people, told ABC 7. "It kicks the can down the road. It simply tells people where they can't be and it does nothing to provide people an option to move off of the sidewalks."

In a written statement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said: "We don't need to choose between keeping our public spaces safe and clean, and connecting Angelenos experiencing homelessness with the services and housing they need. We can and will do both," according to the news outlet.

California has long been grappling with a homelessness crisis, and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election next week, has made tackling the issue one of his top priorities.

Newsom's administration recently announced that it will spend $5.8 billion of state and federal funds over the next two years to create an estimated 42,000 housing units for homeless people.