East Hemet hit and run leaves two businesses damaged
EAST HEMET – A family owned barber shop and a neighboring dry cleaning business were both damaged when a hit and run driver in a SUV smashed into a building where both businesses are located.
The businesses that sustained damage were Razors N Barbers Barbershop and Quick & Clean Dry Cleaning. Both are located east of the city of Hemet, in the 41900 block of E. Florida Avenue. The businesses are located in the unincorporated community of East Hemet.
The crash destroyed or damaged much of what was inside the two businesses and left the front of the building and many of the two shops’ windows boarded up. Several different businesses share the building.
Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Hemet/Valle Vista Station and California Highway Patrol officers first became aware of the incident after sheriff’s and CHP emergency communications dispatchers received multiple conflicting – but related – 911 calls about the hit and run accident.
The sheriff’s dispatch center received the first of at least three calls about the incident around midnight. The first call came from the business’ alarm company, reporting a possible burglary in progress at the location. At about the same time a 911 caller reported hearing a traffic collision in the area. Another caller reported what they believed was a burglary in progress in the area, after hearing nearby glass breaking from their home.
Law enforcement officers from both agencies quickly determined the three separate calls were related and they began investigating the hit and run collision and documenting the damage to the two businesses. A sheriff’s helicopter assisted by searching the surrounding area and neighborhoods for the suspect’s vehicle. However, the SUV was not located during the search.
CCTV surveillance footage captured the moment when a driver pulled into the business’ parking lot, before turning sharply to the left and attempting to make a U-turn, at which time the SUV smashed through the front of the building.
Immediately after the crash, surveillance video showed the driver quickly exit the SUV and switch seats with another person who was possibly inside the SUV at the time of the accident.
The next day Cristina Gomez, a mother of five and the owner of the struggling family business, discussed the heartbreaking incident. “Just to pull in the parking lot and see it completely destroyed — it’s just heartbreaking,” Gomez said in a previous interview for NBC. “Everything we have is in here.”
Gomez said she has no idea how the necessary repairs will get made, but the needed repairs will most likely come out of her own pocket. She is hoping someone will recognize the SUV and come forward with information about the vehicle or the two occupants from the SUV.
“We’re not stopping and were not giving up,” Gomez said. “We are going to keep cutting, and keep serving our community and we’ll keep growing.”
Gomez said she was hoping she would be able to quickly reopen the shop and she hoped Razors N Barbers Barbershop would be reopened as early as Tuesday, April 26.
Calls to the Quick & Clean Dry Cleaners went unanswered Monday and Tuesday.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact officials from the CHP’s San Gorgonio Pass Station at (951) 769-2000.
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