BREAKING: SAN JACINTO: One dead in fiery, 3-vehicle wreck, reckless driving, racing, suspected
SAN JACINTO — Officials are at the scene of a three-vehicle, fiery wreck that resulted in at least one death, according to CHP officials. The deadly accident happened on State Route 79 South, just south of Gilman Springs Road, in an unincorporated area north of San Jacinto.
This deadly accident was the second wreck accident to happen in the San Jacinto valley Sunday. The other deadly accident happened on Highway 74 near Homeland.
The two accidents happened about 13 miles apart.
The crash, which was reported to California Highway Patrol at 1:38 p.m., blocked all lanes of traffic on SR-79/Sanderson Avenue near Gilman Springs Road.
The accident reportedly caused traffic to back up for miles in both directions.
Several witnesses at the scene told officers investigating the accident that the crash was caused by reckless driving and possibly involved two vehicles that were racing.
A CHP officer later confirmed that racing and high speeds were suspected as contributing factors in the fatal crash.
CHP and Riverside County Sheriff’s officials, Cal Fire/Riverside County firefighters and other emergency first responders rushed to the scene of the fiery wreck after multiple other drivers and witnesses called 911 to report the accident.
According to a CHP incident log, callers told emergency dispatchers that a silver Nissan was driving recklessly and possibly racing another vehicle just prior to the accident. 911 callers also told dispatchers that two people were possibly trapped inside their vehicles and that one vehicle burst into flames after the collision.
Thirteen firefighters from four engine companies responded to the scene of the accident, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Public Information Officer Tawny Cabral explained in an incident report.
The first arriving engine company reported three vehicles that were involved in the deadly accident, said Cabral. Officials also found vehicle parts and debris scattered across the roadway, blocking lanes of traffic in both directions.
The impact of the collision caused the Nissan’s motor to tear free from the vehicle and it was launched some distance from the crash site, ending up on a dirt shoulder on the opposite side of a guard rail. Firefighters were later seen extinguishing a fire caused when the motor broke free and was launched from the speeding car.
Firefighters at the scene quickly confirmed that two victims were trapped inside the mangled wrecks of their cars and had to be extricated from their vehicles.
After firefighters used the “Jaws of Life” to cut the victims from their vehicles, AMR medics transported three victims to Riverside University Health System’s Trauma Center in Moreno Valley.
According to witnesses and officials at the scene, two victims were transported in critical condition with serious injuries. Another, a “young child”, was transported with minor injuries. Authorities did not release the minor’s age.
CHP officials investigating the cause of the collision called for the temporary closure of SR-79, to ensure the safety of police and fire officials.
Authorities also reported that a large amount of oil and other fluids had spilled onto the roadway and they requested fire officials to bring extra Absorbal, an oil absorbent that soaks up oil and other liquid spills at the scene of accidents.
In an interview from the scene, CHP Officer Poulter explained, “Allegedly at this point from witnesses, it appears that two vehicles may have been racing northbound and one of those vehicle went from the northbound lanes into southbound lanes, going head-on with the silver Hyundai Elantra.”
“A Honda that was following the Elantra swerved to avoid the collision but it hit one of the vehicles and the guard rail and came to a stop on the shoulder,” said the officer.
When asked about the vehicle’s speeds at the time of the crash, Poulter responded, “It looks like high speeds, but nothing definite at this point.”
A red Dodge Charger, believed to have been racing the Nissan when the accident happened, initially left the scene of the deadly crash; however, the driver later returned at CHP’s request.
“At this point he is believed possibly involved,” Poulter explained. “We did get ahold of him and he did return to the scene.”
The driver, who officials did not identify was cooperating with the investigation, according to Poulter.
CHP officials re-opened part of the roadway at about 2:40; however, officials still remain at the scene as they continue their initial investigation into the crash.
Their investigation is active and ongoing.
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All photos by Robert Carter/Public Safety Incidents
Public Safety Incident/Hemet News video
This is a developing story. Additional information will be updated as it becomes available.
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Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 13 – soon to be 14 – grandchildren.