PERRIS: Two injured after SUV drives into crowd at annual “Thomas the Train” event

PERRIS — Two people sustained minor injuries after an alleged dunk driver drove onto a pedestrian walkway during an annual family event; sending parents with children scrambling for safety from the oncoming vehicle, Sunday, Nov. 5.

Officials arrested Carlos Gabaldon for DUI and hit and run after he allegedly drove onto a crowded walkway at the Thomas the Train event at the Orange Empire Railway Museum, Sunday, Nov. 5. RSO booking photo

The annual “Day Out With Thomas” event was happening at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris. The event was held Nov. 4 and 5, and is scheduled to be held again Nov. 10, 11 and 12.

According to the railway museum’s website, “Day Out With Thomas” is a family event that offers children and their families the opportunity to take a ride with the classic storybook character, “Thomas the Tank Engine” at regional heritage railroads across the country.

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Perris Police Station were at the event when they witnessed a brown Chevrolet Tahoe “enter the grounds of the museum by way of the railroad tracks,” Riverside Sheriff’s Lieutenant Raymond Huskey explained in a written press release after the incident.

“The vehicle then turned off the railroad tracks and onto a pedestrian walkway within the Perris Railway Museum causing pedestrians, adults and children, to flee from the path of the vehicle,” said Huskey. “The vehicle continued and turned onto a closed roadway within the museum grounds.”

Deputies quickly mobilized and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle.

During their subsequent investigation deputies determined the driver, identified as Carlos Jaime Gabaldon, 37, from Romoland, was “driving while under the influence and impaired by alcohol,” Huskey explained.

Cal Fire/Riverside County firefighters and American Medical Response medics responded to the museum and identified two people who sustained minor injuries as a result of Gabaldon’s alleged drunken driving actions.

Both victims were treated by paramedics and released at the scene.

Based on their investigation, deputies arrested Gabaldon and he was later booked into jail on suspicion of DUI and hit and run causing injuries.

Jesse Coleman, a San Diego resident who was at the event with his wife and two children, later explained he was walking along the pedestrian pathway when he heard people screaming and scrambling off the path, out of the way of the oncoming SUV.

“It was terrifying,” said Coleman, who explained that after the recent deadly Manhattan, New York terror attack, he initially thought the incident might be related to terrorism.

The Manhattan, New York terror attack, which has been called the deadliest terror-related attack in New York since 9/11, happened when a man in a rented truck drove onto a pedestrian walkway and struck numerous pedestrians and bicyclists, killing eight people and injuring 12.

“This world is just sick. We can’t take our kids anywhere anymore,” Coleman lamented, saying, “Nowhere is safe anymore.”

An online jail records search revealed Gabaldon remains in custody, held on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned at the Riverside Hall Of Justice, Nov. 8.

The investigation is active and ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this incident and investigation is encouraged to call Deputy Cail at the Perris Sheriff’s Station at (951) 210-1000. Callers can refer to incident file number PE173090065 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.


Contact the writer:

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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, 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 as well as 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, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries 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 27 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 14 grandchildren.

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