RIVERSIDE: 11 girls headed to basketball game among 15 injured in 91 Freeway pile-up
RIVERSIDE — Almost one dozen girls from an Orange County girl’s basketball team were among fifteen people injured in a five-vehicle, chain reaction accident Thursday Nov. 16. The mass-casualty collision happened on the eastbound 91 Freeway, east of Adams Street, in Riverside.
The girls, whose ages ranged from 11 to 16, attend Newport Christian School in Newport Beach and were being transported to a 3 p.m. basketball game scheduled against Calvary Christian in Banning.
California Highway Patrol officers, City of Riverside Police and Fire officials and other emergency first responders rushed to the scene of the major-injury collision about 1:20 p.m., after multiple motorists and witnesses called 911 to report the accident.
Twenty-one firefighters from four engine companies and one truck company responded to the accident. They were assisted by seven American Medical Response ambulances.
The first arriving engine company reported five vehicles, including a passenger van carrying the basketball team, were involved in the crash, City of Riverside Fire Battalion Commander Jeff DeLaurie explained in an incident report after the collision.
Medical personnel at the scene determined there were 15 victims injured in the wreck with injuries ranging from minor to major, CHP Officer Dan Olivas said after the crash.
“Firefighters deployed colored tarps used to divide up patients based on the significance of their injury,” DeLaurie explained.
“With such a large number of patients, Riverside firefighters, along with personnel from AMR Ambulance began triaging the patients in order to ensure appropriate care was rendered to those patients that needed it most,” said DeLaurie.
Because of the number of victims, additional fire units and ambulances were requested to the scene.
Officials also requested the Fire Department’s Training Division and Emergency Operations Center to assist in managing the large-scale incident.
Of the fifteen victims, thirteen were transported to local hospitals throughout the area, including Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Riverside, Riverside Community Hospital and Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley.
While firefighters and paramedics triaged, evaluated and treated those injured in the crash, CHP officers investigated the cause of the collision.
During their investigation, officers determined that just prior to the accident the 2003 Ford passenger van carrying the girl’s basketball team was travelling eastbound on the 91 Freeway, west of Adams Street.
The van was being driven by Terrell Thorogood, Newport Christian School’s athletic director.
When traffic backed up ahead of the van, Thorogood was unable to stop in time and crashed into the rear of a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by a 55-year-old Huntington Beach man.
The impact of the two vehicles caused a chain reaction that involved three additional vehicles.
The accident and subsequent investigation forced CHP to issue a SigAlert in the area and eastbound traffic quickly backed up nearly ten miles, and frustrated commuters reported traffic was backed up as far west as the 15 Freeway.
A CHP incident log indicated that after the initial accident, numerous motorists called 911 to report incidents of other motorists turning around and driving the wrong way on the freeway as well as driving off the freeway using the freeway’s on-ramps.
The eastbound lanes remained closed for nearly one hour until officials reopened the carpool and number one lanes about 2:15 p.m. The remaining lanes reopened shortly before 3 p.m.
The California Highway Patrol is currently investigating the cause of the collision and their investigation is active and ongoing.
Anyone with information about the accident or who witnessed the collision and has not provided a statement to law enforcement is encouraged to contact CHP at (951) 637-8000. Callers can refer to incident file number 17-0033491 and can remain anonymous.
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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.