MENIFEE: Winchester man, struck by big-rig while walking on freeway, dies

MENIFEE — A man walking in the lanes of traffic on I-215 near the Keller Road overpass was struck by a big-rig pulling a trailer, early Saturday morning, Jan. 20. The man died several hours after being rushed to a local hospital. The area where the early morning accident happened is along the border of Murrieta to the east and Menifee to the west.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner’s officials later identified Jacob Muckelrath, 31, of Winchester, as the man killed in the collision. According to a coroner’s release, the victim was pronounced dead at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar at 1:46 p.m., about eight hours after he was hit by the commercial vehicle.

CHP, Murrieta Fire and Cal Fire along with other emergency first responders were dispatched to the scene of the accident just minutes before 6 a.m., when they received several 911 calls from other motorists and witnesses who saw the collision or accident aftermath.

When officials arrived at the scene they found a 2016 International tractor-trailer pulled off the freeway onto the right-hand shoulder of the southbound I-215, about one mile south of Scott Road and just south of Keller Road.

Officials also found Muckelrath on the shoulder nearby. According to witnesses, he was unconscious and had sustained major, traumatic injuries.

The truck driver, a 26-year-old, San Diego resident, told officers and other officials at the scene he had been traveling southbound on I-215 in the number three lane just prior to the accident, according to CHP Officer Mike Lassig. The driver told officials he had been traveling about 55 mph just before the impact.

Based on witness statements and evidence at the scene, Officers who investigated the fatal collision determined Muckelrath was walking in the “middle portion” of the freeway’s slow lane just before he was struck. After the impact, the truck driver slowed and pulled onto the right-hand shoulder, just south of the collision scene.

The truck driver reportedly spotted Muckelrath just as he walked “directly into the path” of the big-rig. With no time to brake or swerve, the front of the big-rig struck Muckelrath, throwing him to the roadway and onto the freeway’s right shoulder.

AMR medics eventually rushed Muckelrath by ambulance to Inland Valley Medical Center in critical condition, where he later died.

According to CHP Officer Powell, who is leading the accident investigation, the sun had not yet risen and it was still dark when the collision happened and the roadway was wet from recent rains.

CHP officers investigating the accident are still trying to determine why Muckelrath had been walking on the freeway when he was fatally struck and their investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about this investigation or who witnessed the fatal collision is encouraged to contact CHP’s Temecula Area Station at (951) 506-2000. Callers can refer to incident file number 2018-01096 and can remain anonymous.


Contact the writer:

trevor main

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.


  • He was either really zoned out on drugs, and had no clue what he was doing or was suicidal. It’s just so horrible when someone feels the need to involve other people into their suicide attempt. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatized the big rig driver must be over this, and I’m sure it’s something that will haunt him the rest of his life. Of course a big rig on a slippery street would never be able to stop in time if the man just stepped in front of him suddenly. What a heartbreaking tragedy all the way around. So very sad.

    • Kristen Villanueva

      I am Jacobs mother. How dare you assume that this was done on purpose!!!!! This article does NOT state that he had just got in a car accident and was trying to get help!! He made a call to his friend that lived nearby at 5:49, his friend did not hear his phone. Jacob was struck st 5:58. Perhaps you should also look up the truck driver! He has had four violations since September 2017 and had no insurance. Unless you know the full story you have NO business commenting. This tragedy has absolutely devastated my family. Shame on you for assuming.

  • Leave your assumptions to yourself, Laurel Rudy. Jacob was not suicidal.

  • My apologies for making unfounded assumptions without knowing the full story. I’m so very sorry.

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