UPDATE: Local man identified after deadly Hwy 74 crash

UPDATED: Sunday, Jan. 13, 1 p.m.

See original story, video, and photos below.

Family and friends have identified a young man who died after crashing into a tree on Hwy. 74, near Black Burn Rd., about a quarter-mile west of the Cranston Fire Station. The fatal crash that injured two others happened Friday night, Jan. 11.

The victim has since been identified as Russell Bomgardner. Bomgardner reportedly grew up in Idyllwild and attended Idyllwild Arts Academy and was a resident of Hemet at the time of the deadly accident. He was well known and loved throughout the Idyllwild community and worked as a tree climber and trimmer for Pino Tree Service.

Family and friends have identified Russell Bomgardner as the person killed when their pickup truck struck a tree on Hwy. 74, near Cranston Fire Station. Bomgardner family/GoFundMe photo

“Last night the world lost an amazing person,” Megan Bomgardner explained in a GoFundMe established to help the victim’s family with burial costs and other expenses.

“I hate to do this, but I am humbling myself and asking for help to those who can,” Megan explained, while admitting Russell’s funeral was “going to be a financial burden.”

“Any leftover funds will go to his lovely partner Emily. Russell was her world and she his,” said Megan. “This is going to be a difficult time for all of us, but I can’t imagine losing my whole world in one night.”

The fundraiser had raised more than $5,500 during its first day.

CHP is still investigating the cause of the crash and their investigation is ongoing.

Original story: Hwy 74 crash near Hemet kills one, injures two

HEMET — A crash in an unincorporated area east of Hemet left one person dead and two others injured last night, Friday, Jan. 11. The deadly wreck happened on Highway 74, near Black Burn Rd., about a quarter-mile west of the Cranston Fire Station, according to fire officials.

The accident caused the highway, which connects the San Jacinto Valley with Mountain Center, Idyllwild, and the Anza and Coachella valleys, to be closed for several hours.


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CHP, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire, and other emergency personnel, were dispatched to the crash just after 10 p.m., after receiving reports of a red Ford Ranger pickup truck that had smashed into a tree. 911 callers also reported the tree that was hit had been knocked down and was blocking the winding, two-lane mountain roadway.

When officials arrived they found a victim trapped inside the mangled wreck of a destroyed truck and firefighters used the “Jaws of Life” to perform a physical extrication and free the critically injured person.

A Honda CRV that had been traveling eastbound on Hwy 74 was not involved in the initial collision, but crashed into the fallen tree that was in the traffic lanes.

One person was killed and two others were injured after a truck plowed into a tree on Hwy 74 last night. Idyllwild Eye News photo

Although firefighters initially reported three injuries, they later updated that the most seriously injured driver of the pickup truck succumbed to their injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Officials have not released the name or any other information about the victim killed in the collision, pending notification of the person’s family.

One of the victims from the Honda was eventually taken to an area hospital with minor injuries, fire officials reported. The other victim from the Honda was treated at the scene for minor injuries and declined further medical attention.

The accident and subsequent emergency response caused the temporary closure of the highway, forcing motorists to seek alternative routes to their destinations. CalTrans officials responded to the scene to remove the tree from the road and the pickup truck was later towed from the area. The roadway was re-opened a short time later, around 1:30 a.m.

CHP is investigating the cause of the crash and their investigation is ongoing.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta 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. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s 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 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.