Man killed trying to rescue dog from Hwy 74 in Menifee

MENIFEE — A motorist who had reportedly exited his vehicle and was trying to help a dog out of the roadway was fatally struck by a vehicle in Menifee early yesterday evening, Thursday, Feb. 14. The deadly accident happened on State Hwy 74 between Menifee and Briggs roads.

The victim, later identified as Abel Soto, 25, of Corona, succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials later said Soto passed away within minutes of being struck and his time of death was listed as 5:29 p.m.


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Deputies assigned to Menifee Police Department along with other emergency personnel, responded to the scene about 5:24, after receiving multiple reports a vehicle vs. pedestrian traffic collision on Hwy 74, about a quarter-mile east of McKinley Rd., Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. Marshall later explained.

When officials arrived they found numerous vehicles along the side of the roadway with several good Samaritans who had stopped to provide aid and comfort to the mortally injured pedestrian. However, several “horrified” witnesses later said the victim was injured beyond help and sustained “un-survivable” injuries. He likely died instantly from the tremendous impact with the vehicle, according to the witnesses, who said they were still shocked and stunned by what they had seen.

Within moments of their arrival, paramedics determined the man sustained fatal injuries and he was immediately pronounced deceased at the scene.

The driver of the involved vehicle, later identified as a 19-year-old Hemet resident, was transported to a local hospital for treatment of minor injuries, according to Marshall.

Based on the circumstances, Menifee PD’s Traffic Reconstruction Team responded to the location and assumed the investigation.

During their preliminary on-scene traffic investigation, deputies determined Soto had been traveling eastbound on SR-74, when he “exited his vehicle to assist a dog in the roadway,” Marshall explained. At the same time the Hemet motorist was traveling westbound on the highway in the number one lane.

While trying to rescue the dog in the road, Soto crossed into the westbound lanes of traffic, where he was struck by the other vehicle.

“The driver was cooperative during the investigation and was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Marshall later said.   

During their investigation, deputies called for the temporary closure of Hwy 74, between Menifee and Briggs roads. The roadway was reopened to through traffic several hours later, just after 11 p.m.

Menifee PD’s accident investigation is ongoing.

Anyone who may have witnessed this collision and has not been interviewed is encouraged to call Deputy Kiebach at the Menifee Police Department at (951) 210-1074. Callers can refer to incident file number ME190450119 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

Contact the writer:

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.


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