Fiery Cajalco wreck leaves three dead, one seriously injured

LAKE MATTHEWS — Three people were killed and a fourth suffered major injuries and remains hospitalized after a fiery wreck involving two pickup trucks near Lake Matthews, early this morning, Saturday, March 16. The deadly collision happened near the intersection of Cajalco and Gavilan roads, according to a CHP incident log.

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CHP, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire, AMR, and other emergency personnel, were dispatched to the scene around 5:15 a.m., after receiving reports of a head-on collision with one of the two vehicles fully engulfed in fire. 911 callers reported the two wrecked trucks were blocking both directions of travel on Cajalco Rd. and that there were victims trapped in both vehicles.

When officials arrived they found two pickups with major front-end damage blocking the roadway. Vehicle parts and debris were spread across Cajalco, leaving the road impassable.

CHP is investigating a fatal, head-on crash that left three people dead and one seriously injured. Riversaid photo

One of the vehicles, described as a dark-colored, possible Chevy Avalanche, was fully engulfed in flames, while the other vehicle, described as a light-colored, full-size pickup was smoking nearby. At least one victim was alive in the second truck, but was trapped inside the wreckage of the pickup.

While CHP began investigating the cause of the crash, about a dozen firefighters from three engine companies immediately went to work, dividing their efforts between extinguishing the fire of the burning Chevy, while others used the “Jaws of Life” to extricate the seriously injured occupant from the other pickup.

After managing to cut the surviving victim free from the destroyed truck, the victim was rushed to Riverside University Health System in Moreno Valley. The person’s injuries were described as “major” and the victim is listed in serious condition, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire spokesperson Jody Hagemann later explained in an incident report.

At around 5:30 a.m., CHP contacted CalTrans to assist with a hard closure of the roadway, and all traffic was diverted onto other area streets.

After fully extinguishing the fire shortly before 6 a.m., officials at the scene confirmed there were three fatalities and requested coroner officials to the location.

Witnesses told CHP the accident happened when an eastbound pickup truck swerved into oncoming traffic and plowed head-on into another truck. CHP-Riverside photo

Witnesses later told CHP the accident happened when one of the two pickups had been heading east when it suddenly veered into the westbound lanes and plowed head-on into the other truck.

Contacted for more information about the crash and ongoing investigation, CHP told RCNS at 7:15 a.m. that the road closure would remain in effect until their initial, on-scene crash investigation is concluded and the vehicles are removed from the roadway.

CHP is investigating the cause of the accident and as of this report, their investigation is active and ongoing at the scene.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.


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.

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