Street race ends in two deaths, one arrest – Victims, 75 & 74, ID’d

COACHELLA — Two people were killed and a third person was seriously injured after an accident that officials say was possibly the result of an illegal street race in Coachella Friday evening, May 17. “The preliminary investigation suggests that street racing was a factor in the collision,” officials later explained. The driver who deputies say caused the wreck was arrested the morning after the crash and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter, but he has since been released on bail.

Last Friday’s deadly wreck happened in the area of Grapefruit Blvd and Mitchel Dr., and forced the hours-long closure of Grapefruit Blvd., while officials investigated the cause of the fatal collision.

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Emergency personnel were first alerted to the crash at 6:54 p.m., after receiving reports of a major injury traffic collision, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Davis and Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department later reported.

When officials arrived at the scene they found two heavily damaged vehicles, described as a white Dodge passenger vehicle and a grey Ford truck.

The driver of the Ford pickup was left trapped inside his wrecked truck and pronounced deceased at the scene. His wife, who was in the passenger’s seat, was ejected in the crash and suffered major traumatic injuries. She was eventually airlifted to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio, where she also succumbed to her injuries and passed away.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials have since identified the couple as Jose Prieto, 75, and Sofia Prieto, 74, both of Coachella. A coroner’s release indicated Jose succumbed to his injuries at 7:04 p.m., and Sofia died about 30 minutes later at 7:36 p.m.

The other driver, Estavan Jesus Donato, 27 of Coachella, was hospitalized with serious injuries after the crash, but was arrested around 2 a.m., the following morning. He was booked into Indio Jail on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter, but was released within hours of his arrest after posting $50,000 bail. Jail records indicate he is scheduled to be arraigned at Indio’s Larsen Justice Center, July 16.

While officials worked at the scene they called for the temporary closure of Grapefruit Blvd., between Avenues 48 and 49. The roadway was reopened several hours later.

Coachella PD’s investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Deputy McCoy at (760) 863-8990 or Crime Stoppers at 760-341-STOP (7867). Callers can refer to incident file number Y191370048 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

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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.

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