Helping trapped big-rig driver, good Samaritan’s car stolen

CORONA — Commuters and area motorists traveling through Corona yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, July 2, found the 15 and 91 freeways heavily congested after a tractor-trailer combo transporting dirt and sand overturned while transitioning from the southbound 15 to the eastbound 91. The accident caused a SigAlert and blocked several lanes of the eastbound 91, as well as the southbound 15 to eastbound 91 interchange. 

To make a bad situation worse, before first responders arrived at the scene and while good Samaritans worked to free the trapped and injured driver from the overturned big-rig, one of them had their cars stolen. The victim of the car theft later learned the thief had used his credit cards and attempted to make purchases at several area businesses.

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CHP and other emergency personnel responded to the scene of yesterday afternoon’s crash after receiving multiple reports of a big-rig that had overturned and come to rest on its side in the number one lane of the eastbound 91. 911 callers reported the tractor-trailer combo had spilled its payload onto the freeway, leaving several lanes of travel blocked. They also reported the driver of the big-rig was trapped inside his overturned truck.

Several witnesses and good Samaritans, including area resident William Vy, immediately pulled over after witnessing the crash and set to work helping to pull the dazed driver from the overturned big-rig.

Crews work to clear an overturned big-rig’s spilled load from the freeway, while a pair of big-rig wreckers worked to right the tractor-trailer combo back onto its wheels. RVCNews photo

While Vy and the others worked to free the trapped driver, he realized someone had jumped into his car and taken off. Vy later reported to CHP that his wallet and other personal belongings had been inside his car when it was stolen.

CalTrans and work crews spent several hours at the scene, using a front loader and other heavy equipment to clear the freeway of the truck’s spilled payload. While they did so, a pair of big-rig wreckers worked to right the overturned tractor-trailer back onto its wheels so it could be towed from the scene.

While officials worked at the scene, all the activity left only one of the freeway’s three primary lanes, as well as the HOV lane open, causing a back up that soon reached several miles and caused delays of up to several hours for frustrated motorists.

As the cleanup efforts continued, Vy learned the person who had stolen his vehicle had attempted to use his credit cards at several area locations.

“It’s messed up,” Vy later told area media who responded to the scene to film and document the activity. “We were trying to help somebody out and somebody takes advantage of the situation … and steals your car. That’s kind of messed up.”

CHP’s investigation into the cause of the crash, as well as the theft of Vy’s car, is ongoing.

Anyone with information related to either incidents is encouraged to contact CHP.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

RVCNews photos


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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