Two seriously injured in Hemet road rage incident

CORRECTION: An early version of this report indicated this collision happened outside Robertson’s Ready Mix. The accident actually occurred outside Superior Ready Mix. -TM

HEMET — Two people were hospitalized with broken bones and other serious injuries when their pickup truck mowed down a power pole after their vehicle was rammed off a Hemet road Monday afternoon, July 1. The crash happened on State St., between Fruitvale and Esplanade avenues, and downed power lines sparked a vegetation fire that was extinguished with help from witnesses and area citizens.

Police are now investigating the crash as a suspected road rage incident and have asked for the public’s help identifying the man they say rammed the victim’s from the roadway.

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City of Hemet Police and Fire Departments were dispatched to the scene around 2:23 p.m., Hemet Police Sgt. Dan Reinbolt later said of the ongoing investigation. Callers reported that two vehicles had collided, sending a white pickup truck careening into a power pole. 911 callers also reported that power lines had come down in a nearby field igniting a vegetation fire, and that Superior Ready Mix employees and workers from other nearby businesses had rushed from their places of employment and were trying to extinguish the quickly growing fire.

Officials began arriving at the scene within minutes of the dispatched call and found a small white Chevy S10 with heavy front-end damage off the roadway, in the Superior Ready Mix driveway. A downed power pole lay in a field near the truck, and citizens were continuing to use fire extinguishers, buckets of water, and small hand tools to knock down the flames.

Superior Ready Mix employees and other witnesses jumped into action to douse a small vegetation fire that was ignited after a pickup truck mowed down a power pole in what officials are now calling a road rage incident. Mario Sevilla/News photo

The male driver of the Chevy and his female companion had managed to self-extricate from the wrecked pickup and both were laying on the ground near their vehicle. Witnesses and good Samaritans were at both victim’s sides, providing aid and comfort to the seriously injured pair.

Although citizens had extinguished most of the vegetation fire, firefighters used foam to further douse any flames and bring the small blaze under control.

Both victims were eventually transported to University Health System in Moreno Valley for treatment. The driver’s injuries were described as a broken leg and serious shoulder injury, while his female companion’s primary injuries were described as broken ribs. Although each sustained numerous additional injuries, both were expected to make a full recovery according to Reinbolt.

The driver of the pickup later told investigating officers that the incident began after another motorist, described as a Middle-Eastern man, cut off their vehicle near the intersection of State St. and Menlo Ave., about a half-mile south of the collision scene.

The two drivers began arguing in traffic, according to Reinbolt, who said the argument continued as the men drove at high speed north on State St.

As the vehicles were nearing Fruitvale Ave., the driver of the compact car began ramming the back-end of the Chevy truck, according to Reinbolt.

The victim told officers that after ramming their pickup truck several times, the unknown suspect then used a police-style tactic, commonly referred to as a pursuit intervention technique or PIT maneuver, to cause the truck to lose control. The pickup then careened off the the east side of State St. where it then knocked down the power pole.

Two people were seriously injured after their pickup truck was rammed off the roadway by an as-yet unidentified person described as a Middle Eastern male. Miguel Shannon/OC Hawk News photo

The driver of the other car fled the scene prior to officer’s arrival and has not yet been identified or located, according to Reinbolt. He has been described as an older Middle Eastern man with a beard, “designer-type” sunglasses, and was also possibly wearing a keffiyeh or other similar headgear. His car was described as a white or light-colored compact car, possibly an older model Toyota or Lexus.

Southern California Edison officials responded to the scene to replace the destroyed power pole and damaged power lines, and some power was temporarily shut off in the surrounding area.

While officials worked at the scene, they closed State St. in both directions, between Fruitvale and Esplanade avenues, and the road remained closed for several hours.

Hemet PD’s investigation is ongoing and officials have asked that anyone who witnessed any part of the alleged incident and has not yet provided a statement or who knows the identity or whereabouts of the other driver involved to contact them at (951)765-2400.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

Miguel Shannon/OCHawk News photos

Mario Sevilla/Hemet News photos

Miguel Shannon/OCHawk News video

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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