Pulled from burning car near Mt. Shasta, alleged DUI driver flees – later arrested

MT. SHASTA — An alleged drunk driver – who was pulled from the flaming wreckage of his car after crashing in a construction zone on Interstate 5 near Mt. Shasta – fled the scene after being rescued, causing a widespread, hour-long search for the man.

The crash, which happened north of Lake Street, caused a vegetation fire that could be seen for miles and caused significant delays in both directions, while firefighters worked to contain the blaze caused by the crash.

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A 34-year-old man was later arrested after fleeing the scene of the fiery wreck. He was found eating at a nearby Burger King, according to CHP, who said the alleged suspect lied about his identity and claimed to have not been involved in the crash. CHP reported the man had injuries consistent with being involved in an accident and smelled of alcohol.

CHP and Caltrans officials later reported the accident happened when the alleged suspect was traveling northbound on I-5, along a stretch of highway north of Lake Street, where one lane was closed due to construction.

As the man approached the construction area, he lost control of his white hatchback and crashed into a ditch. The vehicle then burst into flames, which quickly spread to area vegetation.

An alleged drunk driver caused a fiery wreck which could be seen for miles. Caltrans photo

A CHP officer who arrived at the scene within moments of the crash managed to pull the driver and sole occupant from his burning vehicle, at which time the Sgt. began redirecting traffic around the growing blaze.

“To allow access for the fire emergency trucks and minimize impacts to traffic, Caltrans employee Shirley McAllister and CHP Sergeant Peter Jonas quickly removed barrels and cones and moved them to the median,” Caltrans later reported. “It wasn’t an easy task, but the prompt action taken by CHP and Caltrans was key to fire containment.”

As firefighters worked to contain the blaze preparations were begun to potentially evacuate homes in the Kingston Rd. area, but the fire was quickly extinguished and contained to the west side of Kingston Rd.

During the ensuing chaos and efforts to subdue the blaze, the alleged drunk driver fled the scene, according to CHP.

Officers quickly established a perimeter around the area and began an hour-long search for the suspect, who was eventually found hiding at a nearby Burger King and pretending to not have been involved in the fiery wreck.

Based on their subsequent investigation, CHP arrested the driver, who was later booked into jail on suspicion of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident.

During their investigation and while firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, several lanes of traffic were closed for about two hours. Area motorists and commuters later reported significant delays in their travel times, but no other injuries related to the accident were reported.

CHP’s investigation into the cause of the fiery wreck is continuing.

Caltrans officials later used the opportunity to remind area motorists, “You may be driving well, but another driver may not.”

“This is an opportunity to remind the traveling public how important it is to slow down and be alert,” Caltrans cautioned.

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Cal Trans 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 currently writes for or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, the (now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Hemet & San Jacinto 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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