Eight injured after stolen truck plows into Perris restaurant

PERRIS — Eight people, including four children, were hospitalized after a man – who had reportedly just been released from custody earlier in the day – stole a construction pickup truck and crashed into several vehicles and then into a Perris restaurant yesterday, Tuesday, Oct. 1. 

Tuesday’s crashes happened after a construction worker who witnessed the vehicle theft chased the suspect down and jumped into the truck after it crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of W. 4th and S. “C” streets.

During the ensuing struggle for control over the truck, the vehicle careened through a parking lot on the northeast corner of the intersection, where it crashed into several parked cars. The impact pushed one of the vehicles and stolen truck into the Chicken King restaurant.

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Deputies assigned to the Perris Sheriff’s Station were notified about the vehicle theft around 5 p.m., after construction workers called 911 to report that a man had just stolen a pickup truck from a job site where they had been working, Riverside Sheriff’s Deputy Marshall reported from the scene. The theft occurred from a site on the 200 block of 4th St.

Moments later, emergency dispatchers learned that the vehicle had crashed into a car. They also were advised that one of the workers who chased the stolen truck had jumped into the vehicle, which then plowed into several parked cars before crashing into and through the restaurant, where several patrons had reportedly been eating dinner.

Firefighters assess the damage caused to Chicken King restaurant in Perris after a man stole a construction vehicle before crashing into several cars and the business, where several patrons had been eating dinner. Patrick Brennan/Epicenter News photo

After the multiple crashes, witnesses at the scene physically detained the driver and held him until deputies arrived and took the man into custody. The man has since been identified as 23-year-old, Mark Steven Lehman.

When deputies and other emergency personnel arrived at the scene, they confirmed that several vehicles were involved in the crashes and two of the vehicles had come to rest inside the restaurant where several people had been eating.

Firefighters and paramedics called to the scene began evaluating and treating multiple people involved in the crashes, including four adults and four children who were ultimately transported to area hospitals, according to Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Battalion Chief Mark Lee.

In all, we were really lucky this evening,” Lee reported after the incident. “A total of eight patients were transported to area hospitals, all with relatively minor to moderate injuries considering the circumstances of the vehicles inside the building and the patrons who were inside eating at the time.”

Deputies who investigated the incident learned from victims and witnesses that a Greers Construction crew was working on a construction project about a block away from where the crashes happened. The workers had left the pickup truck running while they were preparing to head home for the day, when Lehman suddenly jumped into the running vehicle and took off.

“As he was fleeing the scene, the workers that were with the truck saw the vehicle leaving and gave chase,” Marshall reported.

“As they were giving chase, the subject crashed into a vehicle on 4th St. and that’s when one of the workers jumped into the vehicle to stop the driver,” Marshall explained.

“When that happened (Lehman) accelerated and crashed into a couple of parked vehicles” and then crashed into the restaurant, Marshall continued.

Members of Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire’s Urban Search and Rescue team responded to the scene to help shore up the heavily damaged restaurant. Patrick Brennan/Epicenter News photo

Because the restaurant sustained substantial structural damage, a Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Urban Search and Rescue team responded to the location to help shore up the heavily-damaged building.

The owner of the restaurant later said they were fortunate it was a slow day at the business and only a few customers had been inside the restaurant at the time of the crashes.

After being treated at the scene, Lehman was booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of vehicle theft, committing a crime while on bail or release and possession of a stolen vehicle. Various sources from the scene indicated Lehman had just been released from custody earlier that morning; however, no details about the earlier reported arrest were immediately available.

A jail record search indicated Lehman remains in custody on $30,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at Riverside’s Hall Of Justice, Oct. 4.

While deputies and other emergency personnel worked at the scene, the area and nearby intersection were cordoned off with crime scene tape; while a sheriff’s helicopter circled overhead and crowds of witnesses and curious onlookers watched the activity unfold around them. The intersection was re-opened several hours later.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.



RVC News photos

Patrick Brennan/Epicenter News photos


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, 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 or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; 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 29 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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