Drugged driver arrested after 8 vehicle Redding pileup

REDDING — Authorities investigating the cause of an eight vehicle pileup in Redding yesterday afternoon, Thursday, Dec. 19, say they arrested a man suspected of being under the influence of drugs when he caused the wreck.

The crash, which sent five people including a juvenile to the hospital with various injuries, happened at the intersection of Cypress Ave. and Churn Creek Rd.


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City of Redding Police and Fire Departments, along with other emergency personnel, were first alerted to yesterday’s crash around 2:15 p.m., after receiving multiple reports of a vehicle collision involving multiple vehicles, with several people injured, Redding Police Corporal Chris Mills reported after the crash.

When officials began arriving at the crash site minutes later they found a chaotic scene with multiple vehicles damaged at the intersection. Witnesses and good Samaritans who saw the crash were out of their vehicles, trying to provide aid and comfort to those involved in the wreck.

Five people, including a juvenile, were injured when a drugged driver failed to stop for a red light at the intersection of Cypress Ave. and Churn Creek Rd. in Redding yesterday. Three of those injured were hospitalized after the crash. J.L. photo

Paramedics evaluated and treated numerous victims at the scene before ultimately transporting three people, including a minor, to area hospitals for further treatment. According to Mills the victim’s injuries included complaints of pain, bruising, and lacerations.

“None of the injuries appear to be life threatening,” said Mills.

Based on the circumstances, members of Redding PD’s Traffic Unit was summoned to the scene to assist with the collision investigation.

After gathering witness and victim statements, officers determined River Smith, 24, of Redding, was traveling westbound on Cypress Ave. in his black Acura SUV when he failed to stop for a red light at Churn Creek Rd., where numerous vehicles were stopped and waiting for the next green light.

Smith’s vehicle plowed into multiple vehicles at the intersection, damaging eight cars including his own, according to Mills; who reported all of those involved in the pileup were wearing their seat belts at the time of the collision.

Officers say River Smith was driving under the influence of drugs when he failed to stop at a red light and plowed into seven other vehicles in Redding yesterday afternoon. RPD photo

During their investigation, officers interviewed Smith and determined he was under the influence of drugs when he ran the red light and caused the crash. Mills did not specify what drugs Smith was suspected of being under the influence of.

Based on their investigation, officers arrested Smith and booked him into Shasta County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, causing injury, a felony.

Anyone who witnessed this collision and has not yet provided a statement to officials is encouraged to contact Redding PD at (530) 225-4200. Callers can refer to incident file number 19R083446 and can remain anonymous.

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 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 16 grandchildren.

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