UPDATE: JV man, 19, ID’d after deadly Christmas day crash

UPDATED: Sunday, Dec. 29, 5 p.m., With Coroner’s release of information.
UPDATED: Sunday, Dec. 29, 7:15 p.m., With additional details, GoFundMe link.

PERRIS — Officials have identified a suspected drunk driver they say was killed in what officers are calling a “100% preventable” crash; after a vehicle careened out of control before overturning, smashing into a concrete overpass, and bursting into flames Wednesday evening, Dec. 25. The Christmas day crash happened on the northbound 215 Freeway, north of Harley Knox Blvd.

Although CHP reported that neither the driver or passenger were wearing seat belts and both men were ejected from the vehicle, Cal Fire reported one of the men was ejected, while the other was left trapped inside the destroyed vehicle and required extrication from the car.

As of this report, neither involved agency has responded to requests for clarification.

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CHP, Cal Fire/Riverside County and other emergency personnel were first alerted to the crash around 6:49 p.m., after CHP’s Inland Communications Center received several reports of a vehicle that crashed into a concrete freeway overpass and burst into flames.

When officials arrived at the scene they found the mangled wreckage of a black Honda Civic. The barely recognizable car was still on fire but firefighter’s managed to quickly extinguish the blaze.

CHP, Cal Fire and Coroner officials work at the scene of the fatal Christmas day collision that left one man dead and another critically injured. Alexvnews photo

Paramedics soon determined the driver had already succumbed to his injuries and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials later identified the deceased driver as Andy Acuna, Jr, 19, of Jurupa Valley. A coroner’s release indicated Acuna was pronounced deceased at 7:07 p.m.

The male passenger was rushed to Riverside University Health System in Moreno Valley with major injuries and was listed in critical condition, according to CHP. Although officials have not identified the victim, family members have said he was Acuna’s cousin.

As their investigation was getting underway, CHP issued a SigAlert and closed several lanes of the freeway. The lanes were reopened shortly after 9 p.m., according to a CHP incident log.

During their accident investigation, officers found numerous alcoholic beverage containers inside and around the wrecked car and later reported that based on their investigation alcohol was suspected to be a contributing factor in the deadly accident.

According to Acuna’s family, the deceased victim was father to a 1 1/2-year-old and was expecting a second child. Family members have established a GoFundMe account to help offset Acuna’s burial and funeral costs as well as other expenses.

CHP’s investigation is ongoing and anyone who witnessed this crash and has not yet provided a statement is encouraged to contact CHP’s Accident Investigation Unit at (951) 637-8000. Callers can refer to incident file number 01051 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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