UPDATED: Riverside man, 34, killed after “bizarre” crash leaves car suspended mid-air ID’d

UPDATED: Sunday, Mar. 18, 11 p.m.

RIVERSIDE — Officials have identified a man killed when he lost control of his speeding vehicle, hit a curb and went airborne. The car smashed into a palm tree, leaving the destroyed vehicle suspended in mid-air, wedged between two trees.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner’s officials identified 34-year-old, Ian Barraza, of Riverside, as the sole victim from the crash. A coroner’s release indicated Barraza died at the scene of the accident and was pronounced deceased by medical personnel about 25 minutes after the wreck, at 6:34 a.m.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash and have not released any further details or information regarding their ongoing investigation.


ORIGINAL STORY: Driver dead after “bizarre” crash leaves car suspended in mid-air

RIVERSIDE — Authorities are investigating a bizarre fatal crash that killed a driver early this morning. Area residents who came running to the scene after hearing the single-vehicle accident or who witnessed the aftermath of the wreck later described it as “one of the worst accidents” they had ever seen. The deadly wreck happened along a sweeping “S” curve on Alessandro Boulevard at Royal Hill Drive.

City of Riverside Police and Fire personnel along with other emergency first responders were dispatched to the scene of the crash shortly after 6 a.m., after multiple area residents and passing motorists called 911 to report the wreck.

A driver was killed when their vehicle went airborne and became wedged in mid-air between two palm trees early this morning. Dalton Seckinger photo

When officials arrived they found a dark-colored vehicle – suspended in mid-air – wedged between two palm trees. The car was destroyed to the point of being all but unrecognizable.

The driver and sole-occupant of the car was still inside the vehicle and had sustained major traumatic injuries. Despite attempts to provide medical intervention the victim succumbed to their injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Officials have not released the driver’s name pending further investigation and notification of the victim’s family. Officials have also not specified if alcohol or drug intoxication were suspected of being contributing factors in the wreck.

Based on the circumstances officers from Riverside PD’s Major Accident Investigation Team responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.

Their preliminary investigation revealed that the vehicle was possibly traveling at high-speed when the driver “failed to negotiate the curve, left the roadway and collided into a tree,” officials explained in a social media release about the crash.

Officers eventually called for the closure of all eastbound lanes of Alessandro Boulevard between Fairview and Arlington Avenues and the roadway remained closed for several hours.

While officials were still investigating the deadly collision area residents took to social media sharing and discussing what they had seen.

Duffy Atkinson, who said he lives less than 100 meters from the accident site, later explained he not only heard the accident – he “felt” the tremendous impact as well.

A car was left suspended in mid-air, wedged between two trees after a fatal solo-vehicle accident Mar. 16. Lizzie Jackson photo

Saying he did not hear any sounds of braking or skidding before the wreck, Atkinson explained, “I actually felt the 6 a.m. impact while in bed. It was that bad.”

According to Atkinson, “there was no front passenger compartment” left and it took rescue personnel several hours to free the deceased driver from the mangled wreckage of the car.

Another area resident Lizzie Jackson, who works at Riverside Transit Agency, shared, “I just saw the worst accident that I’ve ever seen in all my 40+ years. The car was in the air lodged between two palm trees. Yes, I said up in the air.”

Jackson, who said the victim’s body was still inside the vehicle when she passed it shortly before noon described, “The speed that he had to have been going to get airborne and fly up that high is un-freaking-believable.”

Jeremy Williams was on his way home after house hunting in the Canyon Crest area when he saw the aftermath of the wreck. According to Williams, his first thought when he saw the car “sandwiched” between the two trees was that the driver “was likely” racing or speeding “because (the) car was up above ground like if it hit (the) curb at 100 mph and went flying in (the) air.”

Saying her Riverside neighborhood was without electricity for 6 1/2 hours Tuesday night due to another speeding motorist who hit a power pole and fire hydrant, Theresa Midgett-Simmons surmised it all when she wrote,”Those curves are no joke, people need to slow down.”

Riverside PD’s investigation is active and ongoing and officials have asked that anyone who witnessed the crash contact Riverside Police Detective B. Jones at (951) 826-8722. Callers can remain anonymous.

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Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego 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.

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 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.