HEMET: Suspected drunk driver hospitalized after plowing into RR crossing signal

HEMET — In spite of several 911 calls reporting a suspected drunk driver, officials did not arrive in the area in time to stop a man from being injured when he smashed head-on into a railroad crossing signal and barrier arm earlier tonight. The wreck, which sent the vehicle’s driver to the hospital, happened at a railroad crossing on S. Sanderson Avenue, just south of Wentworth Drive in Hemet.

SEE SIMILAR: HEMET: Victim ID’d after 2-vehicle rollover wreck and ejection kills 1 injures 3

A fire engineer assesses a RR crossing traffic signal destroyed by a suspected drunk driver. Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents photo

CHP and Hemet PD began receiving 911 calls reporting the man’s dangerous driving actions shortly before 10 p.m. Callers told emergency dispatchers the driver of a blue Chevy pickup truck was swerving across the roadway while traveling eastbound on Domenigoni Parkway toward Hemet. At least one of the 911 callers reported to Hemet PD that the truck had almost collided with several vehicles.

While officers from the two agencies were trying to intercept the vehicle after the truck headed north from Domenigoni Parkway on Sanderson Avenue, callers updated that the pickup had plowed at full speed into the railroad crossing signal. The impact caused the truck to spin around and it came to rest facing the wrong direction in the number 2 northbound lane of Sanderson Avenue.

Officials began arriving with moments of the update and found the wrecked truck along the east side of Sanderson Avenue. The truck had sustained major front-end damage and the railroad crossing signal and arm lay in a twisted heap in the roadway and northbound traffic was obstructed by the vehicle and signal parts and debris.

While firefighter-paramedics evaluated and treated the injured driver, Hemet PD interviewed several witnesses, including at least one of the people who called 911 to report the man’s suspected drunk driving.

Officers learned that as the Chevy traveled north on Sanderson Avenue, the driver somehow managed to plow into the railroad signal, knocking it and other debris into the roadway.

The injured driver was eventually transported to Hemet Valley Hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

“I don’t even think he hit the brakes before hitting the signal,” area resident James Thompson explained after the wreck.

“I don’t know if the guy was actually drunk or not,” Thompson continued, “but if he was – even after all the fatal and major accidents we’ve had in this valley recently – I will never understand how people will still get behind the wheel of their cars while intoxicated. It just don’t make no sense to me.”

Officials have not specified if alcohol or drug intoxication were considered to be contributing factors in the crash, or if the driver had been suffering from a medical condition.

Hemet PD’s investigation is active and ongoing.

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Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents video


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Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and 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.