Man sought after Beaumont pursuit ends with crash, brush fire
BEAUMONT — Authorities today are continuing their search for a man who led them on a dangerous pursuit that traveled from Beaumont into Cherry Valley Wednesday, May 29. Yesterday’s chase ended when the driver took his sports car off road, racing through several large rural properties, before crashing into a fence. The accident sparked a brush fire and caused a large and coordinated, multi-agency search for the alleged driver.
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Yesterday’s incident began just after 6 p.m., when Beaumont Police Department received a 911 call from the 700 block of Cedar View Dr. The person who called 911 told officials they heard a woman screaming “call 911” just before seeing a white Ford Mustang speeding away from the area.
Officers who responded to the scene soon spotted a vehicle matching the description and attempted to conduct an investigatory traffic stop on the Mustang. The driver, who was later identified as 48-year-old, Rayder William Johnson, of Cherry Valley, refused to yield and led officers on a dangerous, high-speed pursuit into the neighboring unincorporated community of Cherry Valley.
A witness filmed the alleged suspect as he fled from officers yesterday. Despite an extensive ground and air search that involved multiple law enforcement agencies, the suspect was not located after he crashed in a field, sparking a brush fire. EN3 News video
Johnson and a female passenger continued fleeing for several miles, until ending up on the north end of Winesap Ave., adjacent the south end of Bogart Park. As the pursuit continued, Johnson then drove through an open field and across several properties. He eventually collided with a private property fence, sparking a brush fire in the area of Johnathan Ave. and Bridge St.
As Beaumont PD, along with CHP officers and Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies converged on the area and began setting up a perimeter, both Johnson and his female companion fled from the burning Mustang onto the large rural property.
A sheriff’s helicopter soon arrived in the area and began assisting in the ongoing search for the two suspects, as Cal Fire firefighters knocked down the brush fire that was caused by the crash that ended the pursuit.
Although officers eventually located the female passenger hiding in a private property outbuilding, Johnson was not found that evening. Despite the extensive ground and air search, he remains outstanding.
Area residents who witnessed the pursuit later described a chaotic scene, with one witness Nancy Le Duc saying, “He was not gonna let cops get him. He was out of control.”
Le Duc described seeing Johnson hit a telephone pole on Oak Valley Parkway before backing up and taking off again. The crash tore off the Mustang’s front bumper and left it and other car parts scattered at the scene of the crash.
A few minutes after that crash another witness, who later requested to remain anonymous, managed to film Johnson as he sped through a nearby intersection. That video, which was later shared on social media and can be viewed below, showed Johnson narrowly avoid plowing broadside into a white sedan as he ran the stop sign. Several law enforcement vehicles right behind him and the Mustang’s front end was damaged and missing its front bumper from the earlier crash.
Beaumont PD is now searching for 48-year-old Cherry Valley resident, Rayder William Johnson, calling him a “person of interest” in the incident. BPD photo
Other photos taken at the scene of the final crash showed the Mustang abandoned in the field where it sparked the brush fire.
Officials did not specify if the woman was arrested, or what their investigation showed led to the wild pursuit.
Anyone with information about this investigation, or who knows Johnson’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact Beaumont PD’s on-duty watch commander at (951) 769-8500.
This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, 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 for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; 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 28 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.