UPDATE: DUI suspected in Happy Valley rollover that killed two

UPDATED: Saturday, July 18, 5 p.m., With additional details.

HAPPY VALLEY, Calif. — Two men were killed after a commercial dump truck they were driving lost control, careened off the roadway, and overturned down a steep embankment in Happy Valley Thursday night, July 16.

Neither of the victims were wearing seat belts and both were ejected and crushed under the truck when it overturned in the area of China Gulch and Canyon roads, according to CHP; who have since said DUI is suspected as a contributing factor in the deadly crash.


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CHP, Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire-Shasta, and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the area around 8:45 p.m., after receiving reports of a possible rollover accident.

Witnesses reported at least one victim was ejected and trapped under the truck and that smoke was coming from vehicle, according to official radio traffic and a CHP incident log.

Callers also reported the dump truck had been loaded with metal fencing “T-posts”, which were left scattered across China Gulch Rd. and along the shoulder of the roadway.

Two men were ejected and fatally crushed after a dump truck they were in lost control and careened 50 feet down a steep embankment along China Gulch Rd., according to CHP; who say DUI is suspected in the deadly crash. Colton Chavez/KRCR News Channel 7 image

Emergency responders began arriving shortly after 9 p.m., and confirmed finding a white, Ford F550 flat-bed dump truck that had overturned off the roadway and was approximately 50 feet down an extremely steep embankment.

Within minutes officials at the scene confirmed finding one victim trapped under the overturned vehicle and advised they were having difficulty accessing the overturned vehicle due to working in thick brush along the steep and rocky embankment.

Fire personnel requested additional resources and equipment to the scene to assist in performing a low-angle rescue and also requested an air ambulance be prepped and placed on stand-by in case needed.

While firefighters worked at preparing to lift the large vehicle off the initially discovered victim, CHP began diverting all traffic away from the area. They later called for the full closure of the roadway to allow for the hours-long rescue and recovery operation.

Although officials initially reported that as many as four people may have been inside the vehicle, radio traffic indicated officials learned from one of the victims’ brothers that two men had been inside the vehicle when the accident occurred.

It was not immediately known if that person had also been inside the vehicle when the accident happened.

The new information kicked off a frantic search for the second person reported to have been inside the vehicle, and officials requested a CHP helicopter respond to the area to use their FLIR to search for the victim in the darkness.

Just minutes later, officials reported finding the second victim crushed under the cab of the dump truck along with the first victim. They also advised that both men had succumbed to their injuries and passed away at the scene.

Neither victim had been publicly identified as of this update.

Recovery efforts took several hours due to the extremely steep embankment and difficult nature of extricating the victims from under the overturned dump truck, which landed upside down amid heavy brush and large boulders. Colton Chavez/KRCR News Channel 7 image

CHP later reported the vehicle had been traveling eastbound on China Gulch Rd. approaching Canyon Rd. when it came to a sharp, right-hand curve.

The driver lost control and the truck careened across the opposing lane of traffic, and soared off the road, dropping about 50 feet down an embankment where it overturned and came to rest on its roof.

The roadway remained closed for several hours to allow for the extensive and difficult recovery of the victims as well as dump truck.

Coroner officials were summoned to the scene around 10 p.m.; however, their arrival was extended due to already having been sent to a fatal drowning that happened in the Cottonwood area around the same time as this accident.

Although CHP’s investigation is ongoing, officers have cited alcohol intoxication as a possible contributing factor in the deadly crash.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information becomes available.

Click any photo to open full-size gallery.

Colton Chavez/KRCR photos above, videos below

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Contact the writer: [email protected]

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.