Car ripped in half in Temecula I-15 crash

TEMECULA, Calif. — An early morning two-vehicle crash on southbound Interstate 15 near Rancho California Rd. in Temecula involved ten people, three of whom were hospitalized Saturday morning, Sept. 5.

One witness to the collision and subsequent rescue and cleanup efforts later described the “incredible” accident, saying it was “impossible” that anyone made it out of the wreck alive.


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The crash, which involved a Toyota Sienna minivan and Honda Accord, was reported at 4:08 a.m., according to a Cal Fire-Riverside County Fire Department social media release.

When officials arrived at the scene they found the impact of the collision had sheared the Honda in half, with the entire front of the destroyed vehicle thrown some distance away from where the rest of the car came to rest down an embankment alongside the freeway.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the Accord was completely torn in half, it was just incredible,” said one witness. “I honestly don’t know how anyone could have survived from that car.”

Firefighters found a total of ten victims, including one person who was briefly left trapped inside the mangled wreckage of one of the vehicles.

Firefighters, who said the trapped victim was conscious and breathing, eventually extricated the subject, before they were taken to a local hospital with injuries later described by officials as moderate.

Two other victims were transported by ground ambulances to area hospitals with moderate injuries.

Three other victims with minor injuries were evaluated and treated at the scene but refused further treatment, according to Cal Fire; who reported that four other victims were uninjured in the crash.

Joseph Rochester, of Lake Elsinore, later told RCNS he was heading to work when he witnessed debris, dirt and smoke on the freeway ahead of him and said he rolled up to the crash as victims were still climbing out of the wrecked vehicles.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” described Rochester. “The Accord was completely torn in half, it was just incredible.”

“I honestly don’t know how anyone could have survived from that car,” said Rochester; who added, “That’s just impossible. God was surely with them this morning.”

CHP’s investigation into the cause of the collision is ongoing.

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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 30 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 18 grandchildren.