Hemet man, 24, killed in Valle Vista four-vehicle head-on wreck

VALLE VISTA, Calif. — Officials today are continuing to investigate the cause of a four-vehicle chain-reaction crash that left one person dead and three others injured in Valle Vista Saturday afternoon, Jan. 9.

The deadly accident, which according to witnesses was possibly caused by speeding and reckless driving, happened on Ramona Expressway/Mountain Avenue, about 400 feet north of Cedar Avenue.


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California Highway Patrol, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Hemet Police Department, Cal Fire-Riverside, and AMR were dispatched to the scene around 12:13 p.m., after receiving reports of a traffic collision with rollover and entrapment involving four vehicles, according to Cal Fire and other sources.

Firefighters who were first to arrive at the scene found three wrecked and heavily-damaged vehicles scattered across the roadway, while a fourth vehicle was found to have overturned and come to rest on its wheels in an open field adjacent the road.

While trying to extricate a critically injured man from one of the vehicles involved in yesterday afternoon’s crash, he succumbed to his injuries and passed away at the scene. Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents photo

The vehicles were described as a black Mercedes-Benz SUV, black Nissan sedan, black Chevy Silverado pickup truck, and white Nissan SUV.

Based on the number of victims, firefighters initially requested four AMR ambulance crews to the scene, as well as a Mercy Air Ambulance for one person who was critically injured and trapped inside the Nissan that was struck head-on and had overturned.

While working to extricate the driver from his Nissan, the man passed away and was pronounced deceased at the scene. At that time the Mercy Airship was cancelled.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials have since identified Jose Cruz Cerino, 24, of Hemet, as the man killed in the collision. A coroner’s release indicated he passed away at 12:30 p.m.

Witnesses at the scene later told CHP officers and others that the driver of the Mercedes SUV was speeding down Mountain Avenue just before possibly clipping the white Nissan, causing the collision.

The initial impact sent the Mercedes, pickup truck, and white Nissan careening into oncoming traffic, where at least one of the vehicles smashed head on-with the Nissan; causing it to overturn and come to rest in a nearby field, according to witnesses.


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It was not immeditely known if alcohol and/or drug intoxication or distracted driving were contributing factors in the collision, which remains under investigation.

Contacted for further information, a CHP representative confirmed the collision resulted in one man’s death, but she could not provide any further details regarding whether anyone was arrested after the fatal accident.

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Timothy Franzese/Public Safety Incidents photos above, video below.

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Trevor Montgomery, 49, 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 KRCR News Channel 7 and Mountain Echo in Shasta County, Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; 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. (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.