DUI suspected after deadly Hemet crash that killed local man, 58

UPDATED: Sunday, Feb. 28, 3 p.m., With additional witness statements, photos.
UPDATED: Sunday, Feb. 28, 4:30 p.m., With Hemet PD release of information.
UPDATED: Sunday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m., With addition of video from scene.

HEMET, CALIF. — One person was killed and another was airlifted with serious injuries after a two-vehicle head-on crash in Hemet yesterday afternoon, Saturday, Feb. 28. Witnesses say the driver of one of the involved vehicles was driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic when the fatal collision occurred. Officials have since said DUI is suspected to be a contributing factor on the part of the driver who caused the collision.

The deadly accident, which forced the hours-long closure of State Street/Route 3 and led to significant delays in travel times for area motorists, happened between S. Village Loop and Newport Road.

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City of Hemet Police and Fire personnel, along with other emergency responders, were dispatched to the scene around 3:15 p.m., after receiving reports of a major injury crash with possible entrapment, Hemet Police Lieutenant Eric Dickson later said of the accident.

When officials arrived they found two wrecked vehicles, described as a silver Ford F150 pickup truck and blue Ford Mustang. Both vehicles sustained heavy front-end damage and vehicle parts and debris were left scattered across the roadway.

One driver died at the scene, while a second driver was airlifted to an area hospital, after a head-on crash in Hemet yesterday afternoon. Christina Tober photo

Paramedics determined the driver of the Mustang had already succumbed to his injuries and had passed away at the scene.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials have since identified Reef Crismon, 58, of Hemet, as the man who died at the scene of the crash. A coroner’s release indicated he was pronounced deceased at 3:36 p.m.

A Mercy Air Ambulance was summoned for the driver of the pickup, who had to be cut free from the destroyed vehicle.

“Officers and medical personnel began life saving efforts and the driver of the F-150 was extricated from the vehicle and airlifted to a local trauma center,” said Dickson. “The victim is listed in serious condition but is expected to survive.”

Based on the circumstances, members of Hemet PD’s Traffic Investigation Team were called in to investigate the collision.

During their subsequent investigation, Hemet PD officers determined that just before the fatal collision Crismon was traveling northbound on State Street in the Ford Mustang, while the pickup truck was traveling southbound.

“As the vehicles approached South Village Loop, the driver of the Ford Mustang swerved into the southbound lane of State St., colliding into the F-150 in a ‘Head-on’ collision,” Dickson explained; adding, “At the time of this writing, it is not known why the driver of the Mustang swerved into the southbound lane.”

“Evidence located at the scene suggests that DUI may be a factor,” Dickson added.

Another motorist, Omar Dandan, later shared what he witnessed, calling the deadly wreck “so sad”, while offering his condolences to the victims’ families.

“I was one car in front of the grey truck going south on State St, when the blue Mustang coming northbound veered into my lane coming head on,” Dandan explained; adding, “I swerved into the dirt road to avoid him.”

“Next second, I looked into my rearview mirror and saw them collide” Dandan continued. “I ran to see what I could assist with, but unfortunately both drivers needed the jaws of life.”

Witness Omar Dandan, who was almost struck head-on by a speeding Mustang driving on the wrong side of the road, narrowly avoided being hit and was forced to steer onto the dirt shoulder to avoid the oncoming Ford. Omar Dandan photo

Hemet PD is continuing to investigate the cause of the deadly collision and officials have asked that anyone who witnessed this collision and has not yet provided a statement to contact the Hemet Police Department Traffic Division at (951) 765-2400. Callers can refer to incident file number 21-1528 and can remain anonymous.

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

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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

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.

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