UPDATE: More details emerge after Fallbrook man killed in Hwy 74 crash near Perris

UPDATED: April 29, 11:38 a.m., With additional details from witness at scene.

MEADOWBROOK, Calif. — Authorities say a man was killed after a three-vehicle collision in the unincorporated community of Meadowbrook, Tuesday afternoon, April 27. Another driver was seriously injured in the crash and remains hospitalized, while the driver who caused the crash was uninjured.

The deadly accident, which forced the hours-long closure of the highway, happened on SR-74 at Ethanac Road, between the cities of Lake Elsinore and Perris.


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California Highway Patrol, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Cal Fire-Riverside, and other emergency responders were dispatched to the scene around 3:45 p.m. after receiving reports of a major-injury traffic collision, according to a CHP incident log.

When officials arrived they found a green Honda Civic with major front-end and driver’s side impact damage and a silver Toyota Camry with major front-end damage. A third vehicle, described as a white van was also at the scene, in front of the Guadalupana Market and Liquor store. Vehicle parts and debris were spread across and blocking both directions of travel on the roadway.

CHP works at the scene of a fatal collision that happened on Highway 74 at Ethanac Road yesterday afternoon. Riverside County News (RivCoNews) photo

One of the victims was found to have been killed upon impact and passed away at the scene.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials have since identified Gabriel Nieto Ruiz, 26, of Fallbrook, as the man killed in the collision. A coroner’s release indicated he was pronounced deceased at 4:10 p.m.

Riverside County News, (whose video and photos can be viewed below), reported from the scene that in addition to the driver killed in the crash, another driver had no injuries while a third driver sustained major injuries and was hospitalized after the collision.

Hemet resident Mark Sepeda later told RCNS he was directly behind the green sports car when the collision occurred.

“What I witnessed was the most devastating thing ever,” Sepeda said of the deadly accident, adding this was the second accident to happen right in front of him within the last three months.

Sepeda explained that the white van had suddenly, and without looking, pulled out of the Guadalupana Market, causing the oncoming silver sedan to swerve hard to the left. Although the sedan narrowly avoided colliding with the van, according to Sepeda, it struck the oncoming Honda nearly head-on.

“I was the first to hop out and dial 911,” Sepeda went on to explain; saying he helped the first victim out of the silver sedan.

“I broke his door to get him out and he was lucky to be alive,” Sepeda described.

“I then ran to the green Honda where the man was deceased on impact,” he added.

“Neither of the two cars that were totaled were at fault is the sad part,” the witness opined; adding, “An innocent man lost his life.”

While officials worked at the scene they called for the full closure of the highway, which remained closed for about three hours before being reopened.


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CHP has not yet ruled out drug and/or alcohol intoxication or distracted driving as contributing factors in the crash and their investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact CHP – Temecula Area Office at (951) 506-2000. Callers can refer to incident file number 0427211547968515957 and can remain anonymous.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

Riverside County News (RivCoNews) photos above

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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