DUI suspected of teen driver after crash with ejection that killed girls, 17

INDIO, Calif. — Two Indio area families are continuing to grieve the loss of their teenage girls, who both died as a result of a wreck that CHP is now saying was caused by an intoxicated teen driver, in the unincorporated Sky Valley area of Riverside County, north of Indio, early Sunday morning, June 20.

CHP Sgt. Al Saig has since reported that the 17-year-old girl — whose name was not released because of her age — barely survived the fatal accident and is expected to be arrested on suspicion of two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI once she is release from the hospital.

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Although there were no witnesses to the fatal accident, which occurred at Dillon and Berdoo Canyon roads, a remote, desert area east of the Coachella Valley Preserve and north of the Golf Club at Terra Lago, CHP, CAL FIRE-Riverside and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene around 5:17 a.m., after a passing motorist spotted the wreck and called 911.

Officials found a heavily-damaged 2012 Nissan Altima with three victims, including one who had been ejected from the wrecked passenger sedan.

Nearly an hour later, CAL FIRE updated that two of the teenage victims had already succumbed to their injuries and passed away at the scene. They also advised that a third victim was found trapped inside the wrecked vehicle and that firefighters were still performing a cut and rescue operation to free her from the mangled vehicle.

Based on the severity of the surviving victim’s injuries, officials requested an air ambulance to the location and Mercy Air Ambulance 18 was soon launched to the area.

Firefighters managed to free the victim from the vehicle at about the same time Mercy 18 was landing and at around 6:45 a.m., after stabilizing the victim, the air ambulance lifted off. The victim was flown to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs for treatment of what were described as major injuries.

Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner officials yesterday identified Jade Torres, and Valerie Castellanos, both 17 and both from Indio, as the victims killed in the crash. A coroner’s release indicated the girls were pronounced deceased immediately when officials arrived at the scene, at 5:25 a.m.

Officers who investigated the fatal crash determined the young driver was driving a 2012 Nissan Altima at 80-90 mph when she lost control of her vehicle. Her Nissan careened off the roadway and into an open desert area, where the speeding car then smashed into a tree, causing the Nissan to go airborne.

The impacts caused the front seat passenger to be ejected from the vehicle; while the right, rear seat passenger suffered severe chest trauma, according to officers who said both girls died at the scene.

SEE RELATED ORIGINAL RELATED ARTICLE: UPDATE: Teen girls ID’d after deadly Indio area wreck that left another in critical condition

Saig has since said that although investigating officers are still waiting for toxicology reports to determine the driver’s level of intoxication at the time of the crash, “initial indicators” pointed to signs of alcohol intoxication.

A memorial of flowers and candles has since been seen on Dillon Road near the scene of the crash.

CHP’s investigation is continuing.



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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