Initially declared deceased with “no viable signs of life”, man takes breath when pulled – alive – from SUV

BANNING, Calif., — Left trapped inside the overturned and mangled wreckage of an SUV after a Banning crash with ejection, a victim who was initially declared deceased was eventually found to be alive – about an hour later – when they suddenly and unexpectedly took a breath when finally being pulled from the heavily damaged vehicle Wednesday afternoon, July 14.

The two-vehicle crash, which involved seven other victims and was declared a “Mass Patient Incident” due to the number of victims needing treatment, happened on the eastbound Hargrave Street offramp along Interstate 10.


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California Highway Patrol, Banning Police Department, CAL FIRE-Riverside County Fire Department and AMR were dispatched to the scene around 1:30 p.m. after receiving multiple reports of a two-vehicle crash with ejection, CAL FIRE later reported via social media.

When officials arrived they found two vehicles, including a green Ford SUV that had overturned and crashed into a tree. The SUV had sustained major damage with significant encroachment of the roof into the passenger compartment.

A person who was initially declared deceased at at the scene of a “Mass Patient Incident” involving a total of eight victims, was found to be alive when he suddenly took a breath as rescuers eventually went to remove him from the wrecked SUV. KESQ News Channel 3 image

Paramedics found one victim who had been ejected from the overturning SUV and also soon discovered six additional victims, all of whom were trapped inside the wrecked SUV.

The eighth victim was evaluated at the scene but declined further treatment and was not hospitalized. Roadside reports indicated that person was the driver of the other involved vehicle.

One of the victims in the SUV was found to have no pulse and no heartbeat and was not breathing, CAL FIRE spokesman Rob Roseen told RCNS today; adding, “The patient did not show any other viable signs of life and was declared deceased by paramedics at the scene.”

Firefighters then turned their attention to the other six victims, eventually extricating each of them from the heavily damaged vehicle.

Although a child’s car seat was among the debris thrown from the SUV and later recovered by CHP, it was not immediately known if a child had been inside the seat or if any children were in the vehicle when the crash occurred.

Officials reported from the scene via social media that three people suffered serious injuries and three others suffered minor injuries and later updated that one additional victim had “perished at the scene”.

The closure of the Hargrave Street offramp and extensive, hours-long rescue and cleanup operations caused traffic to quickly back up, resulting in a traffic nightmare for many area residents and commuters who travel through the area. KESQ News Channel 3 image

However, about an hour into the rescue operation, as the incident transitioned into a recovery operation for the final victim, thought to be deceased and left inside the vehicle as firefighters first extricated the other victims, everything suddenly changed.

“During the extrication process the patient actually took a breath,” Roseen explained; adding that paramedics immediately began life-saving efforts and that the victim “was transported as being alive.” He described the victim’s injuries as serious, but had no further details about the person’s condition or if their injuries were considered life-threatening.

Roseen had earlier explained that during a mass patient incident, in which a large or significant number of victims need to be triaged and treated for injuries, rescue personnel must prioritize them and their injuries in order to save as many lives, as quickly as they can.

With crews believing the person in the wreckage was deceased, they turned their focus to the other victims they believed they could still save at the time, Roseen explained.

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The rescue efforts and subsequent cleanup caused serious delays in commuter’s travel times, with traffic quickly backing up several miles. However traffic returned to normal after the wrecked SUV was removed from the scene and the offramp was reopened.

CHP’s investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing and no further details have been released.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 50, 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.