5-vehicle, chain reaction crash in Riverside leaves one woman dead – Man arrested for DUI

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Authorities say a five-vehicle, chain-reaction crash left one woman dead and another driver arrested for DUI in Riverside Sunday morning, Dec. 5. Officials have since said that heavy, early morning fog may have played a contributing role in the fatal collision.

The deadly crash, which happened after a motorist stopped on the freeway due to a flat tire, occurred on the southbound I-215, north of Columbia Avenue, according to officials.


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California Highway Patrol – Riverside and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene around 6:30 a.m. after receiving reports of a multi-vehicle collision, CHP Officer Juan Quintero reported this morning.

When officials arrived they found five involved vehicles scattered across the number one HOV lane and the adjacent number two lane. CHP immediately issued a Sig-Alert for the highway and began diverting traffic off the freeway and onto surrounding streets.

Firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency personnel are seen working to extricate a person from one of five vehicles involved in a fatal, chain-reaction crash early Sunday morning. River Said/Facebook image

Firefighter paramedics immediately began evaluating and treating those injured in the crash, including a woman who was found unresponsive inside her vehicle, a gray Honda Civic.

Despite life-saving efforts, the Honda driver succumbed to her injuries and passed away after being rushed to Riverside Community Hospital. Her name has not yet been released, pending notification of her family.

“Preliminary investigation revealed, at approximately 6:23 a.m., a Chevrolet Silverado sustained a complete deflation of its left-rear tire, so the driver activated his hazard lights and came to a complete stop within the #1 lane,” Quintero explained today.

Although a BMW 535I came to a complete stop behind the Chevrolet pickup truck and a Toyota Corolla was either stopped or slowing to a stop directly behind the BMW, the Honda Civic traveling within the number one southbound lane failed to slow or stop for the stopped vehicles ahead of hers and she struck the Toyota at highway speed.

The Toyota was pushed forward and to the right and struck the rear of the BMW, and that impact pushed the BMW forward into the rear of the Chevrolet.

“Almost immediately after the first impact, the Honda was violently rear-ended by a Lexus IS250,” Quintero continued; adding that the multiple high-speed impacts ultimately led to the Honda driver’s death.

One other person was transported to Riverside Community Hospital with minor injuries, according to Quintero. The driver of the BMW sustained minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital.


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Although the driver of the involved Toyota, 43-year-old Tillman Puckett III, did not cause this collision, he was determined to have been driving while under the influence and was subsequently arrested at the scene.

Online jail records indicate he was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on suspicion of DUI and possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana. Records also revealed he was released within hours of his arrest and is scheduled to be arraigned at the Riverside Hall of Justice on April 14.

CHP’s investigation is active and ongoing and no further details have been released.

Anyone who may have witnessed this collision and has not yet provided a statement is encouraged to call the California Highway Patrol – Riverside’s Accident Investigation Unit at (951) 637-8000.

River Said/Facebook on-scene videos below.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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.