Two dead, one airlifted, after off-road vehicle crash in Riverside

  • UPDATED: Sunday, Jan. 2, 9:05 a.m., With initial release of Coroner’s information.
  • UPDATED: Sunday, Jan. 2, 11 a.m., With photos and details from the scene provided by Jeff Waller (Which can be viewed at bottom of original story).

Originally Published: Saturday, Jan. 1, 11:25 a.m.

See Original Story below.

RIVERSIDE, Calif., — The Riverside County Sheriff Coroner’s Office has identified one of two people who died in an off-road accident in the La Sierra/Norco hills Friday, Dec. 31. The deadly crash happened along a dirt ridgeline in the La Sierra/Norco hills, west of the 11300 block of Bentley Street, according to officials.

Fire and rescue personnel can be seen making the long hike into a steep ravine where two people died after their off-road vehicle careened off a ridgeline in the La Sierra/Norco hills on Dec. 31. Jeff Waller photo

In a Sheriff-Coroner’s release today, Christopher Raahauge Sr., 60, of Norco, was identified as one of those who died at the scene of Friday’s off-roading accident. A Coroner’s release indicated he was pronounced deceased at 3:28 p.m.

In a related social media post, the victim’s son, Christopher Raahauge wrote, “Yesterday at around 2:45pm the world lost a great man due to a tragic accident.”

“He had one of the biggest hearts around, always willing to help those in need,” the grieving son wrote; adding, “My family is asking for your prayers.”

“Dad, I miss you already,” he continued.

As of this morning, a second person who was killed in the crash had only been identified as a 33-year-old Norco man. According to a preliminary Coroner’s release, the victim was pronounced deceased at the scene at 3:26 p.m. His name will be released after his family has been notified of his passing, according to the release.

Contacted this morning, area resident Jeff Waller told RCNS that he and his sons were possibly the last people to see the victims before the deadly crash.

“We were mountain biking Sierra Hills and ran into Chris on the ridge moments before his fatal accident,” Waller told RCNS this morning.

“We frequently ride this area which is extremely technical, and we were quite surprised to see Chris operating his ATV,” Waller went on to explain; saying, “My oldest son warned Chris that it would be a really tight fit to get his ATV across the ridge trail.”

“We all wished each other a Happy New Year and continued on,” Waller explained; saying he later heard about the accident and subsequent rescue and recovery efforts and photographed the hours-long extraction process.

This accident remains under investigation and as of the last update, officials have not yet ruled out alcohol and/or drug intoxication as contributing factors in the fatal accident.

Original Story: Two dead, one airlifted, after off-road vehicle crash in Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif., — Saying that 2021 was the deadliest year in at least the last two decades for fatal traffic collisions within the city of Riverside, with a total of twenty-eight crashes that left twenty-nine people dead, authorities were saddened to announce two more vehicle accident-related deaths that occurred yesterday, Dec 31.

The deadly off-road vehicle crash, which killed two people and injured a third, happened along a dirt ridgeline in the hills south of La Sierra and west of the 11300 block of Bentley Street, according to officials.


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City of Riverside police and fire personnel were alerted to yesterday’s deadly crash around 2:40 p.m. after an off-road vehicle plummeted down a steep canyon in the La Sierra/Norco hills, ejecting one of the occupants from the vehicle, Riverside Fire Department has since reported.

When officials arrived at the scene, they located a sole surviving victim with moderate injuries near the top of the canyon. After hiking further down into the canyon, officials located the bodies of two deceased victims still inside their off-road vehicle.

Firefighters and paramedics are seen working in a steep canyon where the bodies of two off-road enthusiasts were found following a fatal rollover accident in the La Sierra/Norco hills yesterday afternoon. OnScene TV photo

The surviving victim was airlifted from the side of the canyon by a Riverside County Sheriff’s helicopter and flown to Riverside Community Hospital for treatment of their unspecified injuries.

Officers who investigated the cause of the fatal accident determined that the three victims were traveling along a dirt road of a ridgeline in the hills when the vehicle struck a large boulder, causing the driver to lose control.

After striking the rock, the vehicle veered off the side of the hill and careened down a steep embankment before overturning multiple times.

In a release yesterday related to the fatal accident issued while officials were still working at the scene, Riverside Fire officials explained, “The fire department is working in conjunction with the Riverside Police Department, Riverside County Coroner, and Riverside County Sherriff to extract the deceased.”

Officials have not released any information about those involved in the crash, pending notification of the victims’ families.

SEE ALSO: Porch-pirates who tried to ruin Hemet family’s Christmas nabbed in stolen vehicle – Children’s presents returned

“This is yet another heartbreaking example of the dangers of illegal off-roading within our city,” Riverside PD said after the deadly accident; adding that the department has been plagued over the last year with numerous fatal and serious injury off-road vehicle accidents.

“We offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of today’s incident, and to the dispatchers, officers, firefighters/paramedics, and others who responded as well,” RPD went on to say.

Anyone with information about this accident is encouraged to contact Detective Jeff Derouin at (951) 826-8722 or [email protected].

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

Jeff Waller photos

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.