Witness says road rage and racing may have led to San Jacinto head-on collision
SAN JACINTO, Calif., — Two people were seriously injured in a two-vehicle head-on crash in San Jacinto Tuesday morning, Jan. 11. The major injury accident, which at least one witness said was the possible result of road rage and racing, happened on the Ramona Expressway, just east of Lyon Street. The crash forced the hours-long closure of the expressway and caused a traffic nightmare for area residents and commuters.
Sheriff’s officials have since said that although numerous “awesome citizens” witnessed the horrific collision and stopped to help the injured drivers, several of those witnesses left the scene prior to being identified or interviewed and they have asked for anyone who saw the crash or what led to it to contact them.
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Deputies from the San Jacinto Sheriff’s Station, Cal Fire – Riverside, Soboba Fire, and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene around 7:35 a.m. after receiving reports of a head-on collision with entrapment, according to Cal Fire and San Jacinto Sheriff social media releases.
Arriving at the scene within minutes, deputies found two involved vehicles, including a white Chevy Malibu and white Nissan Altima. Both vehicles sustained heavy front-end damage and vehicle parts and debris were scattered across the eastbound side of the roadway. Numerous citizens were already providing medical aid and comfort to the two injured occupants, both of whom were left trapped inside the mangled wrecks of their destroyed vehicles.
Deputies and fire personnel work at the scene of a crash that witnesses have said was possibly caused by road rage and racing. Robert Carter/Public Safety Incidents photo
Cal Fire and Soboba Fire paramedics soon arrived and took over life-saving efforts, while beginning simultaneous cut and rescue operations to free the trapped and injured victims from the two vehicles.
After being freed from their cars, both drivers – who were the sole occupants of their vehicles – were transported by ground ambulances to area hospitals, according to Cal Fire, who described their injuries as major and moderate.
Area resident Francis Hernandez-Moreno, who witnessed the collision while driving to work, has since told RCNS that she first noticed one of the involved vehicles when it pulled alongside her at the intersection of W. Ramona Expressway and N. State Street.
As the vehicles began to accelerate through the intersection the driver alongside her Jeep suddenly sped ahead and cut her off before speeding westbound ahead of her. The driver then went around several other vehicles, according to Francis; who said, “They were swerving back and forth going around slower drivers.”
“When they went to go around a black Mustang, both vehicles sped up and looked like they were racing,” she continued, saying she witnessed both drivers pass and then cut each other off several times in the moments just before the crash.
“It just happened so fast. They were like right, left, right, and then boom. That’s when he lost control, when he tried to swerve around the Mustang and pass him while going too fast,” she explained.
Francis went on to say that she was so shaken by what she had seen she was not immediately able to continue on to work and that she had to sit in her car for a long time, trying to process the collision she had just witnessed, as well as what led up to it.
“I can’t help but wonder if I could have done anything differently when they cut me off, if I could have done something to keep the accident from happening,” she explained. “But no matter how late you are, you don’t swerve around other cars like that. There’s no reason to be cutting off people while going that fast.”
“There was just no reason for this to happen,” she added. “It’s just so tragic.”
While deputies investigated the cause of the collision they called for the temporary closure of the eastbound expressway between Lyon Street and N. State Street, but the roadway has since been reopened.
Anyone who witnessed this collision and has not yet been identified or interviewed is encouraged to contact the San Jacinto Sheriff’s Station at (951) 654-2702 or Sheriff’s Dispatch Center at (951) 765-1099. Callers can remain anonymous.
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Robert Carter/Public Safety Incidents photos above, video below.
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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.