I-5 crash into parked big rig in Cottonwood leaves local trio, ages 15, 16 and 20 dead, 4th victim critically injured

COTTONWOOD, Calif. — Authorities say three young local females, including two teens, were killed after a small passenger vehicle they were in veered off Interstate 5 in Cottonwood and slammed into the back of a big rig that was parked along the shoulder of the freeway early Sunday morning, March 20.

The deadly crash, which happened south of the Cottonwood truck scales and Bowman Road, sent a fourth victim to the hospital with major injuries, according to California Highway Patrol.


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CHP and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene around 1:45 a.m. after receiving reports of a major injury traffic collision with entrapment.

When officials arrived, they found a white 2018 Kia 4-door that had slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer combo that was parked on the shoulder of the freeway.

Three young local females, ages 15, 16, and 20, were killed after their vehicle plowed into the back of a tractor-trailer combo that had been parked on the I-5 shoulder south of Bowman Road early Sunday morning. A fourth victim, age 21, sustained major injuries and remains hospitalized. KRCR image

Paramedics immediately began evaluating and treating those injured in the crash; however, despite life-saving efforts, three of the vehicle’s occupants succumbed to their injuries and passed away at the scene.

Although none of the victims’ names have been released, officials described the driver as a 16-year-old girl from Red Bluff and the two deceased passengers as a 15-year-old Red Bluff girl who was a passenger in the front seat and a 20-year-old woman from Cottonwood who had been in the left-rear seat.

The sole-surviving victim, a 21-year-old Red Bluff woman who had been a passenger in the right-rear seat, sustained major injuries, and after being extricated from the wrecked Kia she was rushed to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where she remains hospitalized.

The driver of the Old Dominion Freight Line commercial truck, 47-year-old, Rodney Hill, of Elk Grove, was uninjured in the crash and later told officers he did not witness the accident, but only felt the impact of the victims’ vehicle when it plowed into the back of his parked rig and trailer.


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Although CHP is still working to determine if alcohol and/or drug intoxication, sleepy or drowsy driving, or driver distraction were contributing factors in the fatal crash, they have said that the two passengers of the Kia had not been wearing their seatbelts when the collision occurred.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information becomes available.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 51, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and operates Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS). Both are stringer organizations, providing breaking news coverage and community interest stories for other mainstream media organizations throughout the two regions they serve.

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.