Driver flees from Banning traffic stop, leading to double-fatal collision – Victims, 75 & 24, ID’d

BANNING, Calif., — Authorities have identified two men who died as a result of a two-vehicle crash in Banning Friday evening, July 29. Two other people were injured in the collision, which occurred at the E. Ramsey Street on-ramp to Interstate 10, near the Banning Municipal Airport, according to officials.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has since confirmed to RCNS that the double-fatal collision occurred as a result of an attempted traffic stop of a stolen vehicle – which the driver refused to stop for, leading to the deadly crash.

Two men died at the scene of a two-vehicle crash that occurred in Banning on Friday evening. Beaumont News Source / EN3 Productions photos

CHP – San Gorgonio, Cal Fire – Riverside, and other emergency personnel who were dispatched to the scene around 8:37 p.m. found two involved vehicles with a total of four victims and immediately began a cut and rescue operation to free the occupants from their wrecked vehicles.

Despite life-saving efforts, two men succumbed to their injuries and passed away at the scene, according to a Cal Fire social media release. Two other victims survived the collision and were taken to area hospitals with injuries they described as serious.

The Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office has since identified Christopher Saldana, 24, of Banning, and James Darnell, 75, of Cabazon, as the victims killed in the collision.

It was not immediately clear if the two men who died as a result of the crash were in the same vehicle or if the two men knew each other.

As reported by Beaumont News Source the evening of the crash, witnesses said the accident occurred within moments of an attempted traffic stop which the driver refused to stop for, leading to the collision seconds later.

Contacted for further details regarding the attempted traffic stop, Riverside County Sheriff’s Sergeant Brandi Swan confirmed the accident occurred as a result of the driver fleeing from deputies.

Swan went on to say that around 7:34 p.m., sheriff’s deputies spotted a stolen vehicle being driven on the westbound 10, at which time a traffic enforcement stop was initiated.

The driver, whose name has not yet been released, refused to yield to the deputy’s lights and sirens, at which time the deputy began pursuing the vehicle.

Although Swan said the collision occurred within moments of the fleeing driver exiting the 10 Freeway onto E. Ramsey Street, and that deputies were actively pursuing the stolen vehicle when the accident occurred, she referred all other questions to CHP – San Gorgonio officers, who are investigating the cause of the fatal collision.

CHP has not yet released any details regarding their ongoing investigation and no further details have been released.

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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.

In 2022, Trevor added published author to his accomplishments, after he co-authored “A Veteran’s Story – Courage and Honor”. The book, which became a national bestseller in multiple categories, is available for purchase on Amazon.

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.