LAKEVIEW — Unsafe speeds led to yet another fiery, head-on wreck that claimed two more lives and left a third victim with serious injuries Monday, July 3. The late-night accident happened on a sweeping curve along Gilman Springs Road near Bridge Street in the unincorporated community of Lakeview, southeast of Moreno Valley and northwest of San Jacinto.
An on-duty Hemet police officer, on his way back from an out-of-area assignment, witnessed the fiery, head on wreck about 11:30 p.m. He was the first person at the the scene of the deadly crash and with help from a good Samaritan managed to pull one of the victims from the two burning vehicles.
Fourteen firefighters from three engine companies and one truck company responded to the fatal collision, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Public Information Officer Jody Hagemann explained in an incident report.
CHP officers responded to the scene and assumed the accident investigation.
During their investigation officers determined a 60-year-old Moreno Valley resident was driving his red, 1992 Chevrolet Corvette westbound on Gilman Springs Road, east of the intersection of Bridge Street.
At the same time, John McDaniel, a 60-year-old Los Angeles resident was driving a silver, 2002 Buick Le Sabre eastbound on Gilman Springs Road approaching the Corvette. A 77-year-old man from Los Angeles was a passenger in McDaniel’s Buick.
“Due to the Corvette’s excessive speed, the driver was unable to negotiate a curve in the roadway,” California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Darren Meyer explained the morning after the fatal wreck. “He allowed his vehicle to drift left, across double yellow lines and into the eastbound lane of Gliman Springs Road, directly in the path of the Buick.”
“Both vehicles collided in the eastbound lane of Gilman Springs Road,” said Meyer, who explained that after the impact, the Corvette “immediately burst into flames,” leaving the Moreno Valley resident trapped inside the blazing vehicle. In spite of his efforts to save the Corvette driver, the heat from the roaring flames pushed the officer back and kept him from being able to help the victim.
Although faced with the fiery devastation and death happening right in front of him, the officer who was first at the scene remained calm and professional and immediately began requesting additional resources to the scene, asking for City of Hemet Fire as well as Cal Fire/Riverside County and Soboba firefighters from all nearby fire stations. He also requested several Hemet police officers, CHP officers, Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies and anyone else near enough to assist with the devastating wreck.
With the Corvette fully engulfed in flames, and both the Buick’s driver and passenger still trapped in the mangled wreckage of their vehicle, the officer updated that the Buick and surrounding vegetation were beginning to catch fire.
With help from another witness and good Samaritan who stopped to help, the officer was able to remove McDaniel from the Buick.
The passenger remained trapped in the burning Buick and later had to be extricated from the wrecked car by firefighters during a cut and rescue operation using the “Jaws of Life.”
AMR medics eventually transported both McDonald and his passenger by ground ambulance to the trauma center at nearby Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley.
“The passenger succumbed to his injures at the hospital at approximately 1:36 a.m.,” Meyer explained. “The driver of the Corvette was pronounced deceased at the scene.” The names of the two victim’s have not been released, pending notification of their families.
During their investigation, officials called for the full, temporary closure of Gilman Springs Road in the area, to ensure the safety of officials at the scene of the fatal wreck. The roadway remained closed for several hours while CHP officers investigated the cause of the crash and fire officials extinguished the fires and the two destroyed vehicles were removed from the area.
“Alcohol, drugs and/or reckless driving have not been ruled out as contributing factors in the cause of this collision,” said Meyer.
The cause of the investigation is still under investigation.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.