2 injured in head-on crash east of Temecula; injuries described as ‘critical’

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Diane Sieker photo

ANZA – Two people had to be airlifted to hospitals Monday afternoon following a head-on crash about 30 miles east of Temecula.

The crash was reported just before 4:35 p.m. on state Route 371 adjacent to the Cahuilla Casino near Anza, California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Lassig said.

According to Lassig, it’s believed a 23-year-old man from La Quinta driving a 2017 Ford Explorer was heading eastbound on Route 371 toward Indio when, for reasons that remained unknown, he apparently lost control of the SUV and plowed into an oncoming 2018 Honda Accord, which was being driven by a 20-year-old man from Camp Pendleton.

Firefighters from Cal Fire Riverside and California Highway Patrol officers immediately responded to the crash. Both drivers suffered major injuries and had to be extricated from their vehicles, Lassig said.

The Camp Pendleton man was airlifted to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, while the La Quinta man was airlifted to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. There was no word on their condition.

Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts, Lassig said. Drugs and alcohol were not suspected factors in the collision.

The roadway was closed in both directions for a little more than 30 minutes after the crash, Lassig said.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.

8:45 p.m. Monday: This story was substantially updated with additional information from CHP Officer Mike Lassig.