Fatal traffic accident on Gilman Springs Road occurs despite safety improvements


Despite Caltrans recent efforts to reduce fatal and serious traffic accidents on Gilman Springs Road between San Jacinto and Moreno Valley with reflective paddle boards, double-yellow lines, rumble strips and a streetlight, two more people died in a head-on collision Sunday, Aug. 18.

This early morning accident occurred a half mile west of Highway 79 on Sanderson Avenue when a 27-year-old San Jacinto man who was driving eastbound in a 2004 Lexus sedan on Gilman Springs Road with a male sitting in the right front seat and woman passenger in the right rear seat crossed over two sets of solid double yellow lines, a center rumble strip and center paddle marker delineators into the opposite lane.

The brown Lexus collided head-on with a westbound 2008 Toyota Sienna van driven by a 52-year-old Los Angeles man with five passengers, who all suffered serious injuries and one woman passenger was killed.

Firefighters and paramedics had to extricate the Lexus driver from his vehicle. The driver and a woman passenger were rushed to a Riverside hospital with serious injuries. The passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other people in the van were rushed to area hospitals with serious injuries and undergoing treatment.

The number of fatal and serious traffic accidents like Sunday’s accident has continued to increase since January with more and more motorists choosing Gilman Springs Road for commuting, instead of truck-jammed Highway 60. The two-lane Gilman Springs Road, until this month, had only two blinking traffic speed indicators, one passing lane, two intersections and a little lighting to control traffic, but the road is being widened along a 2-mile stretch.

Caltrans worked for nearly three-months resurfacing Gilman Springs Road, adding the safety equipment and are installing a new four-way traffic signal at Bridge Street in hopes of reducing accidents. The California Highway Patrol Beaumont station has increased patrols but can’t seem to reduce speeding on the 55 mph highway. Investigators are finding that many of the serious accidents on the highway are attributed to speed, inattention and intoxicated drivers.

Residents in Moreno Valley and San Jacinto Valley continue to be concerned about the dangerous road, hoping the new upgrades will reduce these accidents.

The upgrades followed a series of accidents dating from Jan. 30, when two people were killed on the highway, one at Bridge Street and the other near Sanderson Avenue/Highway 79. There was a three-car crash near Bridge Street March 30.

An accident May 20 saw one person killed in a head-on collision at Big Nash Road, and the next day, May 21, another person died in a head-on crash again near Sanderson Avenue.

There have been a number of other fatal accidents on Gilman Springs since 2017, CHP officials said, initiating the latest Gilman Springs Road upgrades including what is called the “Swarm” on Highway 60 from Moreno Valley to Beaumont and the Interstate 15. The Highway 60 project has closed off one entire westbound lane causing more traffic delays and forcing more drivers to take the Gilman Springs Road over to the connecting Highway 79.

The Highway 60 project includes upgrading bridges along the highway as well as adding truck lanes and other improvements. The project is expected to last into 2021 with various lane closures at different times. Until those repairs are completed, traffic on Gilman Springs Road may continue to increase.

The CHP has increased its patrols on both highways and Highway 79 since and is warning drivers that traffic violation fines are doubled in construction zones.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.