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Three-Vehicle Crash in High Desert Kills Five Church Group Members


A community in Riverside is mourning the death of five people – including three teenagers of a church youth group and their 28-year-old director — who died in a fiery crash last week after their van crashed with a pickup truck and a car on an isolated stretch of Highway 395 in the High Desert south of Kramer Junction, according to an article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Nine members of the First Presbyterian Church in Upland were inside the 11-passenger van returning from a mission to a sister church in Bishop when it was struck. The article stated that the impact was severe enough to tear a Ford pickup into pieces and in fact, tore apart the truck’s body from its chassis, leaving the engine and the transmission lying on the ground. Apart from those who died, at least nine people were injured in the crash, the newspaper reported.

The crash was first reported shortly before 3 p.m. on June 23. It happened about six miles south of Highway 58, near Edwards Air Force Base. Smoke could be seen 17 miles from the crash site, according to the highway patrol. Several witnesses helped victims. One of then, an off-duty battalion chief with the Corona Fire Department, rescued a woman from the burning van with the help of others even as they were being driven away by the heat of the desert combined with the burning vehicle.

This collision followed another multi-fatality crash June 22 on the 40 Freeway near Ludlow when a Chevrolet Trailblazer, carrying four passengers, flipped over. In that crash, three of the vehicle’s occupants were pronounced dead on the scene.

California Highway Patrol investigators said the Ford pickup, which was towing a travel trailer was northbound when it collided with the southbound van carrying the church group. The trailer then collided with a southbound Toyota Corolla.

What a horrible tragedy for the church and the entire community! It is still not clear what caused the Ford pickup to lose control and hit the van. My prayers are with the families of the deceased as well as the injured members of the group who are still recovering from burn injuries.

In nearly three decades of representing victims of auto accidents, I’ve seen as many tragedies – young, promising lives lost, careers destroyed, hopes dashed. Many times, it’s the result of a defective product or somebody’s negligence or carelessness. It’s hard to even think that money can make up for these tragic losses. I won’t lie to you – money won’t fill the void in your life. But it helps pay the bills and put you on the road to recovery and healing.

These are the types of accidents that need a very experienced legal team with a cadre of experts to determine what happened, who was at fault, hold the wrongdoers accountable and get the injured innocent compensated.

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