Fatality crash at Thomas Mountain

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Rescue workers use the jaws of life to remove a man trapped in this Ford Fiesta after a fatal traffic collision Saturday morning on Highway 74 near Courtesy Drive in Garner Valley.         Photo by Johnny Wilson

Rescue workers use the jaws of life to remove a man trapped in this Ford Fiesta after a fatal traffic collision Saturday morning on Highway 74 near Courtesy Drive in Garner Valley. Photo by Johnny Wilson

A two-vehicle crash at 10:34 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, on Highway 74 at Thomas Mountain Village resulted in one fatality and three injuries, two of them moderate to serious.

According to California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Darren Meyer, Walter Risch, 73, of Mountain Center, was driving a white 2004 Ford 150 truck westbound on Highway 74 just east of Courtesy Drive in Thomas Mountain Village when he began to turn left into the driveway of a private residence.

At the same time, Stanley Vandyke, 69, of Oceanside, was driving a 2016 red Ford Fiesta eastbound on Highway 74.

According to the CHP report, Risch said he did not see the Fiesta coming when he turned left and the two vehicles collided, causing major damage to the Fiesta.

Vandyke, the Fiesta driver, died at the scene. Also in the Fiesta, in the right front passenger seat, was Jane Vandyke, 67, of Desert Hot Springs and James Bees, 62, of Hemet,who was in the rear seat on the right side. Jane was transported by Mercy Air to Desert Regional Medical Center complaining of neck and back lacerations and pain in the chest. Bees, after a cut and rescue, also was transported by Mercy Air to Desert Regional with broken bones, head trauma and multiple lacerations.

Diane Church, 74, also of Mountain Center, a front-seat passenger in the Ford 150, was transported by American Medical Response to Riverside University Health Medical Center in Moreno Valley with minor injuries. Ford 150 driver Risch was not transported.

Meyer stated that results of the CHP investigation determining fault would be forwarded to the office of the Riverside County District Attorney for possible charges if Risch is found to have been at fault and to have consequently caused the fatality.

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