Two collisions over the last week on mountain roads, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP) Public Information Officer Matt Napier. One of the collisions was a fatality.
At 9:48 a.m. Thursday Nov. 5, Alejandro James Avalos, 27 of Hemet, was stopped in his 2017 Toyota Corolla in the northbound left-turn lane at the junction of highways 371 and 74. Marci Jean Stewart, 50 of Mountain Center, was driving her 2016 Chevrolet Trax eastbound on Highway 74. Avalos failed to yield turning onto Highway 74 colliding with the front right of Stewart’s vehicle. Stewart’s vehicle was towed by Idyllwild Garage and the Corolla was driven from the scene. Neither driver was injured.
At 12:50 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9, David Valk, 21 of Palm Desert, was driving his gray 2002 Jaguar XKR with passengers Brandon Gurel, 18 of Palm Desert, and a minor. Valk was traveling eastbound on Highway 74 just east of Ribbonwood Drive at a stated speed of 50 mph. He was unable to negotiate a right-hand curve due to the unsafe speed for the wet road conditions. Valk lost control of his vehicle that then started rotating clockwise, hitting the mountain side and overturning.
The vehicle came to a rest on its roof partially blocking the westbound lane. Valk and the minor complained of pain and were transported by AMR to Desert Regional Medical Center.
Gurel was pronounced dead at the scene. According to CHP, Valk is being charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. The vehicle was towed by Valley Auto.