The pedestrian who was struck and killed on the northbound 15 Freeway near the Lake Elsinore-Wildomar boundary this morning has been identified.
Lake Elsinore resident Joshua Eugene Epling, 21, was struck multiple times approximately 1.47 miles south of the Railroad Canyon Road/Diamond Drive exit, according to the Riverside County Coroner’s Office.
He was struck at 3:21 a.m. and pronounced dead at 3:31 a.m., according to the coroner’s office.
Vontrice Charles, a 31-year-old female motorist from Perris driving a burgundy Toyota Scion tried to avoid the victim, but struck him as he ran across the freeway in an easterly direction, the CHP reported. She was traveling approximately 65-70 mph, the CHP reported, and her vehicle sustained major damage. She was not driving under the influence, according to CHP.
It is unclear why Epling, who was carrying a Nintendo Wii and a case of beer, was running across the freeway. According to CHP, Epling's mother said he was possibly shopping at Walmart in Lake Elsinore around midnight.
Epling may have been under the influence of alcohol, according to CHP.
He was struck while in the number three lane and was thrown onto the number two and one lanes, according to CHP.
With the exception of Charles, none of the other motorists who subsequently hit Epling stopped, according to the CHP.
Debris and body parts were strewn across the busy interstate.
The CHP is asking motorists who struck the victim come forward and is advising that they may have biohazardous material on their vehicles.
The fatality closed down the northbound 15 Freeway for nearly seven hours. Traffic was rerouted onto the Bundy Canyon Road exit and electronic signs on the 15 Freeway as far south as Rainbow were advising motorists of the closure. Travelers were being asked to avoid the northbound 15 through the Temecula and Elsinore valleys.
Shortly after 10 a.m., the CHP advised that body parts had been removed from the freeway and there was no biohazard remaining. The freeway was reopened at 10:10 a.m.
Traffic remains backed up through the Temecula and Elsinore valleys, CHP is reporting.
Anyone who may have hit the victim, or anyone with further information, is asked to call the CHP at 951-506-2000.