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2 Men Dead On Ortega Highway Following Motorcycle Crashes; CHP Looking For 1 Witness

The Saturday-afternoon crashes were reported near The Lookout Roadhouse.

UPDATED April 14 at 7:37 a.m.: Two motorcyclists were killed Saturday afternoon in separate crashes on the Ortega Highway near The Lookout Roadhouse, according to a California Highway Patrol spokesman.

The first crash reported at approximately 1:41 p.m. claimed the life of a 48-year-old man from Fontana riding a Harley-Davidson. The man's identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin. (CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE ON THE MAN'S IDENTITY.)

The motorcyclist was heading westbound on the Ortega traveling at about 45 to 50 miles when for unknown reasons he drifted into eastbound traffic and struck the left front of a 2006 Ford Five Hundred sedan, CHP Officer Nathan Baer explained.

The motorcyclist lost control and went over the side of the highway. The crash, which occurred approximately 2 miles west of Grand Avenue, completely severed the motorcyclist's left leg, Baer said.

CHP Officer Jose Serrano responded to the scene, walked down the cliff at the highway's edge and located the downed motorcyclist, "who was still conscious, but in a tremendous amount of pain," Baer explained.

The motorcyclist was transported to Inland Valley Medical Center but succumbed to his injuries, Baer said.

The Ford driver, 54-year-old John Fitzgerald of Glendora, was not injured but Baer said his vehicle sustained major damage and was undriveable. Fitzgerald was interviewed and released from the scene.

"He was obeying the law and doing everything he was supposed to be doing," Baer said.

It's unclear if the deceased was under the influence.

"We are still investigating that," Baer said.

The second crash was reported at approximately 2:30 p.m., about 1 mile east of The Lookout Roadhouse.

In that crash, a 26-year-old Lake Elsinore man was headed eastbound on a 2009 red and white Husqvarna dual-purpose motorcycle. Witnesses reported he was traveling at a high rate of speed and crossing over the double yellow line, Baer explained. 

"One witness said he flew right past him," Baer said.

The motorcyclist suddenly came upon traffic that was stopped as a result of the first crash, but he was unable to brake in time.

"He ended up laying the bike down," Baer said.

The motorcycle sustained minimal damage, but the biker ended up underneath a small white pickup truck that was stopped in the eastbound traffic, Baer explained.

The truck driver helped bystanders get the motorcyclist out from under his vehicle, but left the scene before first responders arrived, according to Baer.

When first responders got to the second crash, they tried to resuscitate the injured motorcyclist, but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Baer said.

Drugs or alcohol are not suspected in that crash, Baer said.

The deceased's identity has not been released by the coroner's office yet. (CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE ON THE MAN'S IDENTITY.)

The CHP is seeking the truck driver.

"We just need to talk to him about the investigation," Baer said.

The man is described as approximately 40 years old with blonde hair. No further description was available and Baer said the truck make and model have not been confirmed.

The man, or anyone who may have information, is asked to contact the CHP Temecula Station at 951-506-2000.

The crashes forced officials to close the Ortega most of Saturday afternoon.

Editor's note: The CHP originally identified the first crash victim as a 49-year-old man from Lake Elsinore. The above has been updated based on information received from the Riverside County Coroner's Office.

Gina Rose April 14, 2013 at 07:58 AM
To the family of the ones that passed on this tragic day I am sorry for your loss, you will be in my prayers...
Myrna April 14, 2013 at 08:08 AM
You are right Sam Avery this is free country and if you don't like the Hwy you live by then you have the choice to move. You are a very insensitive person and last but not least all I have left to say is...KARMA!!!
Lucy Curiel April 14, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Thank you so much Kera! Thank you for Praying and holding my nephew's hand, for being there when none of us could. Fidel was his name, named after my Dad and his Grandfather. He just became a father just 9 months ago to a beautiful daughter and he will truly be missed be us all! I Love you Fidel!
Pat April 14, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Bless you, Kera Wilson. I'm sure that was difficult for you but meant EVERYTHING to that young man...
J Carabine April 14, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Kera - I am so glad to hear you were with him, it seemed from the story the white truck driver left him. Thank you and God Bless you for your kindness. I've lost a son and know the pain this family will feel- please people pray for both families. To the commuter- You might just have been delayed from something for a reason. Accidents happen, delays happen. if your husband is commuting 4 hours twice a day taking the Ortega might be saving him 30 minutes which still makes his day horrendously long. Would a move be a good idea?
J Carabine April 14, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Exactly right and unless you have had that call you cannot understand how that affects your family. I don't drive the Ortega but it is now one of the most dangerous roads in the county and no matter where you go now people are driving too fast,too distracted and accidents will happen :(. Pray for these families . and if you know them be there for them .
Lepimpster April 14, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Sam not sure how it takes 4hrs each way to go to Irvine. Must be a 9-5 job in the thick of traffic. I used to make the drive to Irvine and it was quicker to take the 91 to 241 than go the Ortega. 1 1/2hrs (Ortega) and 1hr(91/241). But this was when I would leave at 4:30. As for the pickup truck. I hope they find and charge him for leaving the scene of an accident.
J Carabine April 14, 2013 at 03:24 PM
OH I am so sorry Lucy, so sorry, please know many are praying for this family. Hugs.
J Carabine April 14, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Hugs Alicia.. They don't get it sadly ;( My prayers for your family.
J Carabine April 14, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Amen !! SO sorry Nicole, hugs and prayers to your family.
Troy April 14, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Motorcycles are stupid? I did not realize that motorcycles have the ability to be smart or stupid. I have seen plenty of stupid motorcycle riders/drivers, just as is the case with cars, however your thoughts about the motorcycles are interesting. I do agree 100% that there are a LOT of very careless motorcycle riders on the Ortega Highways (as it appears these two guys were), who I wish would slow it down.
J Carabine April 14, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Agree, she was an angel.. and God Bless her for doing that. Very hard.
Troy April 14, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these two guys. I drive the Ortega Highway round-trip once or twice a week on business. I always dread it, as on nearly every trip there is a car riding my bumper and/or flashing their lights because they want to go faster. I do every bit of the speed limit, but so many drivers want to go much faster. It just wish everyone would slow it down a bit and be more cautious. In regard to the motorcycles, yes I nearly always see their riders going screaming past us. For the sake of their families and everyone else on the road, I wish they would slow it down. A Big THANK YOU to the CHP Officers who risk their own lives trying to do speed enforcement up there!
Troy April 14, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Kera - What a wonderful person you are to have held this mans hand and prayed for him! I know that had to be very difficult and something that you will never forget. You should be very proud that you did all that you could to make his last minutes as comfortable as possible. I just wish that people would slow down going over the Ortega Highway. Like others, I have seen so many accidents, have seen the motorcycles going screaming past us and the have had many cars ride my bumper and give me the finger because I was only doing the speed limit. It just is not worth it. Please slow down and be courteous to others everyone! Thanks again to the CHP Officers that risk their own lives doing enforcement up there.
Troy April 14, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Nicole. So very sorry that you lost your uncle. You say that it was not anyone's fault. I sure hope you are right, however I will say that there are a LOT of motorcyclists up there that treat the highway like a race track. I pray that your uncle was not one of them. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Timoteo April 14, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Back in the 70's we called the Ortega "Slaughter Alley". Still living up to it's name...
Kelly April 14, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Whoever said "its no ones fault" better read the article again!! The riders on the motorcycles were at fault. End of story!
lynn April 14, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Really Kelly? that's all you got out of the article? Such a shame. So pathetic anyone can place blame, point fingers when two lives have been lost. It was an ACCIDENT... no one plans an accident.
sara mostead April 14, 2013 at 11:28 PM
to everyone who is complaining about the traffic on the ortegas may god have such mercy on your souls when u get to see god ur very self because 2 men lost their lives an will never again be able to see or touch their loved ones again. i am a friend of the mother of the young man Fidel who lost his life yesterday. do u all know that he just became a father an now his little girl will never get to know her dad. all of u should be just sending prayers to both of the families who lost lost a loved one. who cares about how long it took someone to get home or u had to sit in traffic, god forbid something like this should happen to u an all everyone was talking about was how long it took u to get home that day or that u had to sit in traffic. an to the women who held on to Fidels hand and prayed with him u r an angel an we thank u so very much for doing so. u r an angel ...so to the other family that lost their loved one named rob, our thoughts an prayers go out to all of his family and friends may god lift u up during this time of need an god bless u all too..... to all the people complaining about the nonsense of traffic an other bullshit i hope that this never happens to u an ur families cuz its such a painful feeling to have an may god have mercy on u all
Kingpin April 15, 2013 at 04:17 AM
I have friends who live in one of the homes on Ortega Hwy. They tell me the #1 reason for accidents is cars, trucks, or motorcycles crossing the yellow line. They usually cross the yellow line because they are going too fast.Yes, some of the crotch rocket motorcycles ride too fast BUT so do some of the cars and trucks. Coming home from the two accidents ( I was in a car and waited 1 hour and under the circumstances that was totally understandable) I pulled over 8 times to let cars pass me. It seems that even seeing two accidents, as soon as traffic started again people droves fast again. THAT is the problem.
MMG April 15, 2013 at 04:02 PM
I somewhat disagree. My husband and I got stuck in this traffic. We showed up right behind the 1st accident. We live off of Ortega Hwy and we had to take a fire trial up that ends at the South Main Divide, the problem was, others were using this same trail too and it made it more dangerous, then letting some traffic through. I've seen it before.
MMG April 15, 2013 at 04:06 PM
UM, yeah, that would work and what would the residents, LIKE ME, need to move then?? Think about what you just said.
Becky Honkington April 15, 2013 at 06:06 PM
The speed limit for the most part on Ortega Highway is 55 mph. If you drive the speed limit, typically, the regular commuters won't flash you to pull over.
Becky Honkington April 15, 2013 at 07:42 PM
No direspect but if you had to pull over 8 times, you were driving too slow.
Kingpin April 16, 2013 at 04:23 AM
B.S. Becky. Speed limit is 40 and I go 50. I'm still tailgated. And you missed the point. Let me repeat it: Even after 2 fatal accidents the SAME DAY AT THE SAME TIME and waiting over 1 hour for the police and ambulance, after traffic started again, people still drove too fast TO MAKE UP FOR THE HOUR THEY LOST. THAT NEARLY RESULTED IN A 3RD ACCIDENT WHEN TRAFFIC HALTED AGAIN. UGGHHHH..... Will people ever learn?
Becky Honkington April 16, 2013 at 02:52 PM
This morning I had the misfortune of driving behind some guy that drove 30 to 40 mph all they way over the highway. There was a line of more than 20 cars behind us. Most of the way the posted signs said 45-55 mph. Except for the Elsinore side, the Ortega is a safe road with minimal winding turns. There is no reason to go that slow and if you want to, use a turnout so that people who know how to drive can get to where they need to go.
stacey alonso April 16, 2013 at 08:47 PM
omg..... i am right there wth ya kingpin!!!!!
Kingpin April 17, 2013 at 12:48 AM
People SHOULD use the Turn outs if/when they want to go slower. That's why I pulled over 8 times. I drive an 85K sports car. Few cars can keep pace with me if I want to race home. But sometimes I don't want to ride the "AUTOBAHN on Ortega". Bottom line: Use COMMON SENSE. If someone is in a hurry, pull over and let them by. But I'm not gonna risk my life just because YOU want to.
Reverend Smith April 17, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Why thanks. But my comment was directed towards the driver of the truck which the article says left the scene. I also noted another fatality a short time ago with almost the same scenario. I don't know about you, but I try and draw it to people's attention - in this case motorcyclists - that situations can arise on a twisty road where a rider going fast has no way of dealing with. Come around a corner and see stopped traffic and there's not enough room to stop and the very laws of physics conspire against you. I only hope other riders will take heed and that there are no more of these tragic losses.
So Cal Native April 18, 2013 at 05:02 PM
God Bless both of the men who lost their lives over the weekend - very sad news. I have been commuting on the Ortega for almost 8 years - My experience is that as long as everyone stays at a steady 50mph, traffic flows fine but, you still have to use common sense safety and expect the unexpected. Also, not all motorcyclists drive like maniacs up there, but there are a few.. As far as the people who drive under the speed limit, did anyone ever think that "some" of them do not use the turnouts because they can't read the signs in English? They too are a danger to everyone on the road! People get impatient and then try to pass...... we all know what happens then :(

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