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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.

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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