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Road Complications, Spinouts, Fatalities, and Rescues Amid Harsh Weather in San Bernardino County

San Bernardino County, Calif. (VVNG.com) – As Southern California faces a fierce storm, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has reported numerous road incidents, including closures due to flooding, traffic hazards, water rescues, and several accidents and spinouts resulting in two fatalities.

Current Freeway Off-Ramp and Road Closures:

  • The I-15 in Hesperia by Main Street saw extended lane closures, leading to heavy traffic in the Hesperia area.
  • SR 173 at Arrowhead Lake Road was shut down by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office at 9:21 AM due to unsafe passage, affecting the link to Lake Arrowhead.
  • The ramp at I-215 South and Baseline Street was closed as of 7:38 AM caused by flooding complications.
  • Eastbound I-10’s Cedar Ave off-ramp experienced a closure due to the road being compromised by a sinkhole.

In Hesperia, Rock Springs Road was also closed due to flooding.

Additionally, the City of Victorville has disclosed a list of streets subject to closure due to the persistent rainfall, according to information from a previous VVNG report.

Fatal Incidents:

One driver tragically drowned after their vehicle was submerged underwater when they lost control and veered off the road, ending up in a ditch. It happened on I-10 near Live Oak Canyon in Yucaipa and was reported at 2:54 PM. Traffic is stopped in the area.

Another fatal crash occurred between Cypress and Citrus Avenues on Westbound Interstate 10 in Fontana. The vehicle spun out under the inclement weather conditions and crashed around 5:14 AM. Emergency teams, comprised of the San Bernardino County Fire, AMR, and CHP personnel, responded swiftly but, despite urgently administered critical measures, the driver succumbed to fatal injuries at the scene.

Swiftwater Rescue in Hazardous Flood Conditions Near Keenbrook Road; Three Rescued After Attempting to Cross Flooded Road

San Bernardino County Firefighters had to utilize their swift water rescue team early this morning to save three people who were in a tree after their vehicle was swept away near the area of Keenbrook Road / Cajon Blvd, in Devore.

Just before midnight, San Bernardino County Fire crews were dispatched to a reported Swiftwater Rescue near Cajon Blvd & Keenbrook Road in the Cajon Pass area. The 911 caller stated he had attempted to drive across a flooded road when his vehicle was swept away. 

Firefighters including pre-positioned Swift Water Rescue teams arrived in the area to find two full-size SUVs, one with an attached trailer, lodged against a tree in the Cajon Wash downstream from the initially reported location.  Three victims were spotted.  One was standing atop a vehicle, and two more were located in a tree above the same SUV.  All parties were surrounded by rapid flood waters.

Working from both banks of the Cajon Wash, firefighters initiated numerous plans but were hampered by the volume and turbulance of water flow, limited access and low visibility. Ultimately all three victims were placed in flotation devices & successfully moved to safety. Once on shore, firefighter/paramedics assessed the victims for exposure and transported the parties to an awaiting ambulance. The victims were transported to an area hospital for evaluation of minor injuries and hypothermia. The incident in total took more than two hours to effect. 

The second SUV was found to be unoccupied.

San Bernardino County Fire responded with four Engines, two Swift Water Rescue Units & two Chief Officers. Rialto Fire assisted with an Engine Company.

People underestimate the force and power of water. Many deaths occur in cars swept downstream. Many of these drownings are preventable. Never drive around the barriers blocking a flooded road. The road may have collapsed under that water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away most cars while two feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and trucks.

Emergency Response and Safety Advisory

The storm continues to affect the region, prompting multiple rapid-intervention operations by the CHP and associated emergency services. Officials advise drivers to exercise extreme caution on the roads and adhere to traffic advisories during this period of dangerous weather-related conditions.

The recent storm has prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency for several counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The proclamation is a move to support storm response and facilitate recovery operations, ensuring resources are readily available to cope with the destructive impact.

San Bernardino County authorities are issuing a serious warning to the residents: it’s crucial to avoid driving on roads that are covered with water. The key message they want to convey for personal safety is simple: If you encounter a flooded road, always remember to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”

Sudden and intense rainstorms have the potential to swiftly transform calm creeks and dry riverbeds into dangerous, fast-flowing channels. It’s worth noting that merely 12 inches of flowing water is enough to carry away most vehicles, posing a significant risk to those inside.

A crash Monday afternoon on Mariposa Road in Hesperia near Main Street. (Hugo Valdez)

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