A San Bernardino County Sheriff’s SUV flipped “several times” and crushed the roof of a small auto-repair shop Sunday afternoon in Yermo after one witness says he lost control and hit multiple cars at roughly three times the speed limit on a tight desert road.
Yermo resident Dylan Fernandez says he lives a short walk down the road from the scene of the crash, as his landlord is the wife of the owner of the car shop: El Toro 2 Tire Auto Repair, at 501 West Yermo Road, neighboring Upton’s Complete Market and across the street from the Yermo Welcome Center and Thrift-N-More.
Upon hearing the crash at roughly 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Fernandez says he went to investigate and was told by a store worker across the street that the deputy had been driving roughly 140 miles per hour when he reached a slight left-hand curve, roughly 770 feet west of the auto shop, and “basically just lost control of his own vehicle.”
“He had hit two cars on the side of the road, causing him to flip onto the tire shop where the guy was actually working on a car, and it landed on top of his awning,” Fernandez told the Daily Press, adding that the two cars were parked and he believes no one was inside of them. “As far as I’m concerned, (the shop owner) is OK. I went to go check on him.”
Sheriff’s spokesperson Gloria Huerta in an email Sunday said many details surrounding the wreck, including the cost of damages and cause of the crash, were still under investigation.
“What I can tell you is that the deputy was traveling east on Yermo Road when the accident occurred,” Huerta told the Daily Press. “The unit rolled several times and came to rest on an awning at an auto repair shop.”
She added that the deputy and “an employee at the repair shop” sustained minor injuries from the crash.
The Daily Press was unable to get in touch with the shop owner Sunday.
The stretch of Yermo Road between Knowles Street and McCormick Street was closed for a few hours after the crash, but appears to have been re-opened around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Google Maps.
The speed limit is 45 miles per hour on the road where the officer reportedly lost control at high speed. The slight left-hand curve referenced by Fernandez occurs immediately west of Yermo Road’s intersection with Dividing Line Street.
Bradlynn Torres, another local who provided photos of the aftermath to the Daily Press, says she and a friend went to investigate Sunday when they ran into the blocked-off road and saw the chaotic nature of the scene.
“You could see it. It was a giant sheriff’s truck that was on top of that tire shop,” she said.
Torres added that an ambulance was departing the scene as she arrived and that a fire truck, an undercover police car and a handful of Sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol vehicles remained at the scene as of about 2:30 p.m.
Fernandez says the store worker across the street had spoken to officers at the scene who said the deputy’s high-speed crash was connected to a chase of a suspect on Interstate 15, which parallels Yermo Road to the north.
Officers allegedly told the store worker that the deputy was attempting to bypass traffic on I-15 by taking an on-ramp to the freeway further east on Yermo Road.
“Where he was driving, the speed was just kind of unnecessary, I would say,” Fernandez said. “Definitely not a road you would wanna be going 140 on.”
Fernandez says he has known the auto-shop owner since he was a kid and often uses his services for regular needs with his car and bicycle. He said that “regardless of whether he’s working on tires or not,” the owner has a favorite area where he where he sits just a few yards from the landing spot of the sheriff’s SUV.
“He’s always sitting right there, but maybe like 10 more feet to the right, so if this just had happened slightly more to where he’s usually working, or where he’s usually just chillin’, it just seriously could have been catastrophic,” Fernandez said. “He’s a very good guy around this town, always willing to help people out and stuff. I’m just very grateful he’s OK and up and walking.”
Charlie McGee covers California’s High Desert for the Daily Press, focusing on the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities. He is also a Report for America corps member with The GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and around the world. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.