On Saturday, March 9, a head-on collision in the San Bernardino mountains left one person dead and several others injured.  The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 38 at approximately 12:48 p.m. and involved a U.S. Forest Service vehicle.

According to reports, the Forest Service vehicle – a Mill Creek Hotshot crew buggy – collided with two civilian vehicles.  All nine fire crew members inside sustained injuries, while a civilian occupant of one of the other vehicles was killed. 

fatal hotshot buggy crashCalifornia Highway Patrol logs indicate that the crash occurred near Forest Falls and Yucaipa Police closed Highway 38 in both directions from Bryant St to Valley of the Falls Drive.

While the investigation into the crash is ongoing, witnesses report that the civilian truck caught fire and was fully engulfed in flames when first responders arrived at the scene.  The rear passenger box of the buggy was disconnected from the vehicle.

Fatal Collisions Involving Emergency Vehicles

While relatively rare in occurrence, collisions involving emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles are disproportionately deadly to civilians.  From 2010 – 2021, nearly 77 percent of people killed in such crashes were occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists. 

In this case, the exact cause of the crash is yet to be determined and the identities of the victims have not been released.    

Deadly Roads in Southern California

Saturday’s incident is another in a rash of deadly crashes throughout Southern California in 2024, illustrating just how dangerous its roadways can be.  On March 8, two teenagers were killed in a single-vehicle accident in Rancho Cucamonga, while another person was killed in a collision on U.S. 101 near Oxnard in a separate incident.

Another collision on Saturday, March 9 left two people dead in Baldwin Hills. 

While motorists cannot control the behavior of other drivers, they can, however, take steps to reduce their risk of being involved in a collision.  Attorney Gerald Singleton offered his thoughts.  

“In light of the recent tragic collision, it’s incredibly important for drivers to remember their role in maintaining road safety. Vigilance, adherence to traffic laws, and situational awareness are key components of preventing accidents,” he went on to say.  “Each driver’s commitment to cautious and respectful driving, especially in areas where civilian and service vehicles share the road, can significantly reduce the risk of such catastrophic collisions. Our thoughts are with the affected families, and we urge all motorists to take these responsibilities to heart.”
With those words in mind, there are a number of ways drivers can improve both their own safety and that of those around them. 

  • Always wear your seatbelt while driving.  
  • Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Drivers should obey posted speed limits, signs, and traffic control devices.  In particular, drivers should avoid excessive or unsafe speed.
  • Avoid distractions such as the use of mobile phones or other activities that take their attention away from the road. 
  • Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and don’t assume that another driver will behave predictably.
  • Pass carefully and only when it’s legal or safe 
  • Service your car regularly to ensure that your vehicle’s tires, brakes, and other components function properly.

Unfortunately, even with these precautions, collisions can still occur.  If you or a loved one have been involved in a serious motor vehicle collision, contact the accident attorneys at Singleton Schreiber by calling (619) 771-3473 or via email at info@singletonschreiber.com.