A 40-year-old man whose car veered off Interstate 10 in the Banning Pass during stormy weather was struck and killed a short time later when another driver lost control on the wet freeway and slammed into him as he was being assisted by a tow truck operator, authorities said Friday.
Gilberto Avila of Yucca Valley was fatally injured about 3 p.m. Thursday on eastbound I-10, just east of Tipton Road, in the unincorporated community of Whitewater, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Officer Matthew Napier said Avila was driving a Toyota Prius that went out of control and traveled down a small embankment during a downpour that shortly after 2 p.m.. The motorist was not hurt, and a CHP officer arranged for a tow truck to recover the stranded Prius.
The truck reached the location less than an hour later, and as the tow operator was preparing to recover the Prius, Avila waited adjacent to the truck, according to Napier.
During the vehicle recovery, 35-year-old Aaron Oliver of Avondale, Arizona, was passing the location in his Chrysler Sebring during another rain squall and was allegedly “traveling at an unsafe speed for the road conditions,” Napier said.
“Mr. Oliver was unable to maintain control of his vehicle as it lost traction with the roadway and veered out of control to the right,” Napier said. “The Sebring crossed several lanes of traffic and onto the right shoulder striking the tow truck, followed by Mr. Avila.”
The Chrysler overturned along the shoulder of the freeway.
Avila was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, where he died a short time later, according to Napier.
Oliver and his two female adult passengers were treated for minor injuries at the same hospital.
The freeway remained open, though the slow lane was closed for several hours after the wreck, Napier said.
No one was arrested, but the investigation is ongoing, according to the CHP spokesman.
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