Authorities Sunday continued to investigate an off-road vehicle crash that killed the co-founder of an addiction treatment center in Norco and a resident of the facility on New Year’s Eve.
The rollover crash, which also injured a third person, occurred shortly before 3 p.m. in the 11300 block of Bentley Street, near Swenson Street, in an area known as La Sierra Hills, according to the Riverside Police Department.
Christopher Raahauge, 60, of Norco was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Riverside County coroner’s office.
Raahauge co-founded Shelter For Change with his wife, Karen. The nonprofit helps those dealing with addiction, including those without medical insurance, and offers transitional housing for recovering addicts, according to its website.
“It is surreal to be writing this about such a wonderful man whom has touched so many hearts and lives in our community. He gave so so much, so much love and hope and joy to anyone within arms reach especially a struggling addict or alcoholic,” stated a post on Shelter For Change’s Facebook page.
“Chris leaves behind a void bigger than space and shoes no person can fulfill but we will do our best in continuing what he and Karen have started and following his wishes and continuing to help the addict and alcoholic who is suffering. There is nothing he loved more to do,” the post continued.
According to the nonprofit’s website, the pair were inspired to help others through recovery after Raahauge and his youngest daughter overcame addictions that nearly destroyed their family. He had been sober for 15 years.
Also killed in the crash was a 33-year-old Norco man who was not named by the coroner’s office but who was identified as Ricky Rodriguez by Shelter For Change on social media.
“Ricky Rodriguez was new to our home and was raised in the system. When Chris learned of his story and of him not having any family, he told Ricky that day that he didn’t have to worry because we are his family, Chris was his family and he was home. Ricky was a wonderful young man that we loved having here with us and apart of the Shelter For Change family,” the nonprofit wrote on Facebook.
A third victim, who was not identified, suffered moderate injuries and was hoisted out of the canyon by a Riverside County sheriff’s helicopter crew, then placed in an ambulance and taken to Riverside Community Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Sgt. Emilio Angulo said the three victims were riding along a ridgeline trail in the all-terrain vehicle when they struck a “large rock, causing the vehicle to veer off the side of the hill.”
The ATV rolled multiple times until coming to rest at the bottom of the canyon, Angulo said.
A GoFundMe page set up to help Raahauge’s family pay for funeral expenses had raised over $7,800 as of early Sunday afternoon.