Separate crashes kill three in Imperial Sand Dunes

WINTERHAVEN, Calif. – A tragic start to the off-road season at the Imperial Sand Dunes this Halloween weekend. In separate incidents, three people were killed in off-road vehicle crashes.

The first involved a 16-year-old teen reported in the Glamis area. The minor’s name will not be released because of his age.

Friday afternoon close to 1 p.m. a head-on collision claimed the life of 36-year-old Eric Sweetland of Wildomar, California also in the Sand Dunes near Glamis.

Saturday a single vehicle crash was reported around 5:30 p.m at Gordon’s Well. There, one man from Mesa, Arizona died from fatal injuries.

“He landed on his front end and I believe his chest came in contact with the handle bars and he flipped in over end,” said California Highway Patrol Spokesperson Jeff Knutson. CHP officials say this is why it’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings.

“The dunes themselves sometimes get higher, sometimes get lower. And we just ask that people use caution when riding a quad or four-wheel vehicle or some kind of off-road vehicle we ask that you take a look at the area first before you go making any big jumps. Make sure you know what’s on the other side of that jump,” said Knutson.

Although it’s impossible to control mother nature, CHP officials say you can do your part by wearing the right gear. Knutson said, “Of course wearing your protective equipment, helmet, chest protectors, some sort of eye protection.”

It isn’t yet known if alcohol was a contributing factor, but Bureau of Land Management prohibits drinking and driving in the dunes.”As always don’t drink and drive, that’s a lot of times the incidents that are involved out there involve alcohol, sometimes drug use,” said Knutson.

An autopsy for all three victims is set for Tuesday.


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