Authorities Wednesday released the name of a 36-year-old woman who was killed in a head-on crash just west of Hemet that also left three people injured.
Jennifer Haro Gonzalez of Hemet was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, which occurred about 12:50 p.m. Monday on state Route 74 near Winchester Road.
Gonzalez was riding with 34-year-old Christopher Ortega, who was at the wheel of a 2005 Mini Cooper traveling westbound, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Officer Darren Meyer said the pair were engaged in an argument when Ortega crossed into opposing traffic where a left-turn lane is available for a residential area, though it was unclear whether the driver intended to turn or was unaware he had driven into oncoming traffic.
According to Meyer, the Mini Cooper ended up in the path of an eastbound 2018 Toyota Camry driven by a 26-year-old Perris man.
“The impact was so violent that the engine from the Mini Cooper was torn (away) and flew across the westbound lanes,” the CHP spokesman said. “The engine landed on the north dirt shoulder of the highway, approximately 40 feet from the location of the crash. Both occupants of the Mini Cooper were not wearing seatbelts and were ejected from the vehicle.”
Ortega was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar with major injuries, Meyer said. The two occupants of the Toyota suffered minor to moderate injuries and were taken to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley for treatment, he said.
The CHP shut down the entire eastbound side of the highway at the scene for several hours.