Drunk drivers take damaging toll on neighbors community

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Ask any Canyon Lake resident if they know someone who has been affected by a drunk driver and they’ll probably tell you yes. Drunk driving happens in every community, and Canyon Lake is no exception.

In the past year, drunk drivers in Canyon Lake have hit or damaged parked vehicles, golf carts, trees, homes and a fire hydrant. In one drunk driving incident, a child fell out of a golf cart and had to be hospitalized, and the female golf cart driver arrested and prosecuted.

Here are just a few of the drunk driving accidents and arrests that occurred in Canyon Lake over the past year.

This week, on October 26, residents on Smugglers Point woke to the sounds of a loud crash. A suspected drunk driver slammed his BMW into a parked car. The parked car spun around and landed in Karen Bevan’s yard. Witnesses say the driver and passenger appeared to be intoxicated, and that they both left the scene and walked home before the fire engine, ambulance and police arrived.

“The guy didn’t answer his door for the police, so no arrest was made,” one resident reported. The BMW was towed that evening; the other car was towed the following day. Karen Bevans says she spent the morning after the accident picking up glass and car parts off her lawn.

According to video surveillance, this same couple was seen arguing at The Sports Stop before the crash on Smugglers Point. An object was thrown during the argument, which cracked the windshield of an employee who works at The Sports Stop. The couple left without reporting the incident or trying to notify the owner of the vehicle.

On September 10, a Pathfinder crashed into a palm tree at the home on the corner of Canyon Lake Drive North and Yellow Feather. The Pathfinder severed the tree and landed just a few feet away from the residents’ front door. The driver fled the scene. A search led the police to the home of a Canyon Lake resident. This was the second crash that occurred in the front yard of this home.

On August 8, a drunk driver plowed through a portion of the wrought iron fence on Railroad Canyon Road and slid across the parking lot at Canyon Lake Powersports. A women sitting in a golf cart was hit and had to be hospitalized. Several parked cars were also damaged. The driver was arrested on scene.

The residents on the corner of Cove View and Canyon Lake Drive North bought their home in early June. The day before closing, a drunk driver plowed into the front yard and through the home where the living room is located. The homeowner says, “It also threw a 300-pound boulder 25 feet into the side of the garage. A drunk woman was found passed out in the passenger seat.” The driver fled the scene but eventually was found and arrested.

Also in June, a 66-year-old male was arrested on Canyon Lake Drive North and Skippers Way for driving under the influence. In a separate incident, a 25-year-old female was arrested for driving under the influence and child endangerment.

In May there were four DUI arrests in Canyon Lake. In April there were two.

In the early morning hours of March 29, residents on Early Round were awakened to the sounds of a crash. Reports indicated that one car smashed into a parked RV after screeching around the corner. One person was handcuffed while the other took off on foot. Four Riverside Sheriff Office units, two Fire Engines, AMR, an overhead helicopter and Community Patrol were on scene.

Around 3 a.m. on the morning of March 11, a vehicle struck a fire hydrant on Inspiration Point. The fire hydrant burst, causing flooding in the yards at the bottom of the hill. The driver left the scene. Community Patrol assisted with sandbags to help divert water from going inside the homes until the water district could shut off the water.

In February, there were nine DUI arrests in Canyon Lake. The arrests occurred on February 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 27 and 28.

Call 911

It is vital to the community for residents to report drunk drivers; all residents have the responsibility to do so. And it goes without saying that it would be wise to avoid parking on the street whenever possible.

When a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, they put lives in immediate danger. Research suggests that the average first time DUI offender has driven drunk on multiple occasions before getting caught for the first time. The worst offenders are the repeat offenders. Arrests, fines, convictions – nothing seems to stop them.

There’s a chance that if a driver seems like they are driving under the influence, they probably are. Here are some signs to look for when determining if someone is driving under the influence.

  • Appearing to be drunk based on gestures, behavior, stance, or posture
  • Weaving and/or swerving
  • Hitting an object or another vehicle
  • Driving off the road
  • Driving with the windows rolled down in cold weather
  • Passing recklessly
  • Braking excessively
  • Braking late and abruptly for signs and signals
  • Accelerating speed quickly
  • Not staying in one lane
  • Overturning or making very wide turns
  • Speeding excessively or driving way under the limit
  • Following too close, tail-gating
  • Not turning on headlights at night
  • Not using wipers when it’s raining

According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), a person is injured in a drunk driving crash every two minutes. Drunk driving costs the United States $199 billion a year. On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. Every day in America another 28 people die of a drunk driving crash.

Call 911 to report drunk drivers. You could be saving a life.

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Donna Ritchie