Golf cart ride takes tragic turn

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The Canyon Lake community mourns the loss of one of its own this week. Resident Roger Crocker, 49, succumbed to head injuries sustained in a golf cart accident last weekend.

Roger Crocker had a passion for waterskiing that began at a young age. Photo provided by Tracy Baldwin

Resident Scott Sempson, 61, was driving northbound on Canyon Lake Dr. South on Friday, Aug. 18, at approximately 10:30 p.m. when Roger, his friend and roommate, fell out of the golf cart and hit his head.

Resident Jessica Schima, her boyfriend Brandon Quaranta and friend Toya Del Campo were driving southbound when they noticed two men in the street at the intersection of Canyon Lake Dr. South and Village Way Dr. They pulled over to see if the men needed help.

“We didn’t realize it was an accident at first. We thought their golf cart broke down,” said Jessica. “As we got closer we could see Scott kneeling next to Roger and hear him pleading for help. He was on the phone with 911.”

Scott explained to several people at the scene that Roger was standing in the golf cart rocking it back and forth. “He said he stopped three times prior to Roger falling out and told him to knock it off,” said Jessica.

Allison McNaughton, who had just left a bunco party on Village Way Dr. with her mother Kellie Welty, arrived on the scene approximately five minutes after the accident occurred. After assessing the situation, Allison began performing heart compressions with the help of Jessica relaying instructions from the 911 operator.

Help arrived shortly thereafter and Roger was transported to the hospital where he later died.

Scott left the scene after Roger was transported to the hospital. He provided his name, phone number and account of the accident to bystanders before leaving. Canyon Lake Police arrived approximately 35 minutes after the accident happened and within minutes after Scott left the scene.

California Vehicle Code 20003 states, “The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall also give his or her name, current residence address, the names and current residence addresses of any occupant of the driver’s vehicle injured in the accident, the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and the name and current residence address of the owner to the person struck or the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with, and shall give the information to any traffic or police officer at the scene of the accident.”

Because Scott failed to stay at the scene of the accident until police arrived, he was arrested for felony hit and run resulting in a death.

According to Tracy Baldwin, a longtime friend of both men, Scott went to a friend’s house after he left the scene to see if the friend would take him to see Roger at the hospital. “They called the hospital before going and the hospital told them they wouldn’t be able to see Roger because they weren’t family members, so they didn’t go,” said Tracy.

The Menifee Traffic Reconstruction team responded to the location. The northbound lanes of Canyon Lake Dr. South and Village Way Dr. were closed temporarily during the investigation.

Jail records show that Scott was arrested at 3 a.m. and booked at the Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. Bail was set at $75,000. He was released without bail on Wednesday, Aug. 23, when prosecutors declined to file charges. The case was referred back to the detectives.

Friends of Roger remember him as a larger than life guy who had a passion for skiing. “He was a great waterskier and a happy go lucky guy who enjoyed life,” said resident Tom Nathan who shared a 20-year friendship with him. “He was loved by a lot of people.”

Resident Mike Murphy, one of the world’s best show skiers, said Roger was like a son to him. The two met when Roger was about eight years old. “He was the closest thing to a son I had,” said Mike.

Mike and his ski crew taught Roger how to ski at a young age. “He skied with us a couple times a week after school. Skiing was his passion, it was in him and he was really good at it. Roger did it all, slalom, hot-dog and barefoot skiing. He was radical,” said Mike.

Roger, a father of three, shared his passion for skiing with his children. “He rented a trailer on the Colorado River and would take his kids there to ski. He wanted to share with his kids the place he skied and loved so much,” said Mike.

According to Mike, a memorial service will be held on Sept. 5 and a Celebration of Life on Sept. 23. Both services will be held at Marine Stadium in Long Beach.

The family set up a gofundme account for Roger’s three young children. To donate, visit, gofundme.com/for-the-crocker-kids.

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Donna Ritchie