Crash scene

Investigators examine the aftermath of a fatal collision on Twentynine Palms Highway Monday morning, Oct. 21. The accident took place on the highway east of Rotary Way late Sunday night, Oct. 20.

TWENTYNINE PALMS — A three-vehicle crash claimed the lives of two male victims Sunday night, Oct. 20, on Twentynine Palms Highway near Peterson Road.

Deputies were called to the scene around 7:11 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Department. They found that the driver of a Toyota traveling east on the highway crossed into oncoming traffic and ran head-on into an Audi going west.

A male passenger in the Toyota was thrown from the vehicle and died. A male passenger in the Audi was also pronounced dead at the scene.

Right after the crash, a Dodge traveling west ran into debris from the collision and ran off the road.

The Morongo Basin Ambulance Association reported it sent four ambulances to the collision. Arriving medical crews found two victims had died and three other people were suffering from critical injuries. MBA requested two helicopters, which landed at Hi-Desert Medical Center and flew two of the critically injured people to regional trauma centers. The third was taken by a ground ambulance.

Two other people who suffered less serious injuries were taken to local hospitals.

Law enforcement has not yet identified any of the people involved in the crash.

A huge section of the highway, from Sunfair Drive in Joshua Tree to Lear Avenue in Twentynine Palms, remained closed in both directions until noon Monday as investigators continued to work on the scene.

The Sheriff’s Department advised drivers to take alternate routes, especially through the national park. The park route reportedly was opened for free for people using the detour.

Other drivers took unpaved back ways and several people reported getting stuck in the soft sand.

At Lear Avenue, Citizen Patrol volunteers spent Sunday night sending westbound traffic north on Lear to Winters Road, but in the morning they got word that overuse of the road had made it impassible. Westbound drivers were forced to go back to Utah Trail and then travel through Joshua Tree National Park to get to the west side of the Basin.

Copper Mountain College was closed until 10 a.m. Monday as staff waited for the highway to be reopened.

(12) comments


A tragic accident but it all the more shows that Winters Road should be paved as an alternate East - West in the Morongo Basin.


Tragic indeed. Three automobile fatalities in the area over this weekend.

The county only funds frivolous projects such as over priced dog and cat hotels and leasing distressed properties for libraries. Paving a bypass road to contend with emergencies doesn't meet criteria of frivolity.

I am not sure why the investigators feel the need to shut down roadways for massive amounts of time. It's got to be a California quirk. No other state does this to this extent. Deal with the victims, take measurements, shoot tons of photos, clean up the mess, and reopen the roadway.


Why they feel the neeed to shut down the whole roadways.... maybe because it was a crime scene.. maybe because people lost their lives because of an intoxicated driver.... grow up you idiot, people have lost their lives


The main reason the roads are closed for so long is the wait for the bodies to be picked up. There is only one coroner for the whole county.


So...perish forbid there are multiple casualties in multiple scattered locations county wide, the bodies are left to rot with all roads closed until the one coroner gets around to the pick up?

That makes perfect sense?

It must be a California tradition. Stuck on Stupid.


Craziest Uber drive ever! I picked up a rider in YV going to 29. Next thing you know, my customer, a great co pilot and knew his way through the desert, we were 4wheeling east on Sullivan we picked up at Copper Mt. 4wheeled all the way to Indian Cove. Dropped him off, and there I went, back the way I came. What Uber driver is going to do that for you?! The bad news, Uber only paid $30 for the 1.5 hr job. Thankfully, my passenger left a tip. 4wheeling, at night, foot deep sand, totally strange dark desert, I love my SUV. Yeah, government services are a laugh closing a major highway for several hours. I'm sorry for the families of course, but we all know the arrogance of those traffic police. Playing God at the expence of our safety and respect for our time and needs. Poor CHP and Sheriff's Dept. management and training, plain and simple.


Yeah I got to the scene maybe 10 minutes after it happened and was stuck till about 11... took my FWD Altima off the back roads. Had about 2” of sand on my subframe and it loosened my belt a little bit but did fine otherwise. I had a Toyota 4Runner in front of me and a lifted truck behind me and I’m sure I was getting “what is this dude doing” looks. Made it thru just fine tho!


Maybe it's time to lower the speed limit to 55 mph on the whole stretch from JT to 29. Everyone is doing 70 plus and the traffic lights have caused as many accidents as they have prevented. I see trucks and school buses doing 70! Idiots tailgating at top speed in the right lane! This highway is a death trap and a half. Using a state highway as a freeway is insane.


Agreed - the speed limit needs to be 55 on that stretch - and enforced. I suspect you'll also nab a bunch of DUI's and/or texters that way as well - both contributors to accidents on the 62. I mean seriously- this was a straight shot of roadway, and at least 4 lanes - how did this happen?


There needs to be a regional coroner. SB county is the largest in the country and geographically very difficult for one person to oversee. It is disrespectful to have bodies lie for hours. Several years ago a high school girl was hit by a car and died at Sage & 62. I remember well that they covered her body and let traffic go on as usual. It was chilling. What would need to happen to have the coroner deputize local people to serve each region?

Branson Hunter

Paving Winters Road needs to be part of the County's emergency plan.


This whole thing makes me sick. Reporting is terrible and comments are worse! Do you really care more about traffic over the fact that 2 people lost their lives and others are still holding on for their lives??? Did it really ruin your day that bad? This is the news to all of you??? A car crosses multiple lanes and hits another car head on! Knowing one of the affected families, I can assure you they are ALL having worse days! Please have more respect. This is a time to pray for these families and maybe figure out WHY this driver crossed into oncoming traffic. Just my opinion.

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