Deadly collision injures three Marines - Hi-Desert Star: News

Deadly collision injures three Marines

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Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2011 12:57 pm

MORONGO VALLEY - One man is dead and three Marines are seriously injured after a head-on vehicle collision on Twentynine Palms Highway Thursday.

Louis Castellucci, 67, of Yucca Valley, was pronounced dead on scene from injuries he suffered after his 1979 Chevrolet Caprice station wagon was struck head-on by a 2004 Saab sedan, driven by 21-year-old Andrew Dufresne.

According to a news release from the California Highway Patrol's Morongo Basin station, Dufresne was driving westbound on Twentynine Palms Highway near Lanning Lane in Morongo Valley at 12:14 p.m., when his vehicle crossed the center two-way left turn lane, veering into oncoming traffic and hitting Castellucci's vehicle.

Dufresne, a Marine stationed in Twentynine Palms, had two passengers in his vehicle who are also Marines.  Dufresne was trapped in his vehicle before emergency crews cut the top off the sedan and pulled him from the driver seat. He was then flown to Desert Regional Medical Center, where his two passengers were also taken by Morongo Basin Ambulance.

According to the news release, Castellucci was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision.

The report states alcohol does not appear to have contributed to the crash, but CHP Officer Eric Brewer confirmed on scene that the two passengers in Dufresne's car admitted they had been drinking.

The collision stopped eastbound and westbound traffic lanes for more than an hour, leaving traffic backed up for several miles.

CHP Officer Alex Scott is investigating the crash. Anyone with information that may aid in the investigation is asked to call Officer Brewer at (760) 366-3707.

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  • pamala posted at 12:14 pm on Mon, Dec 26, 2011.

    pamala Posts: 2

    The officer who is investigating this accident just left my house. The young marine who was driving fell asleep at the wheel which resulted in the ACCIDENT. We are relieved to know that the young men have been released from the hospital and that their families to not have to suffer their loss as we our suffering from ours. I do not blame these young men and hope that they will be able to go on with their lives and careers and not feel guilty. I wish them long healthy and happy lives. Lou was my hero he recently spent 4 months taking care of me and finding doctors who saved my life. I would not be alive today had it not been for him. I will miss him terribly and love him forever. But he would not want these young men to suffer or feel guilty he had great respect for our military boys and always supported my son in his military career.

  • harley posted at 7:31 pm on Sun, Dec 25, 2011.

    harley Posts: 1

    Totally agree with shutup and shutup1. My thoughts and prayers go out to the man that got killed in this horrible accident!!

  • DesertDiva posted at 12:49 pm on Sun, Dec 25, 2011.

    DesertDiva Posts: 2

    Thank you for posting the perspectives of all involved. What 99% of the people posting on this collision is that it was 100% avoidable and I was behind the vehicle causing the collision not knowing who was driving....Male/female, what age...nothing except that something was extremely wrong due to the erratic nature of the car's pattern of motion. The fact that debris was being tossed out of the car on the passenger side was an indication that the driver was not alone. No human being reading this post can surmise what the victims from all sides are feeling, including myself and my realtor. Please be mindful of what you post, as this is public intellectual property. In other words, be respectful.

  • know the facts posted at 7:32 pm on Sat, Dec 24, 2011.

    know the facts Posts: 1

    To All the families and witnesses involved,
    I would first off send our condolences to the family of Lou Castellucci. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I do not know why it was his fate to not come home to you, but please know these young Marines are saddened by his death. Regardless of fault a father, husband, and friend will not be home with their family this Holiday. Our prayers are with you. This is my greatest fear when my son deploys on a mission. Human error & misjudgement are usually at the root of the majority of accidents. Please be careful as to what you say. Words have tremendous impact. I did some reseach on witness memories. It appears that the majority of witness testomony is base on the persons prejudices, perceptions and life experiences. I have read study after study indicating eyewitness testimony is flawed. Why do you think law enforcement asks for so may versions of the story? The accounts that sound similar they usually go with that, coupled with the evidence on the scene. This excerpt comes from a study done on human memory, here is the link if you are interested:

    Stanford study on memory and witness accounts:

    Here is what Wikiopedia has to say on the topic:
    Eyewitness memory refers to episodic memories that occur most frequently to the witness of a crime or dramatic event.[1] These witness testimonies are highly relied upon in the judicial system. However, their validity is sometimes questioned due to the many influences that may take part in creating and maintaining these memories. Many experts have accumulated evidence suggesting that eyewitness memory is volatile .[1] Eyewitness memories can be influenced by various components that occur during encoding and retrieval of the event. It has long been speculated that mistaken eyewitness identification plays a major role in wrongful conviction of otherwise innocent individuals. A growing body of research now supports this, and some research indicates that mistaken eyewitness identification accounts for more convictions of the innocent than all other factors combined.[2][3] The Innocence Project determined that 75% of the 239 DNA exoneration cases had occurred from false eyewitness memory recognition. It is important to inform the public of these difficulties and flaws of eyewitness memory so that eyewitness accounts are not interpreted as the absolute truth.[4]

    My point is ..... Stick to the fact, do not interject your opinions or feelings into the matter. There is always a lot at stake.

  • Kansas Bob posted at 3:12 pm on Fri, Dec 23, 2011.

    Kansas Bob Posts: 1

    Hi DesertDiva,

    I am sorry you had to witness such a terrible accident. The man killed, Lou Castellucci, was a good friend of mine. If you haven't already spoken with the police, please contact Officer Eric Brewer at (760) 366-3707. The police are trying to determine the cause of the accident and sounds like you have information that may be of help.

  • pamala posted at 12:55 pm on Fri, Dec 23, 2011.

    pamala Posts: 2

    Please would everyone stop speculating about what happened in this horrible accident. We do not know any facts until the police finish their investigation. Noone woke up in the morning and decided to get into a fatal ACCIDENT. I would ask that we pray for the young men who are injured and please pray for my best friend Lou whom was killed.

  • SHUTUP1 posted at 8:10 am on Fri, Dec 23, 2011.

    SHUTUP1 Posts: 1

    okay desertdiva, first off let me tell you your a liar and if you think that coming online and bashing marines is what makes you feel good about yourself at night then that is sad. you had no correct information for one all the windows were tinted sooooo how could you have seen anything occuring in the vehicle. second this is a serious crashthat had nothing to do with you or your sorry day. so for the better of everyone just stop talkking and butting your nose into business you have nothing to do. its because of terrible people like you that rumors get spread around and the truth gets lost. so please do everyone in the world a favor and SHUT UP!!!! second dont make this thing about you a innocent man died and your worried about your plans for the day. oh boohoo i bet you didnt even pull over to make sure people were okay you just turned a blind eye and said f*ck those guys..right? thats what it seems like you couldnt wait to get home so you could get on your precious computer and throw your worthless opinion in on the matter. am i correct i think so.

  • SHUTUP posted at 11:15 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    SHUTUP Posts: 2


  • SHUTUP posted at 11:14 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    SHUTUP Posts: 2

    um excuse me ladyyyyy u think u saw the driver mad but really he wasn't mad or drunk at all! u should talk when u don t know anything.. that was one of my good friends in that car one of the marines that fight everyday to protect you so watch what you say. that goes to all you people that wanna judge. although my friend wasn't driving he was in the passagers seat and did not cause the the driver to hit any other car. god diva or whatever your name is dont call in on my accident because you might say i did something i didn't just like you did to my friends. i feel horrible about the man who lost his life but dont you dare blame my friend for his death.

  • davie50 posted at 8:56 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    davie50 Posts: 11

    I stated from the last accident that the speed limit should be reduce
    has any one taking a real good look at all these "CROSSES" up and
    down this highway it not "NICE" to see this mean's that people lost there
    lives, it's time to put out a petition to lower the speed, and if the people
    don't like go and go up and down this highway...

  • Bob Mateski posted at 6:12 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    Bob Mateski Posts: 314

    My suspicion is that the Marine who was driving in an eratic manner might have been argueing with his passengers, the sad part of it is the death of an innocent driver in the other car.
    What is really sad is the family that will be without their loved one during the Christmas season, as a matter of fact Christmas will never be the same for them.
    I lost a younger brother in a motorcycle accident on the same highway, it happened during Thanksgiving in 2007 and Thanksgiving is not the same loving holiday for us.
    My deepest condolences for the family of the innocent victim during this most difficult time, may you find some peace and solace sometime in your lives.

  • DesertDiva posted at 5:30 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    DesertDiva Posts: 2

    I called 911 as the accident was happening- So messed up over seeing this- I saw a drunk driver or really angry person that seemed to be in a raging fight with passenger at noon today.

    I was with my realtor in his car when we we traveling southbound on the 62 out of Yucca Valley when we saw a silver new Beamer (so I thought) littering and weaving on the road....the driver was acting erratic so we were afraid to pass on the there are two normal lanes headed in each direction. We were trying to get the license plate number to call it in when all of a sudden the driver put right blinkers on to pull over on the merged to the right and slowed down....then all of a sudden the car sped up....veered all the way to the left into incoming traffic and missed hitting a swerving innocent car driving uphill on the 62....the next vehicle wasn't so lucky and the collision happened....we called 911 immediately and saw the crash was horrible with spiderweb windshields broken...horn going off...I predict Beamer people are dead. Hopefully the older model station wagon had was the most horrible thing I have witnessed in my lifetime. I am home in bed sick over this...canceling my holiday plans to meet friends out...I feel like my guts are churning.

    If I can help in any way piece this together, please let me know.

  • Susie posted at 4:13 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    Susie Posts: 5

    I just heard on the radio that this is a DWI case. PLEASE stop drinking and many lives do we have to lose before this sinks in to all of us. Friends DON"T let friends drive drunk or even slightly intoxicated[sad]

  • Susie posted at 4:11 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    Susie Posts: 5

    seamor, I'm so sorry for your families loss.

  • seamoor posted at 3:22 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    seamoor Posts: 9

    I so agree Susie, lets all slow down and get where we are going safely. This is not a good time to be careless with our driving. Our Linda was the one killed last night and I can't begin to tell you how devistated our family is. My kids and grandkids are in so much emotional pain as I am. She was a wonderful lady. Please everyone take more care than you normally would. Be on the lookout for potential problems. [sad]

  • Susie posted at 2:35 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.

    Susie Posts: 5

    Please be careful out there.....2 fatalities in less than 24 hrs. is 2 too many! Slow down, pay attention and get home safely to your families so that everyone can have a happy holiday. This is so sad!


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