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Disabled Rialto councilman hospitalized after early morning crash

A quadriplegic Rialto city councilman was hospitalized after spending 11 hours unconscious in his crashed vehicle.
December 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A quadriplegic Rialto city councilman was hospitalized Wednesday after spending 11 hours unconscious in his crashed vehicle.

About 1 p.m., Rialto Police received a call from Shawn O'Connell, who is a quadriplegic, saying he had been in a traffic accident on the 15 Freeway at Glen Helen Parkway in Devore. It was unclear exactly what happened, but his vehicle drove off the roadway into a deep, 30-foot ditch about 50 yards off the side of the freeway.

After being unconscious about 11 hours, he finally came to and was able to drive his vehicle back closer to the freeway, where he regained cellular service and was able to call 911.

He had left his home in Rialto headed for the high desert to visit a friend Wednesday morning before he went missing. His phone gave no cell signal, preventing police from "pinging" his phone in an attempt to locate him throughout the day.

O'Connell sustained a bruised lung and a fractured neck but was listed in stable condition Wednesday at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. His injuries were considered non-life-threatening.

CHP said there were no signs of drugs or alcohol found at the scene. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

O'Connell is a former Rialto police officer with the department for 12 years and was promoted to sergeant.


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