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Riverside street race ends with fatality

March 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A deadly street race in Riverside over the weekend claimed the life of a passenger.

Police say the driver of a Ford Mustang involved in the early Sunday morning race lost control as he sped at 120 mph down a residential area. They said he hit a power pole, then crashed into a parked car at Mitchell and Norwood avenues.

The driver of the Mustang, 18-year-old Jesus Gamez, was arrested. His passenger, 18-year-old passenger Ruben Terriquez, was killed. Police said the driver of the car Gamez was racing, a silver sedan, got away.

"The other vehicle will be held accountable," said Riverside police Sgt. Skip Showalter. "Both racers contributed to this death."

Police said Gamez was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

Showalter said it's tragic to see wrecks attributed to street racing.

"It's very frustrating for us that these incidents even occur," he said. "We educate the public as best we can, they know it's unsafe to drive at any speeds like this."

On March 8, an innocent driver was killed, after she was hit by someone who San Bernardino police say was street racing.

The recent incidents are renewing calls to reopen places like the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, places where people can legally and safely, race other cars.

Shawn Gatewood is a racer who says when tracks close, which is what's happening in Southern California, racers take to the streets.

"It keeps people from street racing," he said. "If we're not giving them an outlet, if we're not giving them a legal place to go race their car and they have a car sitting at home with all the time and money and vested interest in it, it's forcing them to go find places to race their cars."

While Riverside police acknowledge that reopening tracks won't stop street racing completely, they say the tracks do help.

"People have a need for speed, so to speak, and if they can do it in a safe environment that's controlled with medical personal on scene, what better place to do it than in an environment like that?" Showalter said.

The collision is under investigation. If you have any information regarding the incident, you're urged to contact investigators at (951) 826-8723.