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An off-road wreck killed an elderly Winchester man Thursday on a fire road off Highway 74, east of Hemet. The man that lost his life was part of one of the Valley’s oldest founding families. The vehicle he was in plummeted off an embankment and into a ravine according to California Highway Patrol reports.

At about 9 a.m., the wreck occurred. The vehicle was heading up to the Idyllwild area on an unnamed dirt U.S. Forestry fire road, per California Highway Patrol Officer Darren Meyer.

The driver, 80-year-old William Rohrbacher of Hemet lost control of the Jeep Cherokee he was operating as he headed down the road. The vehicle, which was traveling at unsafe speeds swerved and ran off the road after it crashed at a turn.

“Rohrbacher was driving at an unsafe speed as he negotiated a curve in the dirt road,” Meyer said in a CHP report. “Rohrbacher lost control of the Jeep and ran off the road, down an embankment and into a ravine.”

Robert Domenigoni, a 74-year-old of Winchester and the passenger of the vehicle suffered fatal injuries, and died at the scene per the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.

When investigators arrived to the scene they were able to determine that Domenigoni was wearing his seatbelt when the crash occurred.

As for Rohrbacher, after he was extricated, he was airlifted to Riverside Regional Medical Center. He suffered moderate injuries per Meyer.

There could have been a variety of reasons why the collision ended the way it did. Officer Meyer added in a report that a contributing factor may have the fire road’s condition. They were driving on a road in “poor condition due to the recent winter storms.” When the roads are in a poor condition, if a driver must get across, it is best that they take extreme precaution and do not drive at high speeds.

According to the Patch, Domenigoni, who went by Bob, was a fourth-generation member of the Domenigoni family. The family was part of a group of early Winchester settlers when Angelo Domenigoni immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland in the late 1800s. Angelo Sr. was Bob’s great-grandfather, a source close to the family told the news site.

Automobile accidents can happen to anyone at unwarned times, the best way to avoid them is by taking precaution and following the laws of the road. Also, it is important that people wear seatbelts and are aware of their surroundings. If you were injured in an accident, contact a Hemet car accident lawyer today.


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