Heroic medevac team arrives too late to save teen
■ Chronicle News / Staff
A 15-year-old girl believed to be a student at Hemet High School was killed in a traffic collision near Idyllwild Sunday, Nov. 4, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Lilah Grace Whitney, who lived in Mountain Center, died at 5:09 p.m., the Riverside County Coroner confirmed. Whitney is believed to have died while waiting to be airlifted from the mountain. She and an unknown number of other individuals were involved in a crash about 25 minutes earlier on the Banning-Idyllwild Panoramic Highway, or State Route 243, as the vehicle in which she was riding apparently collided with another vehicle while traveling north.
Authorities received a 911 call at 4:45 p.m. from a man, who has not been identified, who reported that he had been involved in an accident and requested assistance.
Police were dispatched to the scene moments after the call, and when they arrived, they found several people with serious injuries. One victim, presumably Whitney, was in critical condition, and officials requested an air ambulance to fly her off the mountain to the hospital. They also requested two ground ambulances, presumably for other victims. Immediately, a Mercy Air Ambulance was launched and headed to the scene, requesting clearance to land at the Keenwild Fire Station, some three miles from the accident, according to news agencies, including Riverside County News Source.
Shortly after 5 p.m., police requested a second air ambulance, and Reach Air Ambulance was dispatched but reported it was about 20 minutes away, the reports said.
Few additional details have been released, and authorities continue to investigate the circumstances of the crash including who was driving, the cause, and the nature of the other injuries.
Meanwhile, the CHP closed the northbound lane of Highway 243 for more than two hours on Sunday, and it didn’t reopen until shortly after 6:30 p.m. The southbound lane remained open during the accident investigation and treatment of the victims.