CHP: Teen driver possibly texting before crash on SR-78 in Ramona

Chula Vista officer hospitalized after wreck

RAMONA, Calif. - California Highway Patrol officials say a teen driver may have been texting moments before a multi-vehicle crash in Ramona that sent a Chula Vista police officer to the hospital Wednesday afternoon.

The crash happened just after 2:30 p.m. on state Route 78 at Earlham Street, according to the CHP.

The CHP said the on-duty officer was on a motorcycle training ride with other officers when the collision occurred.

Chula Vista Police Captain Gary Wedge identified the injured officer as eight year veteran, Officer Nathaniel Walker.

The CHP said a 61-year-old male driver was on eastbound SR-78 and was attempting to make a left turn onto Earlham Street when he was struck from behind by a 17-year-old female driver. The impact of the crash sent the man's Chevrolet HHR into the westbound lanes, where his vehicle collided with the motorcycle officer. The officer flew off his bike and onto the windshield of the teen's Ford Fusion.

The 61-year-old male driver has been identified by the Ramona Sentinel as Rex Schildhouse.

CHP Officer Brian Pennings said the teen, who has a provisional license, was not supposed to have a phone in the car, including a hands free device. Pennings also said investigators have evidence that suggests she was texting just before the crash.

Pennings said the girl could face charges pending completion of the CHP's investigation.

Chula Vista police officials said the officer was taken to Palomar Medical Center and is in serious condition. His injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Chula Vista police Capt. Gary Wedge told 10News the officer "is really lucky to be alive."

The other drivers suffered moderate injuries and were also taken to Palomar Medical Center.

The crash forced the closure of a stretch of SR-78 near Ramona Community Park into the early evening.