A man accused of driving recklessly onto the grounds of the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris while under the influence of alcohol, injuring two people and sending parents and children fleeing for safety, was charged Wednesday, Nov. 8, with hit-and-run resulting in injuries and other felonies.
Carlos Jaime Gabaldon, 37, of Romoland was taken into custody Sunday afternoon on the museum property, located at A Street and Alpine Drive.
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Along with hit-and-run, Gabaldon is charged with DUI resulting in injury, vandalism, resisting arrest and sentence-enhancing allegations of driving with a blood-alcohol level in excess of 0.15, refusing a chemical test and injuring multiple people during a felony offense.
Gabaldon was being held at the Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in French Valley with bail set at $50,000, and was slated to make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
The museum was hosting its annual “Day Out With Thomas” event featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and other related storybook characters. More than 500 people were on the property about 4:30 p.m.
That’s when deputies saw a brown Chevrolet Tahoe enter the museum grounds by driving on its private railroad tracks, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.
The SUV “then turned off the railroad tracks and onto a pedestrian walkway, causing pedestrians, adults and children, to flee from the path of the vehicle,” the release said. Some parents threw their children, some still in strollers, over a fence to try to protect them.
After Gabaldon turned onto a closed roadway, deputies swarmed his SUV and got it stopped, according to the release. Gabaldon was arrested.
Paramedics treated two people at the scene for minor injuries.
Museum officials said Monday that a volunteer inspected the tracks where the defendant drove, and no damage was detected. The “Day Out With Thomas” event, which was wrapping up the second day of a five-day run when the incident occurred, will continue as planned this Friday through Sunday, Nov. 10-12.
Gabaldon has no prior documented felony convictions in Riverside County.