Caltrans officials moved swiftly over the weekend to ensure a jaw-dropping stunt in which a motorcycle is jumped over a freeway in Riverside County was a one-off performance.
Using heavy machinery, boulders and tree trunks, an agency crew Saturday blocked a dirt ramp a motorcyclist used to soar across four lanes of traffic on the 60 Freeway.
A slickly edited video of the stunt was posted Friday on the Instagram account of Kyle Katsandris, a 24-year-old motocross enthusiast from San Clemente, and quickly became an Internet sensation viewed more than 90,000 times.
The video, which was set to music, showed the jump from five camera angles, including an aerial shot that law enforcement officials said was likely filmed with a drone.
CalTrans officials in Riverside saw the posting, recognized the rugged landscape as the San Timoteo Bandlands and dispatched workers to find the precise location, an agency spokeswoman said. They found the long ramp the rider used to propel himself over the freeway on the north side of the road east of Gilman Springs Road, and decided to dismantle it to discourage copycats.
"We want to impress upon people that this was a dangerous stunt and somebody could have lost their life on that highway," said Terri Kasinga, a Caltrans public information officer. "This could have turned into a tragic situation and we hope never to see this again."
Katsandris did not respond to messages seeking comment. A high school friend, Mike French, said Katsandris was part of a group of about 20 bikers from San Clemente that liked to "free ride" – off-road motorcycling – in areas such as the Timoteo Badlands and Ocotillo Wells in San Diego County.
French has posted videos of Katsandris doing stunts in areas where biking is allowed, but said he was not involved in the freeway jump.
"I would think it was a professional group of people like an actual production company, but at the same time, no one is claiming credit," he said.
He also questioned whether Katsandris, who he said worked as a salesman for a tool company, was the driver.
"He is a very intelligent man. His IQ is through the roof," French said. "I really have trouble thinking he jumped that jump and posted it online if it is as illegal as it seems."
Although the video shows the bike in bright daylight vaulting over several vehicles, including a tractor trailer, no one called 911 to report the incident, law enforcement officials said.
"People are looking at the road and the cars around them and they might not even have seen it," said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Randy Costelow.
The CHP and Riverside County Sheriff's Department learned of the jump from social media. A Sheriff's Department spokesman said investigators "are going to look into it" next week, but that it was unclear whether it fell under county jurisdiction given that the CHP and Bureau of Land Management also had responsibilities in the area.
Beyond the jurisdictional issues, Deputy Armando Munoz said, there was the question of whether a crime had occurred.
"If we are looking into something, we need a victim. We don't have a victim," Munoz said.
Costelow of the CHP said the stunt seemed to break local ordinances against driving a off-road motorcycle on a highway and reckless driving, but proving those misdemeanor charges might prove difficult given that the driver was wearing a helmet that obscured his face in the video.
Going forward, he said, "if anybody is caught doing it, they will be prosecuted."