Update 10:30 a.m. Friday Aug. 22.

A single-vehicle crash off state Route 78 in Oceanside late Thursday left three Palomar College students dead and five others with injuries ranging in severity from moderate to major.

A 19-year-old San Diego man was driving a 2000 Honda Prelude with seven passengers ranging in age from 18 to 22 east on state Route 78 approaching College Boulevard shortly before 11 p.m. and veered off the roadway for unknown reasons, California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bettencourt said.

The sedan careened down an embankment and struck a power pole, Bettencourt said. The force of the crash cut the car in half and caused power lines to dangle.

All eight people were trapped in the crumpled sedan as fire crews arrived, according to Battalion Chief Bill Kogerman of the Oceanside Fire Department. Firefighters worked for more than an hour to free them.

The driver died at the scene, as did a male and a female passenger, Bettencourt said.

Two women and three men were injured, one of whom was airlifted to Palomar Medical Center. The other passengers were taken by ambulance to hospitals to be treated for their injuries, Bettencourt said.

Bettencourt said it remained unclear if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, as well as how many of those involved were wearing seatbelts.

 A SigAlert issued for an eastbound lane that was closed to accommodate San Diego Gas & Electric was lifted this morning.

News8.com reported via Twitter that Palomar College said all eight young people had attended classes at the campus as part of the international program.

— City News Service

Editor’s note: Featured photo from NBC7SanDiego via Twitter.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.