Three people were killed and a fourth was severely injured Thursday afternoon when an SUV possibly involved in a Border Patrol pursuit crashed off Interstate 15 near Lake Hodges at high speed and plunged into a deep ravine, authorities reported.
The southbound vehicle had been traveling at around 100 mph prior to veering off the freeway about 1:15 p.m., smashing through a guardrail and a fence and tumbling roughly 120 feet down the roadside embankment, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Two of the four occupants of the SUV died at the site of the crash just south of West Bernardo Drive, CHP Officer Jake Sanchez said. Medics took the other two to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, where one was pronounced dead. The other was admitted for treatment of major trauma.
U.S. Border Patrol personnel were at the scene of accident shortly after it occurred. Preliminary indications were that they may have been tailing the SUV when it crashed off the interstate, CHP Officer Tommy Doerr said.
USBP public-affairs Agent Tekae Michael confirmed that the federal agency was “involved” in some way, though she said it was unclear if a pursuit had taken place.
To allow for investigation of the deadly wreck, the CHP closed all the non-carpool southbound lanes in the area until further notice and detoured traffic past the site of the accident via the high-occupancy, or FasTrak, lanes.
–City News Service
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