A California Highway Patrol cruiser
A California Highway Patrol cruiser. Photo by Chris Stone

A motorist driving the wrong way on Interstate 5 near downtown San Diego was killed Friday and two firefighters suffered minor injuries when the driver slammed into the front end of a fire engine that was responding to a pedestrian injured by a suspected hit-and-run driver, authorities said.

The series of events began around 1:40 a.m. on southbound I-5 near Imperial Avenue when a car struck a man, then left the scene, California Highway Patrol Officer Jake Sanchez said. The pedestrian was transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital with moderate injuries, he said.

The vehicle was described as a tan Toyota sedan, but a description of the driver was not immediately available, Sanchez said.

The CHP had blocked freeway lanes near the first collision when a CHP officer reported that a Toyota Corolla made a U-turn in the backed up traffic and began traveling northbound in the southbound I-5 lanes, 10News reported.

Around 2 a.m., a 41-year-old man driving a Toyota Corolla northbound in the southbound lanes of I-5 near state Route 94 collided head-on with a fire engine that was responding to the first collision, Sanchez said. The man, whose name was withheld pending family notification, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Four emergency responders were transported to UCSD Medical Center for evaluation and two had minor injuries, SDFRD spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. All four emergency responders were released from the hospital and have been cleared to work their next shift.

The second collision prompted the closure of all southbound I-5 lanes near SR-94 while crews cleaned up the wreckage, Sanchez said. The lanes were reopened around 5:30 a.m.

CHP officers were investigating the circumstances leading up to both crashes.

–City News Service