Three people were killed Monday and six others injured — two critically — when a car driven by a 71-year-old DUI suspect jumped a curb and plowed into a homeless group on the sidewalk.
The accident occurred shortly after 9 a.m. in the tunnel under the San Diego City College campus in the 1400 block of B Street.
The area is frequented by homeless people, and video from the accident showed tents and belongings strewn across the street after the accident. Mayor Todd Gloria told reporters later that all of the victims were homeless.
San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said three people died at the scene and paramedics took five others to hospitals for treatment of injuries varying from life-threatening to less severe. One other victim was treated at the scene.
The driver remained at the scene and tried to provide aid to the victims prior to the arrival of emergency crews, Nisleit said. After being questioned by officers, he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
The suspect was later identified as Craig Martin Voss of San Diego. Voss was jailed in lieu of $1 million bail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, causing great bodily injury during the commission of a felony, and DUI involving drugs. Arraignment is scheduled for March 23.
Just prior to the crash, police received a call from a person reporting a possibly intoxicated driver about a mile from the accident site in a vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s Volvo station wagon, according to Nisleit. Investigators believe it was the same car that crashed onto the crowded sidewalk minutes later, the chief said.
Gloria blamed the deadly crash in part on the homelessness crisis that results in people living on the streets.
“This crash this morning did not have to be so devastating,” Gloria told reporters. “Let me state it very clearly — a street is not a home. It’s not humane or safe to keep allowing our unsheltered neighbors to sleep under bridges, in alleys or in canyons.”
“We must take decisive action to provide more compassionate solutions for people experiencing homelessness,” he said. “As mayor, I’ve been clear — we will not turn a blind eye to homelessness. We will deal with it head-on.”
The stretch of street where the accident occurred remained closed for investigation and cleanup into the mid-afternoon.
The NAACP San Diego Branch asked why with increased federal funding homeless people were still living in the tunnel.
“Under the Biden administration, hotel rooms for unhoused individuals are 100% FEMA reimbursable,” said Francine Maxwell, president of the branch. “Why are rooms not being used to save lives and prevent COVID complications and death?”
Updated at 7:20 p.m., Monday, March 15, 2021
City News Service contributed to this article.