Two men were killed, a woman in their car was badly injured, an off-duty police officer suffered lesser injuries, and a suspected drunk driver was under arrest Wednesday morning following a fiery overnight crash on Interstate 15 in the Scripps Ranch area.
The deadly collision happened about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday on northbound I- 15 approaching the Miramar Road and Pomerado Road offramp, the California Highway Patrol said. The freeway was closed overnight, but reopened Wednesday morning, though traffic was still backed up.
Authorities believe the driver of a Ford Mustang was speeding and driving recklessly when he crashed into the back of a Toyota Corolla, causing the Corolla to spin out of control and end up disabled in the path of oncoming traffic. The Mustang crashed off the side of the freeway.
A vehicle driven by a San Diego Police Department sergeant struck the disabled Corolla, CHP officials said. The sergeant's vehicle rolled while the Corolla burst into flames.
Bystanders saved a woman inside the Corolla, but two men — reportedly her brother and boyfriend — died in the flames, CHP officials said. The woman was taken to a hospital with major injuries, while the SDPD sergeant crawled out of his overturned vehicle and was taken to a hospital with moderate to minor injuries.
Witnesses told CHP dispatchers that the Mustang's driver fled the area on foot. Police later found that man during a search that involved a law enforcement helicopter, and he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
All northbound lanes of I-15 were closed a little after midnight and the freeway remained shut down as of 6:30 a.m., according to the CHP and Caltrans San Diego. Amid heavy rush-hour traffic, two northbound Express Lanes normally reserved for carpool drivers were opened to all drivers, but traffic remained extremely heavy from Clairemont Mesa Boulevard to the crash scene.