SAN DIEGO – Three people were killed and a fourth was severely injured Thursday afternoon when an SUV 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 pursuit began when Border Patrol officers in the Escondido area were running license plate numbers.
"Came back with two alerts. One of them was a suspected murderer, possibly armed and dangerous. The second alert was of alien smuggling," Border Patrol agent Eduardo Olmos told FOX 5.
The driver of the SUV took off southbound, leading agents on a 15-mile chase. The 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.
Investigators won't say whether a suspected murderer was one of the four occupants of the SUV and have not yet released the victims' identities.
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.
To allow for investigation of the deadly wreck, the CHP temporarily closed all the non-carpool southbound lanes in the area.