ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A driver suffered life-threatening injuries and burns to about 80 percent of his body in a single-vehicle crash that police initially believed killed him early Wednesday morning.
The victim, identified only as a 22-year-old man and likely a current or former Marine, was the sole occupant of a Honda Civic that crashed about 2:45 a.m. on Bear Valley Parkway near San Pasqual Valley Road, California Highway Patrol officer Mark Latulippe said.
The driver was unresponsive when witnesses approached the vehicle shortly before it caught fire and before emergency crews arrived, Latulippe said.
“He was unconscious and trapped inside the vehicle with the car fully engulfed,” Latulippe said. Not expecting the driver to survive, CHP officers relayed to dispatchers that it was a fatal crash and requested a response from the county medical examiner’s office.
But when fire crews extinguished the flames, they found the driver alive but suffering from severe burns over about 80 percent of his body, Latulippe said. He was airlifted to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.
“It’s a major injury crash but not fatal at the moment,” Latulippe said. “But he does have life-threatening injuries.”
CHP officers believe the victim is a current or former Marine as his last known address, which was no longer valid when they checked Wednesday morning, was on Camp Pendleton, Latulippe said. Officers were still trying to contact the man’s family about 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
*This story has been updated to reflect new information from California Highway Patrol