DEER SPRINGS, Calif. — A wrong-way driver caused a series of crashes on Interstate 15 in the Deer Springs area, including one that killed a 29-year-old active-duty Marine who was thrown from his Harley Davidson, authorities said Thursday.
Several motorists called 911 around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to report a wrong-way driver traveling northbound in the center divider of Interstate 15, just north of Deer Springs Road, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bettencourt.
Callers also reported that the man was at times entering the No. 1 lane of the southbound 15 and slowly driving his 2000 Ford Escort north, he said in a statement.
Shortly after the 911 calls started coming in, the wrong-way driver sideswiped a 2006 Ford F-150 driven by a 52-year-old Vista man. The pickup sustained minor damage but its driver was not hurt, Bettencourt said.
The Escort stopped briefly after the collision, then continued on, again traveling north on the southbound side of the center divider. It then hit a concrete bridge railing over Gopher Canyon Road, causing the car to veer into the No. 1 lane of traffic and overturn.
The overturned escort was struck by a 2013 Kia Optima driven by a 59- year-old San Diego man, Bettencourt said, adding that the Kia driver was not hurt and that his car sustained minor damage.
The Escort was then struck by a 1993 Harley Davidson whose rider, a 29- year-old Fallbrook man, was thrown off and died in an ambulance while en route to Palomar Medical Center, Bettencourt said. His name was not immediately released but the county coroner’s office described him as a married active-duty Marine.
The driver of the Escort, Robert Sidney Bowman, 63, of Valley Center, was also transported to Palomar Medical Center. The extent of his injuries was not immediately clear.
“At this time, it is unknown is alcohol or drugs played a factor in this collision or if it was a medical emergency,” Bettencourt said. “Chemical tests are pending. The driver may face several charges depending on the outcome of the investigation.”