CLAIREMONT MESA, Calif. – A series of crashes on a freeway transition ram killed three men and left five other people injured, including a 25-year-old San Diego man who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, the CHP said Saturday.
The suspected drunken driver was operating a 2000 Cadillac Escalade with five passengers north from Interstate 805 onto the transition ramp to westbound state Route 52 when he lost control about 11:15 p.m. Friday, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The vehicle veered off the right side of the road, careened across a dirt embankment and rolled several times, CHP officials said.
Five passengers in the Escalade were not wearing seatbelts, and four were ejected from the SUV, CHP officials said.
Two of those ejected — a 23 year-old San Diego man and a 29-year-old San Diego man — were killed on impact, officials said.
A fifth passenger — a 35-year- old Ridgecrest man who was wearing seat belts — also was killed in the crash, according to the CHP.
All three died at the scene, the CHP said.
Their names were withheld.
Three other vehicles crashed on a curving ramp just north of Clairemont Mesa following the initial single- vehicle crash, CHP officials said.
The SUV’s driver and one of its ejected passengers, a 23-year-old San Diego man, were taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.
The other surviving SUV passenger who was ejected, a 25-year-old San Diego man, was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital, authorities said.
Officers determined the Escalade’s driver had been under the influence of alcohol and he was arrested at the hospital for suspicion of drunken driving causing injury and death, the CHP said.
His name was not immediately released.
Two motorists involved in the subsequent crashes were hospitalized with minor injuries, the CHP said.
The three survivors from the SUV all sustained major trauma, a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department dispatcher said.
The transition ramps from the north 805 to westbound 52 were closed following the crash. The SigAlert was lifted shortly before 7 a.m., according to the CHP.