4 seriously hurt in off-roading crash

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SANTEE, Calif. - A 31-year-old driver was arrested for felony drunken driving after his sport utility vehicle careened off a steep embankment in Santee where one passenger was critically injured and two other passengers suffered serious injuries.

The SUV was found in a remote, underdeveloped area northwest of the north end of Summit Avenue by a crew inside a sheriff's department's helicopter responding about 7:23 p.m. Saturday to a call of an off-road accident, said Sgt. Daniel T. Morsch of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The white Ford Explorer, occupied by four adults, had gone of a steep embankment, rolling over several times and ending up in a ravine in harsh terrain, Morsch said.

All four occupants were injured. The critically injured occupant was lifted out of the area by a sheriff's helicopter and rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital, he said.

The other three occupants were also airlifted due the remote area and were taken to a nearby landing zone. They were then transported by an ambulance to various hospitals for treatment, he said.

The driver, Nathan Smoltz, was subsequently arrested for felony drunken driving, Morsch said.

The sheriff's sergeant did not disclose the extent of Smoltz's injuries.


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