Driver killed when car plunges off highway

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PINE VALLEY, Calif. — A vehicle crashed off Interstate 8 in the East County highlands and plunged hundreds of feet into a rocky gorge Thursday, killing the driver.

The eastbound vehicle careened off the freeway about 2:15 p.m. and tumbled down a steep embankment alongside the towering Nello Irwin Greer Memorial Bridge, according to Cal Fire.

The driver was ejected and died at the scene, said Issac Sanchez, a fire captain with the state agency. The man’s name was not immediately available.

It was unclear if the vehicle was on the landmark 440-foot-tall span — originally and still commonly known as the Pine Valley Creek Bridge — or approaching it when the crash occurred, Sanchez said.

The 42-year-old reinforced-concrete structure was renamed by state lawmakers in 2007 after the well-known Caltrans engineer who designed it.