SAN DIEGO - Two men were killed, a woman in their car was badly injured, an off-duty police officer suffered lesser injuries, and a suspected drunk driver was under arrest Wednesday morning following a fiery overnight crash on Interstate 15 in the Scripps Ranch area.
The deadly collision happened about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday on northbound I- 15 approaching the Miramar Road and Pomerado Road offramp, the California Highway Patrol said. As of 7:45 a.m., some regular lanes of the freeway were still closed and HOV Express Lanes were opened to all traffic.
Authorities believe the driver of a Ford Mustang was speeding and driving recklessly when he crashed into the back of a Toyota Corolla, causing the Corolla to spin out of control and end up disabled in the path of oncoming traffic. The Mustang crashed off the side of the freeway.
A vehicle driven by a San Diego Police Department sergeant struck the disabled Corolla, CHP officials said. The sergeant's vehicle rolled while the Corolla burst into flames.
Bystanders saved a woman inside the Corolla, but two men -- reportedly her brother and boyfriend -- died in the flames, CHP officials said. The woman was taken to a hospital with major injuries, while the SDPD sergeant crawled out of his overturned vehicle and was taken to a hospital with moderate to minor injuries.
Witnesses told CHP dispatchers that the Mustang's driver fled the area on foot. Police later found that man during a search that involved a law enforcement helicopter, and he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
All northbound lanes of I-15 were closed a little after midnight and the freeway remained shut down as of 6:30 a.m., according to the CHP and Caltrans San Diego. Amid heavy rush-hour traffic, two northbound Express Lanes normally reserved for carpool drivers were opened to all drivers, but traffic remained extremely heavy from Clairemont Mesa Boulevard to the crash scene.