Suspected DUI driver killed in East County police chase

EL CAJON, Calif. -- A suspected drunk driver was killed Saturday while trying to flee from California Highway Patrol officers in El Cajon, the California Highway Patrol said.

Officers spotted a Hyundai speeding and weaving on eastbound Interstate 8 near Severin Drive around 2 a.m. and tried to pull the car over a couple of miles down the road, near state Route 67, CHP Officer Travis Garrow said.

The man behind the wheel, who officers believed was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, refused to stop and continued on I-8 before exiting the freeway at Second Street in El Cajon and heading south at "an extremely high rate of speed," Garrow said.

Not long after the chase began, the driver lost control of the car and crashed into a tree and a retaining wall near the intersection of East Main Street and North Second Street. The man died at the scene, Garrow said. Officers weren't immediately able to determine his identity.

“It was tragic, definitely. You could see the car was in two different pieces; you could tell it exploded. The engine was completely wiped out from the car,” said Armando Gomez, who manages a cellphone business on the lot where the accident happened. “It was definitely destruction. You could tell there was no way that this guy was going the right way. It was obviously very extreme driving.”

Gomez says he was shocked at the violent nature of the crash: “To get that kind of impact on that tree -- you had to be going at minimum 80 miles per hour."