Young woman left to die after Mercedes overturns

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. -- A DUI suspect got into a single-vehicle crash on state Route 94 near Rancho San Diego Monday, fatally injuring one of his two female passengers before fleeing on foot with the second woman in a failed attempt to evade arrest, authorities said.

Rene Ruiz, 27, was behind the wheel of an eastbound 1999 Mercedes-Benz sedan that veered off the freeway for unknown reasons in the Casa de Oro area shortly before 2 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

The vehicle crossed onto a dirt shoulder near Sweetwater Spring Boulevard, hit a guardrail, became airborne and overturned, CHP public-affairs Officer Travis Garrow said, After tumbling side over side across the median, the car came to rest on its wheels on the center shoulder of westbound SR-94, its roof crushed.

At that point, Ruiz got out of the crumpled vehicle and ran off along with the 22-year-old La Mesa woman who had been riding in the front passenger seat, leaving the second passenger trapped inside the wreckage.

The fatally injured unidentified woman -- who at the time of the crash was seated, unrestrained, on the center console of the car, between the driver and passenger seats -- was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, where she was pronounced dead.

CHP personnel and sheriff's deputies searched the area, finding Ruiz and the young woman hiding in a canyon near the site of the wreck about 2:45 p.m., Garrow said. Medics took them to hospitals for treatment of serious injuries both had suffered in the crash.

Ruiz, a Spring Valley resident, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter.