2 young drivers killed, DUI suspected in wrong-way crash

A badly mangled vehicle was left on the roadway in Rainbow after a wrong-way crash. Officials suspect DUI played a factor.

RAINBOW, Calif. — A possibly inebriated driver heading the wrong way on Interstate 15 near Rainbow caused a crash that killed both him and the driver of the car he struck, a California Highway Patrol officer said Saturday.

The wrong-way driver was identified as a 23-year-old Lake Elsinore man, and the victim in the other car was a 20-year-old woman from Murrieta, according to CHP Officer Mark Latulippe. Their names were not released.

Dispatchers received a call just after 11 p.m. Saturday reporting that a white Hyundai Elantra had entered I-15 at Deer Springs Road, traveling north in the southbound lanes, Latulippe said. An officer from the CHP’s Oceanside office started a traffic break near state Route 76 in an effort to stop the wrong-way driver.

The Hyundai did not stop for the traffic break and continued heading the wrong direction at a high speed, according to Latulippe. A second CHP unit from Temecula responded to assist, but dispatchers received another call at 11:17 p.m. reporting that the Hyundai had crashed into a gray Honda Civic that had been traveling in the correct direction on southbound I-15 near Rainbow Valley Boulevard.

The woman behind the wheel of the Honda was pronounced dead at the scene, and the man in the Hyundai was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where he also died, Latulippe said.

All lanes of southbound I-15 were closed from the time of the crash until about 2:30 a.m.

Alcohol or other drugs were suspected to have played a part in the crash, which remained under investigation.