VALLEY CENTER, Calif. – Three Escondido men died and a fourth man was injured in a head-on crash between a pickup and a tow truck, on a winding rural road near Harrah’s Resort Southern California, authorities said Wednesday.
The collision occurred shortly before 6:15 a.m. Tuesday on Valley Center Road, between North Lake Wohlford Road and Paradise Creek Lane, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Miguel Saravia, 44, of Escondido was driving a Ford F-150 southbound when it veered into the northbound lane and crashed into a tow truck, San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office reported. Saravia and his two passengers, 22-year-old Cesar Daniel Nino and 30-year-old Carlos Bravo Serrano, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators said the three men who died were likely not wearing seat belts, CHP public-affairs Officer Mark Latulippe said. A fourth man, who had been riding in the front passenger seat of the F-150, left the scene and was later found at a relative's house in Escondido.
The man, later identified as the Ford driver's brother, told officers he left the crash scene because he did not have his cell phone, Latulippe said.
Paramedics took the tow-truck driver to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido for treatment of superficial injuries, Latulippe said.
It was unclear if speeding or intoxication played a role in the accident, though authorities found beer cans and bottles that had spilled their contents inside the crumpled pickup truck, Latulippe said. That discovery was inconclusive, since the containers could have burst open during the collision, the spokesman noted.
The crash remains under investigation.