13-year-old girl arrested weeks after crash that killed men sleeping in bushes

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A 13-year-old girl has been arrested more than a month after police say she took her mother’s car for a joyride, then crashed into some bushes where two men were sleeping, killing both.

The deadly crash happened Feb. 12 near Mission Avenue and North Ash Street in Escondido. Authorities say the teen took the SUV without her mom’s permission in Vista, got pulled over for a traffic violation but sped away as an officer approached the car, losing control a few blocks later and slamming into the roadside planter. Police said the victims were believed to be homeless and had taken shelter along a wall behind the bushes.

Now about six weeks later, the 13-year-old accused of driving the car has been arrested and booked into juvenile hall on charges of vehicular manslaughter, evading police causing injury or death, and felony hit and run causing death or serious injury.

“Since the tragic event took place, traffic investigators have been working diligently to locate and process evidence, finalize statements from involved parties and witnesses, and attempt to re-create the circumstances surrounding the crash,” a statement from Escondido Police Department read Thursday.

“During this time, our investigators have been in communication with the Juvenile Branch of the San Diego County District Attorney’s office on the filing of all possible charges. Investigators prepared an affidavit for an arrest warrant for the 13-year-old driver and the warrant was issued by the court.”

State law protects the girl’s identity and her name was not released by EPD. Another 13-year-old was in the car at the time of the crash but was not mentioned in Thursday’s update.

The victims have been identified as Mateo Salvador, 33, and Sofio Sotelo Torres, 51.

Anyone with information about the crash was encouraged to contact Officer Adan Martinez at 760-839-4465.

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