Man killed by own runaway car at East County campground identified

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SAN DIEGO — Authorities Friday released the name of a 71-year-old Pacific Northwest resident who was killed when his unoccupied subcompact car ran over him as he was taking it off a towing hitch at a campground in the far southern reaches of San Diego County.

James Coile of Federal Way, Washington, had just returned from a trip to Mexico and parked his motor home, which was towing a late-model Smart Car, at Potrero County Park, northeast of Tecate, according to the California Highway Patrol and county Medical Examiner’s Office.

When Coile uncoupled the hitch between the rear of the motor home and the car, the smaller vehicle began to roll backward, CHP public-affairs Officer Jeff Christy said.

“(Coile) had failed to ensure the emergency brake was set on the Smart Car,” Christy said. “(He) ran to the rear of the vehicle and attempted to stop its movement, but was overcome by its momentum.”

The car ran over the victim, who wound up pinned underneath it when it came to rest.

Witnesses contacted emergency personnel while good Samaritans tried in vain to lift the vehicle off of Coile, Christy said.

Firefighters arrived and pulled the car off the victim using hydraulic jacks. Paramedics then performed CPR on him and took him to a nearby fire station, where he was pronounced dead prior to the arrival of an air ambulance.

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