SAN DIEGO - A series of crashes triggered by an alleged drunken driver left three men dead and five other people injured, including a man who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, the California Highway Patrol said Saturday.
The suspected drunken driver, a San Diego man, was driving north from Interstate 805 onto the transition ramp to westbound state Route 52 when he lost control, according to the CHP.
The vehicle veered off the right side of the road, careened across a dirt embankment and rolled several times, a CHP dispatcher said.
Four passengers in the Escalade were not wearing seatbelts and were ejected from the spinning SUV, the dispatcher said. Two of those ejected were killed instantly, he said.
A fifth passenger, wearing a seat belt, was also killed in the crash, on a curving ramp just north of Clairemont Mesa, according to the CHP.
The dead passengers were publicly identified at first only as a 35-year-old Ridgecrest man, a 23-year-old San Diego man and a 29-year-old San Diego man. They all died at the scene, the CHP said.
Three other vehicles crashed on the ramp following the initial single-vehicle crash, CHP officials said.
The SUV's driver and one of its ejected passengers were taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. The other surviving SUV passenger who was ejected was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital, authorities said.
Officers determined the Escalade's driver had been under the influence of alcohol and he was arrested at the hospital on suspicion of drunken driving causing injury and death, the CHP said. His name was not immediately released.
Two motorists involved in the subsequent crashes were hospitalized with minor injuries, the CHP said.
Of the five people hospitalized, three sustained from major trauma, a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department dispatcher said.
The transition ramps from the north 805 to westbound 52 were closed following the crash. The SigAlert was lifted shortly before 7 a.m., according to the CHP.