Man who died in suspected drunken driving crash along Interstate 8 east of Lakeside identified

Jeremiah Smith arrested in connection with crash

LAKESIDE, Calif. - A 42-year-old Mexicali man was killed when a suspected drunken driver allegedly rammed his wife's car as he walked toward the stopped vehicle on the side of Interstate 8 east of Lakeside on Saturday, according to the California Highway Patrol.

He was identified Sunday by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office as Pablo Vallejo Medina. 

The victim was driving a Chevy Astro minivan that was towing an Acura Integra east on Interstate 8 east of Lake Jennings Park Road with his wife close behind in a Toyota Tercel, shortly before the crash about 4:10 a.m., CHP Officer Brian Pennings said.

One of the vehicles experienced mechanical problems and both the victim and his wife pulled their vehicles onto the right shoulder. The man got out of the van and walked back to talk to his wife through her driver's side window, Pennings said.

Shortly after, an eastbound motorist in a GMC 2500 who had drifted onto the right shoulder struck the left rear of the Toyota, which subsequently struck the victim, Pennings said. The CHP later identified 38-year-old Jeremiah Smith of Alpine as the driver, Pennings said.

The force of the crash propelled the victim several hundred feet, Pennings said. Officers found him lying in the grass center divide. The victim died at the scene, Pennings said.

Neither the victim's wife nor Smith was injured, Pennings said.

Smith was arrested, Pennings said. He was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of felony drunken driving and gross vehicular manslaughter, according to jail records. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail and was scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The eastbound lanes were temporarily closed following the crash, a CHP dispatcher said.

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