Oceanside pursuit ends in fatal crash

Crash occured on Mesa Driveat Pajama Drive

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - A 21-year-old alleged drunk driver raced another motorist in the North County early Friday before leading California Highway Patrol on a high-speed pursuit that ended in a crash that killed his passenger, authorities said.

Jorge Luis Lopez faces several felony charges -- including evading, drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter -- once he is released from a hospital where he is being treated for moderate injuries, according to CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.

CHP officers spotted a 1991 Honda Civic racing a dark sedan on westbound Highway 78 near College Boulevard  around 12:55 a.m., he said. The sedan slowed down, but the Honda sped off at 100 miles per hour onto northbound Interstate 5, Bettencourt said in a statement.

From I-5, the Honda exited onto Mission Avenue in Oceanside and headed east before turning south on Mesa Drive. While on Mesa Drive, the Honda traveled at speeds up to 80 mph, Bettencourt said, adding that it hit a dip in the road and crashed into a parked pickup near Mesa and Pajama drives.

A man in the passenger seat was killed instantly, Bettencourt said. The driver -- later identified as Lopez -- sustained moderate injuries and was flown to Scripps La Jolla Hospital.

Alcohol was a factor in the crash, according to Bettencourt.

The driver of the dark sedan suspected of racing Lopez in the Honda was not pulled over and not wanted as of early Friday, Bettencourt said.

Both Oceanside police and the CHP are conducting the investigation into the crash.

A witness told a 10News crew that police officers who arrived at the scene seemed to be laughing at the driver.

"Oceanside police came on the scene and as the young man was sitting in his car pinned, and they were smirking at him," said the witness.

Oceanside police immediately released a statement in response to what the witness said.

"The Oceanside Police Department does not condone any such behavior," said Lt. Sean Marchand. "If that is the case, it won't be tolerated and we will do the follow-up necessary to ensure the kind of conduct does not take place in our organization.

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