4 Killed In Fiery Santee Crash Believed Identified
8:32 AM, Aug 31, 2009
A flattened shell is all that was left of a Lexus carrying four people Friday night. It is now believed the driver of the car was 45-year-old Mark Saylor, an officer with the San Diego California Highway Patrol.CHP officer Brian Pennings said, "Mark Saylor was an off-duty CHP officer. He began his career with the California Highway Patrol in 1989 and this October he would have celebrated his 20th anniversary with the California Highway Patrol."Saylor was believed to be driving with his family. It is believed that his 45-year-old wife, Cleode Saylor, was in the passenger seat and their daughter 13-year-old Mahala was riding in the back along with Saylor's 38-year-old brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella.The CHP said that at about 6:30 p.m. Friday a call came into 911 that is believed to have been from Saylor's wife. The woman who called stated that she and three others were in a car with an accelerator that was stuck and traveling at more than 100 miles per hour.It's believed that shortly after that call came in the Lexus reached the intersection of Highway 125 and Mission Gorge Road where it clipped a Ford Explorer, careened off the road and flew 150 feet before it landed in the San Diego river basin and burst into flames.The driver of the Explorer, Phillip Pretty, 52, was hospitalized with moderate injuries, according to Pennings.Both vehicles had been going north on 125, and the driver of Explorer was trying to turn left when the SUV was struck from behind, according to law enforcement and witness reports.Forensic mechanic Forrest Folck said, "It's definitely one of the worst accidents I've seen."Folck has investigated more than 6,000 accidents. He said a jammed accelerator is highly unlikely but can happen, especially in newer-model vehicles using cruise control.Folck said that the best thing to do when the accelerator sticks is to shift into neutral and step on the brakes. The CHP said that Saylor should have been familiar with that move but, for whatever reason, couldn't execute it."We may never know exactly what happened and why it happened but I have to believe that he did everything he could to stop that car," Pennings said.Saylor, 45, was a safety officer, who inspected school buses, ambulances, tow trucks and armored vehicles, Pennings said."He was an outstanding officer who was well-respected by his peers," Pennings said. He was also a "passionate athlete who was very competitive."Pennings said Saylor worked in offices in western Los Angeles County and El Cajon before settling in the San Diego office in 1995. He began his safety inspection assignment four years ago, he said.10News' Ariana Duarte learned that the car Saylor was driving was a loaned Lexus ES 350 that was checked out from the Bob Baker Lexus dealership in El Cajon just hours prior to the crash.