SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Three people were killed and several others were injured after they were struck by a car that jumped a curb near San Diego City College Monday morning.
San Diego police said the incident happened just after 9 a.m. in the 1500 block of B Street, in a tunnel next to the school, in downtown San Diego's East Village.
Police said the 71-year-old male driver of a Volvo station wagon was traveling westbound on B Street when, for reasons still unknown, the car veered to the right and onto the sidewalk, hitting several people.
The vehicle came to a stop just after the collision, and police said the driver remained at the scene.
Police confirmed that three people died at the scene. A total of five other people were hospitalized. Two of the victims who were taken to the hospital are in critical condition but are "awake, alert, and answering questions," police said. According to police, there were at least nine victims in the collision.
Sharp Memorial, Scripps Mercy and UCSD in Hillcrest all took patients who were suffering from injuries from the crash.
The identity of the victims hasn't been released, but San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said most or all of the victims are homeless. “Most if not all those who were sheltering under that bridge this morning were homeless and were there because they felt as though they had nowhere else to go," Gloria said.
The driver was identified as Craig Voss, 71. He was arrested for three counts of vehicular manslaughter, five counts of causing great bodily injury while committing a felony, and one count of felony DUI. Police said he is suspected of being under the influence of drugs.
Just prior to the wreck, police got a call from a person reporting a possibly intoxicated driver about a mile from the downtown college in a vehicle matching the description of the suspect's Volvo, according to Nisleit. Investigators believe it was the same car that crashed onto the crowded sidewalk minutes later, the chief said.
Authorities asked the public to avoid the immediate area due to the investigation.
Michael McConnell is an advocate for the homeless community and has spent time in that tunnel. He said homeless people sleep down there, and witnesses say there were more people down there than usual because of the rain.
McConnell said he wants people to have respect for the people killed, and not dismiss them because they were living on the streets.
"They’re somebody’s brother, somebody's sister, somebody’s friend. Somebody’s daughter, son, grandfather, grandmother, mother, and daughter just like all of us are. We all bleed red," said McConnell.
The advocate also said this is a somber reminder that real change needs to happen in the city to help the homeless population.
"A shelter bed period is not what people need. We need housing. We need supportive services, and right now we need help for the folks, the victims, the survivors of this horrific accident," he said, calling on leaders to create permanent housing opportunities.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria did address the topic when he spoke during a press conference Tuesday. He said he knows help is needed and plans to take decisive action to help the homeless community.
Mayor Gloria added that he wants to make sure the three people do not die in vain.