Fatal highway crash: A 22-year-old man was killed Thursday when a wrong-way driver slammed into his car on State Route 56 in Rancho Penasquitos, 20 miles north of central San Diego.
• An 18-year-old in a Land Rover SUV veered across the center median of State Route 56 and slammed head-on into an oncoming Toyota Scion.
• The 22-year-old driver of the Scion died at the scene.
• The wrong-way driver was hospitalized with severe injuries. Police suspect he was under the influence of some kind of medication or controlled substance at the time of the fatal accident.
California Highway Patrol officials said 18-year-old Timothy Barnette of San Diego was driving a 2002 Land Rover Discovery SUV eastbound on State route 56 when he suddenly lost control and veered across the sandy center median into oncoming traffic.
The Land Rover slammed head-on into a westbound 2010 Toyota Scion driven by 22-year-old Nick Hart.
Marine Corps veteran Danny Donnellan, who was driving behind the Scion witnessed the entire accident. He said the impact launched the Land Rover “almost straight up in the air.” Barnett was ejected from his vehicle and had to be removed from underneath the SUV, which had traveled up an embankment.
Donnellan, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, tried to use his first aid training to assist the victims but Hart — who had to be extricated from his crushed compact car — had no pulse and was bleeding profusely from his ear.
“He had obviously suffered a blunt trauma to the head,” Donnellan told CBS8 News. Hart died at the scene.
Donnellan said the wrong-way driver, Barnette, was conscious but in shock and “obviously very confused as to what had happened.” Barnette was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla to be treated for severe injuries. He later was reported to be in fair condition.
CHP investigators suspected that Barnette was under the influence of some type of medication or other controlled substance at the time of the crash. A spokesman for the CHP said criminal charges were expected to be filed against the 18-year-old, pending toxicology results.