October 12, 2009 – A Marine and a woman died Saturday in a quick series of early morning crashes on I-15 north of Escondido near Bonsall. One of the drivers may have fallen asleep, and another is suspected of being drunk.
The incident began around 4 a.m. Saturday when Chula Vista resident Kyle Cohen, 29, was driving north on I-15 near the Gopher Canyon Road on ramp, north of Escondido, said CHP Officer Eric Newbury.
Cohen was sleepy and his 2001 Volvo sedan hit the rear of a Jeep Cherokee carrying four Marines in front of him, the CHP officer said.
The Jeep was driven by 20-year-old Aaron Lowden, a Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms. It spun out of control and stopped on the right shoulder, partly blocking the right-most traffic lane as well, Newbury said.
As the Marines looked at the disabled Jeep, a 2001 Chevy Cavalier hit the disabled car and one of the passengers. Lance Cpl. Robert T. Austin, a 19-year-old Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, who was on the freeway shoulder, was hit by the Cavalier. The impact knocked Austin off the freeway and onto Gopher Canyon Road below, according to Newbury. The other Marines ran down to him, Newbury said.
A 21-year-old woman from Fallbrook, Sarah Garcia, in a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, failed to see the stopped Chevy Cavalier and hit it, Newbury said. Her Cherokee veered down the embankment, across the Gopher Canyon Road onramp, vaulted a guardrail, rolled down another embankment and came to rest on its wheels. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Chevy Cavalier — identified as Oscar Tinoco, 18, of Quail Valley — and a 17-year-old passenger ran from the scene, but both were caught nearby, according to the CHP. Tinoco was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and fleeing the scene of an accident, authorities said.