An SUV full of people on their way to a funeral rolled over on Interstate 15 in Bonsall, California, Friday, leaving three dead and another three, including a 2-year-old girl, hospitalized.
A 2001 Ford Expedition was headed south on I-15 when it flipped into the northbound lanes near Gopher Canyon Road, blocking the left lanes on both sides of the freeway and killing three people inside. CHP suspects tire tread is to blame.
Suitcases were seen strewn about among the debris. A survivor of the crash told CHP the group was traveling to Mexico to board a plane for a funeral.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner has identified the victims as a married couple, 25-year-old Jerson Ariel Duron Valeriano and 22-year-old Edith Duron of South El Monte, and 21-year-old Ivette Garcia of Los Angeles.
CHP said it does not appear either woman was wearing a seat belt. The 25-year-old man, who was driving, had his seat belt on but was also killed.
A 2-year-old girl restrained in a car seat survived without injuries, but was taken to Children's Hospital for "precautionary reasons." Two adults, the girl's uncle and 43-year-old grandmother, also survived and were transported to Palomar Hospital for non-life threatening injuries, according to CHP.
The child lost both parents in the crash.
Heading to her father's funeral, the grandmother saw her 22-year-old daughter die.
"I am a human being, and my heart goes out to that family, especially during the holiday season," said CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt. "That is tough."
Deputies happened to be driving behind the vehicle when they said the tread on the left rear tire appeared to separate, causing the driver to lose control. CHP said the tread on all four tires looked different.
Authorities will conduct a full mechanical inspection of the SUV, paying close attention to the tires.
Bettencourt said it's important to check the safety of your vehicle often, especially before a long trip.
"Number one: have a plan. Be prepared when you go out there," Bettencourt said. "Make sure that you take a look at your vehicle, you inspect it, you check your wipers, you check the tire pressure, you make sure your vehicle's in good working order before you travel on that long trip."
Editor's note: Aprevious version of this story said the ages of the deceased women were 11 and 12 years old. We regret the error.