Two teenagers died and three more were injured when a car drove off a Mission Valley transition ramp early Saturday in what is suspected to be an alcohol-fueled crash.
Witnesses said a speeding BMW struck a guardrail on the ramp between westbound Interstate 8 and southbound state Route 163, which launched the vehicle off the ramp at about 3 a.m., the California Highway Patrol said.
The car fell about 40 feet from the ramp, hitting several trees on the way down, according to CHP officer Christopher Radoff. When the car struck the ground, it burst into flames.
CHP said Sunday that the teen was driving without a license in a car not registered to him. Speed, drugs and alcohol were also suspected factors in the crash.
Inside the car were five male teenagers ranging from ages 15 to 19. Three of the teens were able to get out of the burning vehicle, including the driver, police said.
After rescue crews were able to control the flames, two 15-year-olds were found dead inside the charred vehicle, CHP said. Neither of the two deceased teens will be officially identified until their families are notified.
The driver, 17, was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, CHP said. The driver was taken to a hospital, but he is also listed as under arrest according to a collision report.
Two injured passengers were also transported to local hospitals with major injuries. CHP said investigators would interview the survivors at the hospital as part of their investigation.
Because of the possible criminal nature of the crash, investigators were combing every inch of the crash site in order to figure out what happened.
The ramps between westbound I-8 and southbound SR-163 were closed for several hours.