San Diego

3 Die in Head-On Crash in Valley Center, Highlights Area Hot Spot

According to CHP data, there have been 40 crashes along this portion of Valley Center Road over the past seven years

A man who walked away from a deadly head-on crash in Valley Center Tuesday morning was found by California Highway Patrol agents.

Three men were killed when a white pickup truck veered into oncoming lanes and was struck by a black tow truck on a curvy portion of Valley Center Road near Lilac Road before 6:15 a.m., CHP said.

CHP later confirmed the men killed were Miguel Saravia, 44; Cesar Daniel Nino, 22; and Carlos Bravo Serrano, 30. Saravia was driving at the time of the crash.

Saravia leaves behind his five kids, according to his mother, Fernanda Flores. His wife lives in Tijuana and is trying to get a humanitarian visa to attend his funeral.

A fourth man, Claudio David Juarez -- believed to be sitting in the front passenger's seat and the only one wearing a seatbelt at the time -- left the scene of the crash, CHP said.

Juarez was Saravia's brother, Flores confirmed, and the four men worked together.

CHP found him hours after the crash. He had hitchhiked to a relative’s house.

When asked why he left the scene, Juarez said he was in shock and didn't have a phone so he ran for help.

A GoFundMe page was created to help cover family and funeral expenses for the four me.

The tow-truck driver was left with minor injuries and transported to Palomar Medical Center. 

Three people were killed in a head-on crash on Valley Center Road, and the fourth person involved reportedly ran away and is now missing. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda has more.

The crash was so severe, officers at first could not see the third body and believed only two people were in the truck at the time of the crash, CHP Officer Mark Latulippe said. 

CHP said the men may have been on their way to work at the time of the crash but it was not clear why the truck veered into oncoming lanes. 

Hours into the investigation, it was still unclear if alcohol was a factor in the crash. Latulippe said the inside of the truck did smell of alcohol when officers arrived but it was possible that beer cans found inside the cab exploded upon impact. 

Law enforcement officials spent the morning actively searching for the missing person in the area several miles southwest of Harrah's Resort and Casino.

Three people were killed in a head-on crash in Valley Center. NBC 7's Liberty Zabala has more.

Footage of the scene from SkyRanger 7 showed the white truck with a crushed hood dozens of feet from the black tow truck. Debris was strewn across the roadway, which runs against a cliff.

A few feet from the crash site stood a memorial from a different deadly car crash. Something Latulippe remembers all too well.

"That memorial, actually, I responded to that crash as well," he told NBC 7. "I have been at this same curb."

According to CHP data, there have been 40 crashes along this portion of Valley Center Road over the past seven years.

More than 82 percent of those crashes resulted in injuries, according to CHP.

SkyRanger 7 captured footage of a deadly crash on a Valley Center roadway.

"We have winding two lane roads. The only thing between you and the vehicle driving the other way is a double yellow line," Latulippe said.

Ramon Luengas owns Diana's Nursery, minutes from the crash site. He said his customers often complain about drivers speeding and honking their horns.

"The problem is they are driving too fast," Luengas said.

Latulippe echoed this idea, saying the margin for error on that stretch of road is very slim.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department, local firefighters and CHP all responded to the crash.

Both directions of Valley Center Road were closed to traffic shortly after and a SigAlert was issued, which ended Tuesday afternoon.

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