The Medical Examiner's Office (ME) has identified the driver and passenger of a stolen car being pursued by a sheriff’s helicopter who were killed in a head-on crash Saturday.
The driver was identified as 22-year-old Gabriel Gomez Gutierrez of Escondido. The passenger was identified as Mario Alberto Lemus Garcia, 22, of Escondido.
The crash between the two civilian vehicles happened on a Valley Center roadway on March 17. Two others were injured, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) said.
Deputies started to chase the stolen Honda Accord with three people inside after spotting the vehicle in North County sometime after midnight, SDSO Sgt. Michael Tingley with the Valley Center Substation said.
The chase continued along Valley Center Road but speeds and weather conditions became increasingly dangerous, Tingley said. Deputies ended their pursuit of the stolen car but an SDSO helicopter followed the car from above.
As the car approached Rocky Road, it veered into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into a small car, Tingley said.
The impact of the crash killed both the driver and passenger of the suspected stolen vehicle. The vehicle’s third passenger suffered traumatic injuries and was transported to the hospital.
The driver of the small car was also injured and transported to Palomar Medical Center.
Valley Center Road at State Route 76 was closed for hours as both SDSO and California Highway Patrol investigated the crash. CHP would be continuing the investigation.