San Diego

Man Falls to His Death From I-15 Overpass Near Lake Hodges

The incident happened in Rancho Bernardo along southbound Interstate 15.

One man died and another was in critical condition Wednesday after they fell off an Interstate 15 overpass near Lake Hodges Wednesday.

California Highway Patrol officers say a KIA parked in the carpool lane of southbound I-15 south of Via Rancho Parkway just before 3 a.m. Two of the five people inside got out of the car to relieve themselves.

The men fell over the K-rail and plummeted down more than 35 feet, CHP officers said. 

Pablo Barajas, 22, died at the scene. The second victim, only identified to be 22-years old as well, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Palomar Medical Hospital.

Barajas had lived with his family in San Bernardino.

"It's never safe to stop on the freeway, that's for emergency situations only," said Sgt. Armando Casas, adding that there were plenty of nearby exits with gas stations that are open 24 hours.

Casas said it's not known why the two men climbed to the ledge of the overpass to urinate.

"There was no need for them to stop on the freeway," he said. "There was no need for that."

CHP officers have arrested the driver on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was identified as Michael Jonathan Le, 25, of Sun City.

Casas said the victims were in rugged terrain approximately a half-mile hike from the nearest road.

The three other individuals in the car were distraught following the incident. One was heard yelling to the victims below that help was coming.

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