Otay Mesa

Bystander Killed at Otay Mesa Drag Race

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A driver in a drag race in Otay Mesa lost control of his vehicle, hitting and killing a bystander, police said Sunday.

Two motorists were drag racing at about 6 a.m. Sunday in the 8800 block of Kerns Street when a driver lost control of his vehicle and went up on the sidewalk, striking a bystander who was watching the race, said Officer Sarah Foster of the San Diego Police Department.

The bystander died of his injuries at the scene, the officer said.

No arrests were immediately reported. SDPD traffic units responded and were handling the investigation.

Anyone with information related to the incident can call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

Lili Trujillo, founder of Street Racing Kills, a nonprofit that works to raise awareness about the dangers of illegal street racing, said deadly street racing mishaps like this one aren't uncommon, and are always tragic.
“Every time I see a crash, like the one that just passed right now, in San Diego, it just breaks my heart that this keeps happening," Trujillo said.

Truillo knows the pain first hand. She said her daughter Valentina was in the backseat of a friend's car when the friends decided to get into a race. He crashed and Valentina, 16 years old at the time, didn't survive.

Since then, Trujillo has dedicated her time to raising awareness. Unfortunately, she says the illegal street racing scene has only grown since her daughter's death.

Fellow Street Racing Kills member Lori Argumedo knows the dangers just as well.

"My niece was killed on May 11, 2019, after two young men decided to engage in an illegal street racing contest on a residential street," Argumedo said. Her niece, 23 at the time, was killed in a crash.

"These street races are illegal. They're extremely dangerous. The consequences are deadly. Bethanie (Argumedo's niece) is the reality of these choices that you make, you are going to kill innocent people," she said.

Both women point out the dangerous trend only increased during the coronavirus pandemic, and data from the CHP proves it.

In 2020, the CHP received more than 25,000 calls involving illegal street racing compared to just 3,500 the year before.

"If you don't kill yourself and you survive, then you're going to serve time in prison and you don't want to be responsible for the death of somebody and have to live with that for the rest of your life," Argumedo said.

Last Thursday Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that could suspend the licenses of drivers caught participating in these dangerous street events. It will take effect July 1, 2025.

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