A driver was killed after hitting a fallen tree along State Route 79 in rural San Diego County “at full highway speed” Tuesday morning, the California Highway Patrol said. A young girl was also inside the car.
A large oak tree had fallen into the north and southbound lanes of SR-79 near Oak Grove. The area is in the northeast part of San Diego County, just north of Palomar Mountain and the Cleveland National Forest. NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said that part of the county was experiencing gusty winds Tuesday.
At 5:45 a.m., CHP officials said 33-year-old German Figueroa was driving a 2016 Kia SUV accompanied by his 7-year-old passenger.
CHP confirmed Figueroa's identity the day after the crash. At that time, officers did not identify the girl nor did they specify their relationship.
The oak tree had already toppled, and the CHP said several drivers had stopped along the freeway's southbound shoulder to turn on their hazard lights and warn oncoming drivers of the tree.
However, the CHP said the driver of the SUV apparently didn't see the tree and plowed right into it. The SUV became pinned underneath the oak tree.
Crews rushed to the crash site and found the man unresponsive. Medics tried to save his life, but he died from his injuries, officials confirmed.
Meanwhile, the 7-year-old was pulled from the back seat of the wreckage and airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. CHP said her injuries were not life-threatening.
The man and girl were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, according to CHP. Officers added that there was no indication of alcohol or drugs as a factor of the collision.
Figueroa was from Yuma, Arizona, CHP said.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory through 4 p.m. Tuesday. It estimated wind gusts of up to 45 mph in San Diego County’s inland valleys and as fast as 70 mph in the region’s mountains.
“We could see offshore winds gusting near 50 to 65 miles per hour. That would be pretty isolated though, closer to the foothills and some of the mountain passes. So, a little breezy for the inland valleys at times,” said NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen.
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