A driver who triggered an early morning crash on Interstate 15 that killed a grandmother and toddler pleaded guilty to related charges on Monday, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's office.
At a readiness hearing, Grant Stewart Thoren pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run through his attorney.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials said the deadly crash happened around 1:45 a.m. in September 2016 on southbound I-15 at Scripps Poway Parkway, near Mercy Road.
Lina Nebrida, a 64-year-old grandmother, was in her family's Honda with her 35-year-old daughter, her five-year-old granddaughter and her two-year-old granddaughter Kiera Magat when a silver Cadillac CTS crashed into them, according to authorities.
The driver of the Cadillac, Grant Stewart Thoren, 31, stopped momentarily on the right shoulder of the freeway, but then fled the scene.
CHP officials said that due to the damage from the hit-and-run collision, the Honda became disabled in the traffic lanes.
Moments later, a man driving a red pickup truck, accompanied by a passenger, failed to see the disabled Honda and slammed into the vehicle. That driver remained at the scene.
When emergency crews arrived, the Honda was so mangled they had to extricate the family from inside.
Nebrida and her 2-year-old granddaughter did not survive, CHP said.
The 35-year-old woman the 5-year-old girl were rushed to local hospitals with major injuries. The girl suffered a concussion and is currently being treated at Rady Children's Hospital. Her mother was hospitalized but has since made progress with her recovery, according to a family spokesman.
The passenger in the red pickup truck was also taken to a local hospital with unspecified minor injuries. Officials said the driver of the truck was not injured.
Investigators launched a search for the driver of the Cadillac who fled the scene. Hours later, CHP officials confirmed Thoren had been arrested at his home in Vista on suspicion of driving under the influence, thanks to a tow truck driver.
Anyone looking to help the family with medical costs can donate to their GoFundMe by clicking here.
The DA's office said Thoren is expected to be sentenced to 10 years and four months in state prison on May 5.