San Diego

2 Killed After Driver Plows Through Bus Stop, Into Tree in Mission Valley

The deadly crash happened just after 11 a.m. in the 7500 block of Metropolitan Drive where three transients were sleeping or sitting near a bus bench

A driver plowed through a bus stop and into a tree in Mission Valley Thursday, hitting three people who were sleeping nearby -- killing two of them -- authorities confirmed.

The victims were hit when a black SUV heading northbound veered off the 7500 block of Metropolitan Drive near Murray Canyon Road just after 11 a.m.

The car went up onto the eastern sidewalk and rammed a bus bench. The three people were either sleeping or sitting behind that bench, according to investigators.

Footage captured by SkyRanger 7 showed the SUV halted at the scene, it’s front bumper wedged deep into a tree. Medics were loading the victims onto stretchers. Tree branches and belongings were strewn about the street.

San Diego Police Department officials said the trio -- two men, aged 40 and 43, and a woman, aged 49 -- were likely homeless.

SDPD Lt. Duane Voss said the victims were lying in the shade near the tree when the SUV came crashing into their encampment. Officials confirmed the 40-year-old man died at the scene.

The other man and the woman were rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital with severe injuries. The 43-year-old man died a short time later, police said. As of Thursday afternoon, the woman remained hospitalized in critical condition.

Just before 12 p.m., NBC 7 crews could see the driver sitting on the sidewalk. He had just completed a field sobriety test.

One hour later, police confirmed alcohol or drugs were not suspected in the deadly crash. The investigation is ongoing, with San Diego Police Department investigators trying to determine what caused the deadly crash.

"There’s always a cause for an accident and that’s what we’re here trying to find out, what the cause is," Voss told NBC 7.

Police said the driver would not be immediately arrested or charged. Investigators planned to look into whether he may have been distracted behind the wheel.

SDPD later identified the driver as a 22-year-old man, but his name was not released. He was not treated for injuries at the scene.

NBC 7 spoke with witnesses jarred by the deadly accident, including Bernie Ibarra. He said the victims had been sleeping behind the tree when the SUV crashed into them.

"Just seen the car go up on top of the embankment right here," Ibarra explained. "He hit the bus bench and then he hit a tree and then I guess he ran them over."

Ibarra said the driver got out of his car and called for help.

"It was a mess, man. It was a mess," the witness added.

Jessica Nelson is an acquaintance of the victims. She told NBC 7 the trio usually camps out near the tree on Metropolitan Avenue.

“It’s very sad,” she lamented.

The names of the victims were not immediately released by officials. On Friday, a report released by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the men who died had been living transient lifestyles in San Diego. Their families had not yet been notified of the deaths, so the ME was withholding the names of the victims until the families could be reached.

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