A driver involved in a three-car crash that left one person dead in Pala Mesa Wednesday initially fled the scene, but was detained by officials a short time later at a nearby gas station.
The California High Patrol (CHP) said the driver, identified as Garrett Gelrud, 34, of Vista, was evaluated for DUI after the deadly crash Just before 5:30 a.m., Gelrud's car and two other vehicles collided on southbound Old Highway 395, south of Highway CA-76 -- a rural stretch of road in the North County, about 50 miles from downtown San Diego.
CHP officials said Gelrud was driving his Chevy Suburban northbound on Old Highway 395 just north of Lilac Road when he drove through a curve in the roadway.
At the same time, a 62-year-old man from Escondido was driving his Nissan Versa southbound. Behind them, 56-year-old Alfonso Sumano was driving his Prius with his wife, Antonia Juarez, 58, both Escondido residents.
Gelrud’s Chevy drifted across the double yellow lines right as he drove into the curve, CHP officials said, and crashed head-on into the Nissan. The impact from the crash killed the driver of the Nissan, now identified by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office as Juan Corza Gonzalez.
Sumano saw the crash happen and applied his breaks but still could not avoid hitting the back of the Gonzalez's Nissan. Sumano and his wife were taken to a Palomar Hospital with minor injuries, officials said.
Aerial footage showed the three cars scattered across the roadway – a white SUV in one lane, a blue car in the middle of the lanes and silver car half-way in one lane and half-way on a rock wall that lines the road.
The blue Nissan in the middle was completely smashed on both ends. The other two vehicles sustained significant damage to their front ends.
Just after 6 a.m., the CHP received calls from citizens reporting a man, who was later identified as Gelrud, walking barefoot on the road, leaving the crash site.
Minutes later, Gelrud was detained by officials at a nearby gas station. Medics were called to treat Gelrud, who had suffered some unspecified injuries.
CHP officials blocked the road off to traffic for more than three hours following the crash.
Gelrud will be charged with suspicion of felony DUI, vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run, officials said.
The accident is under investigation.
The DUI suspect was booked into the Vista Detention Facility. He's scheduled to appear in court Friday.