San Diego

Police Say Driver in San Diego Tunnel Crash Was Impaired: What We Know, So Far

San Diego resident Craig Voss, 71, crashed into nine people in a tunnel along B Street in downtown San Diego on March 15, killing three

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What to Know

  • San Diego resident Craig Voss, 71, is suspected of driving his Volvo while impaired; officials said he hit nine people in a tunnel in downtown San Diego just after 9 a.m. on March 15.
  • Three people died in the crash and five were hospitalized; two of the victims who were hospitalized are in critical condition.
  • Witnesses said the driver plowed into a row of tents along the sidewalk; the area is known as a place where homeless San Diegans seek shelter -- especially on rainy days like Monday.

The driver who plowed into nine people in a tunnel in downtown San Diego Monday – killing three of the victims – was impaired during the deadly crash. Here’s what we know about the driver, so far.

San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said San Diego resident Craig Voss, 71, was behind the wheel of a Volvo station wagon when he crashed into a homeless encampment along the 1400 block of B Street near San Diego City College just after 9 a.m. Monday.

Three people were killed and several more injured when a car drove up onto the sidewalk in downtown San Diego. NBC 7's Jackie Crea reports.

The police chief said Voss was traveling westbound on B Street near 15th Street when he lost control and began veering to the right.

“It went completely up onto the sidewalk, struck the multiple pedestrians there, then came back onto the roadway and came back to stop in the very No. 1 lane, just before you exit the tunnel,” Nisleit said, recounting the trajectory of Voss’ Volvo.

Witnesses and officials said there were tents lined up along the sidewalk in the tunnel. The area is known as a place where homeless San Diegans seek shelter – especially on rainy, cold, winter days like Monday.

Three people were killed and several others were injured when a driver plowed onto a sidewalk under a tunnel near San Diego City College. NBC 7’s Audra Stafford has more information on the tragedy.

Witness Ronnie Williams was walking in the area at the time of the crash.

He thinks it all happened in about 10 seconds, which he described as “a slow 10 seconds.”

He said Voss took out three tents lined along the sidewalk at first, then a few more.

“You could see everything popping up, going in the air, dragging, it was, it was very loud. It was like something you see in a movie scene,” Williams told NBC 7.

Nisleit said Voss got out of his car and walked over to the victims.

Officers later heard from witnesses that Voss had walked over to some of the victims and tried to help them. When Voss saw police officers approaching the scene, Nisleit said he identified himself as the driver of the Volvo.

Raw footage from the scene of a crash in downtown near San Diego City College on March 15, 2021.

Voss was arrested and booked into San Diego Central Jail on nine charges including three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter – one for each victim who died in the crash. He’s also facing five counts of causing great bodily injury while committing a felony – one for each victim hurt in the crash. Voss is also charged with one count of felony DUI.

According to his jail booking records, Voss is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment on the morning of March 23.

At a news briefing Monday Nisleit could not confirm what type of substance Voss was allegedly under at the time of the deadly crash – whether it was drugs or alcohol. The chief said that part remains under investigation.

The Calls

Nisleit said police had received a radio call minutes before the deadly crash reporting a vehicle matching the description of Voss’ Volvo.

“It appears to be the same car,” he said.

Nisleit said the radio call is part of the ongoing investigation and, in the preliminary stages of the investigation on Monday, he could not give specifics about what was reported in that call regarding the Volvo.

SDPD detectives are looking for any video surveillance that may have captured the Volvo in the moments leading up to the crash along B Street.

NBC 7's Claudette Stefanian spoke to a homeless services advocate who believes Monday's tragedy could have been avoided.

Nisleit said police received multiple 911 calls about the deadly crash just after 9 a.m. When officers arrived, they saw “multiple people down” in the tunnel.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Colin Stowell described the scene as “chaotic.”

There were so many patients, first-responders were triaging the injured in the tunnel before sending them to hospitals around San Diego County.

Three people died at the scene.

Two others were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center in critical condition. Two victims were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital, and the other to Scripps Mercy Hospital.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said the crash highlights the issue of homelessness in the city and said the city will not turn a blind eye to the ongoing issue.

“Let me state it very clearly: a street is not a home,” Gloria said.

You can read more about the deadly crash here.

A vigil was held at the tunnel on the night of March 15, 2021, for the victims of the deadly crash.

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