Officials have identified a young victim killed when his family’s SUV crashed in Escondido – a boy who had celebrated his 11th birthday just one day prior to the tragic accident.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s (ME) office has identified Stephen Lemelle, of San Bernardino County’s Crestline community, as the boy killed in the collision on Feb. 21. His birthday was on Feb. 20, the ME’s office confirmed.
According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the boy and his family were inside a Chevy Trailblazer traveling on northbound Interstate 15 south of Gopher Canyon Road at around 9:30 p.m. when another driver – an 18-year-old man from Chino, California – hit the family’s SUV from behind with his Dodge Challenger.
The impact caused the Trailblazer to veer to the center divide on the freeway and roll over several times. Lemelle was ejected from the backseat of the SUV. The boy suffered a traumatic injury to his head and died at the scene, officials said.
CHP officials said there were five people inside the Trailblazer, including Lemelle. This included a 27-year-old driver, a 33-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl – Lemelle’s sister. They all suffered moderate injuries in the crash as well.
The teenage girl was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital, accompanied by the driver of the Trailblazer. The 33-year-old woman in the Trailblazer and the driver of the Dodge Challenger were both taken to Palomar Medical Center with moderate injuries.
The crash is under investigation. At this time, CHP officials do not believe alcohol was a factor.