A young boy, a teenage girl and two women from Loma Linda died late Sunday on Highway 78 while a Fallbrook driver was arrested, then released following a fiery crash, California Highway Patrol officers said. Three other people driving with the four killed were injured.
Just before 11 p.m., according to CHP Sgt. Curtis Martin, the driver of a 2014 Chevy Sonic attempted to change lanes headed eastbound near Nordahl Drive. He said he saw a 2003 Toyota Sequoia at the last moment, swerved his car, but still crashed. The Sequoia driver also tried to swerve out of harm’s way.
The vehicles soared through an embankment, then flipped over with the Sequoia slamming into a tree.
The seven passengers in the ill-fated Sequoia were in the same family, driving home after a holiday party at a relative’s Carlsbad home.
Dead at the scene was a 9-year-old boy identified Monday by officials as Timothy Silalahi. Also killed were 65-year-old Ris Kartini Panjaitan, 75-year-old Dameria Pakpahan, and 40-year-old Irani Afrida Pasaribu, officials said.
Two surviving adult female Sequoia passengers were taken to Palomar Medical Center. A 19-year-old woman was taken to Scripps La Jolla Hospital. Injuries were classified by CHP officials as non-life threatening. CHP investigators earlier identified the teenage survivor as the driver but now say that remained under investigation.
The Sonic driver went unscathed. CHP officers handcuffed him and questioned him at the San Marcos Sheriff’s Office. CHP officers said he was released due to no evidence of drugs, alcohol or high speeds being involved in the crash. CHP officers later identified the driver as Jorge Bolanos, 25, of Fallbrook.
Two lanes of eastbound Highway 78 were closed until just before Monday rush hour.
The crash remains under investigation.