Wrong-way Highway 78 embankment flip near Metcalf kills driver on New Year’s Day

Deadly scene near Metcalf Street off Highway 78 Friday.

Just 10 days after a deadly Highway 78 crash killed four people; a wrong-way, single-vehicle crash on a nearby stretch of Highway 78 sometime before 3 p.m. killed another man, according to California Highway Patrol officers.

The wrong-way 2003 Chevrolet Suburban headed west on eastbound Highway 78, presumably from Broadway, plunged off the road near Metcalf Street killing the driver, CHP officers said.

Nobody called 911 with a report of a wrong-way driver and it was unclear how long the SUV laid down the embankment, flipped on it’s front, before officers arrived. CHP officers instead responded to reports of vehicle debris in the area, finding the vehicle and dead driver after an extended search.

The driver was identified as John Disney, 67, of San Bernardino. At the scene after the crash, CHP officer Jim Bettencourt said an investigation continued into the state of the driver before crashing, adding that typically, drivers going the wrong way on well-marked road sections were either impaired or stricken by a sudden health issue.

“If you are driving the wrong way,” Bettencourt said, “there’s nothing to stop you from pretty much going off the roadway here and crashing into a big concrete retaining wall that protects Metcalf Street for the traffic that’s out there.”

Officers asked anyone with information about the incident to call the California Highway Patrol in Oceanside at (760) 643-3400.

This followed the Dec. 21 crash on eastbound Highway 78, about three miles down the freeway at Nordahl Drive when four Loma Linda family members were killed and three injured in a crash precipitated by a Fallbrook driver changing lanes. The Fallbrook man was not charged with a crime in that crash.

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