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SOUTH BEACH: SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

Fiery Collision Kills Marine Crossing Lanes

April 07, 1998|GEOFF BOUCHER

A Camp Pendleton Marine who was being pulled over for speeding Monday morning was killed when he suddenly veered back into traffic and into the path of another car, authorities said.

The 24-year-old Marine, a resident of Irvine whose name was withheld Monday pending notification of his family, was crossing lanes toward the shoulder of the San Diego Freeway when "for some unknown reason he abruptly veered" back to the left, according to Lt. Gary Teragawa of the California Highway Patrol.

The Marine slowed or stopped in the lane he veered into, and when his car was struck by the one behind him, it spun out of control and exploded, Teragawa said.

The 4:24 a.m. crash backed up traffic for miles after investigators closed a section of the busy freeway near Junipero Serra Road for more than three hours. "It was an awful mess," said CHP Officer Joan Rivas.

Few details of the crash were released Monday, but Teragawa said two officers in a patrol car saw the Marine's Ford Saturn going more than 85 mph and signaled with their emergency lights for him to pull over.

The patrol car shadowed the Saturn as it crossed lanes toward the shoulder, but the Saturn cut left into a lane it had crossed, Teragawa said. A Ford Taurus traveling at a reasonable speed plowed into the Saturn, he said.

Charred and mangled debris littered the freeway as investigators tried to figure out the chronology of the crash. But their effort was hampered by early morning rain, heavy traffic and old skid marks, CHP officials said.

"We're trying to dismiss away evidence not related to the actual accident, and that can be complicated," Teragawa said.

Monserate Moreno, 25, of San Diego was driving the Taurus and, along with a passenger, was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and released.

Anyone who saw the crash is asked to call the CHP at (714) 487-4000.

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