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Monday, June 30, 2008

REGION: Collision kills three near Lake Skinner

Officers hunt for hit-and-run driver

By CATHY REDFERN - Staff Writer | Monday, June 30, 2008 7:35 PM PDT

WINCHESTER ---- Investigators on Monday were searching for the driver of a pickup that collided with a car on Warren Road on Sunday, killing a mother, father and son from Winchester, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The head-on collision occurred about 8:10 p.m. Sunday near the entrance to the Lake Skinner Recreation Area when the 2007 GMC pickup allegedly crossed over double-yellow lines into the path of the northbound 1991 Chevrolet Malibu driven by Andres San Agustin, CHP officials said.

The crash resulted in the deaths of San Agustin, a 48-year-old Navy medical corpsman stationed at Camp Pendleton; his wife, Maribeth Pagaspas San Agustin, 36, and the couple's 4-year-old son, Angelo, authorities said.

The adults died at the scene, about 100 yards south of the entrance to the park, and the child died about an hour later at Rancho Springs Medical Center, according to Riverside County coroner's officials.

A resident who lives off Warren Road near the crash site said the truck had landed on its roof and that what was left of the family's car was about 2-feet high when he saw it towed away about 1:30 a.m. Monday.

"It was an absolute crumpled mess," David MacKichan said. "... It was pretty disturbing."

MacKichan said he was barbecuing on his front porch when he heard the crash around dusk and saw smoke rising from the truck. He said he called 911 and later spoke to officers and other observers. Officers searched for the pickup's driver from the air and on ground, with at least one canine unit, and searched a neighbor's barn, he said.

MacKichan said he was on the phone with dispatchers and could see several people who had been driving on the road run up to the car and then just stop, apparently when they saw how destroyed it looked. An officer told him there was blood inside the truck and that both air bags had deployed, MacKichan said.

Monday afternoon, the CHP reported they believed the driver had fled with the assistance of another driver, while declining to elaborate.

Officer Ron Thatcher declined to release any details of the investigation, or possible factors leading to the fatal crash. However, he did say evidence was found inside the truck, and that officers were tracking down several leads they hoped would help them find the GMC driver and whomever helped that person flee.

"This is just a very tragic crash; something like this should never have happened," Thatcher said. "And it's compounded now because it's a hit-and-run."

The Marine Corps released a statement in response to the crash. Andres San Agustin was a hospital corpsman, first class, who served with the 1st Medical Logistics Company, 1st Supply Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group.

"The Marines and Sailors of Camp Pendleton and the 1st MLG are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and our thoughts are with the Sailor's family and friends," 1st Lt. Kenneth Kunze stated.

Kunze said late Monday he was unable to provide additional information.

The San Agustin family lived in a new neighborhood off Winchester and Pourroy roads. A woman who answered the phone at the home Monday said the family did not wish to make a statement at least until they had complete information from law enforcement.

The man who lives near the crash site, MacKichan, and another man who lives in that upscale rural neighborhood said speeding and other bad driving causes frequent problems at the eastern end of the Wine Country. Racing can be a problem, MacKichan added.

Both MacKichan and his neighbor, Ed Bennett, had stories of other nasty crashes near the spot in the past few years.

"This entire road, from Butterfield Stage all the way out, is just bad all the way around," Bennett said. "It's a little safer here. At least there is a shoulder, but they need turning lanes or slower speeds or something."

The CHP's Thatcher focused more on driving behavior.

"It is a two-lane road with curves in it," he said. "But if you drive in a way that is appropriate for the road, it's not unsafe. Collisions occur because someone was doing something they weren't supposed to do, 99 percent of the time."

Those with information on the crash are asked to call the Temecula CHP office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at (951) 506-2000.

Staff writers John Hunneman and Teri Figueroa contributed to this story. Contact staff writer Cathy Redfern at (951) 676-4315, Ext. 2621, or e-mail


noemi said...

Justice to your sister in law, her husband and child. Just reading the news pained me. I hope they catch this driver

Anonymous said...

I am praying for you and your family at theis difficult time. I was overcome reading this story and pray that you will all stay close and heal from this tragedy. God bless.

MrsPartyGirl said...

leirs, i'm sorry. ngayon lang ako nakapasyal and it's the first time i read of this accident. i did read the more recent entry and saw that they had arrested the driver. mabuti naman, i hope he rots in hell for all the pain that he has caused you and your family. *HUGS*

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