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Deputy D.A. Jailed as Vehicular Manslaughter Suspect

Times Staff Writer

San Diego County Deputy Dist. Atty. Charles A. van Dusen was arrested by California Highway Patrol officers Friday and jailed on suspicion of felony drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter after an accident that killed an Escondido schoolteacher.

Carol Frances Benson, 45, a teacher with the Pauma Valley School District, was southbound on Cole Grade Road in Valley Center at midday when a northbound car driven by Van Dusen apparently lost control after passing a truck and struck her car, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene with massive injuries, Deputy Coroner Robert Engel said.

Van Dusen, 37, received only minor injuries; his wife, Susan, a passenger in his car, was uninjured.

California Highway Patrol investigators said that Van Dusen’s car was traveling at high speed.

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Steven J. Casey, spokesman for San Diego County Dist. Atty. Edwin Miller, said Van Dusen was taking two days’ sick leave after his wife’s miscarriage earlier this week. Miller referred the Van Dusen case to the state attorney general’s office, where it is being handled by supervising Deputy Atty. Gen. Janelle Davis, Casey said.

Van Dusen was released from County Jail in Vista to the custody of his brother late Friday afternoon on the orders of a North County municipal judge, Casey said.

Van Dusen, a 1980 graduate of California Western University, is assigned to the Vista office of the county attorney’s staff and has been a county prosecutor since 1985.


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