Hit-Run Driver Kills Latino Pedestrian on I-5 Near the Border

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In what authorities believe is the most recent in a spate of undocumented immigrants killed as they try to cross freeways north of the border, an unidentified Latino man was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on Interstate 5 near the border Monday night.

The man, who was still a John Doe late Tuesday evening, was described by authorities as being between his late 40s and early 60s.

He died after being hit about 9:45 p.m. in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 about one-quarter mile south of the Dairy Mart Road crossing, San Diego Police spokesman Bill Robinson said.

The California Highway Patrol, which is handling the investigation, has no leads, witnesses or suspects, CHP spokesman Jim Anderson said.

The county medical examiner's office said the victim was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 136 pounds. He had black, medium-length hair, brown eyes, no scars or birthmarks, and was wearing black pants, black-and-white tennis shoes, and a tan-and-blue shirt.

"It's getting out of hand," Anderson said. "We've seen so many down there (get hit) it's unbelievable."

If the victim is identified as a border-crosser, he will be the 17th victim of freeway traffic near the border this year.

Since 1987, 83 pedestrians have been killed on freeways in the border area. Although some remain unidentified, all are believed to have been illegal immigrants.

The 2-mile stretch of I-5 traversed by the Dairy Mart Road overpass--the area where this victim was struck--is particularly deadly, accounting for 14 of the 16 earlier deaths in the border area since January.

Nearby Interstate 805 and California 905 have each accounted for one death this year.

The border-crossers favor the freeways because they know U.S. Border Patrol agents are wary of chasing pedestrians across busy highways--a dangerous option for the immigrants, the Border Patrol agents and motorists.

Tuesday night, in a pre-planned operation, the CHP shut down all of I-5 from California 905 to the border, rerouting traffic to California 905 and Interstate 805. Meanwhile, U.S. Border Patrol agents were going to flush out undocumented immigrants in and around the freeway.

The half-hour operation would be repeated twice--at 10:30 p.m. and midnight--last night.

"The last time we did this, we got 250 or 300 people," he said.

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