A man believed to be an illegal immigrant became the fourth person this year to die while crossing Interstate 5 near the U. S. Border Patrol checkpoint at San Onofre, CHP officials said Monday.
Genaro Gonzalez-Cuenca, described as 20 to 25 years old, was struck by a motorist and killed Sunday night as he raced across the freeway's southbound lanes just south of the checkpoint.
CHP spokesman Jerry Bohrer said Cuenca, who is believed to be from Oaxaca, Mexico, was struck by a vehicle driven by Kenneth Clay, 20, of San Diego. Cuenca was pronounced dead of multiple injuries at the scene. Clay, who was not injured, was not cited, Bohrer said.
This year's death toll of four immigrants near the checkpoint in San Diego County is an increase over the same three-month period last year when two Mexicans were killed in the eight-mile stretch near the checkpoint, Bohrer said.
In 1990, the CHP reported 14 fatalities in similar accidents near the checkpoint.
Cuenca's death occurred despite the CHP's public awareness campaign on both sides of the border about the hazards of crossing highways. The CHP has also stepped up enforcement of speed limits by adding patrol officers in the 10-mile area from Oceanside to San Onofre and the 20-mile stretch of highway in the San Ysidro area just north of the border.
"We're not happy with what's happening out there," CHP spokesman John Marinez said. "No deaths would make us happy."
Marinez said the program has brought calls and letters from motorists complaining about the heavier patrols.
Roberto Martinez, director of the U. S.-Mexico Project with the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, said greater enforcement of the speed limit and more CHP units on the freeway are needed to reduce the number of deaths and injuries.
A Caltrans spokesman said the department hopes to begin building by January a five-mile long security fence along the I-5 median near the checkpoint.
During the past five years, more than 150 people have been killed and another 100 injured along I-5 near the border and checkpoint, CHP officials said.