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13-year-old driving mom’s SUV crashes in Escondido, killing 2 sleeping men, police say

Map of fatal Escondido crash
(Los Angeles Times)

Two men sleeping in bushes along an Escondido street were killed when a 13-year-old crashed her mother’s SUV while fleeing police over the weekend, authorities said.

One of the men died at the scene. The other was taken to a hospital, where he also died.

The pursuit began about 11:20 p.m. Friday, when an officer pulled over a white Ford Explorer for a suspected traffic violation, Escondido Police Lt. Kevin Toth said.

What the officer did not know, Toth said, is that the driver was a girl who’d sneaked off in her mom’s SUV. One of the teen’s friends was in the passenger seat.

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As the officer approached the car, the girl hit the gas and drove off. A little more than half a mile down the road, she lost control of the Explorer while turning, Toth said. The SUV slid into a planter on the side of the street.

Officers caught up to the Explorer and arrested the two girls, who were later released to their parents.

They also discovered the two men who had been struck by the vehicle.

Police identified the victims as Mateo Salvador, 33, and Sofio Sotelo Torres, 51. Authorities think the men were homeless and were unable to locate any family members as of Monday.

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As police investigated the crash scene, a passing car rammed into an empty patrol vehicle that was blocking the closed road and had its emergency lights on. No one was hurt, but the motorist was arrested for drunken driving.

Toth said investigators were working with prosecutors “on all potential criminal charges” in connection with the fatal crash.

“These types of cases are extremely complex, and it can take some time to analyze evidence in order to support the filing of criminal charges,” the lieutenant said in a statement.

San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer David Hernandez contributed to this report.


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