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13-year-old girl accused of taking mother’s SUV arrested in Escondido crash that killed 2

A 13-year-old girl who authorities said ran over and killed two homeless men last month when she crashed her mother’s SUV while trying to outrun police has been arrested, officials said Thursday.

The girl was booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, evading police and felony hit-and-run, Escondido police said. They are not releasing her name because she is a minor.

The incident started about 11:20 p.m. on Feb. 12, when an officer pulled over a white Ford Explorer on East Mission Avenue near Gamble Street for a suspected traffic violation, police Lt. Kevin Toth said at the time.

What the officer did not know was that the driver was a 13-year-old girl who’d sneaked off in her mom’s SUV, Toth said. A friend of the teen driver was in the passenger’s seat.

The officer had started to walk up to the car when the driver suddenly hit the accelerator and took off east down Mission Avenue. A little more than a half mile down Ash Street, the driver made a left turn and lost control of the vehicle.

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The SUV jumped the curb and slid into a planter in front of a fenced-off San Diego Gas & Electric transfer facility at the corner of Ash and Mission.

Officers caught up to the SUV, arrested the two girls and discovered the victims, who had been asleep behind bushes near a block wall. Both men were described as homeless. One died at the scene. The other died at a hospital.

Authorities identified them as Mateo Salvador, 33, and Sofio Sotelo Torres, 51.

The teens were released to their families while authorities investigated the incident, which police said included an attempt to re-create the circumstances around the crash.


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