SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA.com) — Four people were killed and another hospitalized early Saturday when their car collided with a light pole so forcefully that it split in half.
Witnesses in San Clemente say a BMW was speeding southbound around 1:30 a.m. on the 900 block of El Camino Real when it struck a light pole and then a palm tree, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Three men and one woman were pronounced dead at the scene. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department identified them as 22-year-old Luis Olivar, San Juan Capistrano, 25-year-old Pablo Vargas Diaz, of San Juan Capistrano, 26-year-old Martin Junior Nieto, of Laguna Niguel, and 27-year-old Lucia Garcia Solis, of San Juan Capistrano.
The sole survivor was identified as 24-year-old Josephine Garcia of San Clemente. She was airlifted to Mission Hospital with significant injuries.
“It was quite a horrific scene,” said Lieutenant Jeff Hallock, adding that it appeared some of the victims were ejected from the vehicle.
It was the first time the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has had a quadruple fatal accident while providing police services to cities like San Clemente since 1968.
“This is quite a significant accident,” Lt. Hallock said. “We’ve had triple fatalities, we’ve had a couple of those over the last 40 to 50 years, but nothing of this magnitude.”
Deputies are looking into the cause of the crash. The preliminary investigation indicates both speed and alcohol are factors in the collision.
Friends of Pablo Vargas Diaz, who say he was driving, are in disbelief.
“We heard he was going pretty fast, I don’t know what might have triggered that or why he would have done that,” friend Eligio Sanchez said. “He was a really responsible person, he was the manager of a bank.”
Anyone with information about the crash was asked to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 647-7000 or (949) 770-6011.