At least three people were killed Monday morning when a 71-year-old man who was allegedly driving under the influence plowed into a homeless encampment on a sidewalk near San Diego City College.
The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said the driver, who was identified Monday evening as Craig Voss, hit a total of nine people in a tunnel underneath the downtown college at around 9 a.m. local time. Three individuals were pronounced dead on the scene, while the other six were transported to a local hospital, SDFD Chief Colin Stowell said Monday. At least two victims are currently in critical condition.
Voss, a San Diego resident, was arrested and charged with three counts of manslaughter, five counts of causing great bodily injury while committing a felony, and one count of driving under the influence of drugs.
Stowell said that Voss, who was driving a Volvo station wagon, surrendered to authorities after “a very tragic emergency and incident that impacts all of us.”
“The way he was driving down the sidewalk, it was like he didn’t take his foot off the gas until he got to the other side of the street,” Ronnie Williams, who witnessed the incident, told KGTV. “I’m like whoa! Is this guy ever gonna stop?”
Officers arrived at the tunnel shortly before detaining the driver. Authorities say at least five dozen firefighters were sent to the scene to help the injured pedestrians.
The tunnel is reportedly popular among homeless people who take shelter in tents on the sidewalks.
San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said police had received a call minutes before the deadly crash about the same Volvo. He did not provide details about the call, saying it’s part of the ongoing investigation into the crash.
Authorities are also looking at video surveillance footage of the Volvo moments before the crash. Nisleit said it appears as though the car was traveling westbound when the driver lost control and began to veer to the right.
The car then “went completely up onto the sidewalk [and] struck the multiple pedestrians” before Voss was able to get back on the road and stop, Nisleit said. After the crash, the driver appeared to walk over to the victims and try to help them, according to witnesses and police.
“To those families [of those who] have passed, my deepest condolences,” Nisleit said.
Another witness, Michael Luke, told KGTV that the driver stayed near the scene and looked upset by the accident. “I saw the wagon move over and things just started popping up .. and the dragging ... Horrific,” he added.