Tragedy strikes before the holidays at the U.S Mexico border when a wrong-way driver, who was travelling more than 100 mph on Interstate 5, collided with another vehicle – killing both occupants, including himself. According to CBS 8, David Michael Elmore, 29, of Oceanside arrived at the Mexico border in San Ysidro on Sunday at approximately 3 a.m., but suddenly made a U-turn and continued driving on the wrong side of the highway.
CHP officers witnessed Elmore, who was driving a 2006 Mercedes, travelling the wrong-way on H Street in Chula Vista and gave pursuit. CHP Sgt. Curtis Martin stated that “He drove northbound in the southbound lanes while the Customs and Border Protection officers went northbound in the correct lanes.”
The wrong-way driver drove for 40 miles before officers lost sight of his vehicle on E Street. However, the border patrol agents soon discovered that Elmore had collided with a Chrysler, killing a 23-year-old man and a woman, 24, who were both from La Jolla. A medical examiner have identified the couple killed in the crash, but California police have yet to release their names. It was also reported that the two occupants in the vehicle were a couple who were taking a trip. Investigators found two plane tickets inside of their rental car.
— Candice Nguyen (@CandiceNBCSD) December 22, 2015
The crash caused the Chrysler to flip over on its roof and ignite, charring the remains of the couple. The wrong-way driver was also killed in the crash; however, Elmore’s vehicle did not overturn nor did it catch fire, according to NBC San Diego.
Before the deadly crash, CHP officers desperately tried to place spike strips on the road, but since Elmore was travelling at high speeds, they were unable to get into position. CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt recalls the incident, stating that “At the time of that crash, we had officers who were working in other felony DUI collisions on State Route 78 near Mar Vista where people were ejected from that car. Life Flight was landing on the freeway and so we didn’t have officers in position to even get close to catching up with this guy who was driving at well over 100 miles an hour.”
“There could have been ways where officers could have gotten into position to attempt a spike strip at speeds that are that fast sometimes that can be difficult especially if he’s in the number one lane and we have officers in the center divider that are exposed. We could attempt to run traffic breaks to slow traffic down but then again you have someone who’s going at such high speeds that it becomes difficult task at that point you know decisions that are being made out there on the road are split second by the officers and you know our biggest concern is trying to not put as many people in jeopardy as possible.”
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) December 21, 2015
“There are several things we could have done. We could have tried to run a traffic break, could have tried to spike strip the vehicle, but unfortunately at the time, like I said, the manpower was focused on another collision, couldn’t get there in time,” Bettencourt continued. “I wouldn’t say we were understaffed. I would say our resources were focused somewhere else.”
— #NBC7 San Diego (@nbcsandiego) December 20, 2015
It is unclear if alcohol or drugs played a role in the collision, but investigators are awaiting toxicology reports. Sources say the wrong-way driver had a history of DUI and currently had two warrants for his arrest for failing to appear in court. It was also uncovered that Elmore was on probation during the time of his death and never had a driver’s license in California. However, the wrong-way driver did in fact have a driver’s license, but it was revoked in another state.
After the wrong-way crash that killed three, police officials shut down the southbound 5 freeway for several hours and reopened the lanes at 11 a.m.
[Image via Getty Image/David Mcnew]