Police said a driver forced his way into a crowd of people on a sidewalk under an overpass with homeless tents on rainy land in downtown San Diego, killing three people and wounding six others, including two who were hospitalized in critical condition.
San Diego Police Chief David Neslett said the driver – identified by authorities only as a 71-year-old man – lost control of his Volvo shortly after 9 a.m. near a community college. He was arrested on suspicion of driving with a disability.
“For whatever reason, (the driver) swerved to the right, climbed onto the sidewalk, hit many pedestrians there and then returned to the road,” said Neslett.
Three people died at the scene. The authorities said that five of the other six injured were taken to hospitals.
Neslett offered “my deepest condolences” to the families of those who died.
The sidewalk had tents. Neslett said the homeless people may have moved under the bridge to get out of the rain before the car passed there.
He said: “I do not know whether people are sleeping or there are people,” adding that the authorities that are striving to obtain medical assistance for people will then resort to finding answers to these questions.
Neslett said the driver got out of his car and tried to help people before introducing himself to the police.
“He was cooperating, (and) he did not try to escape,” the president said, while correcting previous police reports that he tried to escape.
Multiple ambulances, five fire engines, a helicopter and more than 60 first responders rushed to the scene near San Diego City College where the busy area is with students walking by on a regular weekday morning.
“It’s clear that our crews found a tragic accident under the bridge,” said Colin Stowell, chief of the San Diego Fire Department.