CHP officer and family identified as victims of fatal crash - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

CHP officer and family identified as victims of fatal crash

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Authorities said the victims of a crash apparently caused by a stuck accelerator in a car loaned by an El Cajon dealership were positively identified as an off-duty CHP officer, his wife, teenage daughter and brother-in-law.

Killed in the fiery collision around 6:35 p.m. Friday, at the end of state Route 125 at Mission Gorge Road, were California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor of Chula Vista; his 45-year-old wife, Cleofe; 13-year-old daughter, Mahala; and 38-year-old brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

The Saylor family was in a Lexus that was going more than 100 mph when it clipped a Ford Explorer, smashed through a fence and hit an embankment, which launched the car into the bed of the San Diego River, where it burst into flames.

The driver of the Explorer, Phillip Pretty, 52, was hospitalized with moderate injuries.

Both vehicles had been going north on SR 125, and the driver of Explorer was trying to turn left when the SUV was struck from behind, according to law enforcement and witness reports.

Someone believed to be Saylor's wife called 911 to report that the car's accelerator was stuck, CHP Officer Brian Pennings said. That downhill stretch of northbound 125 near Grossmont College intersects one of the busiest streets in the county.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on its SignOn San Diego Web site that the Saylors' regular vehicle was being serviced at Bob Baker Lexus, which issued them the loaner car that crashed.

A sales manager for the dealership, Blair Carter, told SignOn San Diego that employees' hearts sunk when they learned about the crash. He said the car was equipped with a system that should have shut off the engine if there was a major malfunction.

Saylor, 45, was a safety officer who inspected school buses, ambulances, tow trucks and armored vehicles.

"He was an outstanding officer who was well-respected by his peers," Pennings said, adding that Saylor was also a "passionate athlete who was very competitive."

Pennings said Saylor would have completed 20 years as a highway patrolman in October, working in offices in western Los Angeles County and El Cajon before settling in the San Diego office in 1995. He began his safety inspection assignment four years ago.

The Sheriff's Department is in charge of the accident investigation, and is being assisted by the CHP.

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