SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/CNS) - Three people were killed and a fourth was severely injured Thursday afternoon when an SUV involved in a Border Patrol pursuit crashed off Interstate 15 near Lake Hodges at high speed and plunged into a deep ravine, authorities reported.

The southbound vehicle had been traveling at around 100 mph prior to veering off the freeway about 1:15 p.m., smashing through a guardrail and a fence and tumbling roughly 120 feet down the roadside embankment, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Border Patrol authorities said they ran the vehicle's license plates and got hits for "alien smuggling" and "possible armed and dangerous murder suspect." It is unknown whether that suspect was actually in the vehicle.  

Two of the four occupants of the SUV died at the site of the crash just south of West Bernardo Drive, CHP Officer Jake Sanchez said. Medics took the other two to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, where one was pronounced dead. The other was admitted for treatment of major trauma.

U.S. Border Patrol personnel were at the scene of accident shortly after it occurred. Preliminary indications were that they had been tailing the SUV when it crashed off the interstate, CHP Officer Tommy Doerr said.

To allow for investigation of the deadly wreck, the CHP closed all the non-carpool southbound lanes in the area, three lanes reopened shortly before 5 p.m.

No information on the victims was available as of Thursday evening.

Get the latest News 8 Traffic update »

Border Patrol gives update shortly after 5 p.m.