ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Surveillance video is giving us a closer look tonight at what led up to a tragic crash over the weekend that left two men dead. It happened Friday night at the intersection of Mission and Ash in Escondido where police said a 13-year-old girl from Vista was behind the wheel of the white Ford Explorer, with her juvenile friend in the passenger seat.
The pair sped away from police during a traffic stop and crashed into two men who were sleeping in some bushes next to a block wall.
The Escondido Police Department identified the two men as Mateo Salvador (33) and Sofio Sotelo Torres (51). At the time of the crash, they were believed to be living on the streets in Escondido. Officials have been unable to locate or identify any next of kin for the men at this point.
Jonathan Jensen shared the surveillance video showing the crash that happened just as he and his wife were getting into bed. "It's a tragedy all around," Jensen said.
The impact was so loud, he ran outside to see if he could help. "[I] saw the smoke coming from the car so I hurried up got dressed and ran out to see if I could offer assistance, but the police were already there," he said.
Police said that the 13-year-old driver took the car without her mom's knowledge and her juvenile friend was in the passenger seat.
An officer pulled them over for a traffic violation, not knowing those circumstances. When he approached on foot, they took off, starting a pursuit.
Minutes later, while trying to turn onto Ash, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed. One of the men hit was pronounced dead at the scene. The other died at a nearby hospital.
As for the teens, they were arrested and released to their parents. Attorney Gene Iredale said while possible, it's unlikely the driver will be charged as an adult.
"There can be a motion made by the District Attorney’s office to treat her as an adult," Iredale said. "However, in this case, it doesn't appear that those felonies would be applicable because this was not a murder. It was arguably at worst a vehicular homicide."
Meanwhile, her parents could also face consequences, but not in criminal court. "The parents, assuming the girl stole the car without their knowledge are not criminally liable for anything," Iredale aside. "There may be civil liability on behalf of the parents."
As for her demeanor, Jensen says the teen appeared to be in shock while being put into the back of a patrol car. “It's sad she's gonna have to carry that,” he said.
Anyone with information regarding the crash is encouraged to contact Officer Adan Martinez at 760-839-4465 or via our by calling the “Anonymous Tip Line” at (760) 743-TIPS (8477).