At least four people were killed and several others were injured Saturday when a truck traveling on the Coronado Bay Bridge in San Diego veered off the road and flew 60 feet off the bridge, landing on a crowd gathered at a park below.
The crash happened just after 3:30 p.m. PT off the bridge and near the 1900 block of Julian Avenue. California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Jake Sanchez said the person behind the wheel of the pickup truck, suspected of driving under the influence, hit a guard rail, rolled and landed on a crowd of people at Chicano Park. The park sits below the entrance of the bridge from Interstate 5, in Barrio Logan.
Among the four people killed were a man, 62, and a woman, 50, from Chandler, Arizona, and a man, 59, and a woman, 49, from Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles County.
One witness told NBC 7 he heard truck screeching as it plowed into the park below.
“I [saw] that truck come flying off the ramp here and onto the people that were underneath them. I was that close to them,” he said. “It’s terrible.”
Another witness, Dolores D'Angelo, was attending the festival at Chicano Park, where she was scheduled to perform with a band. Suddenly, she saw debris and dust flying off the bridge, then saw parts of the car scattered everywhere.
"Pieces of car parts were flying all over the place. When we got up, we turned around, everybody started running over there because we realized, there were people sitting there – there were people sitting right there," D'Angelo described.
"We were trying to get in to see if we could maybe lift up the car, move the car out of the way to see if we could get the people out. There were so many people crowded by then,” she added. “I was trying to call 911 and I think I called it like four times and I don’t know that I ever hit ‘send’ properly because I got really nervous; I got really scared.”
"I saw a car flying through the air, right off the bridge. It looked like -- I couldn't see anybody driving the car. It looked like as if Superman had thrown a car right off the bridge. It was just flying down," D'Angelo added.
The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and CHP confirmed that at least four people were killed in the crash. Police said two others suffered major injuries and at least seven other people suffered minor injuries.
The driver, identified as 24-year-old Richard Anthony Sepolio, is alive, police said, but critically injured. He was hospitalized and arrested on suspicion of DUI, Sanchez said. He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury or death and other charges related to significant injury of others.
According to CHP, Sepolio is an active duty service member with the Navy stationed in Coronado.
As dozens of first responders filled the park, medics began treating those with minor injuries at the scene and rushing those with critical injuries to UC San Diego Medical Center, Scripps Mercy Hospital and Sharp Coronado.
Debris was strewn about the crash site; blood could be seen on the sidewalks.
"It's horrible, it's horrific," said Sanchez, describing the scene. "There's people down below, bodies -- just innocent people that are just down here having a good time and now they're gone. We feel for their families."
Southbound Interstate 5 leading to the Coronado Bridge was shut down to traffic immediately following the deadly crash; both inbound and outbound traffic on the Coronado Bridge was also shut down.
By 4:40 p.m., the Coronado Police Department confirmed that the roads were reopening and traffic was moving once again, slowly.
Police said there were more than 100 people at Chicano Park at the time of the deadly crash, as a festival was taking place.
Chicano Park was celebrating the La Raza Run, a motorcycle festival that had live music, food, art exhibits and a tribute to fallen riders.
Chicano Park is in Barrio Logan, a predominantly Mexican-American community located about 4.5 miles southeast of downtown San Diego. The park is known for its vast collection of colorful outdoor murals and artwork dedicated to the cultural heritage of the community.