Updated at 5:14 p.m. Friday
A young DUI suspect led officers on a reckless North County road chase early today before getting into a crash that killed his passenger, authorities said.
Jorge Luis Lopez, 21, was speeding in a 1991 Honda Civic on State Route 78 in Oceanside alongside a westbound sedan, apparently racing the other motorist, when California Highway Patrol personnel spotted him near College Boulevard shortly before 1 a.m., according to CHP public-affairs Officer Jim Bettencourt.
The other driver slowed down, but Lopez refused to yield and fled at speeds reaching 100 mph, soon merging onto northbound Interstate 5, Bettencourt said.
Lopez exited onto Mission Avenue and headed east before turning south on Mesa Drive, allegedly continuing on at about 80 mph before hitting a dip in the road, veering out of control and crashing into a parked pickup truck near Mesa and Pajama drives.
Lopez's passenger died at the scene of the wreck. His name was withheld pending family notification.
The suspect suffered moderately serious injuries and was airlifted to Scripps La Jolla Hospital.
Lopez is expected to face various felony charges -- including evading police, drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter -- upon his release from the hospital, Bettencourt said.
At least one witness told reporters that several Oceanside police officers who had been involved in end of the pursuit seemingly taunted Lopez, smirking or laughing at him shortly after the crash.
Such accusations of impropriety "are taken very seriously," Oceanside police Capt. Fred Armijo said.
"As part of our preliminary investigation, the CHP allowed us to review the video-camera footage from their patrol vehicles, which were the first to arrive at the scene of the (crash)," the captain said late this afternoon. "We have also interviewed other witnesses in the neighborhood. We have found no evidence that Oceanside police officers behaved inappropriately, nor have we found any evidence to support the ... (witness) allegations."
-City News Service