Authorities identify 30-year-old San Diego man killed near Pala

PALA – Authorities today identified a 30-year-old San Diego man killed on a North County highway near Pala in a head-on collision that left three people seriously injured.

Brian Joseph Owen of Pacific Beach was driving a 2011 Toyota Corolla on westbound state Route 76 when he failed to negotiate a turn about a mile west of Pala Mission Road, crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a 2008 Mitsubishi Galant shortly after 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said.

Owen was unrestrained and died at the scene, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.

The 50-year-old San Jacinto woman who had been driving the Gallant was transported to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido along with her passengers, a 42-year-old man and 56-year-old woman. The three, all of whom had been wearing seat belts, suffered severe injuries, CHP Officer Mike Martinez said.

The collision prompted the closure of the roadway until shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday.

15 Responses to "Authorities identify 30-year-old San Diego man killed near Pala"

  1. Roger Mills   November 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Dear Editor and community,

    This report of another fatal crash on Highway 76 between the Casinos and Highway 15 begs the question. "How many more need to die before the Casino’s, CalTrans and Highway Patrol take the initiative to address it? How many?"

    As it seems most of the crashes are head-on, how about a divider? The Casino’s need to realize it’s in their best interest to be proactive here, rather than have the highway become known as, "Death Road to the Casinos".


    Roger Mills
    Resident on Highway 76

  2. Art   November 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    We have not gone to the Casino’s in years just because of possible accidents.

  3. Safety Patrol   November 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    This is the third serious injury/death accident on this stretch of 76 within the last month. The other two involved DUI. From what I understand the young man who died was an employee of Harrah’s on his way home from a late night shift and failed to negotiate one of the many dangerous curves. So, it isn’t just drunk drivers.
    Casino traffic is definitely a factor in the marked increase in accidents on the 76 over the past 10 years since the Pala, Pauma, and Harrah’s Rincon casinos were built. I agree with Mr. Mills’s observation – the Indian tribes should take more responsibility with regard to improving the highway from I-15 to Harrah’s as they are profiting from those who travel this road to gamble/stay/work at their casinos/resorts. It’s great that the 76 is being improved from Oceanside to the 15, but the REAL problem is east of the 15 and is only going to get worse as the casinos expand (as Harrah’s is currently doing). What will it take to get improvements going on this road?

  4. Blackjack   November 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    The stretch of 76 between mission and S Mission and Pala Casino is absolutely the most dangerous stretch of highway south of Ortega Highway. I agree with Art, save you money and your life by avoiding these casinos.

  5. Rip Brian   November 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    You are correct Brian was a casino employee. He was a great guy and loved by many. Such a tragedy. Rest in paradise B!

  6. Ex 76 driver   November 29, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    I drove the 76 all the time as a tow truck driver cleaning up the accidents when Pala Casino was still a picnic area. It comes down to people slowing down and stop thinking they can drive like an Indy car driver. Stop passing the blame on the reservations Highway Patrol and Adot just because you idiots cant drive. I do have sympathy for Brians friends and his family but his lack of ability to handle his motor vehicle is his fault not everyone elses.

  7. Preston   November 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    There could be several reasons for the accident that we are unaware of, the fact he did not have his seat-belt on certainly did not help his situation. As far as Casino’s go, its a shame California ever allowed them.

  8. Paul Martin   November 30, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Why was he going 75-80mph? He crossed the center line near a curve by Rancho Luna because of his speed. I’ll bet he passed several vehicles in No Passing zones during his final 15 mile trip. I live here and see the reckless driving every day. I’m subjected to their road daily as I drive a safe and responsible speed. This is just the death of the week on this part of 76 and on Pala Temecula Rd. The three major injuries this guy caused brings the monthly total to 18 from 49 reported crashes on just 25 miles of road.

  9. Safety Patrol   November 30, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I think the increased traffic -and the nature of that traffic- is definitely tied to the casinos. Before the casinos the traffic consisted primarily of locals who drove the 76 daily and folks out on a scenic drive to lake Henshaw or Palomar mountain. Now we have little old ladies and little old men driving 15 mph out to play slots (impatient drivers trying to pass…the cause of last weeks fatality near the Pala casino as well as many others), folks who drink at the casinos and get behind the wheel ( the signs that Caltrans has posted about don’t drink and drive near the casinos -doubtful they really help) , a marked increase in night/late night driving to and from casinos (patrons and workers …this factor contributing to this accident), and a huge increase in truck/semi traffic as they transport supplies/food/drink to the casinos/resorts. Before the casinos were built, the tribes and businesses backing the casinos were required to pay for several improvements to the 76 in anticipation of the future increased traffic. These included widening of the bridge just east of the Pala casino, installation of a traffic signal at the Pauma casino entrance off the 76, as well as some other traffic mitigation improvements (a couple of new passing lanes, sturdier guardrails). I don’t think that is enough. either straightening/widening the stretch at least from the 15 to the Pala casino ( most treacherous section) or installing a divider to keep cars from head on collisions (which is responsible for the majority of the accidents) should be seriously considered.

  10. Jackie   November 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I understand that no one is happy that deaths occur on 76, and the fact that there are 4 casinos that route definitely does not help, however, we are each responsible for our own actions. I have grown up out here, there has ALWAYS been accidents and tragic deathly accidents at that on these roads and there always will be that is a part of life. Sure there are drunk drivers, but not everyone going to the casinos get drunk and drive, and sure there are bad drivers, who drive too fast and pass, no matter what is done there wil ALWAYS still be drunk and fast drivers. All we can each do is be responsible for ourselves, we can’t blame the casinos because people drive drunk or pass. Be compassionate for the young man who lost his life and pray for those that were hurt, God knows his plan for us and though it is difficult to understand in the natural prayers for understanding and safety will go much further than blame.

  11. Safety Patrol   November 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Jackie- True, there are bad/irresponsible drivers everywhere and people should take responsibility for themselves. However, taking responsibility for oneself and driving safely does not help when another driver who is not as responsible plows head on into your car on a tight curve. I’m not saying that everyone who goes to the casino gets drunk and drives, but there certainly are those who do…and they are a danger not only to themselves, but to others as well. I DO blame the casinos for the marked increase in traffic on this stretch of 76. The populations of Pala and Pauma Valley have not grown much over the past 30 years, but the traffic flow has increased dramatically over the past 10 years…ever since the casinos were built. With profits comes responsibility. And, as evidenced in two of these comments, the casinos could be even more profitable by making the road to their doorsteps safer so more folks (who do not patronize the casinos due to an unsafe road) would visit their establishments. I am not saying the casinos should foot the entire bill-but they should foot a portion of it. How do we lobby for government funding to help pay for the extension of the improvements that are being made to the 76 WEST of 1-15 to continue to the EAST?

  12. PalomarTom   November 30, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Paul, you’re an idiot. Nowhere does it say he was going 75 miles an hour. I pass that turn every day, and there is literally no way anyone could go 75 there. You know nothing of what actually happened, you just want to complain about the dangers of the 76 in an article about the death of good young man on his way home from work. Yes, people drive unsafe on that rod, and yes, people drive unsafe on every road, and yes, you are a callous, heartless, illiterate subhuman for turning a tragedy into a forum for your foolish rant. You should be ashamed of yourself. Drive safe.

  13. Safety Patrol   November 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Paul Martin – where are you reading that Mr. Owen was traveling at 75-80 mph or that he was driving recklessly? Yes, his error caused his death as well as the injury of three others, but we don’t know the facts. All we DO know is he was driving home on a treacherous road at 2:30 a.m. after finishing his shift at his place of employment – Harrah’s casino/resort. An improved road would help avoid these types of accidents in the future as the traffic increases. By the way, SR-76 between I-15 and Lake Henshaw is 24 feet wide, except through the Pala Reservation where it has been widened to two lanes in either direction (a condition of Pala building its casino). SR-76 is classified as a "Major Road" on the County Circulation element east of I-15 to SR-79 at Lake Henshaw. According to County standards, "Major Roads" should be 78 feed wide with 98 feet of right of way, providing four through lanes. So, this portion of SR-76 violates County standards.

  14. Jackie   December 1, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Safety Patrol, I get you are concerned, people should be, but there is ALOT of traffic that goes to the desert via 76 past the casinos, plus there are alot more homes in Valley Center, Pala, Pauma, etc.. Fact is that traffic and accidents will always be there even if you put in a 5 lane highway, stop lights. Look at 15, used to be just two lanes like most of 76, ALOT of fatal accidents there and on every other road. Look at the daily traffic on 15 to and from Temecula, Murrieta and the general area, massive cars go thru there daily and there are alot of accidents on it and it HAS your added lanes. Added lanes, lights, etc don’t change the fact that there are accidents, people do. Who do we hold responsible for those accidents. There has been an approved plan to widen 76 FOREVER, since before the whole valley was bought out be State for just that purpose thru 76 past 15, it won’t stop accidents from happening just give wider lanes and more deceptively more room for them to happen in.

  15. Preston   December 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

    A Casino or other attraction that will bring a tremendous increase in traffic to the area should never be approved unless safe access is completed prior to the facility opening.


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