Driver arrested after fiery SUV crash south of Temecula

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PALA (CNS) – An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of DUI after a fiery crash off a rural road just south of Temecula killed one passenger and injured two others in the vehicle, authorities said today.

The crash was reported shortly before 4:45 p.m. Tuesday on Pala Temecula Road, just south of Temecula, according to information from California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Smale.

Investigators determined an 18-year-old man from Pala was driving a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV at a high speed when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into a tree, Smale said.

One passenger in the vehicle was partially ejected from the SUV during the crash, the officer said. That passenger and the two other passengers were pulled out of the vehicle by a good Samaritan before the vehicle caught fire.

The passenger who was partially ejected was pronounced dead at the scene, Smale said. The two other passengers were taken to local hospitals for treatment of unknown injuries.

The driver, whose name was not immediately available, was taken to Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar for treatment of major injuries, then arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of cannabis, Smale said.