On Sept. 20, 2009, a 17‐year‐old girl decided to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated on alcohol and drugs. As she left a party in La Mesa, she struck a car, injuring that driver.
The teen then left the scene of the crash and drove to Santee. When she came off SR‐125 at more than 70 miles per hour, she struck the SUV of Pamela Sue Marabeas on Mission Gorge Road.
This week the Sheriff's Department is holding a dedication ceremony for a new freeway sign in memory of Marabeas.
Between 2006 and 2012 there have been 61 traffic collisions at the intersection of Mission Gorge Road and SR-125, 14 caused by a DUI driver, 16 caused by speeding, and three deadly, according to the Sheriff's Department. Of the three deadly crashes, two were caused by DUI, one by a floor mat stuck on the accelerator.
The most recent crash at the intersection occurred over New Year's weekend and involved a 21-year-old Orange County man accused of driving drunk and crashing into a San Diego police car, seriously injuring a rookie officer. The suspect has plead not guilty.
The mangled SUV that Marabeas was driving is now being used in Sheriff's Start Smart classes as a visual reminder of the deadly consequences of drunk driving. Since June 2010, free Start Smart classes have been regularly offered to new drivers and their parents/guardians so they clearly understand their responsibilities when a teen starts to drive. The class also clarifies the restrictions of a provisional license and social host rules in the county.
At the January 9 meeting of the Santee City council Deputy City Manager Pedro Orso-Delgado said that city staff were setting up meetings with Caltrans to discuss ideas to make the intersection safer for motorists.
—A Sheriff's Department press release contributed to this post