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Teen Dies in Crash, Planned to Walk in West Hills' Graduation

18-year-old Mario Arturo Rodriguez, former West Hills High School student, graduated from Chaparral Continuation High School in April.

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Over the weekend, authorities released the name of a former  student who was found dead inside a car that apparently crashed off a rural East County road.

The body of 18-year-old Mario Arturo Rodriguez of El Cajon was discovered about 4:10 p.m. Thursday in the driver's seat of a vehicle off the roadway in the 9000 block of Sierra Alta Way, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

The former West Hills High School student graduated from Chaparral Continuation High School in April. He planned to walk with his former classmates in  next Thursday, according to Grossmont Union High School District director of public affairs Catherine Martin.

A passer-by reported the vehicle near the intersection of Olde Highway 80 and Lake Jennings Park Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.   The 1999 Acura sedan appeared to have smashed into an oak tree before coming to rest in a stand of bamboo and other vegetation, largely concealed from view, CHP public-affairs Officer Brian Pennings said.

The Medical Examiner's Office ruled Rodriguez's death an accident, but it was unclear when the crash happened.

-City News Service contributed to this report


tess bennett June 19, 2012 at 04:38 AM
My son informed me that Mario's brother, (who flew out from Washington D.C. and also a previous West Hills grad), came to the school today and spoke about safety and looking out for one another.
Tyra Myles June 19, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Santee and the East county has lost so many youth this year. It is so sad and senseless . Please take care of eachother.
Western Council June 19, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Please everybody drive responsibly. Emotions and lack of sleep can kill. We are only human. Take care of one another. Let our roads lead us to our destination safely and be there for transportation purposes only. In remembrance of all who have fallen on our roads, I pledge to drive by the speed limit, be alert and sober, and always remain considerate to my fellow drivers young and old. God bless

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