Two people, both not wearing seat belts, were killed in separate crashes at freeway interchanges along rain soaked Interstate 8 in Mission Valley and La Mesa Saturday, CHP officers said.
A taxi driver was killed in a single-vehicle crash on the Route 163 connector to the 8 Freeway, and a truck's passenger was killed less than two hours later in a single- vehicle crash on the 8 at Route 125. High speed on wet ramps, and failure to fasten up, were blamed for both fatalities.
CHP Officer Brian Pennings said that although California had a 97 percent seatbelt compliance rating -- the best in the country -- unrestrained occupants accounted for more than half of those killed in traffic crashes.
"About 3 percent of our people are in 50 percent of our fatalities," Pennings said.
The first crash that involved an unrestrained occupant was at 6:04 a.m. on a rain-soaked curve on the transition ramp from northbound state Route 163 to eastbound Interstate 8.
The Dollar Cab's 36-year-old driver was speeding and lost control while taxiing a 52-year-old Oxnard man during the downpour. The cab went off the right side of the roadway and its passenger side struck a concrete wall, a CHP dispatcher said.
The driver was ejected. He sustained a fatal head injury and died at the scene, the dispatcher said.
The passenger, who was wearing a seatbelt, complained of minor head pain, but it was unclear if he was taken to a hospital.
The second crash was reported about 7:45 a.m. along curving road linking westbound Interstate 8 to southbound state Route 125 in La Mesa, the dispatcher said. There, a 2000 GMC box truck's driver, a 32-year-old San Diego man, lost control due to his unsafe speed in the wet, rainy conditions.
The truck struck a raised concrete wall on the shoulder, bounced and was propelled across both lanes. It smashed into the concrete wall on the left side.
An unrestrained passenger went through the windshield and over a freeway bridge railing. He fell from the transition and onto southbound state Route 125, the dispatcher said. That would be a fall of an estimated 30 feet.
The passenger was declared dead at the scene. He was also 32 years old and from San Diego.
The driver was treated for minor injuries, the dispatcher said.