A man who was impaired drove a car onto a sidewalk in San Diego on Monday morning, killing three people and injuring six others in an area where homeless people often seek shelter, the authorities said.
The crash occurred just after 9 a.m. local time in the East Village neighborhood of downtown San Diego, in an underpass beneath the San Diego City College campus.
The man, identified by the police as Craig Voss, 71, of San Diego, drove a station wagon onto a sidewalk in the 1500 block of B Street and slammed into the victims, Chief David Nisleit of the San Diego Police Department said at a news conference. “Officers got there and saw multiple people down, multiple people struck by a vehicle,” he said.
The chief said that Mr. Voss had been arrested and was expected to face three counts of vehicular manslaughter, five counts of causing great bodily injury while committing a felony and one felony count of driving while impaired.
Chief Nisleit said officials determined Mr. Voss was “impaired” based on the results of a field sobriety test and “other evidence that will come out in the court case.” He would not say if the impairment involved alcohol. He also said additional charges might be filed later.
It could not be determined Monday evening if Mr. Voss had a lawyer; efforts to reach him or his family by telephone were not successful.
Among the most seriously injured were two people who officials initially said were hospitalized in critical condition. Later, at the news conference, Chief Colin Stowell of the San Diego Fire Department said those two victims “were awake, alert and answering questions, which is a great sign.”
The other victims sustained “noncritical” injuries, he said.
The names of the victims were not immediately released.
The area where the crash occurred is known as a place where homeless people shelter on the sidewalks in tents, according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Chief Nisleit said that people might have sought shelter there during a recent stretch of wet and cold weather.
Mayor Todd Gloria said at the news conference that the crash victims were among the city’s most vulnerable, and he pledged help for people living on the street.
“We must take decisive action to provide more compassionate solutions for people experiencing homelessness,” he said Monday afternoon. He added: “We will not and we cannot turn our back on those who died this morning. We must make sure that they did not die in vain.”
Mr. Gloria also said that the crash might raise questions about the city’s streetscape.
“Do we have the infrastructure that actually makes it less likely for a pedestrian to be hit by a car?” he asked. He noted that the victims were “pedestrians, I guess, in the legal term, but they weren’t walking there. They were sleeping there. That’s a problem.”
“A very tragic emergency and incident that impacts all of us,” said Chief Stowell.