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Young Utah Marine killed in California wrong-way crash

A 19-year-old Marine from Orem was killed when a man trying to escape police hit his car head-on shortly after midnight

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah Marine was killed Tuesday when a Ford truck speeding the wrong way on California’s Interstate 5 to escape police smashed into his car shortly after midnight.

Oceanside police stopped a Ford F-150 for minor violations at 12:12 a.m., according to police spokesman Tom Bussey.

When officers left their patrol car, the driver of the truck sped away from the intersection. Police got back in their cruiser and pursued the truck, but abandoned the chase when the truck turned and went the wrong way on northbound I-5 near Carlsbad, according to Bussey.

The truck collided head-on with a Pontiac Grand Prix driven by a 19-year-old Orem man, who was stationed at Camp Pendleton. Witnesses said speeds reached 100 mph, with the collision killing both drivers in a fiery crash about 12:20 a.m.

“It was bad,” said Zach Leja, a witness, told NBC 7 in San Diego. “He (the truck driver) went by so fast, going just as fast as he could on the wrong side of the road.”

The truck was driven by a 42-year-old man, and both he and the 19-year-old Marine died at the scene. A 35-year-old passenger in the truck was taken by ambulance to a hospital with “major injuries,” police said.

The Marine Corps declined to comment Tuesday, but police expected officials to release the name of the young Marine on Wednesday.