OCEANSIDE, Calif. (AP) — Three Japanese college students were killed and five other foreign students were injured when a car carrying them veered off a California freeway and struck a power pole, officials said Friday.
All eight were students and incoming freshmen in the international program at Palomar College in San Marcos, said school spokeswoman Laura Gropen. She believed all the injured students also were from Japan.
The eight occupants were trapped in the 2000 Honda Prelude after the crash late Thursday on state Route 78 in Oceanside, California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bettencourt said.
The car went down an embankment and struck the pole, shearing it in half and leaving power lines dangling, Bettencourt said. The lines did not touch the ground.
The 19-year-old male driver and two passengers — a man and woman — were pronounced dead at the scene. Two women and three men suffered moderate to major injuries.
Officers were investigating the crash and trying to determine if any students were wearing seat belts, Bettencourt said.
“With that many people, there are definitely going to be some people in that car that did not have a seat belt on,” he told U-T San Diego.
Gropen said the college is still gathering information on the accident and the students.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends. This is a tragedy,” Gropen said.
The college set up grievance counselors for students, faculty and staff.
Classes are scheduled to start on Monday.
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