Tragedy struck Palomar College during the first week of the fall semester when eight international students were involved in a single car accident just east of El Camino Real on Highway 78.
The driver of the vehicle, a 19-year-old male, along with another male and female were pronounced dead at the scene and the remaining five students were taken to local hospitals with minor to major injuries.
“Anytime you lose a student, it’s a terrible, terrible thing that many people feel,” Palomar College President Robert Deegan said. “And this is just multiplied by three.”
According to the California Highway Patrol, the 19-year-old driver of the 2000 Honda Prelude drifted off to the right of the road and then down an embankment at 10:55 p.m. on Aug. 21.
The car collided with a power pole, cutting it in half and trapping the eight students in the car.
Firefighters from Carlsbad and Oceanside worked for over an hour to free the students.
The students, ages 18 to 22, were all from Japan and new to Palomar College.
Palomar officials are still gathering information about the students and are working with the Japanese Consulate as the families are being notified.
“We will provide assistance and support for the families when they arrive.” Deegan said.
Palomar College has 250 international students and 135 of them are from Japan, according to Deegan.
The cause of the accident is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol and Officer Jim Bettencourt said that it is unknown if alcohol or drugs contributed to the accident.
Associated Student Government President Jason Hosfield – who was notified of the accident via email- said that for right now, he is not sure if the student body will be doing anything for the victims or their families.
“Right now, everyone sends their wishes to the families at this point, but I know that the ASG is willing to do something, it’s just we want to make sure it’s in line with the families,” Hosfield said.