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Preliminary hearing scheduled today for man involved in crash killing Marine and young woman

VISTA - A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for a young man who was allegedly drunk Oct. 10 when he was involved in a chain-reaction crash that killed a Marine and a young woman on Interstate 15 north of Escondido.

Oscar Tinoco, 18, faces two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit-and-run and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton said.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the chain of events began about 4 a.m. that Saturday when a sedan rear-ended a Jeep Cherokee carrying four Marines near Gopher Canyon Road.

After the Marines got out of the Jeep, a car driven by Tinoco knocked one of the Marines off an overpass and onto Gopher Canyon Road, CHP Officer Eric Newbury said.

Lance Cpl. Robert T. Austin, 19, died in an operating room at Palomar Medical Center.

Tinoco and a passenger allegedly ran off, and an SUV driven by Sarah Garcia of Fallbrook slammed into the defendant's car and rolled down an embankment. Garcia died at the scene.

''One of the things that is tragic was the girl, Sarah Garcia, was celebrating her 22nd birthday and was one exit away from getting off the freeway,'' Breton said.

Tinoco's blood-alcohol level tested at .08 percent, the state's threshold for drunken driving, more than two hours after the collision, meaning it was probably .12 percent or .13 percent when he was driving, Breton alleged.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide if enough evidence was presented for the case to proceed to trial.


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