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Man accused of killing Marine and young woman to appear in court

VISTA - A young man accused of driving drunk and causing a chain- reaction crash that killed a Marine and a young woman is expected in a Vista courtroom today to resume a preliminary hearing that began two months ago.

Oscar Tinoco, 18, is charged with 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.

Two months ago, a judge ruled that, before he could decide whether to order a trial for the defendant, he had to review testimony from witnesses who were unable to attend a preliminary hearing that began April 22.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the chain of events began about 4 a.m. Oct. 10 when a sedan rear-ended a Jeep Cherokee carrying four Marines on Interstate 15, 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.


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