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A Car Drove Into A Homeless Encampment In California, Killing Three People

"We train for this, but there’s just no way to prepare for something that’s this devastating."

Posted on March 15, 2021, at 7:11 p.m. ET

Gregory Bull / AP

A car involved in a deadly crash sits at the scene on March 15, 2021, in San Diego.

Three people were killed Monday after a car veered into an encampment of unsheltered people in San Diego, authorities said.

The incident took place around 9 a.m. in a tunnel beneath a bridge in downtown, where many people live in tents and other temporary shelters on sidewalks. Nine people in all were struck, with two of the survivors left critically injured.

Police arrested the driver, 71-year-old Craig Voss, on suspicion of three counts of vehicular manslaughter and a felony DUI.

Gregory Bull / AP

Lisa Brotzman, right, stands with Terry Goffigan at the scene of the deadly accident on March 15 in San Diego.

“Our crews found, obviously, a tragic incident under the bridge," San Diego Fire Chief Colin Stowell said at a news conference.

The three people who were killed died at the scene, he added.

"We train for this, but there’s just no way to prepare for something that’s this devastating," the fire chief said. “This was a very tragic, tragic accident that will make an impact on a lot of lives.”

Footage taken from a helicopter showing the accident scene
NBC San Diego / Via

One witness, Ronnie Williams, described the horrifying event to NBC San Diego.

“I turned around and I saw yellow headlights and next thing you know, I was almost getting sucked under the car. And then I managed to pull my leg out from under the car right here," said Williams, who is also unsheltered. “You could see everything popping up, going in the air, dragging — it was, it was very loud. It was like something you see in a movie scene."

Officials noted that the incident highlighted the need for more permanent housing options to get people off the street.

“The street is not a home and this tragedy further highlights the dangers of living on the streets,” Hanan Scrapper, the San Diego regional director of PATH, an organization working to end homelessness, said in a statement.

City Council President Stephen Whitburn said the deadly crash was "stark evidence of the need to find permanent solutions to the homelessness crisis so that no San Diegans are forced to seek shelter in unsafe places such as under bridges and in tunnels that vehicles pass through."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.