Authorities and family members have identified the 38-year-old Escondido resident and father of three who was killed this week by a suspected drunken driver while helping to push a stalled Jeep on an Escondido roadway.
Octavio Escatel, 38, pulled off the road around 11 p.m. June 17 to help another motorist push his disabled Jeep Grand Cherokee near the intersection of state Route 78 and North Broadway, according to the California Highway Patrol and San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office. While the Jeep’s driver pushed the SUV while also steering it, Escatel pushed from behind.
While moving the Jeep, a 2003 Toyota RAV4 approached from behind and struck the back of the stalled SUV and the good Samaritan helping to push it.
The Toyota’s driver, later identified as a 17-year-old boy, fled the scene on foot.
Escatel was rushed to Palomar Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead less than 30 minutes after the crash, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Jeep’s driver suffered head trauma when he was knocked to the ground by the impact of the collision, CHP public-affairs Officer Tommy Doerr said.
CHP investigators eventually found the 17-year-old driver who allegedly fled the scene at the Rally’s restaurant in Escondido, Doerr said. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and during a search of his Rav4, officers allegedly found a loaded handgun, drugs and drug paraphernalia.
The 17-year-old, whose name was not released, sustained a scratch on his arm in the crash. A 34-year-old woman whose Nissan Frontier was struck by the other SUVs was uninjured.
On GoFundMe, a brother wrote that Escatal was a father who was killed on Father’s Day and “died a hero.”
“My brother leaves behind his (three) young children ages 16, 12 and 9,” Escatal’s brother wrote.
NBC7 reported that Escatal was on his way home from the San Diego County Fair with his longtime girlfriend when he stopped to help the motorist in the disabled Jeep. Escatal — pictured on the GoFundMe page wearing a Mexico national team soccer jersey — had reportedly started his Father’s Day watching Mexico beat Germany 1-0 in the FIFA World Cup.
Escatal’s brother told NBC7 that the Escondido resident had moved to the U.S. from Mexico 20 years ago and was planning on marrying his girlfriend, who witnessed the fatal crash.
— City News Service