A woman is dead and a junior Marine has been arrested after crashing a military vehicle while fleeing from Escondido police late Monday night.
Police responded to Dick’s Sporting Goods on Auto Parkway west of Interstate 15 just before 10:30 p.m. after getting a report that a man and two women were shoplifting, Escondido police said in a news release.
When officers arrived, they saw the trio get into a pickup and take off, the man behind the wheel. Police chased them to Washington Avenue, where the driver tried to make a high-speed turn onto Fig Street.
He lost control and slammed into a retaining wall. The two women in the pickup were thrown from it. The driver got out and ran off.
Officers found the suspect hiding about a block from the crash site and arrested him.
The two women were taken to a hospital, where one died. The other underwent surgery and is expected to survive. She told police that during the chase, she had repeatedly asked him to let her out of the pickup, but he refused.
Neither of the women was publicly identified.
Police said the driver is Lance Cpl. John Eugene Brand, 21, who is based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The pickup belongs to the Marine Corps. Investigators found stolen clothing inside it.
Brand was booked into jail on suspicion of several felonies, including burglary, kidnapping and vehicular manslaughter.
According to a military spokesperson at Miramar, Brand is from Kansas and enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 2021. He arrived at 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Miramar in March 2022, and it was his first duty station.
Brand is a logistics and embark specialist assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465, Marine Aircraft Group 16.
Whether Brand had authorization to use the mid-sized pickup at the time of the incident is under investigation, Capt. Stephanie Leguizamon said. The truck is usually used for daily flightline operations, transporting equipment, driving around the military base and other routine military business, she said.
This is the second time this month that a fleeing suspect led police on a chase that ended in a fatal crash in the region. On Dec. 8, a fleeing driver slammed into a Honda on a freeway off-ramp in San Diego’s Mountain View neighborhood, propelling the Honda off the freeway. Two brothers — ages 4 and 8 — inside the car were gravely injured and died at a hospital.
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