Two dead after car veers off freeway, slams into pedestrians in Pismo Beach

A firefighter looks underneath a car involved in a fatal car accident on Price Street in Pismo Beach.
A firefighter looks underneath a car involved in a fatal car accident on Price Street in Pismo Beach. Tribune

A 19-year-old Oceano man, Jerardo Iriarte, intentionally drove off Highway 101 early Saturday in an attempt to harm himself, authorities said, and crashed into two people walking along a Pismo Beach road, killing them both.

Those killed were identified as Bruce Mallin, 63, and his 59-year-old wife, Marjorie. They were vacationing in the area; officials did not disclose their hometown. Authorities said they had a recreational vehicle with Washington state license plates.

Iriarte was taken to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital following the crash, where he was treated for moderate injuries. He was later arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail and was held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Officers did not believe the driver targeted the two pedestrians.

“Going by what the driver has told us, he was only trying to cause harm to himself,” Pismo Beach police Chief Jeff Norton said.

Cmdr. Mark Miller said investigators asked Iriarte why he left the highway. Iriarte told them he drove off the freeway on purpose, Miller said.

Norton said Iriarte left the Marie Callender’s restaurant after 7:30 a.m. Saturday and got on Highway 101 heading south, traveling at speeds over 100 mph.

Investigators said he steered the car off the roadway and down an embankment, breaking through a chain-link fence.

At that same moment, the Mallins were walking along Price Street near the restaurant when they were hit by the car, a black Toyota Corolla. Investigators said the couple died at the scene.

The vehicle came to rest after slamming into a tree at Franklin Drive and Price Street.

The loud crash woke Matt Deppa, who was asleep inside one of the condominiums on Price Street.

“I was in bed and just heard the initial loud bang and something dragging and realized it was a car,” Deppa said “I thought something hit the building. We all came outside and saw the victims. My friend called 911. The driver was walking around dazed, like he was in shock.”