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Driver in deadly Malibu crash traveling more than 80 mph on wrong side of Pacific Coast Highway [Updated]

July 16, 2010 | 12:11 pm

Two people died and a third was critically injured Friday in Malibu when a wrong-way driver traveling more than 80 mph collided with another car, scattering wreckage across Pacific Coast Highway.

The driver of a Saturn was speeding south in a northbound lane when it struck a Ford Mustang, immediately killing the drivers of both cars. A passenger in the Mustang was critically injured.

The Saturn burst into flames, and the Mustang was so mangled in the 1 a.m. crash that firefighters struggled to free the passenger from the crushed cabin, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Phil Brooks.

Two Pepperdine University students driving on the highway told investigators that moments before the fatal crash, the Saturn driver had passed them on the northbound lanes going at up to 100 mph.

"He then turned and came at them southbound in the northbound No. 1 lane," Brooks said. "They swerved out of the way and then he hit the Mustang."

At the time of the collision near Zuma View Place, the Mustang was traveling 60 mph, he said.

The Saturn driver was a native of Roseville, Minn., and was living in a trailer in Latigo Canyon. He had moved from Minnesota to pursue a career in entertainment, Brooks said.

[Updated at 2 p.m.: The Saturn driver killed in the crash was identified as James Sorg. The Mustang driver was identified as Oscar Mendoza, 23, and his surviving passenger as Jesus Saenz, 24.]

[Corrected at 2:31 p.m.: A previous version of this post gave the incorrect last name for James Sorg.]

Though there had been speculation the collision was intentional, Brooks said investigators found no evidence to support it was a deliberate crash.

In addition to the Saturn driver, the 23-year-old Mustang driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The 24-year-old passenger was airlifted by helicopter to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after suffering a broken leg and compound arm fracture, Brooks said.

Both men in the Mustang were on active duty at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme. 

Pacific Coast Highway was closed for several hours.

-- Richard Winton