Customers who have used the Pearl Car Wash in Escondido are trying to understand what could have happened to leave a 53-year-old man dead inside the automatic car washing machine.
The incident happened around 11:45 p.m. Friday when for some reason the man climbed out of his Scion car and was pinned between the car and the car wash equipment, according to police.
“I’ve been with the department for about 30 years and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this, ever,” Escondido police Lt. Scott Walters said.
Locals say everyone in the area can’t believe someone would get out of their car.
“I’d be too scared to get out of my car, I mean the bristles and everything else, and it always says stay in your car, don’t roll down your window, so I always follow directions,” Valley Center resident Alicia Amim said.
“It’s one of those freak accidents, you never think anything can happen close by, but the reality is you got to be alert at all times,” neighbor Ed Caldroni said.
Although some car washers continued to use the automatic wash without issue Monday, others are looking at the system more cautiously.
“I brought a company vehicle through here and knocked one of the mirrors off of it, so I don’t like car washes that actually engage or touch your vehicle,” Caldroni said.
Escondido police say the carwash did not malfunction and wasn’t engaged when the accident took place, but an alarm was triggered, getting the attention of bystanders.
“It’s tragic and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, but it’s just a terrible thing that happened. There’s no reason for it, it’s just one of those odd things,” Walters said.