A Los Angeles area car salesman was killed in a high-speed crash during a test drive. The driver may have been under the influence of drugs at the time.
Warren Smale, 43, an employee at a CarMax dealership in Ontario, California, accompanied a prospective car buyer on a test drive of a Chevrolet Corvette on Feb. 23, KTLA reported.
The drive ended in tragedy when the customer, 28-year-old Alex Demetro of Union City, California, reportedly lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree by the side of the road. Smale was killed in the accident.
The crash occurred around 12:45 p.m. on Mercedes Lane in Ontario, just a few blocks away from the CarMax establishment where Smale worked. Witnesses at the scene told KTLA that the car had been going at least 70 miles per hour at the time of the accident.
Smale was transported in critical condition to San Antonio Regional Hospital, where he later died.
Demetro was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony driving while under the influence of drugs. Police did not say whether he sustained any injuries in the accident.
A number of CarMax employees gathered around the crash site later on the night of Feb. 23 to commemorate their coworker.
"He was the guy at work that it didn't matter what kind of day you were having, he was there for you," Lydia Garrett, one of Smale's co-workers, told KTLA. "He would make you laugh. He would make you smile."
She added that the test drive that Smale went on was a routine part of his job.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to our associate's family," a CarMax spokeswoman said in an official statement. "CarMax is working closely with authorities on the investigation."
The total number of traffic fatalities in California decreased 1.1 percent from 3,107 in 2013 to 3,074 in 2014, according to data published by the state's Office of Traffic Safety. In 2013, 32 percent of all drivers killed in car accidents tested positive for drugs.