The Friday morning vehicle crash that killed one Naval Special Warfare Command sailor and injured four others happened when their van went off the road and struck a large boulder, California Highway Patrol officials said Monday.

The crash killed Electronics Technician 2nd Class John Deltoro and injured the four other sailors traveling in the van, according to the Navy, which identified Deltoro over the weekend.

They were heading west on Interstate 8 near Carrizo Gorge — about an hour’s drive east of San Diego— just before 10 a.m. Friday in a Chevrolet Express van, according to a CHP statement.

“For reasons still under investigation, the Chevrolet traveled off the north side of the roadway,” CHP said. “The Chevrolet traveled down a dirt embankment and struck a large boulder.”

Deltoro, 29, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Navy.

Three of the sailors inside “sustained major injuries,” while the fourth passenger sustained what CHP called “moderate injury.”

Deltoro was sitting in the rear middle seat of the van, according to CHP, and drugs or alcohol are not believed to have played a role in the crash.

“The seating positions of the five occupants and their usage of the occupant restraint system is currently under investigation,” CHP said.

The sailors were returning from training at Camp Billy Machen, a special warfare training facility about 90 minutes east of the crash site, near the Salton Sea.

“We are deeply saddened to share the loss of John,” Deltoro’s family said in a statement provided by Navy officials Monday. “He was a loving father, husband, son and friend. He was truly devoted to his teammates and country. We would like to thank everyone for their prayers and kind sentiments.”

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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