Three people, including a state transportation worker, were injured Tuesday afternoon when an SUV smashed into the back of a parked Caltrans truck at high speed on the shoulder of state Route 78 in San Marcos.

The worker had just pulled off the eastbound side of the freeway underneath the Nordahl Road overpass for a routine check of the bridge and was still seated in his work truck when the Jeep Cherokee rear-ended it shortly before 1:30 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

The impact pushed the marked Caltrans Dodge Ram — which had a flashing amber light bar on its roof activated at the time — off onto a dirt shoulder and caused the Jeep to spin around and skid to a halt on the roadway, CHP public affairs Officer Mark Latulippe said.

Medics took the state worker, a 61-year-old Santee resident, to nearby Palomar Medical Center in Escondido along with a 34-year-old Carlsbad woman who had been riding in the SUV. Their injuries — moderate to serious head trauma — were not believed to be life-threatening, Latulippe said.

The driver of the Cherokee suffered facial cuts and bruises in the crash but did not require emergency hospital care. Investigators were looking into reports that the 41-year-old Carlsbad man was speeding and driving “aggressively” just prior to the crash, the officer said.

The accident forced a closure of one eastbound lane in the area into the evening hours, the CHP reported.

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