NEAR CORONA (CBSLA) – Three teen boys were killed and another three were injured when the driver of a car slammed into theirs, sending their vehicle hurling into a tree late Sunday night in the Temescal Valley, just south of Corona. A man who authorities say fled the scene was later arrested on murder charges.
Just before 10:30 p.m., an Infiniti crashed into a Toyota carrying six teenage boys, which then slammed into a tree at Temescal Canyon Road and Trilogy Parkway, according to California Highway Patrol.
Riverside County Fire crews responded to find three of the six teens still trapped inside the car.
One of the boys died at the scene and the other five were rushed to a hospital, where two more died, a CHP spokesperson said. The other three injured boys were expected to survive their injuries.
42-year-old Anurag Chandra has been charged with murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the crash.
The victims of the crash included two sets of brothers. The boys who died — Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu and Drake Ruiz — were all 16-years-old. The surviving victims were 13-year-olds Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu, and 18-year-old Sergio Campusano. They were all part of their church youth ministry.
Family members said the teens were celebrating Jacob’s birthday and were playing “ding-dong-ditch” when a man answered the door and went after the teens.
“When he came out and got in his car to chase after them, they fled for their lives basically,” Debbie Ruiz, Drake’s mom, said.
Chandra allegedly chased the teens until he caught up to them and rammed his vehicle into the their vehicle before driving off.
CHP officers arrested Chandra about a half-mile from the scene. A witness had followed the suspect to his home.
“The witness basically followed that vehicle as he fled the scene into a nearby residence,” CHP Officer Juan Quintero said. “The witness then came back and relayed that information to our officers.”
Chandra’s neighbor, Thalia Anguiano, did not believe that he was capable of killing the teens.
“I don’t think it was the way it happened,” she told CBS2. “They were good people, they didn’t bother anyone, they were just a big family to everyone.”
It was not initially believed that drugs or alcohol were involved in the collision.
The car carrying the six boys only had five seat belts, officials said. It was not immediately clear if any of the teens were wearing seat belts.
A prayer service was held Monday night as friends and community members prayed for the victims, the families and the suspect.