TEMESCAL VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A doorbell-ringing prank led a man to chase and ram a car full of teenagers, killing three, a survivor said.
Three other teen boys were injured when their Toyota Prius was struck, went off the road and slammed into a tree Sunday night in Temescal Valley, about 60 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
A witness chased the other car, a Honda Infiniti, and alerted California Highway Patrol officers who found it parked at a nearby home and arrested Anurag Chandra on suspicion of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Chandra, 42, remained jailed without bail on Wednesday. It wasn’t clear whether he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
Calls to the California Highway Patrol seeking updated information on the crash were not immediately returned Wednesday.
The chase began after the friends dared one boy to either jump into a pool at night or play “ding dong ditch,” the driver, 18-year-old Sergio Campusano, told KNBC-TV.
One of the boys got out of the car at the home of a stranger, rang the doorbell and then ran back to the car after a man opened it, Campusano said.
Campusano drove away, but then found he was being followed.
“I just saw these brights behind me, and I realized he was getting closer and closer,” he said.
The Infiniti nudged the back of the Prius.
“My friends started screaming. They’re like: ‘Make it to the freeway! Make it to the freeway, like, try to lose him there,’ ” Campusano said.
Instead, Campusano decided to head for a friend’s home, but the Infiniti caught up with his car.
“I just saw him ram his car into my back and I whipped into my window and I blacked out,” he said.
He woke up on the floor.
The crash killed 16-year-olds Daniel Hawkins of Corona; Drake Ruiz of Corona; and Jacob Ivascu of Riverside, according to the Riverside County coroner’s office.
Campusano survived along with 13-year-olds Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu.
“I loved each and every one of them. I still do. And I’m going to really miss them all,” said Campusano, who had a bandage on his forehead. “They were all a part of me. I don’t know what I’m going to do without them.”
Chandra already was facing criminal charges in connection with alleged domestic violence, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported, citing court records.
He was charged last month with misdemeanor battery on a spouse or cohabitant and willful injury to a child — his daughter — stemming from a Sept. 9 incident, the newspaper said.