CORONA, Calif. (KCBS/KCAL/CNN) - A 42-year-old California man has been arrested on murder charges with officials accusing him of intentionally hitting a Toyota Prius carrying six teenage boys, leading to three deaths.
Officials with the California Highway Patrol say 42-year-old Anurag Chandra rammed his car into a Toyota Prius carrying six teenage boys Sunday night in Temescal Valley, California. The Prius slammed into a tree, instantly killing some and trapping others.
Responding fire crews had to use the Jaws of Life to get the three trapped teens out of the car.
One of the victims died at the scene and the other five were rushed to a hospital, where two more died, according to CHP. The other three injured boys are expected to survive.
The boys who were killed were later identified by their church as Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu and Drake Ruiz. The surviving teens were identified as Joshua Hawkins, Joshua Ivascu and Sergio Campusano. Among the victims are two sets of brothers. All were part of their church youth ministry.
Officials arrested Chandra at his home, about a half-mile from the crash site. A witness had followed the suspect there and informed officers. Chandra is charged with murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon.
The CHP is investigating what led up to the crash, including possible road rage and whether the suspect knew the teenagers.
“Obviously, there was some sort of contact which led to this incident, whereby he did initially ram this vehicle, causing the deaths of these three young boys,” CHP Lt. David Yokley said.
Officials say it is not clear if any of the teenagers involved were wearing seat belts, as their car only had five of them.
It was not initially believed that drugs or alcohol were involved in the collision.