Anurag Chandra, age 42, of Corona, California has been arrested and is facing possible charges after allegedly ramming into a Prius from behind intentionally.
The investigation is ongoing as more evidence is sought out, including toxicology reports.
Last Sunday in Temescal Valley, a Toyota Prius was hit from behind and presumably forced into a tree.
In the car were six teenage boys from nearby Corona and Riverside. The car was so damaged, the fire department had to assist the teens on getting out of the car.
One of the boys died on the scene, and two others died from their injuries after being transported to the hospital. The other three teens also sustained injuries, but they are currently at the hospital and are expected to survive.
The car that hit the Prius from behind was presumed to be a white Infiniti Sedan, which was found a short distance up the road from the accident with visible front-end damage. It is presumed that the driver, Anurag Chandra, attempted to flee the scene, which would at first qualify as a hit-and-run collision.
The police were able to find Chandra based on witness reports, who expressed concern about Chandra's involvement in the crash.
Based on evidence from the crash sight and from witness reports, the police also have reason to believe the collision was intentional, and they have opened an investigation.
California Highway Patrol Lt. David Yokley stated:
"Our investigation led us to believe Mr. Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control. The investigation has now changed from a hit-run collision to homicide."
There's little to suggest what Chandra's motivation may have been to strike the Prius, which leads the police to wonder if the man had prior contact with the teens that would encourage him to want to cause harm.
"We really don't know [his motive]. Obviously, there was some sort of contact. We are looking into those exact same questions, of whether or not he was known to the victims."
There also is no evidence to suggest that Chandra was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, but investigators are still waiting to confirm with pending toxicology reports.
Based on the information they've collected so far, however, Chandra is facing potential charges of suspicion of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. As of Monday, Chandra was in custody at Riverside County without the option for bail.
You can view more details regarding the investigation here:
The teenagers who died from their injuries sustained in the car crash have been identified as Daniel Hawkins, age sixteen, from Corona; Drake Ruiz, age sixteen, also from Corona; and Jacob Ivascu, age sixteen, from nearby Riverside.
The six teenagers were active in their church, Northpoint Evangelical Free Church, the Corona area branch of Olive Branch Church, who released a public statement regarding the accident.
The statement read:
"Our prayers go out to God for His grace, comfort, and mercy to the families at this time."
Tim East, a spokesperson for the Church, also stated:
"They were bright young kids that had so much to look forward to and it was taken far too early."
The Church also held a prayer service at their Corona location, where more than one-hundred people gathered in prayer for the teens and their families.
The Corona-Norco Unified School District, where all six teens attended, also stated:
"There is no greater tragedy that the death of a young person, and we offer our sincere condolences and continued support to the families."
Many have been tracking updates on Twitter as they become available, voicing their sadness for the loss of Hawkins, Ruiz, and Ivascu, and their disgust for the involvement of the probable offender, Chandra.
@FOXLA This is disgusting. I feel so bad for those families. This man is pure evil.— PrimeAperturePhoto (@PrimeAperturePhoto)1579557803.0
@FOXLA I feel bad for those children and their families I live in the area of Temescal Valley where the crash happened.— Mackenzie Hunt (@Mackenzie Hunt)1579558212.0
@FOXLA I hope he serves prison justice— Forty Niners Fan (@Forty Niners Fan)1579558018.0
As the investigation is ongoing, more information about the crash, Chandra's familiarity with the teens, and toxicology reports will inevitably become available.