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5 Los Angeles-area family members killed in Nevada car crash; CA teen arrested

March 31, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Five members of a Los Angeles-area family were killed when their van was rear-ended by a teenage driver in Nevada.

Investigators say 18-year-old Jean Soriano was speeding in a Dodge Durango when he struck the family's Chevrolet Astro from behind about 3 a.m. Saturday near Mesquite. There were seven people in the car - a couple, their children and some aunts and uncles.

Both vehicles rolled over on Interstate 15 near the Arizona state line.

Five people, who were not wearing seatbelts, were ejected from the van. Four of them died, along with one passenger who was still in the van. The two survivors, a 15-year-old boy and a 40-year-old woman, were recovering at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. Officials said the boy lost a leg.

According to the Clark County medical examiner, Angela Sandoval, 13, and Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, both of Los Angeles were killed. Also killed were Genaro Fernandez, 41, of Norwalk, Belen Fernandez, 53, and Raudel Fernandez-Avila, 49, both of Lynwood.

Authorities arrested Soriano for suspicion of driving under the influence. A 23-year-old passenger in Soriano's SUV was treated at the hospital and released.

According to Eyewitness News sources, Soriano was a wanted escapee from an Orange County juvenile detention center.

"It's a tragic event that hits so many people hard especially with so many deceased on the scene. Five is a lot to lose in one day," said Jeremy Elliot, a trooper with the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Authorities said they found beer bottles inside Soriano's car. The results of his blood-alcohol test won't be known for several weeks.

On Sunday, a brother of the three men who died said the loss was "difficult." The family was on their way home from a trip to Denver to visit the brothers' sick father.

"It's very difficult, I didn't expect this at all, I'm still shocked," said the son of Genaro Fernandez, Gerano Fernandez Jr. "I just hope the guy that done this during time he learns his lesson in jail."

Devastated classmates mourned the loss of Sandoval.

"She was my best, best friend I ever had," said the girl's friend, Julio Chan. "She would tell me all her secrets and I would tell her all mine. It hurts a lot that she died."

Donations for funeral arrangements for the victims and to help the survivors can be made at any Bank of America branch under the Fernandez Family Fund, account No. 325017255701.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


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