Irvine crash: 5 killed returning home from Knott's Scary Farm

ByMelissa MacBride and staff KABC logo
Saturday, October 4, 2014
5 killed in crash returning home from Knott's; 4 identified
EMBED <>More Videos

Five teenagers were killed in a fiery crash on the southbound 5 Freeway in Irvine early Saturday morning while returning home from Knott's Scary Farm.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Five teenagers were killed and another was seriously injured in a fiery crash on the southbound 5 Freeway in Irvine early Saturday morning. The group was returning home from Knott's Scary Farm, Orange County fire officials said.

Firefighters received a call about the crash around 2:15 a.m. on the freeway between Sand Canyon Avenue and Alton Parkway. Upon arrival, firefighters found a 4-door, 1995 BMW sedan resting on top of a 20-foot barrier on the side of the freeway. The crash had also caused a .25-acre brush fire, which was put out.

All the passengers, including three teenage boys and two girls, were killed and their bodies were badly burned, officials said.

Billy McNicol, the program director for Mission Viejo Soccer Club, identified the three boys who died as Alex Sotelo, Matthew Melo and Brandon Moreno. McNicol said the boys were members of his team. It was first reported that all three boys went to Capistrano Valley High School. McNicol later clarified that Sotelo and Melo were Capistrano Valley High School students, while Moreno was a student at Carl Hankey Middle School.

The 16-year-old driver who survived was identified as Bradley Morales. He underwent surgery for a skull fracture and was listed in serious but stable condition at Mission Hospital on Saturday night. The California Highway Patrol said Morales was unlicensed. It was earlier believed he had a restricted license.

One of the girls killed was identified as Jenny Campos. Campos lived in Aliso Viejo with her mother, step father, brother and three sisters. She was also a student at Laguna Hills High School. The other girl in the crash was identified as Jenny Bahena.

The Campos family has set up a fund for Campos' funeral expenses.

"This is one of the worst accidents a number of both CHP officers and firefighters have witnessed. To have five fatalities in one vehicle was extremely tragic today," Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdai said.

Three right lanes on the 5 Freeway were briefly blocked while an investigation was underway. All lanes were reopened by about 9:15 a.m.

"A scene like this is never easy," said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Kovaletz. "Definitely arriving on scene, seeing a car like this on fire, and then seeing the dead young people in there is definitely something we don't want to see and is extremely unfortunate."

Kovaletz said it was unclear what caused the collision, but speed may have been a factor and at least some of the victims were not wearing seat belts. He added there was no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role.

The Mission Viejo Soccer Club has canceled the rest of their games for the weekend out of respect for the families of the victims.