Man intentionally rammed car of teens, killing 3, after ding-dong-ditch prank in Temescal Valley, victim's mother says

ByRob McMillan and staff KABC logo
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
16-year-old boys killed in triple fatal crash in Temescal Valley ID'd
Three teenagers killed in a crash in Temescal Valley were identified after authorities say the vehicle they were in was intentionally rammed into by another driver.

TEMESCAL VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- The suspect in an apparent intentional crash that killed three teens in Temescal Valley may have chased them down after they played a prank on him, the mother of one of the victims reportedly said.

The victims, who were 16 years old, were identified as Drake Ruiz of Corona, Daniel Hawkins of Corona and Jacob Ivascu of Riverside. Three other teen boys were also injured. They attended different high schools - Santiago and Centennial in Corona and Woodcrest Christian in Riverside.

Authorities say Anurag Chandra, 42, of Corona, intentionally rammed a white Infiniti into the victims' Toyota Prius Sunday night near the intersection of Temescal Canyon Road and Trilogy Parkway.

A 13-year-old survivor of a horrifying Temescal Valley hit-and-run crash that killed his brother and two friends is speaking out as he returns home from the hospital.

RELATED: 16-year-old boys killed in triple fatal crash in Temescal Valley identified

The Prius slammed into a tree after the driver lost control and veered off the road. One boy died at the scene and two others were pronounced dead at hospitals. The remaining three victims sustained moderate injuries.

Chandra was arrested a short time later in a neighborhood near the crash site after the California Highway Patrol said a witness followed the suspect and helped authorities locate the vehicle.

"It was an intentional act," CHP Lt. David Yokley said at a news conference, although he did not disclose a motive. "Our investigation led us to believe Mr. Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control."

Chandra was booked on suspicion of murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities say he is also facing a pending misdemeanor spousal battery case from four months ago.

CHP officials said Monday there was no immediate word on what may have prompted Chandra to ram the teens. Ruiz's mother told reporters Monday night the teens, who were on their way to a sleepover to celebrate Ivascu's birthday, tried to play a "ding-dong-ditch"' prank -- ringing a doorbell and quickly driving away -- at a friend's home, but Chandra answered the door, got into his Infiniti and chased the teens.

"The boys were playing ding-dong-ditch at a house they thought was ... somebody their age, but it turned out to be that angry man,'' Debbie Ruiz said.

She said when Chandra began chasing them, "they fled for their lives basically.''

"They were scared to death, tried to get away several times,'' she said. He rammed them, ran them off the road.''

Authorities are not sure if the teens used the car's seat belts, which only has five.

"It sends a chill down your spine, and it just doesn't feel good when it happens to three, not one, but three," resident Julie Craig said. "(The suspect) must have been really angry, it's sad."

Chandra is also facing misdemeanor charges for spousal battery from an incident that allegedly occurred four months ago.

Mourners who visited the site of the crash - where a memorial with flowers and candles has been growing - said some of the victims and the suspect lived in the same neighborhood.

Local residents, even those who did not know the teens, were paying their respects and mourning the loss for such an apparently senseless reason.

"There are lives that didn't have a chance to succeed doing something," said James Meador of Temescal Valley. "Being great, being the next president, being the next inventor. They never had a chance because of somebody's blind rage."

A memorial service was held at Northpoint Church in Corona on Monday. The church says two of its families each lost a son in the crash and have one injured.

Ralph Valdez, a football coach for Hawkins at Santiago High School, posted condolences on Twitter and described Hawkins as a "great soul" who worked each week to get better.

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