CORONA, Calif. (KTLA) – A man intentionally rammed a Toyota Prius, causing the vehicle to slam into a tree, killing three teenage boys who were inside, the California Highway Patrol said Monday.
Three other teen boys were hospitalized after authorities responded to the Temescal Valley crash on Temescal Canyon Road near Trilogy Parkway, by the 15 Freeway between Corona and Lake Elsinore, just after 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
Officers arrived to find a 2002 Toyota Prius that had plowed into a tree, CHP Lt. David Yokley said at a news conference.
The vehicle had six occupants, an 18-year-old man behind the wheel and five male minors. Three of them were trapped inside while the rest were outside the vehicle, officials said.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, CHP Officer Juan Quintero said. The driver and the four other occupants were taken to local hospitals, where two of them died, Quintero added.
Those who survived had injuries that were not life-threatening, Yokley later told reporters. Authorities have not released the victims’ names.
But Wanda Teifel, who was setting up a memorial Monday evening at the tree where the boys crashed, said 16-year-old Drake Ruiz was among the three killed.
“He loved God. He loved his family and his brothers,” Teifel told KTLA. “He’d always come give me a hug.”
Ruiz played football at Centennial High School in Corona and attended New Beginnings Community Church in Norco, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to raise money for his funeral.
Officials said the Prius’ driver was heading south when another vehicle crashed into his car.
Witnesses followed the second driver to a nearby home and reported him to authorities, according to CHP. The man, later identified as 42-year-old Anurag Chandra of Corona, was driving an Infiniti Q50.
Earlier, a witness told authorities the vehicle was possibly a Q45.
Officials arrested Chandra without incident at the home at around 2:45 a.m., Yokley told reporters.
Video from the scene shows officers taking him into custody on Mojeska Summit Road, about a half-mile away from the scene of the crash. A white Infiniti with substantial front-end damage was seen nearby.
Yokley said officials have not determined a motive, only saying that there was “some sort of contact which led to this incident.”
Chandra has been booked into jail on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, according to CHP.
The case remains under investigation. CHP asked anyone with further information to call the agency at 951-637-8000.