CORONA (CNS) – A public celebration of life will be held this afternoon at a Corona church to honor three 16-year-old boys killed in a car crash allegedly caused by an enraged driver in the Temescal Valley last week.
The event will begin at 4 p.m. at Crossroads Church, 2331 Kellogg Ave.
Daniel Hawkins of Corona, Jacob Ivascu of Riverside and Drake Ruiz of Corona were killed Jan. 19 when a 42-year-old motorist allegedly deliberately rammed his sedan into the Toyota Prius they were riding in with three other boys, causing their car to slam into a tree.
Sergio Campusano, 18, and Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu, both 13, suffered moderate injuries from which they’re now recovering, according to Northpoint Evangelical Church spokesman Tim East.
East said all the boys grew up together, and that they were all in the same youth group at church.
On Wednesday, a “semi-private” funeral will be held at the church where they worshipped. That 5 p.m. service at Northpoint Evangelical Church, 988 W. Ontario Ave., is open only to family, friends of the family and members of the church, East said. He said Campusano and the other two survivors, who both lost brothers in the crash, are expected to attend.
According to California Highway Patrol investigators and prosecutors, the boys were having a sleepover the night of the crash and decided to pull a prank, known as a “doorbell ditch,” at a neighboring house in Temescal Valley, just south of Corona.
Shortly after 10 p.m., five of the boys piled into the Prius that was parked on Mojeska Summit Road, while another went to Anurag Chandra’s residence and rang the bell several times, investigators said. The youth then ran to the Prius, which raced away from the location.
“Based on evidence gathered in the investigation, Chandra … chased after the Prius in his 2019 Infinity Q50,” according to a District Attorney’s Office statement.
CHP Officer Juan Quintero alleged that the defendant bore down on the Prius at high speed on Temescal Canyon Road, approaching Squaw Mountain Road, and rammed the sedan, causing it to spin out of control and slam into a tree on the side of the road.
Family members told reporters that the boys were fleeing out of fear and were trying to avoid the defendant at the time.
Witnesses followed Chandra back to his residence and alerted CHP officers, who arrested him roughly four hours after the collision.
Chandra was charged last Thursday with three counts of murder, as well as three counts of attempted murder.
He made his initial court appearance before Riverside County Superior Court Judge David Gunn, who appointed him a public defender and scheduled his arraignment for Feb. 21 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
The defendant is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside. According to court records, he has an unresolved misdemeanor case for alleged battery on a cohabitant and child endangerment.