A driver whose chase after a car full of teenage pranksters ended in the deaths of three of them was sentenced Friday to life in prison, California prosecutors said.
Anurag Chandra, 45, ran the teens’ vehicle off the road after chasing them on Jan. 19, 2020 in the Temescal Valley community, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin said Friday’s sentence of life without the possibility of parole was the maximum for the case.
Chandra was convicted in April of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.
The deceased were 16 years old: Daniel Hawkins of Corona, Drake Ruiz of Corona and Jacob Ivascu of Riverside. Three others in the 2002 Toyota Prius they were traveling in were injured, authorities said.
The car appeared to have collided with a tree and a utility pole just before midnight.
Injured driver Sergio Campusano, 18, said Los Angeles that one of the children rang the man’s bell and ran back to the Prius as part of a prank known as ditching the bell or ditching ding-dong.
The area teens stayed the night when they took off in the sedan and ended up in front of Chandra’s home in Temescal Valley, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Chandra, in an Infinity Q50 about 1,000 pounds heavier than the Prius without passengers, chased after the teens and collided with the Toyota twice before reaching 99 mph and ramming it off the road, according to prosecutors and the Patrol. of California Highways.
Authorities said Chandra’s vehicle turned around and passed the debris, but the driver did not call for help.
Relatives of the victims read statements at the sentencing on Friday, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Craig Hawkins, Daniel’s father, is quoted as saying, «Every day we feel the absence of this young man. The hole in our hearts and lives from taking the life of our son is staggering.»