Family and classmates are mourning the death of 16-year-old Marie Elizabeth Johnson, who was killed early Monday in a vehicle collision in Silverado.
Johnson, an Irvine High School junior who went by “Lizzie,” was killed when the car in which she was riding struck another car and she was ejected, according to the California Highway Patrol. She was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
“She was so young and just full of life and energy and I really hope she’s in a better place now,” her sister, Alex Johnson, said.
Six other occupants of the cars were injured in the collision, which occurred about 1:45 a.m. in east Orange County.
The two cars, both dark-blue Honda Civics, were reportedly traveling close together as they headed eastbound on East Santiago Canyon Road toward Silverado Canyon Road about 1:45 a.m.
The occupants of both vehicles knew one another, according to CHP officials.
The cars were headed to a hangout area called Black Star Canyon when the driver of the lead car reportedly slammed on his brakes after seeing a deer, investigators said.
Three young men in the car were hospitalized in unknown condition.
The driver of the second car, identified as Antonio Escamilla, 19, of Irvine, reacted by slamming on his brakes and also crashed, according to investigators.
Escamilla, suspected of driving under the influence, was arrested on felony DUI and manslaughter charges at the hospital where he was being treated for major injuries.
The condition of the other two occupants, who were also hospitalized, was unknown.