Sheriff’s homicide detectives were on Tuesday investigating as possibly deliberate a crash that left two children and their 46-year-old father dead after the vehicle in which they were traveling slammed head-on into a parked big-rig off the 5 Freeway in Castaic.
The collision occurred off the southbound freeway south of Templin Highway in the Grapevine (map) shortly before 1 a.m. Monday, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Alan Dean Edwards of Lancaster was killed, along with Erick Dean Edwards, 9, and Alona Marie Edwards, 5. The identities of the victims were provided early Tuesday by Lt. Larry Dietz of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.
The CHP investigation into the case was handed over to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives, CHP Newhall Area Sgt. Rick Miler said Tuesday.
Sheriff's homicide Lt. Eddie Hernandez said investigators believe the crash was likely intentional.
"They found that the driver had to make several maneuvers to put himself in the path directly to collide with the tractor-trailer," Hernandez said. "Had he fallen asleep, he probably would have collided into … a fence."
Investigators found air-bag sensors at Alan Edwards' home that led them to believe he disabled the air bags, Hernandez said.
There was no skid marks or evidence Edwards had braked, the lieutenant said, adding that Edwards and his wife were going through a divorce and custody battle over the children.
Edwards picked up his children on Friday for a scheduled visit but did not return calls from the mother over the weekend, Hernandez said. The children's mother then reported them missing Sunday, when Edwards was supposed to return the children, Hernandez said.
The boy was in the front passenger's seat and the girl was in the back. Neither child was wearing a seatbelt, Hernandez said.
"Preliminary information indicates that the adult male suspect deliberately collided with a parked tractor-trailer at a high rate of speed without making any attempts to stop, killing himself and two victims in the car," stated a Sheriff's Department news release issued Thursday afternoon.
The investigation was ongoing, according to the release, which stated that Erick Dean Edwards was 8.
In an interview, Alan Edwards' daughter from a previous relationship said there was no doubt in her mind that the crash was intentional.
"We all knew he was going to snap eventually because … he'd already lost me, because of the way he treated me. So it was a power thing for him," said Jordyn, who asked not to be identified by her last name.
"I was hoping for the best" after Erick and Alona's mother reported them as missing, Jordyn said, recalling that she had hoped her father "had just kidnapped them and fled across the country."
"I don't think I ever expected him to do it this way," she said, adding that her father had threatened her mother in past.
A GoFundMe fundraiser page for the deceased children’s mother, identified on the page as Sherri, stated she was a single mother who lives in Lancaster.
“Erick and Alana were tragically taken from (their) mother… by a selfish act of their father resulting in a fatal car crash,” the page stated.
A Facebook post shared by the mother’s friends pleaded for help finding the children, who had been believed to be kidnapped by their father, according to the Antelope Valley Times.
Sherri Edwards called the crash a "murder-suicide," according to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
Video from the scene of the crash showed a white Honda sedan that had plowed head-on into the rear of a big-rig parked in the Whittaker brake-check area. The front half of the sedan was crushed and pinned under the truck.
It was not known if alcohol or speed were factors in the crash, and the only witness was the big-rig driver, who was asleep in his vehicle, CHP Sgt. Michelle Esposito said at the scene early Monday.
Jordyn, Edwards' elder daughter, said she was speaking out publicly because she wanted the driver of the semitrailer to know he was not to blame for the crash.
"It's not his fault," she said. "If it wasn't his truck, it was going to be somebody else's."
KTLA's Jennifer Thang and John A. Moreno contributed to this article.