The three people killed when their car was rear-ended by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer, who was possibly driving drunk, on the 605 Freeway were identified on Wednesday as a Riverside teen and his parents.
Parents Mario and Maribel and their 19-year-old son Oscar Davila were traveling in a Nissan that was swiftly engulfed in flames Tuesday night after the Chevy Camaro driven by police officer Edgar Verduzco slammed into its rear-end south of Saragosa Street, in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County near Whittier.
The three were identified as the victims by family members. Coroner’s officials have said the bodies were so badly burned it would take some time to officially identify them.
Mario and Maribel are survived by three sons, family members said.
Oscar was the family’s youngest child, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to raise money for their funeral expenses.
According to the Riverside Unified School District, Oscar graduated from John W. North High School in 2016 and was now working at the school as a tutor. Grief counselors were deployed to the campus upon news of his death and would remain available throughout the week, the district said in a statement.
“There will always be an unfillable void left in our hearts when we lose a beloved member of our RUSD team,” the statement read.
All three were congregants at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine church in Riverside who also volunteered their time and were patrons of the arts, according to the fundraising account.
The page states Mario and Maribel were “people who gave more than they ever took” and “passed that lesson down to their kids.” Oscar is described as “a bright, lighthearted, musically talented individual” who was a “gentleman” and “hard worker.”
Officer Verduzco, who suffered a broken nose in the collision, was arrested late Tuesday night and was being held on $100,000 bail.
Alcohol may have played a role in the crash, which occurred while the 26-year-old was off duty, California Highway Patrol officials have said.
Earlier Tuesday night, Verduzco had posted a video to his Instagram account from what appears to be a bar, showing a cartoon avatar in a car next to glasses of beer. It was captioned with a reminder not to drink and drive.
L.A. Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said he was “angry” and “disappointed” one of the agency’s officers would be implicated in such an incident during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Verduzco was employed with the department for about two years after serving four years in the U.S. Army, Beck said.
Officials are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the collision.