Driver Charged With Murder, Accused of Killing 3 Teens in Temescal Valley Crash After Prank

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Riverside County prosecutors filed murder charges Thursday against a man accused of intentionally crashing into a car of teens who played a game of ding-dong ditch on him, killing three boys and wounding three others, authorities said.

Anurag Chandra appears for his arraignment in a Riverside courtroom on Jan. 23, 2020. (Credit: KTLA)
Anurag Chandra appears for his arraignment in a Riverside courtroom on Jan. 23, 2020. (Credit: KTLA)

Anurag Chandra faces three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in connection with the Sunday night crash in Temescal Valley, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

Chandra, 42, allegedly chased down the six teens in his 2019 Infinity Q50 after one of them rang the doorbell at his home on Modjeska Summit Road. The boys were having a sleepover when one of them was dared to approach Chandra's home, prosecutors said.

After ringing the bell, they left in a 2002 Toyota Prius. But Chandra allegedly caught up with them along Temescal Canyon Road.

As the two cars approached Squaw Mountain Road, prosecutors said, Chandra slammed his Infiniti into the back of the teens' car — forcing it off the road and into a tree. First responders were called to the scene just after 10:30 p.m.

Three of the teens were still trapped inside the car when authorities arrived, according to California Highway Patrol. One of the boys was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other two were taken to local hospitals where they later died.

Those killed include three 16-year-olds identified by prosecutors on Thursday as Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu and Drake Ruiz. The wounded survivors include an 18-year-old driver and two other teenage boys, ages 13 and 14, according to CHP.

Emergency crews respond to a fatal crash in Temescal Valley on Jan. 20, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)
Emergency crews respond to a fatal crash in Temescal Valley on Jan. 20, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

Chandra was taken into custody around 2:45 a.m. after witnesses followed him to a nearby home and reported him to authorities, CHP said.

Debbie Ruiz, mother of 16-year-old Drake, has said the boys were celebrating one of their birthdays when they decided to play ding-dong ditch, a prank in which someone rings a home's doorbell and runs away.

"But it turned out to be that angry man," Ruiz said earlier this week.

She spoke to reporters outside Riverside County Superior Court on Thursday, appearing alongside the fathers of the other two boys killed. She described her son as a class clown whose main priorities were "joy and happiness."

Craig Hawkins, father of Daniel, said both his son and Ruiz were accomplished football players who had been best friends with Ivascu for years. "They were all very talented young men (with) incredible potential, their whole lives in front of them," he said.

Ivascu was the oldest of five children, often acting as a sort of mother or father figure to his younger siblings, according to his father, Alex Ivascu.

"My family and I have been falling apart," he said. "We're all devastated."

Hawkins said the boys' lives were taken too soon, denying them the ability to ever fulfill their potential.

"They were just boys. They were our children," Hawkins said. "They were members of this community and they don't deserve what happened."

Chandra's arraignment, originally set for Thursday, was delayed until Feb. 21.

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