A family of three was killed Tuesday when an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer allegedly drove under the influence southbound on the 605 Freeway in Whittier, causing a fiery, multi-vehicle crash.
The family - Mario Davila, Maribel Davila and Oscar Davila - was trapped in their burning vehicle when the impact of the crash caused their Nissan to burst into flames. They all died at the scene.
Authorities identified the suspected DUI driver as 26-year-old Edgar Verduzco of Santa Ana. He was allegedly speeding on the carpool lane at approximately 10:15 p.m. when he struck the rear of the family's vehicle and the rear of a Scion, prompting complete closure of all southbound lanes of the freeway for several hours.
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"They were very nice people," the family's neighbor Sakonh Sechang said.
"We exchanged gifts every Christmas," Pauline Sechang, another neighbor, said. "It's heartbreaking to hear them go."
The Davila family was on their way to pick up one of their sons from the Los Angeles International Airport when the crash occurred. They leave behind three remaining members of the family - three brothers.
Oscar Davila, who was killed in the crash, was a teenager and recent graduate of John W. North High School in Riverside, where he worked as a tutor.
The Riverside Unified School district expressed their condolences through a statement. Counselors were available to students and staff affected by the tragic crash.
Verduzco, who suffered "major" injuries, was arrested in connection to the death of the family. He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, according to the California Highway Patrol. He is being held on $100,000 bail.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck condemned the alleged actions of Verduzco and announced the department begun an internal investigation.
"(LAPD) has no tolerance for driving under the influence and holds its officers to the highest standards of professionalism both on and off-duty," he said.