DUI Charges in Fatal Crash That Killed Irvine HS Student

The girl was ejected from a car as it swerved on a dark canyon road in Irvine

Friends of Marie "Lizzie" Johnson said she wasn't supposed to be in the car that rolled over in Silverado at more than 70 mph when it killed her and injured six others -- she tried to call someone else to pick her up, but her phone died.

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The 16-year-old girl was a passenger in a Honda Civic whose driver lost control when it was speeding around the dark canyon, ejecting her from the car and killing her, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The group was traveling east on East Santiago Canyon Road toward Silverado Canyon Road just before 2 a.m. Monday to an area called Black Star Canyon when the car wrecked. Three others inside were injured, including the driver.

A second group of friends had also been driving on Silverado Canyon when they swerved to avoid hitting an animal and also rolled their car. All three in the car were hospitalized.

Johnson had just arrived home from a family trip to Hawaii on Sunday night.

"I talked to her mom and sisters, and they were very devastated. Everyone was crying," said Jason Liebrand, a family friend who has known Johnson since middle school.

Officials believe the driver, 19-year-old Antonio Escamilla was drinking before the crash, CHP Officer Todd Kovaletz said. Cans of beer were also found at the scene.

Escamilla was taken to Western Medical Center Santa Ana with major injuries and will be charged with felony DUI and felony vehicular manslaughter, officials said. He graduated from Irvine High School last year.

Johnson was set to start classes at Irvine High School Tuesday as a junior. The school district planned to have counselors on hand at the start of classes.

"We want to provide a safe place for students where they can go and share their feelings and talk it out, and just be able to process some of these emotions," said Ian Hannaigan of the Irvine Unified School District.

Counselors were on the same campus in May when four Irvine High School students and one University High School student died in a fiery crash after the car slammed into a tree, split in two and burst into flames.

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