Inland Empire

Mother of Teen Victim Says Ding-Dong Ditch Prank May Have Led to Deadly Crash

Ruiz's mother told reporters Monday night the teens, who were on their way to a sleepover to celebrate Ivascu's birthday, tried to play a "ding-dong-ditch'' prank -- ringing a doorbell and quickly driving away -- at a friend's home.

Courtesy of family

A Corona man accused of intentionally ramming a Toyota Prius in Temescal Valley, sending the car crashing into a tree and killing three 16-year-old boys inside -- possibly because he had just been pranked by the teens -- remained behind bars Tuesday.

Late Monday, the coroner's office identified the teens as Drake Ruiz and Daniel Hawkins, both 16 of Corona, and Jacob Ivascu, 16, of Riverside. They died when the Toyota they were in struck a tree at 10:16 p.m. Sunday at Temescal Canyon Road north of Trilogy Parkway, authorities said.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department
Anurag Chandra, 42, was accused of intentionally ramming another vehicle, killing three teenage boys inside and injuring three others.

Ivascu died at the scene, while Ruiz and Hawkins died at Inland Valley Medical Center shortly after arriving. Three other young occupants of the Prius were injured but survived the crash. At least one media report indicated the other occupants were two 13-year-old boys and the 18-year-old driver.

Josh (who survived and is Jacob's brother), Jacob and Drake are those pictured without ski goggles covering their eyes.

Almost 100 people filled a church in Corona Monday night for prayer service in memory of the boys.

Anurag Chandra, 42, was arrested early Monday morning on suspicion of murder, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Juan Quintero.

Quintero said Chandra "intentionally rammed'' his Infiniti sedan into the Prius, causing the driver to lose control of the car and hit the tree.

Following the crash, Chandra allegedly fled the scene to a nearby house on Mojeska Summit Road, where witnesses followed him and alerted authorities. CHP officers arrested him at the house at 2:46 a.m. Monday.

Daniel and Drake at the beach.

He was booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside without bail on suspicion of three counts of murder and six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, jail records show. He is tentatively scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

CHP officials said Monday there was no immediate word on what may have prompted Chandra to ram the teens. Ruiz's mother told reporters Monday night the teens, who were on their way to a sleepover to celebrate Ivascu's birthday, tried to play a "ding-dong-ditch'' prank -- ringing a doorbell and quickly driving away -- at a friend's home, but Chandra answered the door, got into his Infiniti and chased the teens.

Jacob Ivascu

"The boys were playing ding-dong-ditch at a house they thought was... somebody their age, but it turned out to be that angry man,'' Debbie Ruiz said.

She said when Chandra began chasing them, "they fled for their lives basically.''

"They were scared to death, tried to get away several times,'' she said. "He rammed them, ran them off the road.''

The family started a GoFundMe that raised nearly $20,000. You can see it here.

Daniel Hawkins
Copyright CNS - City News Service
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