Friends and family are mourning two 15-year-olds found dead after a car drove off a Mission Valley transition ramp early Saturday in what is suspected to be a speed and alcohol-fueled crash.
Inside the car were five male teenagers ranging from ages 15 to 19. The driver, 17, did not have a license and the car was not registered to him, the California Highway Patrol said Sunday. Speed, drugs and alcohol were suspected factors in the crash.
Witnesses said a speeding BMW struck a guardrail on the ramp between westbound I- 8 and southbound state Route 163, launching the vehicle off the ramp at about 3 a.m., CHP said. The car fell about 40 feet down and burst into flames.
Three of the teens were able to get out of the burning vehicle, including the driver, police said.
Two 15-year-olds were found dead inside the charred vehicle, CHP said.
Gustavo Beltran, 15, was identified by family members and on a GoFundMe as one of the deceased teens.
Beltran’s mother remembered the night, saying in Spanish that her son did not want to go out, but was peer pressured. She said he was a good person and was always trying to help others.
“(Beltran) was a good kid and we cannot believe that just happened, it’s horrible,” family friend Zuleyma Alvines said. “I start crying because my younger brother was about to hang out with them too, but we stayed and played video games.”
David Chavez, 15, was identified as one of the deceased teenagers by the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday.
The two surviving passengers, identified by family members as Gerardo Cedillo and Samuel Torres, were transported to local hospitals with major injuries. Cedillo has returned home from the hospital.
The mother of Samuel Torres, Adelina Martinez, said in Spanish that her son snuck out of the house that night and when she awoke and heard the news, the parents of all five teens were frantic. She said she drove to three hospitals searching for her son.
As for the 17-year-old driver, he will now face charges of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter. His detention hearing will likely take place at the hospital on Thursday, the District Attorney’s office said.
Detention hearings are for juvenile cases, but CHP said he could be tried as an adult. The driver has not yet been officially identified.
Friends of the victims and the driver said they have zero remorse for the driver. They claim he had a suspended license but kept driving anyway.
“People shouldn’t be drinking and driving or doing other stuff,” said Jesus Alvines, friend and Zuleyma Alvines’s younger brother. “Sadly, he was close to me, but I think it’s stupid that he did that. I feel no remorse.”
“Just disappointed in the actions he took and how it could have been avoided also,” said Aaron Aquino, the driver’s coworker at Fillipi’s Pizza Grotto in Poway. “He shouldn’t have been driving at all in my opinion.”
“The whole town, we’re going to get together to help them out because that’s why we’re here, to help each other right?” Zuleyma Alvines told NBC 7.
Beltran’s death weighed heavily for Poway High School students returning Tuesday after the holiday weekend.
“Everyone just feels down. No one can really talk or explain what happened,” said Brenda Sanchez, a classmate of Beltran’s. “It’s just a very low atmosphere.”
Poway High School said there were grief counselors on hand for staff and students.
A Mass service and burial for Gustavo Beltran will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at St. Gabriel’s Church Poway and Dearborn Memorial Park, respectively.