Temescal Valley, California – Anurag Chandra, 45, has been sentenced to life in prison after a pursuit of a vehicle occupied by teenage pranksters resulted in the deaths of three of them, according to California prosecutors. The sentencing took place on Friday, with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announcing the verdict.
The incident occurred on January 19, 2020, in Temescal Valley, when Chandra pursued the teenagers’ vehicle and ultimately ran it off the road. The Riverside County District Attorney, Mike Hestrin, confirmed that Chandra received a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, the maximum penalty for the case.
In April, Chandra was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. The victims who lost their lives were 16-year-olds Daniel Hawkins of Corona, Drake Ruiz of Corona, and Jacob Ivascu of Riverside. Three other individuals in the 2002 Toyota Prius, in which the victims were traveling, sustained injuries.
According to Sergio Campusano, the 18-year-old driver of the Prius, one of the boys involved in the prank rang Chandra’s doorbell and quickly returned to the vehicle. This type of prank is commonly known as “doorbell ditch” or “ding-dong ditch.”
The teenagers had been attending a sleepover before venturing out in the sedan, which eventually led them to Chandra’s residence in Temescal Valley, located about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
The tweet below verifies the news:
A driver whose pursuit of a carful of teenage pranksters ended in the deaths of three of them has been sentenced to life in prison, California prosecutors say. https://t.co/7ExcIrmZqZ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 15, 2023
Chandra, driving an Infinity Q50 that weighed approximately 1,000 pounds more than the Prius without passengers, pursued the teenagers and collided with their vehicle twice before reaching speeds of 99 mph. He then intentionally rammed the Prius, causing it to veer off the roadway, as stated by prosecutors and the California Highway Patrol.
After the collision, Chandra’s vehicle turned around and drove past the wreckage without seeking help or notifying authorities.
During Friday’s sentencing, family members of the victims delivered statements expressing their grief, according to the District Attorney’s office. Craig Hawkins, the father of Daniel Hawkins, remarked, “Every day we sense the absence of this young man. The hole in our hearts and lives from the taking of our son’s life is staggering.”
The tragic incident serves as a reminder of the consequences that can arise from reckless and dangerous actions on the road.
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