A driver in Southern California is facing murder charges after he intentionally slammed his vehicle into a car full of teenagers, leaving three dead and three injured, the authorities said Monday.
The man, Anurag Chandra, 42, of Corona, Calif., was arrested early Monday and booked on three counts of murder, the California Highway Patrol said in a statement. The agency said that on Sunday night Mr. Chandra rammed his 2019 Infiniti Q50 into a 2002 Toyota Prius that had been carrying the teenagers, causing it to “leave the roadway and collide with a tree.”
Mr. Chandra fled after the crash, which occurred on Temescal Canyon Road, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Highway Patrol said. Witnesses followed him to a home and alerted the authorities, leading to his arrest.
“He basically turned himself in once we arrived at the location,” said Juan Quintero, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.
Calls to phone numbers listed for Mr. Chandra went unanswered on Monday. It was unclear if he had a lawyer.
While the crash remains under investigation, the authorities believe that Mr. Chandra purposely hit the Prius, Officer Quintero said, declining to go into further detail.
The agency is still trying to determine what connection, if any, there was between the teenagers and Mr. Chandra, Officer Quintero said Monday afternoon.
“We’re still looking into that,” he said. “So far, we haven’t discovered anything.”
It does not appear that drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash, Officer Quintero said.
It was unclear on Monday if the teenagers, whose names were not immediately released but who are believed to be from the area, were wearing seatbelts, Officer Quintero said. But he noted that “a Prius is fitted for five passengers total, and this vehicle had six.”
The authorities responded to the crash at around 10:23 p.m. Sunday night, the Highway Patrol said. Upon arrival, officers found the six teenagers and the Prius, which was at the side of the roadway.
Temescal Canyon Road is an unincorporated county road, Officer Quintero said.
Three of the victims needed to be freed from the mangled car, the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department said in a statement posted online. One victim died on the scene, the fire department said.
All three of the people killed in the crash were minors, the Highway Patrol said. The other three victims, including the driver, had non-life-threatening injuries.
Officer Quintero praised the witnesses who helped apprehend Mr. Chandra for doing “the right thing.”
“We always urge people, ‘If you see something, say something,’” he said. “Without the public’s help, this individual could still be at large.”