The parents of three California teenagers who were killed in a car crash said they forgive the man suspected of ‘intentionally’ ramming their sons’ car off the road and killing them after a ding-dong ditch prank.
Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu and Drake Ruiz – who were all 16-years-old – died in January after their car veered off the road and slammed into a nearby tree.
The crash survivors were Joshua and Daniel’s younger brothers, 14-year-old Joshua Ivascu and 13-year-old Joshua Hawkins, and Sergio Campusano, 18.
16-year-olds Drake Ruiz (left) and Daniel Hawkins (right) were among the three teenagers killed in January 2019 after their car was ‘intentionally’ veered off the road
Jacob Ivascu (pictured), 16, was the third victim to die in the car crash last year in Corona, California
All six boys were inside the vehicle at the time of the crash. The survivors were hospitalized with injuries that ranged from a concussion to a fractured vertebrae.
Anurag Chandra, 42, was accused of ramming the teenagers’ Toyota Prius off the road after he became enraged at a ding-dong ditch game they played at his Corona home.
Anurag Chandra (pictured) is charged with murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon
The victims’ family are seeking justice against Chandra, but have forgiven him for the alleged incident.
Jacob’s mother Ramona told People that her son would want her to forgive Chandra.
‘He would say, “Mom, you have to forgive him. You have to. Because unforgiveness does not bring any closure,”‘ she said.
Drake’s father Billy pointed to his religious faith and said forgiveness is ‘what we believe.’
The victims’ parents want to honor their sons and launched Rememberthe3.com as a tribute.
‘I don’t want them to become a statistic — like, “Oh, three teenage boys killed,”‘said Daniel’s father, Craig.
An official GoFundMe was created this month to help cover medical, legal and other expenses related to the six boys.
Before that, a fundraiser was created for the Ruiz family that gained more than $15,000 in donations
The tragic incident reportedly began January 19 when the six boys were out celebrating Jacob’s birthday and were playing ‘ding-dong-ditch’ – a prank where a doorbell is rung and the prankster runs away.
Pictured: Daniel Hawkins playing football prior to his death on January 19, 2019
This infuriated Chandra, who chased after them and rammed their car.
All six of the teens were in the same Toyota Prius when it went off the road and slammed into a tree around 10.30pm Sunday in Temescal Valley in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles.
A witness followed Chandra’s car and notified police, who found an Infiniti with front-end damage parked in a neighborhood near the crash site, Officer Juan Quintero told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
The Prius went off the road and slammed into a tree around 10.30pm on Sunday in Temescal Valley in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles
Authorities believe that the boys’ car was intentionally rammed and have charged Chandra with murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon
Authorities arrested Chandra a short time later in a neighborhood near the crash site, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Chandra was charged with murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon, after police said their investigation showed that he intentionally rammed his car into the boys’ Prius and caused the driver to lose control of the car.
California Highway Patrol Lt. David Yokley told reporters that neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to be involved in the incident, but that toxicology tests were pending.
‘It was an intentional act. Our investigation led us to believe Mr. Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control. The investigation has now changed from a hit-run collision to homicide,’ said Yokley.
Drake Ruiz’s mother, Debbie Ruiz, told CBS LA: ‘When [Chandra] came out and got in his car to chase after them, they fled for their lives basically.’
When police arrived at the scene, they found three of the teens standing outside the car, while the other three boys were still trapped inside it.
Firefighters pronounced one of the boys dead at the scene and the other two crash victims died at the hospital.
The teenagers’ Toyota Prius is seen here after the crash. When authorities arrived, they found three of the boys had escaped from the car, while the other three were stuck inside
Police also said that they were investigating whether Chandra and the boys knew each other prior to the fatal incident.
Chandra pleaded not guilty to the crime on February 21.
All six of the teens had attended the same school when they were younger, the Olive Branch Church & School in Corona, and were ‘dearly loved by our staff,’ according to the school’s Facebook post.
The boys were said to have been active members of the youth ministry at Corona’s Northpoint Evangelical Free Church.
‘They were bright young kids that had so much to look forward to and it was taken far too early,’ Northpoint spokesman Tim East told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.