Indian-American man gets life term for killing three teens in vehicle crash

Indian-origin Anurag Chandra, who was convicted of killing three 16-year-old boys and seriously injuring three other teens after the youngsters played a "doorbell" prank on him in 2020, has been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Chandra, a Riverside County resident, was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder and three counts of first-degree murder.
Chandra, a Riverside County resident, was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder and three counts of first-degree murder. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@mdnewshindi

California resident Chandra was in April convicted of three counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.

It had taken the jury in Riverside County only three hours to return guilty verdicts against Chandra, said a July 14 press release by the District Attorney's Office.

The investigation revealed that Chandra had deliberately crashed his car into the vehicle carrying the youngsters.

The deadly crash happened on the night of January 19, 2020, on Temescal Canyon Road.

The six teens were in a 2002 Toyota Prius car that was forced off the road by Chandra, resulting in the car slamming into a tree on the east side of the roadway.

Chandra left the scene of the crash and returned home without reporting what occurred.

Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu, and Drake Ruiz, all 16, were killed. The 18-year-old driver of the Prius as well as two other boys ages 13 and 14, were injured but survived.

The release said that the boys were having a sleepover and ultimately dared one of the friends to do a "doorbell ditch," so they drove to a nearby house, according to an investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

Once there, one of the boys rang the doorbell of a home on Modjeska Summit Road and ran back to their car.

Chandra, who lived at the home, chased after the boys' vehicle in his own car.

As Chandra pursued the victims, he re-ended the Prius and sideswiped their vehicle until they were forced to stop.

The boys made a U-turn to escape, however, Chandra continued his pursuit.

Ultimately, as both vehicles approached Squaw Mountain Road, Chandra increased his speed to 99 mph, then intentionally rammed his car into the back of the Prius, causing it to veer off the road and into a tree.

In a separate case, Chandra also pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges of spousal battery and child endangerment and received credit for time already served.

Chandra has been in custody at the Robert Presley Detention Centre in Riverside since his arrest on January 20, 2020, in connection with the homicide case.

"The lives of countless families will never be the same because of one man's anger, callousness and outrageous conduct, and I am grateful to Judge Navarro for imposing the maximum sentence in this case," said District Attorney Mike Hestrin.