Two teenagers died and three more were injured when a car drove off a Mission Valley transition ramp early Saturday in what is suspected to be a speed and alcohol-fueled crash.
Witnesses said a speeding BMW struck a guardrail on the ramp between westbound Interstate 8 and southbound state Route 163, launching the vehicle off the ramp at about 3 a.m., the California Highway Patrol said.
The car fell about 40 feet down, hitting several trees on the way down, according to CHP officer Christopher Radoff. When the car struck the ground, it burst into flames.
The driver, 17, did not have a license and the car was not registered to him, CHP said Sunday. Speed, drugs and alcohol were also suspected factors in the crash.
Inside the car were five male teenagers ranging from ages 15 to 19. Three of the teens were able to get out of the burning vehicle, including the driver, police said.
After rescue crews were able to control the flames, two 15-year-olds were found dead inside the charred vehicle, CHP said. Neither of the two deceased teens have been officially identified by police.
Gustavo Beltran, 15, has been identified by family members and on a GoFundMe as one of the two deceased teenagers.
"He 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.”
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. She said that 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.
CHP said investigators would interview the survivors as part of their investigation.
The driver was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, CHP said. Facing charges of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter, his detention hearing will take place at the hospital on Thursday.
Detention hearings are for juvenile cases, but CHP said he could be tried as an adult.
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."
Because of the possible criminal nature of the crash, investigators combed every inch of the crash site to figure out what happened. The investigation is ongoing.
"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.