Man Fatally Rammed Teens' Car After Doorbell Prank

Anurag Chandra convicted of killing three 16-year-olds in California
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 30, 2023 5:30 AM CDT
Man Fatally Rammed Teens' Car After Doorbell Prank
An officer with the California Highway Patrol investigates the scene of a deadly crash in the Temescal Valley, south of Corona, Calif., Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.   (Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP, File)

A Southern California man accused of killing three teenage boys by intentionally ramming their car after they played a doorbell-ringing prank on him was found guilty Friday of murder. Anurag Chandra was convicted in a Riverside County courtroom of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, per the AP. The victims, who were all 16 years old, were among six teens inside a Toyota Prius on Jan. 19, 2020, when Chandra intentionally rammed their vehicle off the road and fled, prosecutors said. The Prius' driver lost control and the sedan slammed into a tree in Temescal Valley, about 60 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

The friends had dared one boy to either jump into a pool at night or play “ding dong ditch.” Chandra, who didn't know the teens, testified at trial that one of the boys rang his doorbell and exposed his buttocks before running away, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Chandra testified that he followed because he feared for his family's safety and wanted to express his anger. He said he was "extremely, extremely mad” from the prank. Chandra also testified that he drank 12 beers in the hours before the crash, the newspaper reported.

He said he did not plan to crash into the Prius and testified that he did not stop after rear-ending the sedan because he did not realize anyone had been injured—even though he admitted under cross-examination that he had been driving 99 mph before the collision. The crash killed Daniel Hawkins of Corona, Drake Ruiz of Corona, and Jacob Ivascu of Riverside. Sergio Campusano was the Prius' 18-year-old driver at the time. He and then-13-year-olds Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu survived the crash. They testified at the trial and were in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

(More fatal car crashes stories.)

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