Corona area man sentenced for crash that killed three teen boys
July 14, 2023
RIVERSIDE – A Corona area man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on July 14, 2023, for his role in the January 2020 crash that killed three 16-year-old boys and seriously injured three other teens.
In April 2023, it took a Riverside County jury only three hours to return guilty verdicts against Anurag Chandra, DOB: 10-5-77, of the unincorporated area of Corona. Chandra was convicted of three counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders was found true by the jurors.
During the sentencing by Judge Valerie Navarro, the victims’ families read statements indicating the intense grief they still feel for the loss of the boys. “Every day we sense the absence of this young man,” said Craig Hawkins, Daniel’s father. “The hole in our hearts and lives from the taking of our son’s life is staggering.”
“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.
The deadly crash happened the night of Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, on Temescal Canyon Road. The six teens were in a 2002 Toyota Prius 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 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 the Prius. Chandra, who lived at the home, chased after the Prius in his 2019 Infinity Q50. As Chandra pursued the victims, he re-ended the Prius, and sideswiped their vehicle until they were forced to stop. The Prius 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 misdemeanor charges of spousal battery and child endangerment and received credit for time already served. Chandra has been in custody at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside since his arrest on Jan. 20, 2020, in connection with the homicide case.
The murder case, RIF2000290, was prosecuted by Deputy DA Kevin Beecham of the Major Crimes Division and Managing Deputy DA Nik Peterson of the Felony Crimes Division.