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Warrant had been issued for teen well before Mesquite crash that killed 5

LOS ANGELES — Records show an arrest warrant was issued a week after a teen escaped from a juvenile facility — a disclosure that sheds some light on concerns that he might have slipped through the cracks before his arrest in a Southern Nevada drunken driving crash that killed five family members.

The warrant for Jean Ervin Soriano, 18, was issued on March 8 by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday, citing department records.

Before his escape, Soriano was being held at the Youth Guidance Center in Santa Ana, Calif., an 80-bed, unguarded facility for low-level offenders operated by the Orange County Probation Department.

It was unclear whether authorities had been searching for Soriano before the Saturday collision on Interstate 15 near Mesquite, about 80 miles north of Las Vegas, and why it took a week to have the warrant issued.

Gail Krause, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, said Thursday the agency hadn’t been asked to help look for Soriano. A phone message left for her Friday by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Todd Spitzer, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, has sent a list of questions to probation officials to find out how Soriano’s case was handled. He wants to know what attempts were made to find him after the escape and the protocol when such situations occur.

Ed Harrison, a spokesman for the Probation Department, declined to comment about why Soriano was at the Orange County juvenile facility or how he escaped.

Authorities said Soriano was arrested after the sport utility vehicle he was driving rear-ended the van. Soriano told the arresting trooper he had “too many” beers before the crash, according to an arrest report.

Several beer bottles were found in the SUV, authorities said. Results of a blood-alcohol test were pending.

The van was carrying family members who had been visiting a sick relative in Denver. They were headed home to Southern California to prepare for an Easter celebration.

Three brothers, one of their wives and a girl were killed. Two other people were injured and hospitalized.

Soriano, who had only scrapes and bruises, was being held on $3.5 million bail and is due back in court Wednesday. He has not yet been charged or entered a plea.

Abel Yanez, a deputy public defender, declined comment because he hasn’t seen any charges against his client.

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