IRVINE, Calif. — Authorities were investigating the cause of two fiery vehicle crashes in Southern California that left 10 dead, including five teenagers returning from an amusement park, as family members and friends mourned their loss.
In Orange County, a 16-year-old unlicensed driver who was the lone survivor in a single-car accident that killed five teenagers remained hospitalized after surgery. Bradley Morales was listed in serious but stable condition with a large skull fracture and internal bleeding, CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital said.
California Highway Patrol Officer Florentine Olivares said investigators will inspect the 1995 BMW the teen was driving for signs of mechanical failure that might have contributed to the crash early Saturday morning in Orange County.
Skid marks on the freeway and the distance the car traveled after hitting a guardrail on Interstate 5 in Irvine suggest speed possibly played a role, the officer said.
No charges have been filed. There was no record of the driver having a license, Olivera said.
The victims included two 14-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy, all from Orange County, who played for the same soccer team, the Los Angeles Times reported. Two girls who died, whose ages were not released, played on the water polo team of another high school.
The boys’ teammates were among dozens of people who gathered at a sorrowful candlelight vigil Sunday night in Mission Viejo.
The father of one of the victims — identified to KABC-TV as Matthew Melo — said he had a hard time accepting that his son was killed so suddenly.
“This should have never happened,” Ivan Melo told the station.
Both girls and one of the boys killed were not wearing a seat belt, the CHP said.
The car flew off the freeway, crashed and caught fire. The white sedan was flattened on top and covered with burn marks as it was towed from the scene.
Five people were killed about five hours earlier on Friday night, when three vehicles collided and burst into flames on an isolated two-lane road on the edge of Chino, a city east of Los Angeles in San Bernardino County.
The lone survivor of the three-vehicle crash — the driver of a Honda Civic — was released from the hospital, police spokeswoman Monica Gutierrez said. The dead included four in a Chevy truck and one in a Honda Accord.
The victims in the truck included 19-year-old Andrew Anthony Deleon, 18-year-old Nathan Dominguez and two other friends, all recent graduates from the same high school, Dominguez’s uncle Anthony Vasquez and coroner’s officials said.
The victim from the Accord was Luis Ayala Mendoza, 47, of Corona, the coroner said in a statement.