Five Capistrano Valley High School students were killed and one is in grave condition after the vehicle in which they were traveling veered out of control and crashed on the Interstate 5 on October 4, 2014 in a fiery Orange County car accident. According to a news report in the Orange County Register, four of the deceased victims have been identified as Alex Sotelo, Matthew Melo, Brandon Moreno and Jenny Campos. One girl has not yet been identified. The driver, Bradley Morales, underwent surgery and remains at the intensive care unit.
Speed a Possible Cause
California Highway Patrol officials say that the teens were on their way home from Knott’s Scary Farm traveling south on the 5 Freeway near the 133 toll road when the 1995 BMW sedan veered right. It then went off the freeway, up an embankment and came to a stop atop a concrete retaining wall. The car was engulfed in flames. Morales was found outside the car and transported to a trauma center. The others were found dead in the car. Officials say they don’t believe alcohol or drugs were involved, but say that speed may have been a factor. Also, the driver, Morales, was unlicensed. The investigation is ongoing.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family members, friends and school community of these young victims. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve the sudden and tragic loss of these teenagers.
Teen Crash Statistics
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2010, seven teens ages 16 to 19 died everyday from car accident injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be involved in a fatal crash. In 2010, about 2,700 teens in the United States between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed and almost 282,000 were treated and released from emergency departments for crash-related injuries.
Based on this news report, officials say alcohol or drugs do not seem to be a factor. However, investigators are looking into speed as a possible cause. The article also states that the driver who lost control of the vehicle is unlicensed. Under California law, even if a minor is licensed, he or she is not allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or transport passengers under age 20 during the first 12 months unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is 25 years or older.
These graduated licensing laws are there in place to prevent tragedies like this one. Statistics show that teens are more likely to crash when they are driving with other teen passengers or when they are driving late at night. We hope officials will look into why this young man was allowed to drive without a license and whose vehicle he was driving. We also encourage all those who were affected by this tragedy to obtain grief counseling and the support they need to cope during this very difficult time.
If you have questions about a vehicle accident please contact the Orange County car accident attorneys of Bisnar Chase