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Driver said he had 'too many' beers before fatal crash, police say

April 01, 2013|By Joseph Serna and Ruben Vives

A driver admitted to authorities he had “too many” beers to drink before hitting a van on a remote Nevada highway, killing five members of the same family in the other vehicle, an arrest report shows.

Jean Ervin Soriano, 18, told a Nevada Highway Patrol deputy he had been drinking Budweisers before the violent crash on Interstate 15 in southeastern Nevada early Saturday morning that killed three brothers, a wife and a 13-year-old girl, according to the report.

Several beer bottles were found in his car, police said.

Soriano and his 23-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries. Police said Soriano rear-ended a Chevy Astrovan carrying seven people on their way home about 3 a.m. from Denver where they were visiting a dying relative.

The van spun out of control and overturned with seven people in it. Five people who were inside: Genaro Fernandez, 41, of Norwalk, Raudel Fernandez-Avila, 49, and Belen Fernandez, 53, both of Lynwood, and Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, and Angela Sandoval, 13, both of Los Angeles, died. The two occupants of the van who survived were hospitalized in critical condition, according to Loy Hixson of the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Soriano’s bail was set at $3.5 million Monday. He’s scheduled to be arraigned April 10. He was booked on seven counts of DUI and causing death or great bodily injury.

The Fernandez home in East Los Angeles was quiet Monday morning, two days after the five relatives were killed.

“Such a sad thing to hear,” said Maria-Elena Ramirez, 59, a neighbor of Leonardo Fernandez and his family on Northside Drive. “Such a sad thing to happen.”

News of the family’s death, particularly 13-year-old Angela’s, spread quickly. Angela’s classmates were organizing a candlelight vigil for her Monday night.

“I’m going to miss that little girl,” said Ramirez, Angela’s neighbor. “She was always walking around with a smile on her face.”

There were three white balloons tied to the plants along the green walkway leading to Angela’s home Monday morning.

One said “RiP Angela, we miss you.”

A relative of the family said they were starting a fund to help pay for the funerals. The fund is called the Fernandez Foundation at Bank of America.

Angela’s friends are planning to hold a carwash over the weekend in Pico Rivera.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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