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Family killed in crash: 'I didn't believe it,' relative says

April 01, 2013|By Kate Mather and Ari Bloomekatz

A relative of five Southern Californians killed in a crash in Nevada with a suspected drunk driver said he was initially too stunned to absorb the news.

"I didn't believe it at first. I couldn't," Genaro Fernandez Jr. told KTLA-TV. "It was all too much."

Fernandez is the son of Genaro Fernandez, 41, of Norwalk, one of five people the Associated Press reported were killed in the early Saturday crash. The others were identified as Raudel Fernandez-Avila, 49, and Belen Fernandez, 53, both of Lynwood; and Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, and Angela Sandoval, 13, both of Los Angeles.

Their exact relationships were unclear, though the Nevada Highway Patrol said Saturday that the victims were a father and his teenage daughter, her aunt and two uncles.

The family was returning from Denver after visiting a sick relative there, Genaro Fernandez Jr. told KTLA.

Two other people were in the family's van and were taken to a hospital with critical injuries, the highway patrol said.

"It's just a shame to know this happened to such a large number of family members," Esther Cruz Sosa, a neighbor, told KTLA. "It's very hurtful to hear."

The accident occurred on Interstate 15 in southeastern Nevada early Saturday morning before 3 a.m., when a Dodge Durango driven by a teenager, who was also reportedly from Southern California and was later charged with driving under the influence, crashed into the back of the family's Chevy Astro van, which spun around and overturned.

Loy Hixson of the highway patrol said Jean Soriano, 18, was driving the Durango and was arrested after he was treated and released from a hospital. A 23-year-old passenger in the Durango also survived.

Hixson said authorities "had every reason to believe [Soriano] was under the influence while operating the vehicle." One reason was that beer bottles were found in his vehicle, Hixson said.

Online jail records showed Soriano was booked on seven counts of driving under the influence, along with driving without a license and failing to reduce speed. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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