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Only 5 of 7 in doomed van wore seatbelts, Nevada officials say

April 03, 2013|By Joseph Serna and Ruben Vives
  • Leighla Carbajal, 12, left, and Vanessa Luna, 13, hug at a candlelight vigil at Eastmont Intermediate School. The vigil was held for Angela Sandoval, who was one of five people killed Saturday morning in a Nevada crash.
Leighla Carbajal, 12, left, and Vanessa Luna, 13, hug at a candlelight vigil… (Patrick T. Fallon / For the…)

Only five of the seven people in a van that was rear-ended in Nevada over Easter weekend were wearing seatbelts at the time, the Nevada Highway Patrol said Wednesday. One of the unbuckled passengers was among those killed. 

The collision, about 3 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas, caused the van to spin out and then flip. Five people, including three brothers, were killed. Angela Sandoval, 13, from East L.A., was the lone person not wearing a seatbelt who died.

Her 15-year-old brother, Eddie Sandoval, also was not wearing a seatbelt, investigators concluded. Eddie was critically injured but survived.

Everyone else was strapped in, authorities said, including the children’s mother, Maria Cardenas, who was driving and was the van’s only other survivor. Cardenas’ boyfriend, Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, and his two brothers, Genaro, 41, and Raudel, 49, died, as did Raudel's wife, Belen.

The group was headed back to the Los Angeles area after saying their last goodbyes to the Fernandez brothers’ father in Denver.

The van crashed when it was rear-ended by Jean Soriano, 18, who authorities say was drunk as he drove a Dodge Durango to Las Vegas from Utah. Soriano, an Orange County native, was treated for minor injuries and then arrested.

He is scheduled to be arraigned next week in Clark County on several felonies, including multiple counts of DUI causing death or injury. The teen is being held in lieu of $3.5 million bail.

Soriano was also cited for driving without a license and failing to slow down. Authorities said they found beer bottles in the car. A 23-year-old person riding with Soriano was injured in the crash but survived.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

twitter.com/josephserna

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