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Accused DUI Driver Who Killed 5 People in Nevada Crash Escaped OC County-Run Rehab Detention Center
A young man suspected of plowing into another vehicle while intoxicated, taking the lives of five family members and injuring two others, had escaped a month prior from a substance abuse treatment detention facility run by Orange County.18-year-old Jean Ervin Soriano "escaped on March 1 from the Youth Guidance Center in Santa Ana, which is operated by the county’s probation department," reports the Los Angeles Times.
On March 30, Soriano was allegedly drunk while behind the wheel of an SUV, driving near the Nevada-Utah border on Interstate 15, when he crashed into a minivan carrying several members of a Southern California family.
Soriano's connection to the Youth Guidance Center and his escape was not revealed by the probation department to the Orange County Board of Supervisors until Monday, two days after the deadly crash. Now the process of notification when an offender escapes from an OC facility has come into scrutiny.
"The 80-bed Orange County Youth Guidance Center (YGC), operated by the Orange County Probation Department, offers Substance Abuse rehabilitation for minors ranging from 13 through 20 years of age," explains the facility's webpage on the Orange County website.
It is not clear how Soriano came to be in the facility, how he escaped, or what was done to attempt to find him last month.Soriano admitted he had had a few beers before getting behind the wheel to head from Utah to Las Vegas after visiting relatives, and authorities say they found several empty beer bottles in his vehicle. The 18-year-old was born in Mission Viejo, according to records, and had lived recently in San Juan Capistrano.
Following the crash, Soriano was treated for his injuries, then was booked on seven counts of DUI and causing death or great bodily injury. He is currently being held at the Clark County detention center in Nevada in lieu of $3.5-million bail.
Three men in their 40s, a teenage girl and a woman were killed in the van carrying a couple, their children, aunts and uncles. A 40-year-old female driver and a 15-year-old boy were rushed to the hospital for treatment, while a 23-year-old passenger in Soriano's SUV was hospitalized and later released. Five people in the minivan were not wearing seatbelts.
The deceased have been identified as Genaro Fernandez 41, of Norwalk; Raudel Fernandez-Avila, 49, and Belen Fernandez, 53, of Lynwood; and Angela Sandoval, 13, and Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, of Los Angeles. The victims had been en route home from a gathering in Colorado. Relatives of the victims have established a fund to help pay for the funerals, according to the Times.