See Update No. 2 on page 2 on teen driver Abdulrahman M. Alyahyan not having a valid California's driver license and having been cited previously for violating the terms of his provisional license. Plus, more details. Update No. 1 on the next page has ID's of all five Irvine teens.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 28, 9:06 A.M.: Five teens from Irvine–two males and three females–died late Monday afternoon when their Infiniti slammed into a tree, sliced in two and turned into a fireball on Jamboree Road near Island Lagoon in Newport Beach.
That's less than a mile from Jamboree Road and Camelback, where TapouT co-founder Mask Lewis died in a fiery hit-and-run crash in 2009.
The stretch of road had been closed for 10 hours before reopening in both directions around 3:50 this morning.
The crash occurred in the southbound Jamboree lanes, where the posted speed limit is 55 mph, just north of Island Lagoon. For reasons unknown, the Infiniti left the roadway and jumped onto the center divider, smashed into the tree and caught on fire.
Four of the teens were ejected from the vehicle, and the fifth was partially ejected, according to Newport Beach Police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe. Four died at the scene and the fifth was taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and later pronounced dead.
Identities have not yet been released.
Much of the closure time was spent picking up debris that was strewn over a quarter-mile.
Around 1 a.m. on March 11, 2009, Jeffrey David Kirby of Costa Mesa was speeding in his 1977 Porsche with a 32-year-old female passenger, Lynn Marie Nabozny, alongside a 2004 Ferrari driven by 45-year-old Charles David “Mask” Lewis, Jr., on Jamboree Road, where Kirby lost control and crashed into the Ferrari. Lewis' vehicle smashed into a cement light pole and was torn in half. Kirby, who swerved and came to a stop on Jamboree Road for several seconds before accelerating and leaving the scene.
Lewis died but though his girlfriend Lacy White was ejected from the Ferrari, she only suffered a broken elbow.
Kirby, whose blood-alcohol level was above .13 at the time of the crash, was sentenced in December 2010 to nine years in prison for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, causing gross bodily injury and having a previous drunk-driving conviction.
During daylight hours on March 11 every year since, Lewis' sister C.D. “Kaya” Lewis stands alongside that stretch of Dead Man's Curve holding a sign warning drivers not to drink and drive.
The investigation continues to determine if alcohol or unsafe speeds played a role in the latest fatalities.
UPDATE NO. 1, MAY 28, 3:38 A.M.: The teens killed on Jamboree Road have been identified by the Orange County Sheriff's Department as:
Driver Abdulrahman M. Alyahyan, 17, a 12th grader at University High School
Passenger Nozad Al Hamawendi, 17, an 11th grader at Irvine High School
Passenger Cecilia D. Zamora 17, an 11th grader at Irvine High
Passenger Aurora C. Cabrera, 16, a 10th grader at Irvine High
Passenger Robin A. Cabrera, 17, a 12th grader at Irvine High
“We do believe excessive speed was a factor in the collision,'' Kathy Lowe, the Newport Beach Police Department spokeswoman, earlier told City News Service.
She adds in an email to the Weekly this afternoon that the investigation continues and requests anyone with information to contact Traffic Investigator Scott Grecco at 949.644.3747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE NO. 2, MAY 29, 2:18 P.M.: Driver Abdulrahman M. Alyahyan, 17, did not have a valid California driver's license and was cited in April for violating his provisional license, according to City News Service.
The Department of Motor Vehicles was waiting on proof of his legal status as Alyahyan emigrated from Saudi Arabia about four years ago with his mother, two brothers and a sister, the news service adds.
Autopsies of the youths were expected to be done Thursday, according to Jim Amormino, the Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman.
As for youths left behind, grief counselors were deployed today to Irvine and University high schools.
Their mission is twofold, one is to seek out students hit particularly hard by the tragedy … and establish a place to go for students who want somewhere to talk,” Ian Hanigan, an Irvine Unified School District, tells the news service.
Irvine High Principal Monica Colunga is quoted as saying Robin A. Cabrera, one of the 17-year-old victims, was an office aide who recently showed up for work with her hair dyed red. "I was going to give her a hard time about it not being green”–the school color–Colunga said.
The principal described Robin and her sister Aurora C. Cabrera, a 16-year-old who perished in the crash, as "very friendly and happy.” They had attended the school for about a year.
"From the very get-go they both embraced and were embraced as part of our Irvine High School culture,” Colunga added. "They were popular, happy-go-lucky girls.”
The Cabrera sisters and 17-year-old victim Cecilia D. "Ce Ce” Zamora shared a passion for the school's dance program, Colunga said. "They were OK,” the principal said of the girls' dance moves. "They were not in the advanced group, but they definitely enjoyed be part of the dance team. They enjoyed expressing themselves through dance.”
Colunga described Zamora as "pretty much part of that circle … but Robin and Aurora were a little bit more advanced,” adding that Ce Ce was also in the girls' chorus.
The principal recently met the final victim, Nozad Al Hamawendi, 17. "He was very, very personable,” Colunga said. "A very respectful young man who was into soccer. He had a passion for soccer and cars.”
Her students are reportedly organizing a candlelight vigil this evening that will happen about the same time as the school's annual SPUR Awards ceremony, which honors students who live up to the school's motto of upholding "integrity, honoring self and others and taking and social responsibility.”
"They were most certainly good kids,'' the principal concluded of the victims. "Any time there's a loss of a young person it's devastating … but when it's in your home it's really, really huge.”