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Brad Matthews


NextImg:California man convicted of murder for ramming car full of teenage doorbell pranksters

A California man was convicted of murder Friday for a 2020 incident, wherein he rammed his car into a 2002 Toyota Prius containing six teenage pranksters, three of whom died.

At around 10:15 p.m. on Jan 19. 2020, 13-year-old Joshua Ivascu exited the Prius on a dare, and rang the doorbell of Chandra’s house. After opening the door, the teen mooned Chandra and ran back to the car, completing the prank known as a “ding-dong ditch.”

Chandra was in his own words “extremely, extremely mad”, and got into his own car, a 2019 Infiniti Q50, and drove after them, hitting speeds of up to 99 miles per hour before intentionally ramming the Prius.

The driver of the Prius, then-18-year-old Sergio Campusano, lost control and struck a tree, thereby killing 16-year-old victims Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins, and Jacob Ivascu.

Mr. Campusano, along with then-13-year-old passengers Joshua Hawkins and Mr. Ivascu survived the crash. Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Ivascu are the younger brothers of two of the victims.

“He just got next to me and I was confused. What is he going to do? I just saw him ram his car into my back. And I whipped into my window and I blacked out and then I remember I woke up on the floor — I don’t remember how I got there. I was shaking,” Mr. Campusano told KNBC-TV, a Los Angeles NBC affiliate.

Chandra claimed that he did not intend to hit the other vehicle and that he kept driving on afterwards away from the scene because he did not realize anyone was injured. Chandra also claimed to have had 12 beers in the span of three hours before the incident.

Home security footage showing Chandra driving in a straight line and using turn signals led prosecutors to question whether or not Chandra had drank anything at all.

Chandra proceeded to return home after the crash, and passed out. He would call 911 hours later, having seen people outside his house and not mentioning the prior incident at all.

The people outside Chandra’s residence were California Highway Patrol officers that had found the license plate of his Infiniti at the scene of the collision.

Chandra was convicted of three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced on July 14, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.