LOS ANGELES A teenager facing drunken driving charges in a Nevada freeway crash that killed five members of a family was a fugitive from a California juvenile facility, according to an elected official who said Thursday he wants to know whether anyone was trying to find the escapee.
Todd Spitzer, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, said the panel only recently learned about the fugitive status of Jean Ervin Soriano, even though the escape occurred March 1.
Spitzer sent a list of questions to county probation officials asking for answers but said the response has been unsatisfactory.
"What did we do, if anything, and could we have done something to prevent this tragedy?" Spitzer asked. "I don't have the answers. I've demanded the answers, but haven't gotten them."
Gail Krause, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, said she didn't know if the department helped search for Soriano. The county probation department, which oversees the juvenile facility, declined to comment.
Soriano, 18, was arrested Saturday after the SUV he was driving rear-ended a van on a freeway outside Las Vegas. He told the arresting trooper he had "too many" beers before the crash, according to an arrest report.
Three men, a woman and a girl all from Southern California were killed. Troopers said most of the passengers in the van were thrown from the vehicle as it overturned in the desert. Two other people were injured in the crash.
CBS Los Angeles identified the deceased as: 53-year-old Belen Fernandez of Lynwood; 49-year-old Raudel Fernandez-Avila of Lynwood; 45-year-old Leonardo Fernandez-Avila of Los Angeles; 41-year-old Genaro Fernandez of Norwalk; and 13-year-old Angela Sandoval of Los Angeles.
Soriano was being held on $3.5 million bail.