Coroner's investigators confirmed Wednesday that the three bodies recovered from a mangled pickup truck discovered at the bottom of a deep ravine in the Angeles National Forest were those of three missing Fontana teens.
Daniel Gamboa, 19; Kasey Vance, 18; and Samantha Ornelas, 17, suffered traumatic injuries as a result of the crash, said Brian Elias, department chief for the L.A. County medical examiner-coroner.
Authorities are still investigating the matter, but so far, Elias said it appears the trio died accidentally. An official cause of death will be determined after autopsies are performed.
Fontana Unified School District said Wednesday it was saddened to learn about the deadly crash involving the three teens. Two of them graduated last year from Summit High School. Ornelas would have started her senior year on Thursday, the district said in a statement.
"We are all grieving this loss; it is especially sad when teens who have so much ahead of them are taken so early," the district said. "As our students return to school from summer recess, we will provide crisis counselors to offer support on the Summit campus for students and staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families as they cope with this devastating loss."
Samantha's sister, Isabel Ornelas, has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral expenses.
"Our loss came so tragic and quickly," she said.
The friends told family on Saturday that they were going hiking in the Angeles National Forest, and possibly heading to Mt. Wilson. When they failed to return home Monday, their families reported them missing and Fontana police held a press conference asking for the public's help in locating them.
Later that day, authorities received a report of fresh skid marks on Angeles Crest Highway, near mile marker 40. A Los Angeles County sheriff's helicopter was sent to survey the scene and spotted Gamboa's white 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup truck in an area known as the Trees of Color.
California Highway Patrol Officer Ryan Bejar said the area where the truck left the roadway is one of the steepest drops along the entire Angles Crest Highway. Although the bodies of the teens were recovered, the crumpled truck was deemed "unreachable" and will probably remain at the bottom of the ravine, he said.
The fresh tire marks appear to show that the vehicle was eastbound on the highway and rounding a curve when the driver hit the brakes hard and went over the edge, according to the CHP.
"Speed may have been a factor in the crash," Bejar said.
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