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Teen driver in fatal O.C. crash may have been going 100 mph

Highway and Road DisastersTransportation DisastersPoliticsPublic Officials

An Irvine teenager who lost control of his car and crashed into a tree in Newport Beach, killing himself and four passengers, may have been going as fast as 100 mph, a Newport Beach city official said.

While the investigation into the Monday evening collision continues, Newport Beach police have said speed was definitely a factor in the fiery wreck.

Adulrahman M. Alyahyan, 17, was driving his 2008 Infiniti down Jamboree Road toward Newport Harbor at a high rate of speed about 5:20 p.m., police said. The stretch of road where he crashed is a downhill straightaway with a 55 mph speed limit.

Photos: Five killed in Newport Beach crash

Alyahyan lost control and the Infiniti drove head-on into a tree in the road’s median, splitting the car in two and killing Alyahyan and his four passengers: Irvine High School 11th-graders Nozad Al Hamawendi and Cecilia D. Zamora, both 17; and sisters Robin A. Cabrera, 17, a 12th-grader, and Aurora "Christine" Cabrera, 16.

Police said they have not determined how fast the vehicle was going at the time, but Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry told the Daily Pilot he heard it may have been upward of 100 mph.

Unfortunately, Curry and other city officials said, the city has little to do with setting speed limits on city streets.

"We can't simply change the speed limits because we believe they're unsafe," Curry said in a phone message Wednesday. "We have to set them in accordance with state law. Otherwise, we can't write enforceable tickets."

The high school junior, records show, was pulled over last month just blocks from his Irvine home and cited for making a prohibited modification to the exhaust system of his gray 2008 Infiniti—which bore the personalized license plate "KHASONA"—and having tinted windows that obstructed the driver's view.

Although the citation lists a driver's license number, a DMV official said that number actually corresponded with Alyahyan's application for a license.

Friends said all five were headed to the beach to celebrate the holiday and that a sixth student was to have joined them but chose not to go at the last minute.

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jill.cowan@latimes.com

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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