Two teen-agers camping overnight at San Onofre State Park were killed instantly early Sunday when a car veered off a narrow access road and slammed into their tent, crushing them as they slept, officials said.
The car, a Ford Mustang, apparently traveled down the wrong side of the winding road before jumping from the pavement and plowing into the teen-agers' nearby car, hurling it 180 feet, investigators said. The Mustang careened off the car and ended up on top of the bodies. It was disabled by the crash, but the driver ran away, officials said.
Several hours later, a suspect reportedly was arrested in southeast Los Angeles County, but California Highway Patrol officers would not disclose his identify or provide further details.
Graham Jacob Grubb, 18, of Laguna Niguel, a freshman at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, and his girlfriend, Amanda Jocon Ciskowski, 19, of San Diego, an entering freshman at San Diego City College, died of head injuries, according to the San Diego County coroner's office.
Both were described by family members as highly motivated students. Grubb was an ardent environmentalist and a former Dana Hills High School surf team member. Ciskowski, whom he had been dating for about three months, enjoyed helping the elderly and worked at a retirement home in San Diego, her mother, Connie, said.
"This was their last weekend together before my daughter started college on Monday," said the grief-stricken Ciskowski. "She had taken the train to Mission Viejo on Friday."
The site of the fatal accident is a popular state park in San Diego County, just south of San Clemente and the Orange County line. Apparently because all the regular campsites were full, the teen-agers pitched their tent near the parking lot off old Highway 101, 5.6 miles south of Basilone Road, according to a CHP spokesman. The area is not designated for campers.
Investigators believe that the accident occurred between 12:30 and 3 a.m. Sunday, when the teen-agers' bodies were found by early-morning surfers, said San Diego County Deputy Coroner Cal Vine.
Although CHP dispatchers declined to confirm that a suspect had been arrested, Newport Beach attorney Thomas Garrett, a friend of Graham Grubb and his father and stepmother, said that he had been told by the CHP that a suspect had been traced from the car left behind. The suspect was arrested "somewhere around Montebello or Santa Fe Springs" and taken to Vista, in San Diego County, on suspicion of felony hit and run and manslaughter, Garrett said.
"I was told that the camp place looked as if it had been hit by a bomb," he added.
Garrett legally represents the publication business of Jake Grubb, Graham's father. He was at the Grubb home in Laguna Niguel on Sunday helping to comfort the family and handling calls from law enforcement agencies.
In Laguna Niguel on Sunday afternoon, Grubb's stepmother described him as a happy, caring young man who had fallen deeply in love with Amanda Ciskowski.
She said Graham met Amanda at his cousin's birthday party. The two found they had many things in common, said stepmother Mary Mayer-Grubb. They were left-handed; they loved the outdoors; and both were very shy.
Although they lived nearly 50 miles from each other, the teen-agers talked on the telephone constantly and took turns visiting each other every weekend, Graham's stepmother said. Often they went to the beach and hiked, she added.
In the youth's room, a giant map of California campgrounds is taped to the bedroom door, and dozens of surfing posters hang from the ceiling and walls. Like other surfing enthusiasts, Graham had several surfboards, two leaning in corners of his room, another two on the floor. A mountain bike was parked neatly against one wall, and on top of his bed were some fishing poles carefully tied together.
"He loved camping, fishing, surfing, anything with nature," Mayer-Grubb said as she showed Graham's room to a visitor. "He wanted to work with environmental issues when he got out of college. He cared about a lot of things teen-agers don't even think of."
Grubb was a June graduate of Dana Hills High School. In addition to his father and stepmother in Laguna Niguel, he is survived by his mother, Sharon Modest of San Diego; a 9-year-old half brother, Michael Harris; and a 1 1/2-year-old half sister, Hallie Grubb.
In San Diego, Connie Ciskowski tearfully described her daughter as being "a person who dearly loved caring for old people."
Amanda was a June graduate of Coronado High School and had worked for three years at the Coronado Royale Retirement Home, saving money for college, where she intended to major in fine arts, her mother said.
Ciskowski is survived by her parents, John and Connie Ciskowski, and a 25-year-old sister, Cynthia, all of San Diego.
Funeral arrangements for both victims were pending on Sunday. The family of Graham Grubb, however, said they are requesting that, in lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy take the form of donations to the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental organization based in Huntington Beach.
Billiter reported from Costa Mesa, and Eng reported from San Onofre. Times staff writers Jeannette Avent and Mike Granberry contributed from San Diego.