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Crash on Canyon Road Kills 3 and Injures 2 : Accident: A night of drinking at an Angeles National Forest campsite ends in tragedy when a speeding car carrying five friends overturns on a winding road.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three young friends were killed Saturday and two others seriously injured after a night of drinking at an Angeles National Forest campsite when their speeding car went off a winding canyon road and overturned, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The accident on Big Tujunga Canyon Road north of Sunland occurred after the car containing the four Burbank men and a woman, ages 18 to 24, had stopped so a driver who felt he had too much to drink could relinquish the wheel to another as they headed home, the CHP said.

“They changed drivers part way down the hill,” Sgt. Ron Ainsworth said. “The person who was driving didn’t feel he should drive.”

After the stop, the new driver apparently became mixed up, made a U-turn and began driving north, farther into the forest on the winding, two-lane road. Ainsworth said the car was speeding through a curve when it crossed the southbound lane and hit an embankment.

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The 1989 Mustang hardtop then overturned and rolled back across the street, stopping at the edge of a steep drop-off into the canyon. The crash site, which was strewn with the bodies of the victims along with beer cans and bottles, was discovered at 4:30 a.m. by a passerby.

Authorities said four of the car’s occupants had been ejected--two men, including the driver, landing on the roadway, the woman thrown into a tree, and another man falling 60 feet into the canyon. The two men on the roadway and the woman died.

The first driver survived. He was the only one not ejected because he was the only one wearing a seat belt, Ainsworth said.

Coroner’s investigators identified the dead as Jason Schmidt, 19; Mike Glenn, 19, the driver at the time of the accident, and Teresa Schinkle, 24.

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A spokesman for the coroner’s office said all the victims were from Burbank.

Holy Cross Hospital officials identified the two survivors as Jonathon Manfretti, 18, who was in critical condition with head injuries after falling down the canyon, and Matthew DeAmicis, 19, who was in serious condition with broken bones and a concussion. The CHP said DeAmicis was the driver who had complained that he had drunk too much to drive.

Ainsworth said the accident remains under investigation. It was unclear how fast the car was going when it went out of control and hit the embankment. The tires, the CHP said, left skid marks more than 100 feet long.

“There was some alcohol involved,” Ainsworth said. “They were going up Big Tujunga Canyon Road at an excessive rate of speed and the car went out of control.”

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He said blood tests would be conducted to determine if the driver was drunk. In brief interviews with accident investigators, DeAmicis told investigators that the group had gone to the nearby Monte Cristo campground Friday night to drink beer, Ainsworth said.

“They were all together at the campground,” Ainsworth said. “They had a couple cases.”

It was not known how much each person drank, however. Some of the beer cans found at the crash site had not been opened.

Ainsworth said it is also unclear how long the accident went undiscovered before a county road maintenance supervisor happened by the scene at 4:30 a.m.

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Ainsworth noted that the accident occurred the morning after the CHP kicked off its annual “Lifesaver Weekend,” a public information program designed to warn motorists against drinking and driving during the holidays.


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