Death of YouTube star ‘McSkillet’ in wrong-way freeway crash that killed three ruled accidental
Days before an 18-year-old YouTube star, known to his fans as “McSkillet,” caused a head-on car crash that killed him and two others, he began having what he described as a “meltdown,” an episode the San Diego County medical examiner’s office said was suggestive of manic behavior, according to a new autopsy report.
Trevor James Heitmann never slowed down or tried to swerve on Aug. 23 as he sped at more than 100 mph in the wrong direction on the 805 Freeway in his McLaren sports car toward an SUV driven by Aileen Pizarro, 43, who was accompanied by her 12-year-old daughter, Aryana Pizarro, the report states.
Heitmann, Pizarro and her daughter were killed on impact, with Pizarro’s Hyundai SUV bursting into flames, officials said.
Despite his driving on the wrong side of the freeway and never slowing down or trying to avoid the crash, Heitmann’s death was ruled an accident by the medical examiner’s office. Heitmann left no suicide note, had no history of depression or suicidal tendencies and had not been officially diagnosed with a mental illness.
A toxicology report detected no signs of alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of his death.
Heitmann, better known as “McSkillet” to his nearly 900,000 YouTube subscribers, had made a small fortune selling slick decals, or “skins,” for guns and other weapons in the “Counter-Strike” series of video games, according to Kevin Hitt, editor-in-chief of online gaming news outlet VPEsports.com.
“McSkillet” and others in the online video game gambling world would take bets on the potential value of skins, and third-party sites would use software to assign a dollar value to different styles of skins, based on their relative rarity, Hitt said. Other sites would make the payouts to bettors, taking a commission.
But sometime in the weeks or months before his death, Heitmann lost his source of income when “Counter-Strike” developer Valve, under constraints from the state of Washington gambling commission, confiscated about $200,000 worth of McSkillet’s skins and shut down his ability to acquire more, Hitt said.
Heitmann’s autopsy report did not make clear if his behavior in the days before the crash was associated with his loss of income, which was likely substantial.
In a YouTube video posted by “McSkillet” in December, Heitmann showed off his handmade British luxury car — which likely would have cost him $250,000 or more — and said he could afford it because he had “made a ton” of money online.
But Heitmann’s income source was gone in mid-August when, according to an investigation that was part of the autopsy, his parents said his behavior began to change. Two days before the fatal crash, Heitmann told his mother he’d driven the McLaren at 150 mph on the wrong side of a street where the posted speed limit was 25 mph.
“When told he could not drive in that manner he replied, ‘I can do it,’” the autopsy report said. “The father then asked him what he thought would happen if police caught him and the decedent responded that ‘neither the police nor their bullets could hurt him.’”
Heitmann’s behavior continued to be “erratic and irrational” on the morning of the crash, when his parents called San Diego police to request a psychiatric evaluation. They were informed by police that “the evaluation could not be performed as [Heitmann] had not broken any laws,” the autopsy report said.
While sobbing later that morning, Heitmann said he was having a “breakdown” before he went to sleep for four hours, according to the report. When he awoke, he told his family he had to go. His father told him he couldn’t leave, but Heitmann ignored him and got into his McLaren.
Heitmann’s father had blocked the McLaren with his own vehicle outside their home in Carmel Valley, but Heitmann rammed his father’s vehicle until he could maneuver out of the driveway.
A short time after leaving his home, and about 20 minutes before the deadly crash, Heitmann smashed the McLaren through a metal gate and drove onto a field at Ashley Falls Elementary School in Carmel Valley, authorities have said. Witnesses said he got out of the car, smashed a window at the school and then left.
California Highway Patrol investigators believe Heitmann entered the northbound 805 Freeway, heading the wrong direction, at Carroll Canyon Road. He was speeding south at least 100 mph in the northbound HOV lanes about 4:40 p.m. just north of La Jolla Village Drive when he slammed into the Pizarros’ SUV.
Other cars hit the flaming wreckage, causing at least one serious injury.
Aileen and Aryana Pizarro — who lived in the College Area with Aileen’s father, Miguel Pizarro, and her two sons, 22-year-old Dominic Pizarro and 19-year-old Angelo Pizarro — were headed to Orange County when they were killed.
Aileen Pizarro was a marriage and family counselor working toward becoming a licensed therapist. Her son Dominic said her passion was working with children who had been removed from abusive homes.
Aryana Pizarro was musically talented, like her brothers, and wanted to be a jazz singer. She was set to start seventh grade on Aug. 27, four days after the collision.
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