DUI arrest in O.C. canyon crashes that kill 1, injure 6

A 19-year-old from Irvine has been arrested on suspicion of felony manslaughter after an early morning crash in Silverado Canyon that left a 16-year-old girl dead and six others injured.

Antonio Escamilla of Irvine was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and felony vehicular manslaughter, said Todd Kovaletz, spokesman for California Highway Patrol.

At about 1:30 a.m., two 2006 Honda Civics were traveling south about 70 mph on Santiago Canyon Road when the driver of the front car slammed his brakes to avoid hitting a deer, authorities said.

Escamilla, who was following close behind in the other car, also hit his brakes but lost control and slammed into a tree after going off an embankment, officials said.

One of his passengers, Marie Johnson, 16, was ejected from the vehicle and died of her injuries, Kovaletz said.

Two other passengers in the car, a 17-year-old girl and 20-year-old man, were wearing selt belts and escaped serious injury.

The other Civic, carrying three men, 17, 20 and 21 years old, also lost control, crashed and rolled, injuring all in the car.

Because the two cars didn’t collide, CHP is treating the crashes as separate incidents.

Escamilla suffered major injuries and is being treated at Western Medical Center Santa Ana, where he is technically in custody. 

“It doesn’t appear they were racing, but it’s much too early to say,” Kovaletz said.

Adolfo writes for the Los Angeles Times. He can be reached at adolfo.flores@latimes.com.


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