Toxicology report: Alcohol, drugs factors in crash that killed five

Toxicology report: Alcohol, drugs factors in crash that killed five
Burbank police investigate the scene of a single-vehicle multiple fatality accident on the southbound 5 freeway at the Scott Road off ramp. The incident was reported early Saturday morning. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Alcohol, drugs and a high rate of speed appear to have been factors in a fiery car wreck in September that claimed the lives of five young people and left one severely injured, records show.

The driver of the Nissan Altima involved in the single-car crash, Stephen Stoll, 23, had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, according to toxicology reports released Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Coroner's office.

Stoll also reportedly had marijuana in his system.

The vehicle, which was equipped with five seat belts, was traveling southbound on San Fernando Boulevard at a high speed at around 4 a.m. on Sept. 28 when Stoll lost control near the Scott Road off-ramp.

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After the vehicle slammed into a guard rail and a concrete freeway abutment, it caught fire. The lone survivor, Savannah Underwood, 18, managed to crawl out of the vehicle before it caught fire. She sustained broken bones in her right leg and a crushed pelvis from the crash.

The four passengers killed – identified as Malak Hariri, 19, Sugey Cuevas, 19, Sebastian Forero, 20, and Sameer Nevarez, 18 – also reportedly had alcohol in their systems. The driver and front passenger Nevarez were wearing seat belts, while the other three who were killed were not, records show. The report does not state if Underwood was wearing a seat belt.

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According to the records released, the victims were seen drinking at a house party.

At 10:33 p.m. the night before the wreck, Cuevas posted a message on Twitter about craving vodka and cocaine. A "green leafy substance" and a glass pipe were located in Underwood's purse, records show.

After the crash, Underwood reportedly told authorities they were traveling "faster than freeway speeds on the surface streets." The speed limit on the roadway where the crash occurred is 40 miles per hour.

Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse said the police investigation into the cause of the wreck remains ongoing, as authorities are still doing tests to determine the speed at which the vehicle was traveling, and whether any mechanical issues contributed to the crash.

In the weeks after the accident, friends said the deadly crash was a wake up call for Burbank's youth.

Shortly after the crash, a friend of the victims created an online pledge in which she vowed never to allow herself, or others, to drink and drive.

"Take the names from a bag and pick because we all have put (ourselves) in these horrible situations thinking we are invincible," one signatory wrote on the pledge site.

More than 600 people – friends and family of the victims, along with strangers – took the online pledge.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.