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Family, friends identify victims in fatal Irvine crash; Driver was unlicensed, CHP says

5 teenagers were killed in the crash Saturday. A sixth survived as in stable condition at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.
5 teenagers were killed in the crash Saturday. A sixth survived as in stable condition at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.
NBCLA.com

Update 5:05 p.m.: Driver ID'd, suffers from skull fracture

Hospital officials have identified the driver of the vehicle that charged over a guard rail on the I-5 and erupted in flames, killing 5 teenage passengers.

In a brief statement, the hospital said 16-year-old Bradley Morales is recovering from surgery after suffering a large skull fracture and an epidural hematoma.

"Following neurosurgery, he was placed in the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit," the statement said. 

It's not clear whether Morales was thrown from the vehicle or was able to get out on his own. He was the sole survivor of the wreck. 

CHP spokesman Florentino Olivera said detectives are hoping to speak with Morales about how he ended up driving of the BMW without a license.

Olivera said it wasn't yet clear if Morales would be charged for causing the crash, and cautioned that the investigation was still in its early phases.

"Of course, we're going to have to wait and see if he was under the influence of anything at the time he was behind the wheel," Olivera said. "We have to determine why he got behind the wheel, if he had permission to use that vehicle." 

Ultimately, that information will be turned into the Orange County District Attorney's office, who will decide whether to bring charges, Olivera said.

A press conference will be held Monday morning at 11 a.m. to brief the public on the investigation.

3:18 p.m.: Family, friends identify victims in fatal Irvine crash; Driver was unlicensed, CHP says

The California Highway Patrol says the 16-year-old driver of the car that burst into flames early Saturday morning on the I-5 in Irvine, killing 5 teenagers, was not a licensed driver. Meanwhile, family and friends of the victims began to grieve. 

CHP spokesman Florentino Olivera said the car appeared to overrun a barrier on the southbound I-5, at the interchange for Route 133 at around 2:15 a.m. Saturday morning. It then burst into flames.

Officers arriving at the scene waited for firefighters to extinguish the fire. They found the bodies of two males and three females inside the car, Olivera said. 

The driver was found nearby is currently at Mission Hospital in serious but stable condition, Olivera said. 

"We've ran his name and date of birth in our database to check the status of his license and so far no record has come up. So we've determined he's unlicensed,"  he added.

Orange County Coroner's officials are waiting for dental records to identify the victims, Olivera told KPCC. 

KCAL 9 spoke to several friends and family members who identified the two female victims as Jenny Campos and Jennifer Bahena, both from Laguna Hills High School. 

The L.A. Times spoke to a Mission Viejo soccer coach, who identified the remaining victims: 

...[T]hree of the male victims played on a team with the Mission Viejo Soccer Club and their coach, Billy McNicol, and two of the boys' teammates said they have been told that the males killed in the car were Alex Sotelo, Matthew Melo and Brandon Moreno. Alex and Matthew were ninth-graders at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, and Brandon was in eighth grade at Carl Hankey Middle School in Mission Viejo. 

Olivera said officers are hoping to speak with family members to determine where the six were headed. He said investigators are hoping to speak with the driver as well. 

"We're still waiting for officers to complete their investigation. We're waiting for toxicology results to come back. We're still in the preliminary stages of the investigation," he said.