2 dead after running from police in Porterville

February 26, 2013 12:03:44 AM PST
Two teenagers are dead following a Monday night crash that all started with a DUI-related traffic stop.

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An 18-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl died when their car crashed. An 18-year-old girl survived and police say she has minor injuries.

Porterville investigators spent most of Monday night on scene of a tragic car accident that killed two teenagers and injured another.

On Tuesday, the family members of Elias Vargas, 18, who police now say was the driver in the crash, visited the area where it happened.

Scuff marks on the grass show where the car flipped over several times before crashing into a tree by the Barn Theater on Plano near Olive Street in Porterville.

Porterville police say the crash all started with a traffic stop on Highway 190 and Plano Street at around 9:30 Monday night. Police say at the time, Juan Carlos Hernandez, 24, was driving Vargas' car intoxicated and had run a red light. When an officer tried to pull him over, Hernandez at first tried to get away. Then, as the officer was arresting him, Elias Vargas jumped in the driver's seat and sped away, ultimately crashing a mile down the road. The impact killed Vargas and a 15-year-old girl whose name is not being released. Bianka Ashley Romero, 18, was sitting in the front passenger seat. She survived.

Investigators will be spending the week pulling apart the car's wreckage. Police say Vargas did have some run-ins with them before and they're looking into whether his past is tied to the accident.

As police try to piece together what happened, Elias Vargas' family is mourning his loss. They say the 18-year-old was the youngest of five children and was close to his family.

The survivor in the crash is still being treated at Kaweah Delta Medical Center for a number of broken bones. She's expected to be released sometime this week.


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