CHP says alcohol was involved in triple fatal crash

TULARE, Calif.

A white cross is adorned with candles on northbound Highway 99 just south of Avenue 264 in Tulare. On it reads the names of three people killed in a car crash at the site late Saturday night.

The driver 18-year-old /*Rey Maldonado*/, 19-year-old /*Jennifer Avina*/ and 22-year-old /*Victor Rivera*/ were all killed when Maldonado lost control and crashed his 1991 Mazda into a tree. The California Highway Patrol says alcohol was likely a factor in the crash. Officer Scott Harris says based on the impact of the crash, Maldonado was likely speeding, too.

The mangled car could be seen at Freedom Towing's yard. Employees at the tow service said the car was almost in two pieces. They say it took three hours to remove it from the tree.

The CHP says Rey Maldonado was the only person wearing a seatbelt. There were also six people in the car that seats only five. 19-year-old Jennifer Avina was sitting in the back.

At Tulare Union High School, school officials had counselors on hand to help students struggling with the loss.

The three surviving victims of the crash were 17-year-old Crystal Garcia, 18-year-old Isabel Aguadio, and 24-year-old Mario Santana. Their injuries are moderate to major.

The CHP is looking into who supplied alcohol to the minors and whether any charges will be filed.

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