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Carlos Cisneros (14) was killed when a car crammed with eight youths slammed into a pole during a street race
Published: Sep 27, 2008 @ 9:24 AM
Carlos Cisneros (14)
Feb 19, 2007
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A 14-year-old boy died and three of his friends were critically injured when a car crammed with eight youths slammed into a pole during a late night street race in Riverside, police said Monday.
One of the injured boys who regained consciousness told his sister in the hospital that he and the 14-year-old were in the trunk of the car.
Carlos Cisneros died at 7:55 a.m. Monday at Riverside Community Hospital, according to the Riverside County coroner's office.
The unlicensed driver was arrested and booked on suspicion of street racing and could face vehicular manslaughter charges, police said. The boy's father, Joel Zarate, identified his son, also named Joel, as the driver.
Carlos' father, Carlos Sr., stood with a blank stare in the driveway of the family's home Monday afternoon.
"What do I say?" he said in Spanish, struggling to hold back tears.
Carlos Cisneros was one of eight teenagers in a Honda Accord that ran into a light pole 11 p.m. Sunday on Tyler Street near Norte Vista High School and Eureka Drive, police spokesman Steven Frasher said. A witness told police the Accord was traveling about 100 mph. Police are searching for the other vehicle and three other passengers from the Honda who left the scene before police arrived.
Police could not confirm that any passengers were in the trunk. They also declined to identify the driver.
One of the injured boys, Ivan Torres, 15, told his sister, Blanca Torres, 23, that the Honda was packed and that he didn't want Carlos to be alone in the trunk, so he joined him. Ivan and his brother, Christian, 17, were at Riverside County Regional Medical Center on Monday.
Christian was on life support Monday evening, Blanca Torres said. He suffered broken hips and bleeding in the brain, she said.
Charly Garcia, 15, was in Riverside Community Hospital, said his sister Janitzia Garcia, 18. Charly was unconscious, suffering from bruised lungs, pelvic injuries and breathing problems, she said.
New Laws on Racing
California laws that took effect last month banned passengers from riding in a car trunk and added stiffer penalties for those convicted of illegal racing, especially in cases in which injuries occurred.
Four of the teens were thrown from the vehicle. Not all of the occupants were wearing seat belts, Frasher said.
Joel Zarate said he visited his son at Riverside Juvenile Hall on Monday morning. The man said he asked his son whether he was street racing. The teenager -- who was sobbing during much of the visit -- answered, 'No,' the father said in Spanish.
After visiting the accident scene, Zarate said he doubted his son was telling the truth.
"It's such a strong impact," Zarate said Monday as he stood amid the accident scene. He was holding a blood-stained piece of what he believed was part of a door of the 2005 Honda, which he said belonged to his wife. Zarate said he allowed his son to borrow the car.
A broken concrete light pole lay on the ground nearby, wires protruding from the base of the pole.
Zarate said his son told him that a car driven by someone he didn't know deliberately pushed against the Honda, causing him to lose control.
"But if you're driving normally and a car pushes you, you're not going to knock over a pole," he said.
Zarate said that his son, a junior at Norte Vista High School, did not have a driver's license. He said his son asked him earlier Sunday evening to borrow the car to go to a nearby Jack in the Box, and then called to say he had stopped at a friend's house. The man said his son was not injured in the accident.
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Parents can face a charge if they knowingly allow an unlicensed driver to use the vehicle, said police Sgt. Skip Showalter.
The teenagers were attending a party Sunday night that police closed down because of noise complaints, said Oscar Torres, Ivan and Christian's brother, who also was at the party.
Joel Zarate offered several partygoers a ride, Oscar Torres, 19, said. They planned to go back to the Torres' house. Carlos lived across the street from the Torres brothers. They were lifelong friends who enjoyed skateboarding and listening to hip-hop and rap music, according to family members.
Oscar Torres said he followed the Honda in another car. At Arlington and La Sierra avenues, the Honda began racing with a Toyota, Oscar Torres said. At one point the Honda went into the oncoming lane, swerved to avoid hitting a truck and fishtailed. The car slammed into a pole, throwing several occupants into the air, Torres said.
Charly and Christian landed on the sidewalk, Oscar Torres said. Christian was bleeding from the nose and mouth. He said he tried to console his younger brother by telling him jokes. Ivan and Carlos ended up on the street, Oscar Torres said.
Janitzia Garcia said she was supposed to pick up Charly from the house party. He called at 10:22 p.m. and said he was ready to go. But she was at Universal Studios in Universal City, she said.
Norte Vista High School principal Santos Campos said he and school administrative staff were putting together a crisis team to help students deal with their grief today. At least three of the victims attended Norte Vista. Carlos went to county community schools, according to his father.
The principal said staffers were going to "monitor the feeling and tone" of returning students and possibly set up "bereavement rooms."
Carlos' uncle, Daniel Diaz, said his nephew had a charming smile and loved dirt bikes.
"It's always the best kid who's the one who goes," he said.
He also helped his mother translate words into English and always helped her load groceries into the car, relatives and neighbors said.
All day long, Carlos' mother repeated, "Who's going to help me now?" they said.
Anyone with information on the accident is asked to call Detective Ken Madsen at 951-353-7989.
Street-racing crash kills 1 teen, critically injures 3
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