SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — An 18-year-old behind the wheel of a sports car involved in a fatal crash on Interstate 805 Thursday reportedly made a small fortune with YouTube videos.
The California Highway Patrol confirmed Trevor Heitmann was behind the wheel of the 2014 McLaren sports car that struck a Hyundai SUV on I-805, killing himself, a 43-year-old Aileen Pizarro and her 12-year-old daughter, Aryana.
Heitmann was traveling southbound in a northbound I-805 HOV lane at more than 100 mph, before colliding with the SUV and causing a chain reaction with at least five other vehicles, according to California Highway Patrol.
Prior to the wreck, CHP said Heitmann’s vehicle was linked to an incident at Ashley Falls Elementary School in which he drove his McLaren through a gate and broke a window.
Questions arose soon after the deadly crash of how an 18-year-old could afford the expensive sports vehicle.
Heitmann, who went by the online persona "OG-McSkillet" according to numerous gaming websites, reportedly made a small fortune through YouTube videos about the video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which were sponsored.
His YouTube channel has nearly 900,000 subscribers and he has at least 200,000 followers on Twitter, offering a glance at the reach his sponsored videos had within the eSports gaming industry.
One of the videos on McSkillet's page shows off a black McLaren and talks about how his earnings as a YouTube and Counter-Strike "Steam" content producer helped pay for the luxury sports car.
Heitmann's popularity surrounded his trading and collection of rare video game content, called "skins," which are pieces of content for Counter-Strike players.
He was banned earlier this year from trading skins with other players by the video game's developer, Valve. The "trade ban" cut him off from his collection, believed to be valued at anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 at the time, and created an issue with his ability to continue producing sponsored videos.
10News spoke to a woman off camera in Carmel Valley who knows the Heitmann's. She said, while Trevor had many fans worldwide, her son was one of his few close friends. According to her, Heitmann dropped out from La Jolla Country Day School. As Heitmann saw his few friends going off to college, she said he felt he was left alone at home.
He was then "trade-banned," his website and merchandise websites were shut down, and his income stopped. She told 10News her son got messages from Heitmann a few weeks ago, rambling, and spewing irrational thoughts. She remembered Heitmann to be a nice young man from a great family. She believed something must have been going on internally for this to happen.
Valve reportedly banned Heitmann over his involvement with the gambling website CSGO Magic, which allowed players to spend actual money for the chance to win skins.
By now, you're wondering what skins are and how they are valued so highly. Here's an explainer on how they work in online gaming:
WHAT ARE SKINS
Skins are unique visual designs for weapons in the online game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). While the skins can be highly valued, they don't change the performance of the game or player, or affect the game's play in any way. They're purely aesthetic.
HOW YOU GET SKINS
Players acquire these special finishes for their weapons as a reward for playing the game, by purchasing them through the game's store, or by purchasing them or trading with another player within Steam, which is where gaming company Valve distributes digital content, like CS:GO, to gamers.
All transactions that occur within Steam's market require players to use digital currency, deposited in a Steam Wallet. Players deposit actual money, say using a Steam gift card, into this online wallet.
Valve takes a 15 percent cut of all purchases made on Steam's market.
Any one item on Steam's marketplace cannot exceed a sale price of $400. Gamers can not have more than $500 in their Steam Wallet. Funds within a Steam Wallet cannot be taken out.
PURCHASES MADE OUTSIDE STEAM
This is where gamers get around Valve's buying and selling requirements.
Players can buy, trade, and sell skins on a third-party website that connects to a player's Steam account, with no price limits.
These third-party sites let customers cash out using services such as PayPal, so money is not locked in their account, like a Steam Wallet.
GAMBLING WITH SKINS
Third-party websites have also allowed for players to gamble with skins.
This is how it works: Players place bets using CS:GO skins on a third-party website. The winner gets their skins back, along with the skins wagered by the losing player.
Players can then turn a profit, selling those skins they've just won through the Steam market or a third-party website — where, as we said above, there are no price limits.
In 2016, Valve cracked down on players betting CS:GO skins, citing violations in their user agreement.
The company sent a cease and desist letter to more than 20 skin betting websites, demanding they stop using their technology as the basis of skin gambling, according to gambling news site The Lines. It's this crackdown that is connected to Heitmann's "trade ban" over involvement with a skin betting website.
Skin betting, at the time, had become a multi-million dollar industry, according to the website.
A STOCK MARKET TRACKS SKIN VALUES
The value of CS:GO skins can fluctuate over time, much like an actual stock. As we now know, this value can range from $0 to $400 in the Steam market.
Values for skins are dictated by how rare they are and how much users are willing to pay. This affects how players trade, buy, and sell – and wager – CS:GO skins.