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Juvenile driver suspected in fatal Mission Valley crash arraigned

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Posted at 1:28 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 16:28:29-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 17-year-old boy who was allegedly behind the wheel during a solo-vehicle crash in Mission Valley that killed two teenage passengers and injured two others pleaded not guilty to multiple charges Thursday during an arraignment conducted at a Hillcrest hospital room.

The unidentified teen was allegedly driving a 2008 BMW that veered off a freeway off-ramp and caught fire around 3:15 a.m. Saturday, killing two 15-year-old boys, according to the California Highway Patrol. Relatives and officials identified the two deceased teens as Gustavo Beltran and David Chavez.

The crash occurred on the off-ramp from southbound state Route 163 to westbound Interstate 8, according to the CHP.

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Due to the driver's age, prosecutors declined to comment on what charges he's facing, his current medical condition or the conditions of the two surviving passengers. Deputy District Attorney Hung Bach told reporters outside UC San Diego Medical Center the boy will be transferred to juvenile hall upon his release from the hospital. He is due in court Feb. 26 for a readiness conference.

Though prosecutors declined to discuss specifics on the circumstances behind the crash, Officer Salvador Castro of the California Highway Patrol said the driver was arrested Saturday at a hospital on suspicion of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

All five boys range in age from 15 to 19 and were friends, Castro said.

The driver and two other teens were able to escape the burning vehicle, but two boys were trapped in the back seat, Castro said. Their bodies were found after firefighters put out the flames.