The driver of a Nissan sedan that crashed into the wall of a concrete freeway underpass in Burbank in September, killing himself and four passengers, had marijuana and more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, according to reports released by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.
Stephen Stoll, 23, and four passengers in the car - Sebastian Forero, 20; Malak Hariri, 19; Sameer Nevarez, 18; and Sugey Cuevas, 19 - were killed Sept. 28, when the car crashed into the freeway abutment underneath the 5 Freeway on San Fernando Road around 4 a.m. and erupted in flames soon after.
One passenger, Savannah Underwood, 18, was able to crawl from the vehicle before it became engulfed in flames. She suffered a broken pelvis and other injuries but is expected to fully recover.
The driver and Nevarez, who was in the front passenger seat, were both wearing seat belts, according to the autopsy reports. The passengers killed in the backseat were not, and it is unknown if Underwood was wearing one.
There were six people in the car, which is only equipped with five seat belts.
Stoll's blood-alcohol content was 0.18 percent at the time of the crash, more than double the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent. The coroner's report indicates the four passengers who died were also highly intoxicated.
Nevarez and Forero had marijuana in their system, and Forero's tests also indicated the presence of the drug Ecstasy, according to the toxicology reports.Drug paraphernalia was found in the car as well, including a glass pipe, a "green leafy substance" and an empty small plastic bag with skulls on it - often associated with drug transport.
Investigators said all six had been at a house party before the accident. Responding firefighters reported smelling alcohol on Underwood's breath, according to The Associated Press.
The Burbank Police Department is continuing to investigate the solo crash but has said speed played a factor. The report noted that, by Underwood's account, the car was "traveling faster than freeway speeds on the surface street" prior to the crash. The speed limit along the stretch of road near the Scott Road off-ramp drops quickly from 65 mph to 40 at the point of the turn into the tunnel underpass. Stoll lost control of the car, investigators said, crashed through a guardrail and crashed into the cement freeway abutment. Underwood was able to crawl from the car, and a bakery delivery man heard her screams. He carried her away from the crash, and she reportedly asked him to help her friends. When he turned back to the car, he heard a series of small explosions and saw the car on fire.
When firefighters and paramedics arrived on scene, the car was completely engulfed. All five died of a combination of injuries from the crash and the subsequent fire.The six occupants were recent graduates of area high schools, and the community was shocked by the violent crash. Makeshift memorials of flowers, candles and signs expressing grief and condolences, sprang up at the site.
Grief counselors were called to Burbank and John Burroughs high schools to help students, staff and faculty deal with the sudden loss.
The Burbank City Council observed a moment of silence in memory of the young adults in the week following the crash, with Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy issuing a statement on behalf of the city. "A tragedy of this magnitude affects the entire community, particularly one as close knit as Burbank," she said in the statement.
Los Angeles Daily News