Driver in Calif crash that killed 5 unlicensed

AP News
Posted: May 29, 2013 8:35 PM
Driver in Calif crash that killed 5 unlicensed

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The young man identified by a coroner as the driver in a single-car crash that killed five teenagers did not have a driver's license or a learner's permit, California DMV officials said Wednesday.

Abdulrahman M. Alyahyan applied for a license after his 16th birthday in 2012 but the Saudi Arabian native didn't provide required documentation proving his legal presence in the U.S., said Jan Mendoza, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Alyahan tried again in February, after turning 17, and had his picture taken by the DMV but still did not provide the proper documents, she said.

His application was still pending when he drove his Infiniti G35 into a tree in a single-car accident that also killed four teenage friends.

"This person was never licensed, period," Mendoza said.

The accident in Newport Beach split the car in half and left it engulfed in flames. Four of the teens were ejected and pronounced dead at the scene; a fifth died at a hospital.

The victims — two boys and three girls — were all enrolled at schools in the Irvine Unified School District and included a pair of sisters.

Speed was a factor in the crash, according to Newport Beach police.

Friends said Alyahyan was obsessed with his car and spent hours working on it and driving it around with his best friend, Nozad Al Hamawendi, who also died in the crash.

Alyahyan was a senior at University High School.

"Abdul loved cars. He took care of his car as if it was a human being," said friend Ibrahim Razzak, a junior at the school.

Alyahyan's passengers included 17-year-old Robin Cabrera, a senior at Irvine High, and her 16-year-old sister Aurora, a sophomore at the same school.

Also killed were Cecilia Zamora and Al Hamawendi, both 17-year-old juniors at Irvine High.

Police declined to discuss the license status of any of the teens in the car, citing the ongoing investigation.

They also declined to say who was driving the car, although the Orange County coroner said Tuesday that Alyahyan was behind the wheel.

Orange County Superior Court records show Alyahyan was cited in April by Irvine police for violating the terms of a provisional license, modifying the exhaust system of his car and having an obstructed view.

The DMV said it had no record of those violations, which occurred as his license application was still pending.

Alyahyan's brother declined to give his name or speak to The Associated Press when reached by phone on Wednesday.

Autopsies were scheduled for Thursday and toxicology test results will take several weeks, said Jim Amormino, the Orange County sheriff's spokesman.

Friends said the five teens were headed to the beach for a fun Memorial Day when the tragedy unfolded on a busy thoroughfare that connects Orange County's interior with Pacific Coast Highway and its beaches.

Authorities said the wreck was one of the worst in Newport Beach in recent memory. The car hit a tree in the median, shearing it of its bark and leaving deep gouges in the trunk.

At least one of Alyahyan's friends, Tamer Mosallam, felt the Infiniti was a bit too much for such a young driver.

Mosallam was to have been the sixth teen on the beach outing, but backed out after his father ordered him to stay home and study for a test, he said.

"The car was too powerful for him. I've been in the car with him and I've driven it too," Mosallam told the AP. "It's not really a car that kids should be driving."


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