POSTED: 8:48 a.m. HST, Apr 1, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 12:00 p.m. HST, Apr 1, 2013
LAS VEGAS >> A rural Nevada judge set bail at $3.5 million today for a California teenager jailed in Las Vegas on felony drunk driving charges in a weekend crash that killed five family members on an interstate northeast of Las Vegas.
Jean Ervin Soriano, 18, told Moapa Justice of the Peace Ruth Kolhoss that he used to live in California, but now lives in St. George, Utah, and has no ties to Nevada, prosecutor Brian Rutledge said.
Soriano didn’t name the California city, and said he couldn’t remember his exact current address. He told the judge he had been arrested before, Rutledge said.
The judge set an April 10 arraignment date in Moapa and told Soriano he will be represented by a public defender, court clerk Deanne Hartson said. He could face eight to 20 years in years in state prison if convicted of seven felony charges of driving under the influence causing death or substantial bodily harm.
Soriano was hospitalized for several hours after the 2:53 a.m. Saturday crash on Interstate 15 about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and taken to the Clark County jail, the Nevada Highway Patrol said.
An arrest report made public Monday said he told the arresting trooper he had “too many” beers before the crash. NHP Trooper Loy Hixson said several beer bottles were found in the 1999 Dodge Durango he admitted driving.
The five people killed — three men, a woman and a girl from Los Angeles, Lynwood and Norwalk, Calif. — were in a Chevrolet Astro van that was hit from behind by a Dodge Durango driven by Soriano. Troopers said most of the passengers in the van were thrown from the vehicle as it overturned in the desert.
The dead were identified as Genaro Fernandez, 41, of Norwalk; Raudel Fernandez-Avila, 49, and Belen Fernandez, 53, both of Lynwood; and Angela Sandoval, 13, and Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, both of Los Angeles.
Family members told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that the three men were brothers who were returning from visiting their ailing father in Denver.
Soriano and a 23-year-old passenger in his SUV and two other people in the van also were injured in the crash.
A 15-year-old boy and 40-year-old woman who were in the van were upgraded Sunday from critical to serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, the NHP said.
The unnamed passenger from Soriano’s vehicle was treated at UMC and released.
A truck driver told investigators that he saw Soriano and his passenger walk away from the crash, then return before rescue crews arrived.
Rutledge said results of a blood-alcohol test on Soriano were pending.
Associated Press writer Martin Griffith in Reno contributed to this report.