Ding Dong Ditch Gone Wrong…?


LilyRose Cartwright, staff writer

Before informing on the trial that has just recently happened, it is essential to know what happened on January 20, 2020.

On January 20, 2020, six teenagers were having a sleepover when they “dared” one of the six friends to either play a “ding-dong-ditch” prank on a stranger’s house that lived nearby or jump into a pool at night. (this is ringing the doorbell quickly and running/driving away as fast as possible) When these teens arrived, one friend rang the doorbell and returned to the car where the other teen boys were (Prius). As this was happening, the homeowner chased him to their vehicle. (the homeowner’s name is Anurag Chandra)

As the Toyota Prius drove away, the man continued chasing these kids on his 2019 Infinity Q50; the homeowner impacted the back of the Prius, veering the vehicle off the road and into a tree near “Squaw Mountain Road.”

At this horrific scene, one of the six teens died on sight; his name was Jacob Ivascu. Two other teens, Drake Ruiz, and Daniel Hawkins, died “after being transported to a hospital” (according to a CHP news release). Fortunately, firefighters arrived on time to free the remaining three teens stuck in the crashed vehicle. According to another CHP news release, the surviving kids included; “the 18-year-old driver, a 13-year-old, and a 14-year-old.” Three teens killed in Temescal Valley crash were 'inseparable' – Press Enterprise

Despite this Fatality being in 2020, the trial happened on April 29, 2023. During this trial, Anurag Chandra’s attorney stated that the teen boy that rang the doorbell had exposed his buttocks, and he “feared his family’s safety” because his daughter was home. He also claimed he wanted to express his anger because he was “extremely, extremely mad” from this ding-dong-ditch prank.

Although it was later brought to light that Chandra had also testified that he drank “12 beers in the hours before the crash” (reported by newspapers). He also confessed he “did not stop after rear-ending the sedan because he did not realize anyone had been injured.” Still, later on, through “cross-examination,” he had admitted he was driving 99 mph before making contact with the Prius.

Before-hand of this trial, family members described the boys who had died as “fun-loving, goofy, and full of life.” Church leaders also revealed they were part of a youth group. As well as the father of one of the boys stated, “They Ding dong ditch deaths: California teens remembered for humor, faith relished living … life itself was celebratory.” However, this father also said that these boys were excited to have a sleepover and planned to eat junk food and play video games.

The verdict of this trial ended up being that Anurag Chandra was guilty, and he was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder and will be in jail for the rest of his life. Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement also stated, “The murder of these young men was a horrendous and senseless tragedy for our community. I thank the jury for their verdict. This is an important step toward justice.”

During this trial, the family and friends of the victims had attended, as well as the three teen boys who survived the crash, and according to the Riverside Press-enterprise, many of these people were said to be sobbing as verdicts were read.

“We are happy to see justice was served even though in this day and age it is hard to come by,” Alex Ivascu, the father of two of the teens in the car, told the news outlet. “But we had a reasonable jury that looked at the facts and realized that the facts speak louder than words.”