Daniel Hawkins, Jacob Ivascu and Drake Ruiz met at school as fifth-graders in 2014. The trio of California boys became inseparable — even after their deaths in January.
“It was an instant bond — not just a friendship, but they all three believed in God, had the same ideas and were just inseparable,” says Jacob’s mother Ramona Ivascu.
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Jacob was an old soul, a bookworm who loved history. Drake was a rugby player, the class clown with plans to be a firefighter. Daniel, a football star, was a nationally ranked kicker who was on track for a college scholarship.
Although they would later go to different high schools, the 16-year-olds, attended church youth group every Tuesday together and would sleep over at each other’s homes.
On Jan. 19, the boys were together at a sleepover at the Hawkins’ house along with two of their younger siblings and a friend. One thing led to another and they set off for a game of Ding-Dong Ditch, the age-old game where kids ring someone’s doorbell and then run off.
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The three 16-year-olds, along with Jacob’s 14-year-old brother Joshua and Daniel’s 13-year-old brother, also named Joshua, piled into a Toyota Prius driven by their good friend, Sergio Campusano. Then they pulled up to a neighbor’s house.
While the boys watched, Joshua Ivascu rang the doorbell. While he was dashing back to the Prius, he heard someone — later identified by police as Anurag Chandra, 42 — turn the door’s lock.
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While the boy’s drove off, Chandra allegedly got into his Infiniti and chased them down, ultimately colliding with the back of the Prius, causing it to veer off the road and slam into a tree.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department/AP
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The three best friends died. Joshua Ivascu, Joshua Hawkins and Sergio were all hospitalized for injuries ranging from a concussion to fractured vertebrae.
The California Highway Patrol arrested Chandra at his home. He’s charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty on Feb 21.
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The boys’ families held a funeral service for the trio at Corona’s Northpoint Evangelical Free Church.
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Today, Jacob and Daniel are buried beside each other at Olivewood Memorial Park in Riverside. Drake has a plot just about 20 feet away, “as close as we could get,” says Drake’s mother, Debbie.
“We weren’t going to separate the boys, even in the ground,” Daniel’s mother Janet says.
The families want to honor their sons’ lives, and have recently launched a website called Rememberthe3.com.
“I don’t want them to become a statistic — likeOh, three teenage boys killed,’” says Daniel’s father, Craig.