- Associated Press - Sunday, March 31, 2013

Five members of a Southern California family were killed in southern Nevada when their van was rear-ended by an 18-year-old driver who later was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.

The dead were among seven family members who were in the van, authorities said. The other two — the 40-year-old female driver and a 15-year-old boy — were hospitalized in critical condition.

Jean Soriano of California was booked into the Clark County Detention Center after he was treated and released at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Loy Hixson said.

The crash happened at about 3 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 15 near the Utah line. Mr. Soriano’s sport utility vehicle struck the van from behind, causing both vehicles to spin out of control and roll near Mesquite, some 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, investigators said.

A 23-year-old passenger in Mr. Soriano’s SUV was treated at the hospital and released.

Authorities believe Mr. Soriano was returning from a visit with family in Utah to his home in California at the time of the wreck, Trooper Hixson said. They didn’t immediately release his hometown or the names or hometowns of the victims.

Beer bottles were found in the SUV, Trooper Hixson said, and troopers performed a blood-alcohol test on Mr. Soriano at the hospital. The results won’t be known for a couple of weeks, he said.

Trooper Hixson said only two of the seven people in the van were wearing seat belts. The five who were not buckled in were ejected, but one survived.

“Unfortunately, so many in the van weren’t wearing seat belts, and some might have survived had they been wearing them,” Trooper Hixson said. “We see it so many times where people can survive simply by having a sea tbelt on.”

The van was carrying a couple, their children and some aunts and uncles, he said. Killed were three men in their 40s, a female teenager and a female adult.



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