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Suspected drunk driver in fiery crash that killed three teens on Spring Break charged with murder; deemed a flight risk

The driver behind a deadly DUI crash that killed three teens on Spring Break in southern California is facing murder charges.

NBC News reports that Bani Marcela Duarte, 27, pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and a DUI charge in connection to the fiery crash that killed three teenagers celebrating spring break in Huntington Beach.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Albert “AJ” Rossi, 17; Dylan Mack, 18; and Brooke Hawley, 17; were killed when Duarte’s vehicle rear-ended their car while it was stopped at a traffic light, causing it to burst into flames. The high school seniors were visiting southern California from Las Vegas, and attended Centennial High School.

“The car fire burned them beyond recognition,” Orange County coroner supervisor deputy Daniel Aikin told reporters at the time.

KTLA video screengrab/Bani Duarte, Huntington Beach Police Department

A witness told the Orange County Register that he had observed the suspect driving erratically, and offered to give her a ride. She reportedly refused and drove off.

Duarte had been previously booked and released on bail, but Huntington Beach police Lt. Dave Dereszynski told NBC News that authorities re-arrested her after becoming concerned that she may be a flight risk. Her bail has now been set at $4 million.

She is due in court for a bail review hearing on Thursday.

 

[Feature image: NBC News video screenshot]