The 19-year-old man charged in a crash that killed three members of the same family was driving on a suspended license and had cocaine in his possession at the time of the crash, prosecutors said.
Mason Fish pleaded not guilty Thursday to seven charges, including gross vehicular manslaughter (3), driving under the influence causing bodily injury (3), and possession of a controlled narcotic substance.
According to police, Fish failed to stop at a red light while driving southbound on Coast Highway and slammed into the driver’s side of a Mazda sedan — with six passengers inside — heading east on Oceanside Boulevard just before 1 p.m.
Rufina Arango Rodriguez, 74, of Fallbrook was killed in the crash along with two of her daughters, 56-year-old Eloina Arango of Mexico and Petra Arango, 40, of Oceanside. Fish was not injured in the crash.
Petra Arango’s 13-year-old daughter was ejected from the vehicle and was released from the hospital on Wednesday.
The two other passengers who survived the crash were also family members.
A witness to the crash told NBC 7 Fish didn’t hit his breaks before the collision, and said he seemed disconnected and unconcerned for the victims.
“A normal human being would go and try to help, try to do something, correct the situation, maybe,” Alfonso Nava said.
Prosecutors said Fish had 1.6 grams of cocaine in his wallet at the time of the crash, but his defense attorney, Mark Frederick, said toxicology reports will confirm that Fish was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.
Fish admitted to using cocaine in the past, according to prosecutors.
Frederick said Fish was dealing with a family tragedy the morning of the crash, having just found out that his grandmother passed away. Frederick said his client going to stop by the beach before heading off to class at a local community college.
The Oceanside Unified School District confirmed Wednesday that Fish graduated from El Camino High School in 2017.
A former classmate told NBC 7 Fish “was one of the more popular kids” in school.
Prosecutors argued for Fish to be held without bail, but the judge set it at $800,000. The judge didn’t classify Fish as a flight risk but called him a danger to society because of his inability to follow the law. He was ordered not to drive if he posts bail.
“This family has been devastated by these acts. This family has lost countless individuals and they will be dealing with the consequences of these acts for an extremely long time. This family is in pain and is hurting,” Deputy District Attorney David Uyar said.
If convicted on all counts, Fish could face up to 13 years in prison.
Surveillance video from a gas station across the intersection shows the Mazda follow another truck into the intersection. Seconds later, Fish’s truck slammed the Mazda’s driver’s side.
Two of the women were pronounced dead at the scene and the third was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The manager at the gas station convenience store also witnessed the crash.
“I was here when I heard the crash. I turned my head across the street and saw two people in the air already,” Edwin Trinidad said.
A small vigil with candles and balloons formed on the street corner near the crash. A memorial was held Thursday where Petra Arango worked and her coworkers organized an online fundraising page for her family.