Update: Driver of a vehicle involved in multi-vehicle crash that killed 5 is criminally charged

GCPD says drivers racing at speeds in excess of 100 mph

Update (Sept. 27, 2023)

Gwinnett County Police Department is reporting that criminal charges have been obtained for the driver of one of the other vehicles involved in the Sept. 4 crash that resulted in the deaths of five teens..

Emanuel Rene Esfahani, 20, of Lawrenceville is charged with five counts of Homicide by Vehicle – First Degree (one count for each of the deceased), Reckless Driving, Racing, Speeding, Unsafe Lane Change, and Seatbelt Required.

Esfahani reportedly turned himself into the Gwinnett County Jail and was booked in shortly after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.

According to an updated press release from GCPD, the investigation has revealed that, “Esfahani was driving the Infiniti G35 and was racing the Toyota Tacoma, driven by Nguyen, along with five other occupants. They were speeding in excess of 100 mph on the exit ramp from State Route 316 to Pleasant Hill Road when they came upon a vehicle traveling slower than they were. The Tacoma passed on the left, and the Infiniti passed on the right, likely in the right emergency lane.  

“The Infiniti quickly came upon a box truck stopped in the emergency lane and swerved to the left to avoid the truck.  The Infiniti swerved across the lanes and struck the Tacoma, unintentionally performing a P.I.T. Maneuver, causing the Tacoma to lose traction and began to spin and roll. That is when the Tacoma continued to travel right across the lanes, making an impact with the retaining wall.  The excess speed caused it to carry over the wall and fall to the ramp 37 feet below. ”   

Initial story

3 were students from Lakeside High School in Dekalb County

Update 1: The victims from the crash that shut down I.85 on Labor Day been identified as Katy Gaitan, (17 year old Female from Atlanta), Ashley Gaitan (16 year old Female from Atlanta), Coral Lorenzo (17 year old Female from Atlanta), Hung Nguyen (18 year old Male from Lawrenceville) and Abner Santana (19 year old Male from Suwanee). 

Gwinnett County Police report that all five were occupants of the vehicle that had gone over the wall of the raised ramp. The next of Kin for each of the victims have been notified. The Gwinnett County Police Department reports that at least three of the deceased were students at Lakeside High School in Dekalb County.

This continues to be an active investigation and ask anyone with information to please contact the Gwinnett County Police Department Accident Investigation Unit.

Update at 9:40 a.m

Cpl. Christian D’Allaird with the Gwinnett Police Department public information office said the roadway shutdowns as a result of this crash have now opened and the Gwinnett Police Accident Investigation Unit is investigating the fatal 3-vehicle collision which occurred on the SR 316 (University Pkwy) westbound ramp to Interstate 85 southbound.

“Shortly before 4 a.m. 911 calls were received by Gwinnett County Communications of a vehicle going over the wall of the raised ramp, falling onto the Interstate 85 southbound Collector-Distributor to Pleasant Hill Rd. Officers assigned to the Central Precinct responded quickly to the collision, and requested the Accident Investigation Unit. Gwinnett County Fire Personnel identified 5 persons deceased at the scene. 3 additional persons were transported to local hospitals,” D’Allaird said in a press release.

As a result, the SR 316 WB ramps to I.85 SB and Pleasant Hill Road were shut down for an extended period, along with the I.85 SB Collector Distributor to Pleasant Hill Rd.

Identifying information of the deceased is being withheld until all Next of Kin have been notified. D’Allaird said it has not yet been determined what factors led to the collision, or the seriousness of the injuries to the surviving parties.

Update at 8 a.m.

I. 85 southbound remains shut down

Update: At 8 a.m. a spokesman for Gwinnett County Police Department reported that I.85 southbound remains shut down. He confirmed that five people died and three people survived the crash. It was reported to involve three vehicles.

GWINNETT COUNTY, GA (Sept. 4,2023)- Gwinnett County Police reported just be for 5 a.m. on Labor Day that the department was investigating a serious motor vehicle collision on I85 southbound at SR316. At that time I.85 southbound was completely shut down along with the C.D. to Pleasant Hill Road from 316 westbound and 85 southbound.

More information will be shared as it comes available. 

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