A US man who intentionally rammed a Toyota Prius with six teenage boys inside, killing three and injuring three others before fleeing, may have been taking revenge for a childish prank, a survivor has revealed.

The Prius went off the road and slammed into a tree at around 10.30pm Sunday in Temescal Valley in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles.

Anurag Chandra, 42, of Corona was arrested a short time later in a neighbourhood near the crash site, according to the California Highway Patrol.

"It was an intentional act," CHP Lieutenant David Yokley said at a news conference, although he did not disclose a motive. "Our investigation led us to believe Mr Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control."

Advertisement

"The investigation has now changed from a hit-run collision to homicide."

Anurag Chandra, 42. Photo / Riverside County Sheriff's Department
Anurag Chandra, 42. Photo / Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Firefighters freed some teens trapped in the car. One boy died at the scene and two others were pronounced dead at hospitals.

Now one of the survivors has spoken out to reveal what may have sparked the man's deadly rage.

Sergio Campusano, who was driving the car, told NBC Los Angeles that the group had been playing a childish prank before the crash, ringing doorbells and running away.

"[He] gets out of the car, knocks the door, rings the doorbell. The door opens and then he runs into the car and we just drive away," Campusano told NBC.

He said that he then noticed a car following them: "He just got next to me and I was confused. What is he going to do?

"I just saw him ram his car into my back. And I whipped into my window and I blacked out and then I remember I woke up on the floor - I don't remember how I got there. I was shaking," Campusano said.

The crash killed 16-year-olds Drake Ruiz, Daniel Hawkins, and Jacob Ivascu.

Advertisement
The Prius at the scene of the deadly crash. Photo / AP
The Prius at the scene of the deadly crash. Photo / AP

Campusano and Hawkins and Ivascu's young brothers all survived with moderate injuries.

A witness followed Chandra's car and notified police. Officers found an Infiniti with front-end damage parked in a neighbourhood near the crash site, Officer Juan Quintero told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Chandra was arrested on suspicion of murder with malice and assault with a deadly weapon.

-Additional reporting, NZ Herald