Snowcrest Ski Resort, CA Car Plunges Into Canyon, Aug 1999



Five young people who had apparently attended an all-night rave party at a San Gabriel Mountains ski resort died Sunday morning, just as the gathering was breaking up, when their car plunged off a steep embankment on Angeles Crest Highway.
Rescuers rappelled a 1,200-foot ravine lined with pine trees and massive boulders to reach the bodies of four females and a male, thought to be in their teens or 20s, then used body baskets attached to a helicopter to lift out the remains.
U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Gail Wright said the victims were carrying tickets to the rave party, which drew an estimated 5,000 techno music fans to Snowcrest Snowpark, formerly known as the Kratka Ridge ski resort, about 35 miles northeast of La Canada Flintridge in Angeles National Forest.
Killed in the crash were:
CARISSA CASTANEDA, 18, of San Bernardino;
NICHOLE MARIE MARTELL, 17, of San Bernardino;
LEAH FELDHAUS, 15, of Colton;
PATRICIA BJORNSTAD, 18, of Grand Terrace;
and MATTHEW PAUL LOPEZ, the driver, 18, of Grand Terrace.
They were heading east toward Wrightwood when their car left the road at an S-curve shortly after 7:30 a.m., authorities said.
A motorist who saw the plunge told the California Highway Patrol that the car had not been speeding, nor had the driver slammed on the brakes.
Four bodies were ejected from the vehicle, a Toyota Camry. The fifth was found in the wreckage, wedged against towering pine trees at the bottom of the steep ravine. All were pronounced dead at the scene.
Some who attended the rave said drug use - particularly of Ecstasy and LSD - was widespread. Paramedics said they were called to assist several overdose victims during the party, which was held under a U.S. Forest Service permit. Authorities would not speculate on whether drug use was a factor in the fatal crash.
Angeles National Forest has been the site of several raves - parties that offer what aficionados describe as the mesmerizing effects of techno music, flashing strobes and an aura of peace, love and hugs that some dancers supplement with drugs.
An Internet site promoting this one suggested that it was to be one of the season's major events, with tickets going for $30 apiece.
Billed as "the ultimate summertime adventure: by the event's promoter, identified in a flier both as B3 Cande Productions and as JujuBeats, the rave was advertised to young people in California, Arizona and Nevada. The promoter did not return a message to his pager Sunday night.
Young people who attended the party, which featured disc jockeys and electronic music with a heavy beat, described it as a good one.
"This party rocked from start to finish," one attendee said on an Internet message board.
John Steely, the ski resort owner who rented his premises to the rave promoter, said he was told that six young people were evacuated from the party by air because of drug overdoses or other medical emergencies.
Steely, who said his resort has hosted about half a dozen raves, estimated that the promoter for this one spent about $100,000 on the event - money used in part to fly in celebrated disc jockeys from out of town.