Rancho Santa Margarita man recovering in hospital after twin brother killed in Dana Point crash

by in News

The twin brother of a 23-year-old man killed in a crash in Dana Point was still recovering in a local hospital with severe injuries, family members said on Sunday.

Brian Carbonell, 23, was conscious but on a ventilator as he continued to receive treatment after the crash on Wednesday, Aug. 19 that killed his brother, Jason, of Rancho Santa Margarita, and injured Brian’s girlfriend.

The mother of the twins said Brian Carbonell was in a lot of pain and having trouble breathing due to a punctured lung.

“He has a really badly bruised lung and five rib fractures — that’s what punctured his lungs,” said Arminda Hanna.

The three young people were in a Subaru Outback, driving home from playing music at Strands Beach, when a Toyota Corolla struck their SUV on Pacific Coast Highway near Selva Road at around 10:35 p.m., according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Jason Carbonell had to be cut out of the Outback before he was taken to a hospital, where he died. The girlfriend was also transported to a hospital with an injured ankle, but she was released a short time later.

Also recovering Sunday was the woman behind the wheel of the Corolla, who the Sheriff’s Department said was involved in a police chase right before the crash.

The woman has not been publicly identified yet, though sheriff’s officials described her as being in her 40s. Her injuries were not specified, though she remained in the hospital.

The crash was still under investigation, said Carrie Braun, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman. But the woman was expected to be arrested and booked in jail as soon as she was medically cleared.

“My understanding is she’s still in the hospital,” Braun said on Sunday. She said a team of Sheriff’s Department accident-reconstruction investigators were still working on the case.

The Sheriff’s Department has not said what charges the woman could potentially face. Traffic investigators were trying to determine whether the woman was driving under the influence at the time of the crash. They also said the woman ran a red light just before the crash.

The brief pursuit began in Laguna Beach when police there tried to pull the woman over on PCH near Niguel Road, according to the Sheriff’s Department. They broke off the pursuit as the car fled south into Dana Point, driving about a half-mile until crashing into the Outback at Selva Road.

Laguna Beach police have not said why officers attempted to pull the woman over. A spokesman for the police department was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

The Orange County Fire Authority has not released Brian Carbonell’s current condition, though family described his injuries as severe. His mother, as well as friends who started a GoFundme campaign for the family, said he’s expected to make a full recovery.

The crowdfunding campaign to donate to Brian Carbonell’s family exceeded its $10,000 goal as of Sunday afternoon.

The Carbonell brothers were talented musicians who had dreams of playing professionally and going on tour, said Larry Pearl of Aliso Viejo, the father of their bandmate, Julian.

For the last year, they would play rock and roll for hours on a section of sidewalk overlooking Strands Beach, collecting tips and saving up to hopefully go on tour. They called their band the Grass Groovers, and published their music on Instagram.

The brothers met Pearl’s son at Saddleback College, where they played on the campus quad, before they were kicked out for making too much noise, he said.

After that the band moved to Pearl’s garage, where the former DJ set them up with recording equipment.

“They were in my garage probably six days a week on average for the first few months,” Pearl said, before the group started performing at the beach. “Jason and Julian really just started to gel over the last few weeks.”

Pearl said his son was crushed by the loss of his friend. All three bandmates were together again that day performing; Julian Pearl left the beach just minutes before the crash occurred.

“We’re crushed, too — we love the twins,” Pearl said of himself and his wife on Sunday. “They’re such nice, hard-working, good kids.”

Hanna and her husband, both nurses, worked at one time at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where Brian is recovering. She said knowing the pain and recovery process of significant injuries hasn’t put her mind at ease. 

“We’re still scared. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” she said. “I’m very confident in the staff here. But we know a lot about injuries like this, and we’re pretty realistic about what happens.”