The clock had not yet struck midnight as Adam Teasdale walked in circles around the horrific crash scene New Year's Eve.
A witness who responded to the single-vehicle accident told police as Teasdale walked around the wreckage, he said aloud, "I just killed my friends."
The scene, the eastbound lanes of Brimhall Road at Aldershot Drive in west Bakersfield, was littered with a nearly empty bottle of Fireball whiskey and what Bakersfield police described as "multiple nitrous oxide canisters labeled 'Whip-It' on the ground and more inside the vehicle."
One officer's reports described observing "multiple alcoholic beverage containers strewn about the scene and inside the vehicle."
According to a redacted Bakersfield Police Department incident report compiled by a number of investigating officers, three of Teasdale's friends lay dead on the asphalt, having been ejected through the rear window of the white, four-door Toyota Avalon the 20-year-old had been driving before he swerved, lost control and struck a tree on the road's center median, police reports said.
Teasdale, who is being held on $1 million bail, turned 21 in the Kern County Jail on Jan. 24. He is facing three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of DUI causing bodily injury in connection to the New Year’s Eve crash that killed Devin Lee Atha, Timothy Michael Wilson and Andrew Nicholas Ortiz, all 20.
A fourth passenger, a young woman seated in the front passenger seat, escaped with minor injuries, police said. She and Teasdale were wearing seatbelts, while Atha, Wilson and Ortiz were not.
An investigating officer drove Teasdale to Kern Medical where he consented to a blood draw and was otherwise cleared medically.
"It should be noted," the officer wrote in his report, "while at Kern Medical, Teasdale sporadically stated, 'why did I swerve,' and the devil was inside of me."
The officer also noted that he found a nitrous canister in Teasdale's left front pocket.
Although there are no criminal charges related to the nitrous oxide found at the scene and in Teasdale's possession, recreational use of the gas canisters that some refer to as "whippets" or "hippie crack" is illegal in California.
Generally speaking, the use of intoxicating inhalants such as nitrous oxide, said BPD spokesman Sgt. Robert Pair, is both unlawful and especially dangerous when used in connection with the operation of a motor vehicle.
Based on physical evidence and statements provided, police believe Teasdale was driving at about 60 mph "when he swerved left for no apparent reason and lost control of his vehicle," reports said.
The speed limit on that stretch of road is 50 mph.
As the Toyota veered onto the concrete median, the rear driver's-side door slammed into the tree, and the car rotated, forcefully ejecting the back-seat passengers.
Police reported that Teasdale had slurred speech, red watery eyes, and exhibited uncoordinated movements, and the smell of alcohol on his breath and person when he was arrested.
Teasdale pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Jan. 5 in Kern County Superior Court. His next hearing is scheduled on March 26.