The 18-year-old who sped the wrong way down state Route 805 Thursday, Aug. 23, crashing into a SUV and killing himself, a 12-year-old girl and her mother, was a YouTube star who had made a small fortune in video gaming gambling, according to authorities and hundreds of gaming fans on Twitter.
But the nearly 900,000 subscribers to his YouTube video channel and his Twitter followers knew him as “McSkillet.”
Various tweets by gaming fans said he had been banned from facilitating e-sport gambling that had brought him a sizable income — enough to buy a handmade, 2015 British McLaren 650S sports car that would have cost $250,000 or more.
The McLaren, with Heitmann behind the wheel, slammed head-on into a Hyundai SUV and both vehicles burst into flames. Those who died in the SUV were tentatively identified by the county Medical Examiner’s Office as a 43-year-old San Diego woman and her 12-year-old daughter.
The woman’s son identified them as Aileen Pizarro and her daughter Aryana Pizarro. They lived in the College Area. Aileen Pizzaro was a marriage and family counselor working toward her license, and her daughter was set to start seventh grade on Monday, Aug. 27, Dominic Pizarro said.
Heitman was headed south in northbound HOV lanes of I-805 near Sorrento Valley about 4:40 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, when he rammed the on-coming SUV. Other cars hit the flaming wreckage, causing at least one serious injury. Debris from the damaged vehicles flew across freeway lanes and the McLaren “disintegrated,” CHP Officer Jake Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he believes Heitmann entered the freeway at Carroll Canyon Road.
A crash investigation and cleanup of the freeway kept three lanes closed for 10 hours.
“At the time of the crash, he could have been going over 100 mph,” Sanchez said of Heitmann. “The McLaren is one of the fastest cars in the world.”
The McLaren website described various models of handmade cars that can top 200 mph.
A McLaren company spokesman said about 1,300 of sports cars are sold in the United States and Canada each year, with California leading the sales. He said the nearest dealerships to San Diego are in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach and Scottsdale, Ariz.
Sanchez confirmed that the McLaren in the freeway crash is the same car that, about 20 minutes earlier, smashed through a metal gate to a field at Ashley Falls Elementary School in
San Diego police said witnesses reported that a black car drove through the gate. No one was injured and a vandalism report was taken. Fox 5 reported that witnesses said the driver had gotten out of the car, smashed a window at the school and then left. (*See note at bottom of this story.)
The TV station also said police went to the Heitmann family home on Sea Knoll Court in Carmel Valley after the teen’s father reported that his son had sped away, hitting another family car late Thursday afternoon, Aug. 23.
The man described on Twitter as “McSkillet” regularly posted YouTube videos about his websites, CSGOMagic and skin.game, devoted to the Counter-Strike video game and gambling.
He posted a video in December of the black McLaren 650S he had bought some months earlier. Without appearing on camera himself, he shows close-ups of the car interior, back end and full view with open wing-like doors.
He describes the car as “pretty damn insane” and said he could afford it because he had “made a ton” of money online, with nearly 900,000 subscribers.
One person on Twitter said the McLaren driver was his friend who was going through a hard time. Some tweets said that McSkillet had lost his income when the Counter-Strike game developer, Valve, “banned his life’s work” in selling slick decals, or “skins” for virtual gaming guns and other toys.
Others on Twitter condemned him for killing two innocent people.
Kevin Hitt, editor in chief of VPesport.com online gaming news outlet, said Valve, under constraints from the state of Washington gambling commission, confiscated about $200,000 worth of McSkillet’s skins and shut down his ability to acquire more.
Hitt said McSkillet, and others in the gaming gambling world, would take bets on the potential value of skins, and third-party sites would use software to assign a dollar value to different styles of skins, based on their relative rarity. Other sites would make the payouts to betters, taking a commission.
Dominic Pizarro, 22, said his mother and sister were headed to Orange County when they got into the freeway collision.
When they didn’t return, his 19-year-old brother Angelo checked the internet for information about any crashes on the freeways they might have traveled. He found news of the fiery crash. And later, a CHP officer knocked on the door of the Pizarro family home.
The teen called his older brother — who was out of state, driving back from a trip with their maternal grandfather, Miguel Pizarro — and gave him the stunning news.
“I lost it,” Dominic Pizarro said Friday, Aug. 24, as he drove back to San Diego with his grandfather.
An Air Force Reservist who is starting work on his master’s degree, Pizarro said he’d last seen and hugged his mom and sister last week, before leaving on a trip with his grandfather, who also lives at the family home.
During his last video chat with his sister — a day before the crash — Aryana was showing off her new school items, including pens and notebooks with unicorns.
“She was a girly-girl, but she was also tough,” he said. “She was alive with energy.”
The three siblings are musically talented, and Aryana wanted to be a jazz singer, Pizarro said.
“That was the kind of music she loved,” her brother said. “She could sing any pop song on the radio. (But) she knew Billie Holiday just as much as she knew Bruno Mars.”
Their mother “did everything for us. We were raised by her and our grandpa,” Pizarro said. “She was selfless. She didn’t think about herself at all.”
Aileen Pizarro’s passion as a therapist was working with children who had been removed from abusive homes, he said.
“She loved to work with them and tell them they were worth something,” Pizarro said. “She went out of her way to bring light to them in hopeless situations.”
Aileen Pizarro’s longtime boyfriend LeRoy Phillips, Jr. said she was his high school crush. They lost contact but reconnected eight or nine years ago.
He said she was “an incredibly bright and beautiful person” who always put her children first, and was working toward her therapy license.
“She could raise three kids and put herself through school to get her master’s — by herself — just to give them the best she can give them,” Phillips said
The family has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral costs and additional expenses.
--Pauline Repard and Teri Figueroa are reporters for The San Diego Union-Tribune. U-T staff writer Alex Riggins contributed to this story.
*NOTE: According to Lori Cummins, director of student services at the Del Mar Union School District, the car drove through the side gate at Ashley Falls Elementary School at about 4:30 p.m.
The individual got out of the car and threw an item at a door, breaking a window. No district programs were in session at the time of the incident and law enforcement responded immediately-- there were no injuries.
"We take safety very seriously and want to assure you that each school has a comprehensive school safety plan in place," Cummins wrote in a message to parents posted to the district website.