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Jacob Ivascu and best friends friends Drake Ruiz and Daniel Hawkins died in a Jan. 19 crash in Temescal Valley, Calif..

By Christine Pelisek
May 10, 2020 11:00 AM
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jacob ivascu, daniel hawkins and drake ruiz
Jacob Ivascu; Daniel Hawkins; Jake Ruiz
| Credit: Courtesy Ivascu, Hawkins and Ruiz Families

A few weeks after her son was killed after a prank went tragically wrong, Ramona Ivascu found a painting from him she will always cherish: a picture of a dove he planned to give her for Mother’s Day.

“He never painted things for me before, and I never saw it until a few weeks after he passed away,” Ivascu, whose 16-year-old son, Jacob, died in January, tells PEOPLE.

“He painted a picture of a dove with a wing pointed up to heaven and wrote the word 'Peace.' And if you see this picture, it's phenomenal. He wanted to give it to me for Mother's Day, but he never had a chance to finish it.”

Jacob and his two best friends, Drake Ruiz and Daniel Hawkins, also 16, died in a Jan. 19 crash in Temescal Valley, Calif.. Two of the boys’ brothers, Joshua Hawkins and Joshua Ivascu, and their friend Sergio Campusano, survived the evening crash.

Police allege the boys played a prank commonly known as Ding-Dong Ditch, when one of them rang the doorbell of Anurag Chandra, 42, before they all drove off. According to police, Chandra became enraged and chased them down in his car, allegedly ramming into it with such speed that the boys’ car crashed into a tree and then a utility pole.

anurag Chandra
Anurag Chandra
| Credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Department/AP

After the crash, Chandra returned home where he was later arrested. He is charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Facing life in prison if convicted, the salesman pleaded not guilty on Feb. 21.

Ivascu, 42, says her daughter found the piece of art in a cupboard where the family kept their handmade drawings and paintings.

“She took it out and said, ‘Mom, Jacob was painting this for you. He wanted to give it to you for Mother's Day,'" she says. "The message in that painting is so profound. It's as if he was leaving it for me so that he knew I was going to need to have peace in this situation. What are the chances that he would draw that before New Year's and leave that message for his mom? That's one of my greatest treasures now.”

The painting is now above the fireplace in a frame, says Ivascu, but she plans to cover a wall in the hallway dedicated to his art work and photos.

“He actually painted a lot of things that he never showed us, this kid. I think he underestimated his talent because we found a whole notepad of paintings that he never showed us. We're going to make a wall and we're going to put everything on that wall. All of his art and some of his photos, so that when people come over as they walk into our house, they can see it.”

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Ivascu and the families of the two other boys recently launched a website called Rememberthe3.com  to honor their sons’ lives.

The three were inseparable since fifth grade and attended the same church youth group.

“It was an instant bond between the three of them,” says Ivascu. “Just a connection, not just friendship, but I really think that because they all three believed in God and came from similar families and just had the same ideas, they were inseparable, the three of them.”

GoFundMe page has also been set up to help with crash-related expenses.