Newport Beach

Woman Charged in DUI Crash That Killed Couple, Injured Their 3 Young Children

The family was admiring Christmas lights in the area and the girls were dressed in "their Christmas pajamas," according to Andrade's sister.

OnScene.TV

Second-degree murder, DUI and hit-and-run charges were filed Thursday against a 22-year-old woman accused of driving drunk and causing a Newport Beach crash that killed a Santa Ana couple and left their three young daughters hospitalized.

Grace Elizabeth Coleman of Newport Beach is facing two murder counts and one count each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, DUI with a blood- alcohol level exceeding the legal limit of .08% causing injury, and failing to stop at a hit-and-run accident with injury or death, all felonies.

She is also charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood-alcohol content exceeding .08% or more, both misdemeanors, and faces sentencing enhancement allegations of inflicting great bodily injury on the three children.

Coleman was scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Orange County sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Breckner identified the victims of Tuesday night's crash as Henry Eduardo Saldana-Mejia, 27, of Santa Ana, and his wife, Gabriela M. Andrade, who would have turned 29 later this month.

According to a GoFundMe page created by Andrade's sister, the couple's three daughters, who are 1, 3 and 5 years old, are hospitalized in critical condition.

The family was admiring Christmas lights in the area and the girls were dressed in "their Christmas pajamas,'' according to Andrade's sister.

Coleman was also hospitalized, but the extent of her injuries was unclear.

The crash occurred at 7:46 p.m. Tuesday at Newport Coast Drive and Pelican Hills Road South. Coleman was behind the wheel of a black Range Rover that was southbound on Newport Coast Drive when the SUV collided with victims' Nissan Versa as Saldana was turning onto Pelican Hills Road, according to Heather Rangel, a spokeswoman for the Newport Beach Police Department.

Rangel noted that the three children were riding in the back seat of the sedan. She said Coleman "possibly'' ran a red light.

Saldana-Mejia and his wife were pronounced dead at the scene.

The suspect also was charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol of .08% or more in connection with her Aug. 29 arrest in Laguna Beach. That case was submitted this week to the district attorney's office for review, and she was charged Thursday.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated the suspect had a previous DUI conviction. The suspect had been arrested, but not charged, in connection with an Aug. 29 arrest on suspicion of DUI at the time of the Tuesday crash, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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